If there’s one thing Mohd Ismail wants, it’s that his children don’t follow his footsteps. “I don’t want them to spend their days sitting by the road selling wares. And then face days when there are no sales at all,” says the vendor, who sells cushions, pillows and upholstery by the roadside at Greenlands.

Ismail, who has been selling home décor accessories for over 12 years at the same spot, was earlier a watchmaker. “I had my own shop in Old City. Business was good at the time. I’d make watches and carry out repair works,” he says. But with the demand for such services dying, Ismail was forced to look for an alternate source of livelihood. “Nobody wears those sort of watches any more. If one gets spoilt they buy another one. And now with everybody carrying a mobile phone they don’t need a watch to tell the time.” So Ismail shut his store in Old City and decided to switch jobs to eke out a living. For the last 12 years now, he has been opening this shop by 12 noonand does business till 9.30 p.m. “There are days when I make a profit of around Rs.500 to Rs.600. But then there are days when I have no sales at all,” he says. Diwali and Sankranti are the busiest times; that’s when he has the maximum sales. But customers do bargain a lot, he says, adding that he gets some of his stock from Delhi, while a lot of the foam products are locally made. The father of four hopes to have his children educated at least upto class XII. “I can’t educate them more than that because I don’t earn much. But I do want them to have basic education at least, so that they can land jobs better than mine. I would never want them to do this kind of work. If in the future I am able to save more then I’d probably encourage them to go to college as well,” he says optimistically.

(I am is a weekly feature on men and women who make Hyderabad what it is)