Essay on A Street Hawker
A street hawker is an integral part of a functioning society. He is someone who moves from place to place with his goods or equipment over his head or in a cart pushed by hand to sell them to people at their homes.
He usually carries essentials like fruits, vegetables, or even flowers. Certain street hawkers also sell utensils and food items. These street hawkers move from place to place and try to sell his goods by crying out the name of his goods.
Certain street hawkers also carry a bell to draw attention towards themselves. Another type of street hawkers is those who provide services like sharpening knives and other tools or fixing leakages and carrying heavy objects. These hawkers move from house to house and enquire if they need the services.
Street hawkers are particularly important because they ensure the delivery of goods to people’s houses. They are found everywhere – big metropolitan cities, large or small towns, and even in remote villages.
The Life of a Street Hawker
A typical day of street hawkers begins with gathering his goods. If he sells perishables like fruits or other food items that cannot be reused, he has to dispose of them. He must then travel to the central market where he can buy these fruits or other edibles for a lower price. He then loads his basket or cart.
On the other hand, a street hawker who sells non – perishables like bangles, cosmetics, or plastic items do not have to travel to the market every day. He loads his cart with the remaining products from the previous day and gets ready to leave.
Many street hawkers spend significant time in arranging their cart to not only make the products look desirable but also to fit in more products in the limited space.
After this, the street hawker is ready to leave on his endeavour. Usually, every street hawker has a specific set of routes they follow every day. If they provide complementary goods like fruits and vegetables, street hawkers may travel in groups. But they are more often than not solo travellers. They moved from street to street and house to house, yelling loudly to let people know of their arrival.
Some have even started using a mini speaker for this purpose. The timing of the arrival of the street hawker is essential. If he arrives too early in the morning, he might not find many buyers as people will be busy with preparing breakfast and sending children to school. He must arrive at a time when his customers will be free to look at his products and buy them.
Most people always bargain with a street hawker. He is usually polite and knows his way around customers. After a discussion about the price, he sells his products. If it is sold per kilogram, he always carries a balance with him. He continues going from place to place and, in some cases, travels from village to village to sell his goods.
It is important for him to sell at least most products on his cart, especially if they are perishables. If he fails to sell them, he occurs a loss. By the end of the day, he usually travels back to his place, calculates his earnings for the day before resting.
Some street hawkers are dishonest. They try to sell products that have already perished or are of bad quality by masking these features. They also quote a significantly higher price to cheat people. Some street hawkers who sell toys or sweets try to lure children into buying their goods unethically.
There have also been instances of malpractice by altering the weighing machine or selling defected goods. Many people nowadays avoid street hawkers for this reason.
Problems faced by a Street Hawker
Most street hawkers must be physically very strong to continue in this profession for a long time. It is very difficult to push a heavy cart, miles together, especially in hot summers. It is also not easy to carry baskets over one’s head for long distances. They often have shoulder and backaches after years of this work.
Further, they get very little rest. Their financial conditions force them to work even when they are sick. They also do not get hot or freshly prepared food because of the travelling nature of their job.
Weather is another major factor. Extreme weather conditions are incredibly detrimental to their health. They are usually forced to continue moving from place to place, even in hot summers or the monsoons.
They must not only protect themselves from harsh climatic conditions but must also ensure that the goods are not spoilt. This poses a huge challenge to street hawkers, especially during the rainy season.
Most people think it is okay to bargain excessively with the street hawker. This puts the street hawker under pressure as they cannot afford to lose a customer. Many times, the street hawker is forced to agree to the demands of the consumer as he will face loss otherwise. This means that his profit is reduced, and he cannot make enough to feed his family. Thus, people must be more sympathetic towards the street hawker.
Another issue faced by street hawkers is excess competition and lack of job security. He must always aim to provide the best quality products at a minimal price to retain his customers. Further, if he falls sick or cannot continue in the profession after a certain age, he is left income less. As he is a daily wage earner, riots and bandh also affect his income.
A special type of a Street Hawker
The Kabbadiwala is a special kind of street hawker. This is because, instead of selling goods or services for money, he buys recyclables from people and pays them a minimum amount for that. This service is essential as it ensures that household items like newspapers, single-use plastic bottles, and milk tins are recycled.
He usually arrives in a cycle attached to a cart and collects these items from every house. He also carries a weighing machine by which he weighs the recyclable products and pays accordingly. He carries a bulk of these recyclable products to a recycling unit and sells it there for a higher price than what he brought it at to earn his living. Thus, he is a special kind of street hawker.
A street hawker is a significant member of the society. He delivers goods from door to door. He is particularly necessary for remote villages where he delivers the daily essentials. He ensures that products reach their place even in the harshest of weather.
As he belongs to the unorganised sector, he receives few benefits. He is also plagued by the evils of poverty. After the advent of supermarkets and online shopping, his role in society has significantly reduced. His profits are being eaten by these retailers.
Further, people are often mean to street hawkers and do not respect his time and effort. They treat the street hawker poorly because of his economic status. Everyone must understand and uphold his dignity of labour.