Nearly 400 ‘Indu Sui Bing’, or ‘Indian fly bread’ masters from Puliyur area and adjoining villages in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district who flew to India in the months of January and February during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic in China are restless to return.
Despite the recent tensions between the two countries following the stand-off at Galwan Valley, their decision to return to the neighbouring country remains unchanged. Twenty Indian soldiers, including Hawildar Palani from Tamil Nadu, lost their lives during the face-off with Chinese soldiers.
“As an Indian citizen, I am disturbed by the death of Palani, who hails from our district, at Galwan Valley on June 15. He died protecting India. But I cannot condemn China. Though I am an Indian citizen, I rose to this level because of China,” says Umamani Kalingarathinam, 45, of Puliyur who has been making parottas in China since 2004.
Parotta, a Tamil Nadu’s street food, is served as a dessert in China.
These parotta masters had successful careers making ‘Indu Sui Bing’ at hotels in China, unlike India, where it is served as the main dish.
The multi-flavoured ‘Indu Sui Bing’ is served as a dessert in China and shared by two or more people. The delicacy that weighs about 150 grams is priced at Rs 200 apiece when stuffed with a variety of fruits like banana, pineapple or flavoured spreads like peanut butter and vegetables. The non-vegetarian ‘Sui Bing’ stuffed with sardine, chicken, mutton, beef and rarely pork costs Rs 250. On average, a parotta master can earn Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 a month in China.
Although the Indian government has banned 59 Chinese mobile apps including chat application WeChat, they have managed to stay in touch with family and friends in China through a virtual private network (VPN). Umamani, a relative said his brother-in-law Ananthakrishnan, 32, is still in China making parottas in Xi’an city, Shaanxi province. Umamani’s Chinese employer and friends also eagerly wait for him to return.
Another parotta master from Puliyur, Mohandas, 32, had been making ‘Indu Sui Bing’ in Shanghai for 15 years before he was forced to return home due to the pandemic. Now he works as an auto driver at Puliyur for Rs 4,000 a month. In 2004, he flew to Shanghai, where he started making parottas for Rs 10,000 a month, which increased over the years. “I was making Rs 1 lakh a month before I flew to India due to COVID-19 on January 31,” he said, adding that he was without a job for the last five months.
With his earnings in China, Murugan said that his employer and friends in China have not developed hatred towards him due to the tension across the border. “We are not experts to comment on government policies, international affairs, trade and commerce. All we want is go back to work and earn,” he said.
Another parotta master from Puliyur, Valampurinathan said, “I had studied Leather Technology in India but I could not find any Job. So I went to China in search of work but I was not getting work according to my qualification. As I knew parotta making, I joined as a parotta master. Following that, I was able to make Rs 30,000 to 50,000 a month. And, now I want is go back to China where I can work and earn as there is no work with similar pay here in India.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)