30 September 2011

Pavement jobs

For many people in Bangalore and other Indian cities, their place of work is the city’s roads and footpaths. These entrepreneurs take their services to the places where they’re needed. A good example is the many cobblers who are found on every busy street. When my sandal broke while walking down the street one day – that most important little strip that goes between the toes detached itself from the sole of my sandal – I didn’t have to go far to find a shoemaker: about 5 metres. 2 minutes and 5 rupees later, my sandal was fixed and I could be on my way again.

There are also many bicycle repairmen who operate on street corners. Cyclists can stop to get a flat tire repaired or spoke fixed. On a road in my neighbourhood there’s a man who stands around wearing grease-stained clothes and holding tools. I always wondered what he was up to until one day I saw him in his usual spot fixing an auto-rickshaw.

Outside a post office in Calcutta I once observed a row of temporary pavement stalls selling envelopes, string, tape and anything else needed to prepare letters and packages. And a row of typists sitting on the ground behind typewriters, ready to type up any correspondence needed. I haven’t seen this in Bangalore, but I took the photo below in Pondicherry.

This mobile workshop belongs to a key maker who works on the roadside:

This knife-sharpener walks the streets offering his services. This reminds me of the sound of a bell that I would hear in my neighbourhood when I was growing up in Toronto. The regular cling-clang sound would come closer and closer. My mother would gather up all the knives which had gone blunt and take them outside to the knife-sharpener who’d sharpen them on the sidewalk. I wonder if he still comes by.


Martina said...

Saw typewriter guys in Malleswaram recently; between Vodafone shop and Mantri Mall. Forgot to enquire if it was English or Kannada typing! Would love to see a Kannada typewriter.

Manoj said...

Photo of real India, great photography.

Isabel said...

Thanks Martina! I was sure there must be sidewalk typewriters somewhere in Bangalore.

Thank you Manoj. Visit again!