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.