The street business
autoriskha and passengers
Indian tea shop
Life on the streets
Aahana decided to take Teesta around the city. The street was buzzing with activities. Buses, taxis, cars and auto rickshaws honked to rush past. There were florists, cobblers, barbers, people selling objects on carts, newspaper vendors and makeshift platforms selling a variety of colourful objects.
Teesta looked around with great interest at the crowds and the variety of jobs people were doing to earn a livelihood. Shops selling tea, juice corners selling juice and man under a large shady tree selling a variety of objects, such as tables, chairs, boxes and lampshades, made from cane everything looked very interesting but it also hinted on he kind of hardships these men and women braved to earn a living.
As the girls walked towards the end of the lane, they came across some vegetables and fruit vendors. Some were selling them on hand carts, while others had made temporary structures with cardboards and canvas. Everybody had stacked their fruits and vegetables beautifully to attract customers.
Aahana and Teesta stopped at a coconut vendor's stall. He was hardly 14 years old. His name was Bhiku and he earned Rupees 300 – 350 a day. His father and brother sold vegetables at the other end of this street. His two sisters, mother and grandparents lived in the village and took care of the small piece of land that they owned.
He related how they reached the wholesale market or mandi by 4.30 am to purchase vegetables. His brother and father had a permanent place. As hawking was prohibited in many parts of the city, many a times the police forced vendors to dismantle their shops. As a result, their business suffered. So, people like Bhiku kept moving around the locality.
As Teesta and Aahana walked towards the bus stop, they understood the hardships faced by the pavement dwellers. Even though they were regarded as a nuisance, it was actually the desire to have a better life that drove them to the cities. Lack of opportunity forced them to migrate to cities and live in unpleasant slums and streets. Due to lack of education and skill, they took up jobs as per their aptitude.
However, due to the efforts of many social welfare organisations, the government is modifying laws that recognise hawking as a way of livelihood. Aahana and Teesta decided to take a rickshaw to the market.