In the past, children would flock around his cart as he molded candy into whatever shape they wanted. Meet the Bombe Mithaiwala!
Here is a picture of the Bombe Mithaiwala. I met him during the Republic Day flower show at Lalbagh.
The Bombe Mithaiwala with his bombe (doll). Pic: Smitha Jacob
I saw him standing with a doll propped on a stick and asked him what was special about it. He showed me a rubbery red, white and yellow chewy candy which he kept in a huge packet under the doll, and said "Bombe Mithai."
Children soon began gathering around him as he started shouting, “Airplane, peacock, car, doll, flower... Enu beku?"
A child shouted, “Car!” He then pulled some candy from the packet (it looked like a rubber tube when pulled on), shaped it into a car and propped it on a little stick. This one was sold for Rs 10.
He could mold the candy into any shape that was asked for and was really good at it. My son asked for an airplane.
Candy shaped like an airplane. Pic: Smitha Jacob
The candy was good! We loved it, except for the fact that it stuck to the teeth. We were supposed to lick it apparently...
Later, one of my Kannadiga friends told me that the Bombe Mithaiwala (bombe translates to doll in Kannada) used to be a common sight in the past. The mithaiwalas would walk through lanes and streets shouting “Bombe Mithai, Bombe Mithai”.