The new omelette wallah appeared out of nowhere one day. We were walking down the street towards the market, expecting to pass the same omelette wallah who had been selling cooked eggs from his folding table every day since we’d moved to Hauz Khas. But where there had been one omelette wallah, on this day there were two. Both had a table full of eggs, a small stove, and a few canisters of chilis and spices.
Both stared straight ahead. Neither acknowledged the other.
We didn’t think competition could get any more cutthroat than that. Until we found Roopak and Roopak.
There on the left, that’s Roopak in Karol Bagh. And there on the right, well, that’s also Roopak, in Karol Bagh. Both sell spices, nuts, dried fruit, chutneys, that sort of thing. Judging from the wear and tear on the signs, both Roopaks look like they’ve been around for a while.
Even in a city where direct competition is shockingly direct, how do two businesses end up with the same name and the same inventory right next door to each other?
Maybe it’s nothing more exciting than a family schism, but I’d like to think this is the second omelette vendor’s brazenness on a massive scale—except it turned out that Karol Bagh was big enough for the both of them. Whereas the second omelette vendor disappeared a few days after he arrived, the original Roopak and the new Roopak have maintained their cold war for years. Imagine the scene every morning: the two owners arriving to open the shutters, each angrily unlocking and lifting and slamming with all the ritual stomping and preening and chest puffing of the flag lowering at Wagah.
One thing I’d like to know: which Roopak came first?