‘Not Just A Footpath Shop, This Means Everything To Me’

“I was a coolie at Vadodara railway station. It was the springtime of my youth. Ha Ha. Done and dusted.”

“Everything was moving smoothly as a train runs on the track. And then all of a sudden there was a crack in the track. I was diagnosed with a hernia. After treatment, I was advised not to lift heavy weight. I had to quit that job against my wish.”

5pm to 11pm: Salim puts up his stall outside the campus of Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University of Baroda.

“I could not sit idle. What does a mazdoor (labourer) have? Two hands. Two legs.” “I built a small house and bought an Activa-scooter with my life savings.”

“I used to make tasty tea in my childhood. So, that memory encouraged to set up this tea stall.”

 “Cutting chai for Rs. 10. Full cup for Rs. 20.” “I also sell cigarettes.”

“It is not an easy job to run a stall on footpath. Hot weather. Cold weather. Rains, too. Ah, mosquitoes.”

“Where could I go?” “People from municipal corporation once confiscated my wares and said that ‘you don’t have any license to sell tea…’.” “I somehow managed to get my trolley back”

“No, I wasn’t able to get a license.”

A battery operated lamp, a few dozen glasses[ each costs Rs. 20]. two saucepans, plastic buckets ,a stove and jhola bags.

“Since then, I am selling tea here on footpath. Now, no one disturbs me. 28 years. A dog’s age!” “Life is going on…”

“I have two daughters. Both are happily married. Sons-in-law deliver raw materials to me every day.” “It would not be wrong to say that they are the vertebrae of this business.”

“My daily transaction remains on the margin of Rs 2,500-3,000, leaving me with a daily profit of Rs. 200-300. On weekdays, Rs 500-600 at most, thanks to Kamati Bagh (as townsmen utilising their day off flock to the local garden).” “These all are just numbers for me now, my real earning is the eternal connection I have made with the people who come here. “

“People feel lonely in this day and age. I do not.”

– Salim Bhai Syed, 60, a resident of Kalyan Nagar colony of [Karelibaug locality] Vadodara district of Gujarat.

Please, feel free to write to us at editor.thebuoy@protonmail.com if you want to help Salim in any possible way. Do mention IUP2 in subject-line.

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