College life is tough.
Yes, the hardship is an offset against the enjoyment and the height of loquaciousness that can be reached a college grad or a student with some experience under his belt is unabated when it comes to the sharing experiences from college life.
Coming to the hardships, there’s the red taping of assignment submissions where us students only plead to extend deadlines and feel sorry for blaming the people whom we accuse of red taping.
Living away from home and having to do all the chores feel like a burden, especially when you are sick and have to study for the test.
Maintaining relations also becomes very difficult because people seem to be much more complex than school buddies.
Adding to the bundle of problems is not getting to have the much needed homely food.
But for the students of Xavier University Bhubaneswar, there’s a superman who has the solution and has been executing it since the inception of the university.
It’s Mr Kartik Pradhan.
Well, many XUBian may not recognize this name. Seems like a piece of unnecessary information then?
Mr Pradhan has an alias. It’s “Mausa” that he’s reckoned with in and around that place. He has been in the hotel business for more than 35 years and near XUB for 8 years and counting.
Mausa may appear to be one of the many people who are in the hotel business.
But at Delik House we viewed it differently because of the bond he has established with the students with his food and decided to take his interview.
Let’s gear up for the journey into the life of a 60 years old superman; not with a cape but with bartans.
Pandemic has been TOUGH
It was a moderate Autumn afternoon when we visited Mausa at his hotel. Mausa was sitting there with a gloomy look on his face. From the look of it, things weren’t going well. It wasn’t hustling and bustling with students as it used to happen. On most busy days, students would preclude Mausa from serving the food and do it for themselves.
On that day, the hotel was empty. There wasn’t a buffet of mutton, chicken, fish, vegetable curries, papads and chips as it used to happen. A mere potato-bean fry was made and a small container of rice was kept there with some food packets ready to be delivered.
That was maybe the lowest amount of food that Mausa had prepared because he was unsure about the amount that would be wasted at the end of the day.
Though expecting a despondent answer, we asked him how business was going. As expected, it wasn’t going well because his business was totally dependent on students and that place is sparsely populated.
So, expecting regular customers was quite an audacious optimism.
In fact, he had lost around Rs 40,000 during the lockdown from April to November. There was a time when his 2 sons used to accompany him because he wasn’t enough to cater to the bustling crowd.
Now his sons also had to leave to do odd jobs and to earn money because there wasn’t much to do in the hotel.
We asked him why he didn’t close the hotel for the time being.
‘Why don’t you wait for the colleges and schools to open? This would stop the draining of your money and hardship.’
He gave a very philosophical view of it.
‘The hotel is run for people and not for just making money.’
We didn’t hope to get such an answer from a sexagenarian…
The Early Days of Entering in the HOTEL Business
We began the interview by asking about his life. He started his journey very young; not having any formal education but with a positive outlook towards life. He started taking hotel training when he was in his teens. Starting from training in Bhubaneswar to working in Jatani, Khordha.
After the death of his wife, he decided to move to this present place; in front of Xavier University Bhubaneswar, for convenience as it was their own land and they wouldn’t have to pay the rent of the house.
‘It’s one way of cutting my investment costs’ He sounded like an elderly version of Elon Musk while saying this. (Not with an accent off-course)
Living at their own place, Mausa has delved into other fields as well like in a literal sense. Every day at 3 o’clock after being done with the hotel’s job, he goes to their ancestral land for farming.
The Food is Delicious yet SASTA
The best thing about Mausa’s service is his ‘Price’.
His basic meal that included Rice, Dal, Chips, Papads, Salad and Chutney is only priced at Rs 30.
- Veg meal is of Rs 50
- Fish meal is priced Rs 60
- Chicken meal is Rs 80
- Mutton meal will cost you around Rs 150
(That’s very cheap when you compare it to the price of other hotels)
How the Students have maintained the PRICES ?
Many a time, students serve themselves and also put their plates in the dustbins by themselves. This kind gestures cut costs for Mausa and for the students themselves because without their collaboration, Mausa would’ve had to hire peoples for that task and he would’ve had to charge the money from the meal because from where would the money come to pay the employee.
So, by serving themselves, the students have been helping Mausa in keeping his meals’ prices as low as possible.
The Secret to serving Fresh food: Say NO to FRIDGE
The next good thing about Mausa is that his food is always fresh. While talking on that issue, he mentioned about his guru who was supposedly running a hotel in Jatani. He had taught Mausa to always use fresh meat and vegetables and to never keep anything in the fridge because according to him it will give the business a wrong sense of service and security.
‘Serving the customers stall food would rob them off of integrity and quality service.’
That’s his way of saying ‘Go-Fridge-Go’.
He also mentioned that his teacher always told him to never add the leftover rice water to the dal which most hotels do, but instead use hot water if they fall short of quantity.
(These are some ‘Khana Khazana’ tips that you can follow to attend any uninvited guests)
Parampara. Pratishtha. Anushasan
Mausa sticks to his principles to this date.
There are two things that he has always believed. One is the skill that he has learned and keeps on using in his business and the other is his courage in the almighty.
That’s the reason he named his hotel after goddess Tara Tarini but later it got changed to Mausa Hotel as the banner was made by students and named the hotel after him.
HOPE is all we WISH for
Well, not everything is gloomy. He is having big plans. According to him, if the colleges reopen, he’s going to put on a better roof and extend his hotel for accommodating more customers. If everything goes well, he’s planning to add more meals.
He said in life, he has been deeply involved in hotel business if not anything more, but according to him, business is fun and if any random person would ask him what he learned from life, his answer would be the same.
We ended the interview there and took seats to enjoy the lunch prepared by him. We had food, took photos, wished him luck and here we are with his story.
Mausa is of one of the millions people who serve and is in this hotel business. While this pandemic has hit everybody and struggles of those cannot be measured by how much we show our support digitally but if you are out in the open (the time when you are NOT scrolling your phone); Do look out for the people who need help and instead of ordering things ONLINE, buy the things from your local vendors and shopkeepers.
There are many such people and businesses whom we’ll find in our own cities. Do visit them and do support them.
Sayantan Mitra writes about society with touches of polity and politics. His main focus is on providing informative content with a unique perspective, but never at the cost of providing just mere entertainment.