‘Omelette Bhandary’ Shevgoor Ramachandra Bhandary to Stop Cracking & Beating Eggs on 31 December
Mangaluru: If you drive around the city of Mangaluru, especially during the evening hours you are sure of getting the smell of egg omelettes, with a bunch of street side mobile canteens preparing them for the hungry food lovers- but never would you find a authentic omelette prepared with love from the magic hands of a Senior Citizen, who is now 74 years old- and is still cracking and beating those eggs to make you a delicious and fluffy omelette. But sadly, people who have patronized this man’s shop to try his omelettes all these years, will not be able to get one after 31 December, because, after decades of hard work, this dedicated and people’s friendly Senior Citizen has decided to close his shop before the start of New Year 2019.
Meet 74-year-old Shevgoor Ramachandra Bhandary, fondly known as “Omelette Bhandary” of Mannagudda, Mangaluru. His shop used to open at 8:30 am in the morning, and take a break for lunchtime, and open again at 3 pm until closing time of 11 pm or midnight depending on the customers. This is the story of a man who gave much to society expecting very little in return not even the word of gratitude. If one side of the coin was that he was the entrepreneur who had brought the humble omelette with two slices of bread with it from the home to the shop half a century ago! At a time when the egg was prohibited in the homes of most of Goud Saraswat Brahmins though fish was an officially permitted item, a member of this community starting such a shop was blasphemy. But a lot of GSB youth who wanted to commit the same became his customers.
Ramachandra Bhandary who has an educational background good enough to sit inside a chamber in a automobile industry, but after his diploma in automobile engineering at KPT Mangaluru, and then working for two years at a firm dealing with automobile parts, he decided to take over his dad’s general store business, and initially added selling omelettes, sodas, etc. But coming from a Goud Saraswat Brahmin community, he took the bold step in preparing and selling egg omelettes at his shop, since GSB’s stayed at an arm’s length from eggs and egg products those years. Not anymore, at present many of the GSB’s like to eat fish, chicken etc.
The story of Bhandary’s shop goes to more than a century back when his father Shevgoor Gopal Bhandary had started a hardware cum rope cum baskets shop. After his demise, the same was taken over by Ramachandra Bhandary’s elder brother Keshav, and after he passed away, it was Ramachandra who took over the shops and started making soda, omelette and such things in 1966. Omelet Bhandary’s shop was a sort of Adda for the youngsters of that age who used to sit there and discuss all issues of national, international and local concern over a hot omelette with two slices of bread! These would be slightly toasted on the griddle used the make the omelette which of course cost a little extra and a few drops of oil used to be added! That would be rounded off with a fresh lime soda, which he used to make himself in the old time thick bottles called as Goli soda!
Bhandary’s was the First shop of its kind selling omelettes, other than the hotels then. Soon he learnt that the effort was well worth the trouble because he started getting lots of customers, like doctors, engineers, politicians, entrepreneurs and many others. More than becoming a Master in Automobile Engineering, Bhandary Maam became a Master in Making Omelettes! He says when he started his business in 1964, he sold an omelette for 50 paise when an egg cost was only 15 paisa. Now each egg costs around Rs 5-6, so he charges Rs 15 for a single egg omelette and Rs 30 for a double. Decades ago he used a kerosene stove for frying omelettes, but at present, he uses a gas stove- thus he has to keep his price up. He says until now he might have cracked open close to 8 lakhs eggs, in preparing omelettes all these years
Many famous personalities of BJP were his regular visitors who have now become ministers and such, and to name a few, the late union minister Ananth Kumar (who used to often visit his shop when he was the ABVP leader between 1985-90); MLA Vedavyas Kamath, Dhananjaya Kumar, Dr Madhav Bhandary, Dr V S Acharya, among others. Even doctors like Dr Venkataraya Prabhu-the Dean of KMC, Late Dr Venkat Rao of Fr Muller Hospital, Dr S M Shetty and entrepreneurs like Arjun Moras, R M Rai and others. But it was the common man who was his mainstay- Bhandary’s shop was like a super bazar in those days when malls were not known. He used to stock everything from brooms to ice cream to perishables like milk and curds. Those around the area were his regular customers. But as he aged he found it difficult to run the shop.
His nephew, Girish Kamath who had joined him for a while, left him soon since he went to Surathkal to help his relative in their family business there. After that Bhandary tried to run the business single-handedly until his better half Ms S Vijayalakshmi, aged 70, stepped in to help every now and then, when he needed help- if not he managed the shop by himself-like he does now. But, when his wife developed orthopaedic problems, she couldn’t come to assist him anymore. The way Bhandary prepares an omelette is very simple- he uses a little oil in the pan, cracks open one or two eggs, adds salt, chopped pieces of onion and green chillis, beats the eggs, and then pours the contents into the pan. That’s it- and the fluffy omelette is ready in two minutes or less. The taste of the omelette is unbelievable- I guess its the magic of his hands! And I had the pleasure of trying one, which Bhandary offered me with love- and I couldn’t resist eating it at his shop- while his relative clicked a photo of me savouring the omelette for Bhandary’s memory sake.
Apart from his business, Ramachandra Bhandary is a well known social worker, makes it a point to visit people in distress, following the death of their kith and kin. He also makes arrangements for the last rites of the funeral, and people of Mannagudda know that he is helping someone in their funeral arrangements if they see his shop closed. Until now, Bhandary says that he has performed over 2000 funeral last rites, and has never charged a single rupee. He has also donated blood nearly 50 times, and his blood is AB+, which is very rare to find. Bhandary says with the grace of God, he has been very healthy without any health problems until now, whatsoever. When asked what will he do after retirement, he said that he will take morning and evening walks, meet friends and chat with them, and also continue to do social work, including helping people in their funeral arrangements.
With less than 15 days left to shut his business, Ramachandra Bhandary wanted to convey his message to his beloved customers through our website, where he said, “I feel very sad to close my business after I have made so many friends and well-wishers. All my customers were very supportive, caring and always gave respect. There was not a single customer that was rude to me, because I was nice to them, and they were nice to me. With all my heart I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the customers, friends and well-wishers who had patronized my shop and supported me until now. I seek your blessings and prayers during my retirement, and please feel free to talk to me whenever you see me. Thank You all, from the bottom of my heart”.
With age catching up and customer base going down because the youth of these days had no fascination for his omelettes or other concoctions, there was no way, he could continue the business. But, as he says, though his omelettes are no longer available, his services to the community will continue as far as his physical attributes let him to. Having only one daughter, Padma Bhandary who is married, Bhandary says that due to his old age, he has decided to shut down his business and spend more time with his family, but still continue to do social service. So, Team Mangalorean along with fellow Mangaloreans wish him a happy and well-deserved retirement!
Inputs from Rationalist Prof. Narendra Nayak, a relative of Ramachandra Bhandary, whose father Gopal Bhandary happens to be Prof Nayak’s maternal grandmother’s brother!