Unlock Saga: Small Pavement Sellers Dot City Roads With Ethnic Rajasthani, Gujarati Products
Bhubaneswar: Multi-coloured bedcovers, sarees, lehenga cholis, dolls and dupattas embellished with heavy mirror-work brought life to the otherwise lack-lustre pavements in one of busiest roads of Bhubaneswar recently. A sight that was refreshing enough to draw people, who stopped, shopped and left in a flurry. Because it was still lockdown and first unlock that functions with restrictions.
Selling these products were women, a few men as well, and a little prodding made them vent their anguish on how lockdown has affected their business and livelihood. Some from Rajasthan and some Gujaratis; these families used to sustain life by selling these products at various fairs in many parts of the country. With lockdown imposed, neither could they return to their native land nor sell to earn. However, there were a couple of people who had settled in the city three or four years prior.
Having settled in Damana, Bhubaneswar, these sellers fetch raw materials from their home towns like Surat and Ahmedabad and make the final products here to sell. As Karuna Patel from Surat, who sells handmade dolls said, “We have been staying here in Odisha since last 4-years and are a part of local Gujju community here. Lockdown turned to be a huge financial burden on us. Hence, we are trying to make and sell products on our own here.” She had no qualms in accepting that she manages to earn Rs 700 per day.
From selling typical Gujarati and Rajasthani work, Mukesh Pokar from Pilani, Rajasthan has been forced to sell plastic containers. He says, “We get plastic stuff from Kolkata. We have people who send us. With lockdown restrictions, it would have been extremely difficult to depend on fabric and clothing business. I decided to opt selling plastic containers which are needed by all for household purposes.”
Cribbing about no package from the government, these sellers expressed their inability to continue the work if sales do not improve in the coming days. Some also said they have started making dolls which are priced at Rs 120 per piece and easily saleable while the typical and authentic Gujarati or Rajasthani stuffs are not much sought after in the troubled pandemic times. “Now we have started selling dolls because our costlier products, which require hard work, are remaining unsold,” said another of the community.
With hope to have business as usual in the coming days, these sellers are waiting for easing of more restrictions to help them regain their livelihood. “Ab toh pehle se hi shuru karna padega. Sara paisa toh ab chala gaya…” were the words one of the sellers uttered while packing his wares before it struck 7 pm, the lockdown time.