Mar 3, 2011

The “Wallahs” of our country! (NaBloPoMo Post #3)


There is one thing in India that we don’t find in any other country. And no, I don’t mean the heat and dust, the pollution or the corruption :) I am talking about the various vendors that roam the streets selling everything under the sun! I call them the “wallahs” of our country, since we simply name them by affixing “wallah” to whatever they are selling! For example doodh-wallah, Sabzi-wallah etc etc. :D
I don’t think we realize it, but they are an indispensable part of our life. Our morning starts with the Doodh-wallah ringing our bell with fresh milk in huge steel vessels or dolchis as they are called. (Well now things are modernized in most parts of the country and these fellows are replaced by the more modern Doodhwallahs who brings our milk in tetra packs along with our eggs and bread). They are followed by the Sabzi-wallahs. They come calling early in the morning bringing fresh vegetables on a thela (cart), loudly proclaiming how red their tomatoes are, how crisp their cabbage is and how fresh their ladyfinger is at the top of their lungs. They are a boon for those of us who rarely have time to go out vegetable shopping during the week and only realize we are in trouble when we start cooking in the morning and realize that we are out of onions or potatoes or ginger! A quick shout to the sabzi wallah and we can buy whatever we want right at our doorstep while still in our pajamas! It’s so much better than getting packaged vegetables from the supermarket. After all buying vegetables loses most of its fun without the bargaining and the supermarket doesn’t give us free dhaniya and mirchi, does it! Once the Sabzi-wallahs leave, the Nariyal-Paniwallah comes to stand just outside the park, strategically placing himself in the path of all the joggers who are bound to be thirsty when they leave the park after their morning exercise! Next comes the Istri-wallah. So convenient to get our clothes ironed! All we have to do is tie them up in a bundle and hand it to the fellow and we get them back stiffly starched and ironed by the end of the day!All through the day comes a procession of these people. The Fruit wallah, jhadu wallah (he sells everything from mops to dusters to brooms), the chaku-tez-karane wallah - he will sharpen your kitchen knives till they are razor sharp! And how about the kabadi wallah that comes every weekend! These are the guys who buy our old junk and recycle it. What a novel way to dispose of our newspapers, old boxes, utensils, buckets and even electronic items! Imagine getting rid of our useless items and getting paid for it too!
Besides these roaming salesmen on bicycles, I don’t think any other country has the variety of small shops that repair anything from torn shoe straps to electric kettles. Sole’s come off your shoe? Not to worry, just walk over to the nearest mochi sitting under the tree and get it repaired! Handle broken off your pan! No problem! just take it to the guy repairing utensils and he will fix it in a jiffy! Not only do these people make our lives very convenient they are also very inexpensive. I remember in Tokyo the strap of my otherwise perfectly all right handbag broke and when I went to a shop to get it repaired, (it took me two days of search on the Internet and a lot of asking around before I could find a shop that repairs leather items); the cost of stitching the strap was more than the cost of my pure leather bag!
How about the various food vendors that we see everywhere. The chaiwallahs who do a brisk business throughout the year, the nimboopani and juice wallahs that appear every summer, the moongfali and popcorn wallah that come every winter and the Bhutta (corn)wallahs that turn up as soon as the rains start ! And my all time favorite the Chaat wallahs. Ahh the joy of gorging on golgappas and telling the chaatwallah “Bhaiya thoda aur teekha banana” or “bhaiya thodi imli daalana !
So tell me do you deal with these “wallahs” every day and which one do you like the most?

9 comments:

  1. I miss my istri-wallah the most :(

    In terms of liking, i think the gamle/mitti/paudhey/khad wallah was my fav :)

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  2. Great observation....I myself have become blog wali.. ;)

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  3. I believe these guys are the champions of distribution at the grassroot levels.

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  4. @mindspace - Oh yes ! poudhe wala how cld I forget him ! It was fun buying plants from them !
    @Alka - yes we all are blog -wallahs ! :)
    @Prats - very true !

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  5. @mindspace - Oh yes ! poudhe wala how cld I forget him ! It was fun buying plants from them !
    @Alka - yes we all are blog -wallahs ! :)
    @Prats - very true !

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  6. i like the one who brings the plants! :)

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  7. LOL yes we are all blog-wallas!

    Nice post, I never worried about the wallas when some political groups were worrying about their losing their jobs once the Malls And Super Markets became popular. Always bought my sabzi from my balcony.

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  8. Wow! Lovely post Ruchi!! How much I miss all those wallahs here :(
    Where on earth do we get all these convenience at our door steps!
    I like kabadi wallah! Coz we are disposing unnecessary goods for money! I remember disposing some goods while I was in Zurich, I had to pay the money to the 2nd hand shops for them to cover the storage space! And I ended up paying about 100 francs for a table and sofa! If only these kabadi wallahs were there, how easy life would have been :D geezzz!!

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