You see them everywhere….at every traffic signal, on the pavements, on the roads.
They thrust all sorts of things at you: yellow dustercloths, packs of cotton buds, little battery-operated lights, expanding "laundry" bags, rolling windshield screens…or they sit on the footpaths, selling ceramic wares, cheap chandeliers, or put up tents offering herbal medicines.
These are the visible yet invisible people. As the motorists and two-wheelers stand at traffic lights, they sometimes notice these people enough to buy their wares, after bargaining them down into the ground; but more often, they flick a glance their way and turn their minds elsewhere, while these vagabonds go on to the next car, the next scooter….
These people are surely, better than the beggars, who extend leprous arms for alms; they seem to want to make a living, however precarious, out of the cheap stuff they sell.
Most of the people I try speaking to, are instantly suspicious at my approach; to them, any figure of authority is something to be afraid of. No doubt, countless encounters with the police have conditioned them this way.
Those whom I was, finally, able to talk to (generally women) said, for the most part, that they were from Rajasthan, and there was "nothing to live for" there…what a sad commentary on the state of our democracy!
I don’t think life is treating them any better over here…some of them in fact, bring their camels over, too, and it is now not a strange sight to see a camel sloping along the streets of Bangalore.
They seem to sleep in their makeshift tents, and after a few days, they are gone again, I do not know where to….
I wish our social fabric could accomodate these wanderers, these people who are in Bangalore, yet not of Bangalore…will they be able to escape the grinding poverty they left behind, or will they find that it has arrived, yoked to their feet, to this city, too? ⊕
No offence meant I would rather ask them to make living in thier own places. Not that I am cold in unwelcoming them, just this city cannot stand more woes to already over grown populace in this city.
As citizens we can distribute and help them in self employment projects rather sending apathy wishes towards their living.
-Concerned Citizen of Bangalore
Deepa, thanks for this essential and interesting piece. While talking to street vendors recently, I felt that they’re more welcoming than big shopkeepers!