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124. The Price of Cheap Lunch

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The Al Habib Eatery’s kitchen was dark even though a bulb hung from the ceiling. Years of grime and soot had turned into permanent wallpaper. In one corner was an earthen stove, on which a huge vessel was filled with rice, the size of bullets. The smell of beef and lentils hung in the air as the twelve-year-old chef stirred a pot filled with stew; his small fist holding a generous helping of chilli powder. In the eating area, men were washing their hands under the tables and folding their legs on the wooden stools waiting for their ten-rupee meals.

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