Friday, June 26, 2009

The vendors' 'intelligence' network: Indian samosa-seller

Though it may seem to be a joke, the fact is that the vendors seem to have an intelligence network of their own and that beats the cops and journalists.

A sudden demonstration, a gherao (laying siege) at a minister's bungalow, a protest in which an organisation decides to barge into the premises unannounced or a convergence of rally from rural areas to a particular locality in the capital--everything that may not be known to others, is known to the vendors.

Wherever there is a a gathering, the vendors do get air and often before the gathering begins, they reach there, hoping to sell off their goods quickly. The vendors selling samosas, moong-phali or chana-jor-garam snacks or those selling balloons and cheap toys manage to reach these places despite the fact that they don't have vehicles. [They don't have wireless sets either].

However, it's clear that they do have an awesome network. It may even seem mysterious at times. Call it sheer professionalism or the requirement of livelihood, that they either anticipate the place where there could be a crowd (even a place where trouble is likely).

Of course, they do have camaraderie, as one after the other, vendors of all kinds reach the place. After a brisk initial sale, they rush out if the trouble intensifies. Ask the cops and they will testify about the vendors.

If only the law-enforcers take a crash course from vendors, they might get to know more about criminals and troublemakers. Or at least they can pay them a stippend and enrol them as 'informers' for tips.

Basharat sells samosas that are filled with 'daal', sabzi and other spices rather than potato. His tray got sold out within hours of a sudden protest that was arranged by an NGO in the way of a VIP cavalcade. Youths and elderly participants who had been brought from faraway villages were hungry and tired.

The samosas were a sellout. Eighty-odd sold in less than an hour. Ask him the secret of how his nose smells the crowd and he sheepishly says, 'Sahab, pataa chal jaata hai'. In the past also, I have written posts on the roving Samosa-sellers, who fascinate me.

Earlier posts on Samosa-sellers at
1. Chacha's qeema-stuffed samosas
2. A samosa-seller's nap under a tree shade