Snow-cone vendor ‘Dougla’ keeps his customers ‘cool’

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Herman Persaud, aka ‘Dougla’, preparing one of his tasty snow-cones for a customer

By Alva Solomon

If you disembark your transportation on Regent Road outside the Bourda Market on a hot, sunny day, you may surely encounter ‘Dougla’, the snow-cone vendor who has been at that location for very many years.

His real name is Herman Persaud, and he is the snow-cone man whose cart is thronged daily by customers from all walks of life at the busy intersection of Regent Road and Bourda Street. Persaud told Guyana Times recently that he has been selling snow-cone for some 45 years. He said he started the business in front of the Stabroek Market in the late 1980s.

Attractive cups and tasty syrups

He said it is a business which has evolved, and today, his attractive stand boasts various sizes of colourful cups, unique straws, heaps of ice packed on his cart, and multiple tins of condensed milk. His syrups happen to be one of the major attractions to his stand, and according to him, the liquid is prepared during the previous night.

A father of five, Persaud said he starts his day as early as 05:00hrs. He said he would roll out his cart to his business spot, and sweep and clean the area surrounding his cart. “After that, I would go and ride and exercise until 7 o’clock,” he said. He said the exercise is necessary since he plies his trade all day while standing.

Prior to moving to the busy intersection outside the Bourda Market, Persaud said, he once sold snow cones outside the East Ruimveldt Secondary School, which many fondly know as the ‘back school’. He said he enjoyed those days when he sold his product to the children there, but he noted that one day he was attacked by bandits.

“I can’t remember the exact date, but it was in the 1990s, and since then, I moved here,” he said. “I here outside Bourda almost 30 years now,” he added.

COVID times

When the COVID-19 disease hit the shores of the country in March 2020, many persons, including the owners of small businesses such as Persaud’s, were forced to remain indoors. Persaud said it was a challenging period, but he noted that he re-emerged to ply his trade a month after the regulations to remain indoors were lifted.

“I had to ensure I wear my mask and sanitise and so, and I ensure to use my fever grass and lemon grass and so,” Persaud added.

A main reason why people flock to his snow-cone cart is related to his prices. Persaud said that although he sells his colourful cups of snow-cones at standard prices, he also sells the product in transparent cups and also in transparent plastic bags. Persons who may not have the full amount of money to purchase the colourful cups are guaranteed to walk away with a tasty cup or bag of snow-cone from Persaud’s cart.

“You can get one for $60, $100, $140 or $240, different prices,” he added. Persons also purchase bags of ‘plain ice’ from his cart.

In recent weeks, Guyana has been experiencing unusually hot weather, while some days the rain pours. For Persaud, the hotter days are better days for business. “Sometimes when it raining you won’t see the amount of snow-cone selling when compared to when the place sunny; because, when the sun shining, people get more thirsty,” he opined.

As regards his ice, Persaud said, his ice box is “well sealed”, and the ice can last the entire day until after 17:00hrs, when he ceases to sell for the day.

As regards the future, Persaud said he would be selling his snow cones in the years ahead, since, according to him, even if he leaves the business behind, he still has to make a living. “So, I know about this, and this is what I will be doing to earn a living,” the ambitious businessman has said.