Pheriwallah 1.

A Pheiriwallah is a mobile vendor of items of daily use for homes and small businesses. The origin of the name is the English Ferry and wallah is for a man. A woman vendor will be called a Pheriwalli. They are ubiquitous in India and form a major part of the self employed 50% of the total work force here.

Pheriwallahs and pheriwallis sell all kinds of things ex their hand carts, bicycles, and even from baskets kept on their heads while walking about. Some modern developments using three wheeled mini pick up vans have started too. Many of them specialize like sourcing tailor trimmer items from wholesalers for tailors located all over the cities and towns and some travel to many towns and villages from a core trading town.

As and when I come across some of these colourful characters, I shall photograph them and introduce their trade to my readers.

These two photographs are of a vendor of brooms, doormats, bamboo sweeps etc, who plies his trade from a bicycle. He and others like him are very common in the residential areas of our city.

They buy their ware on credit from wholesalers in the heart of the city and vend in speicific localities for each of them so that there is no competition among themselves in each locality. Accounts are settled once a week or when stocks need replenishment.

Their cries announcing their arrivals are jarring to sensitive ears, but loud enough to make their presence felt. Housewives often get to remember to replace their worn out cleaning equipment when their cries are heard.

This lad is originally from a backward part of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, which may be familiar to my British readers as the old United Provinces. He migrated to Pune finding little scope for employment or enterprise in his part of the world and joined some others from his village who had already migrated to Pune much earlier.

Once in Pune, again having failed to find anything better to do, he was roped in by two others from his village doing the same thing two years ago. He has not looked back since and is able to send money home regularly to keep the Money Order economy of Uttar Pradesh alive.

He lives in a single room along with seven others from his village. Each has a cot to sleep on in the room and all of them share one toilet and one bathroom with three other sets of eight people per room in one house in the outskirts of Pune. All of them bicycle to work or trade daily and are on their tasks for a minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve hours daily. They eat in their own communal eating places called Messes and usually only one main meal a day, which is dinner. They usually entertain themselves by listening to FM radio which now a days, is part of their mobile phones.They go through the rest of the day with snacks and tea obtained from way side stalls like this:

That lady, very likely also from some rural outpost, too symbolizes entrepreneurship at its best and performs a vital function in keeping the wheels of progress(?) in cities moving. Do note the wall painting promoting Coca Cola at the back!

Such Pheriwallahs are also a significant part of the carriers of AIDS for obvious reasons. They get infected in cities and carry the disease with them to their villages on their annual or at-need visits, and leave it back with their wives.

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