Traders from North set up shop to eke out living

‘C/o Platform,' near Green Circle, Katpadi Road, Vellore-632004, could well be the generic postal address of Ramanand and family from Delhi, comprising Ramanand, his wife, son and daughter who have pitched a tent on the pavement here to sell fancy Chinese dolls to passers-by.

In fact, the Green Circle, which has become a hawking hotspot of sorts, might even be the common address of many more such migrant traders from the North who have set up shop to sell all sorts of wares to eke out a living. Ramanand's son Jitendra Kumar (24), who has not been to school and his married sister also double up as salespersons who haggle with prospective buyers.

“We stay in Vellore for a month or two and go back to Delhi after selling all our wares. After a month's stay in Delhi, we start on our next journey to another part of India,” said Jitendra Kumar.

The life of this homeless family alternates between one or two months of stay outside Delhi and one month of stay in the capital, where too they stay in a tent.

Business is not easy for them in their peripatetic life, and they do not make huge profits by selling these dolls. “Buyers haggle with us, and even on a good day, we are able to sell just four dolls,” said Jitendra Kumar.

These traders do not find many takers for the Chinese dolls as local shoppers find the products overpriced. They depend primarily on those travelling by car between Chennai and Bangalore. “I have been doing the same business, and now my children are also into it,” said Ramanand in broken Tamil.

“The money we make just about suffices for our sustenance,” he said, asked why he has not educated his children or grandchildren.

Ramanand's daughter has brought her two little children with her. In their innocence, the tiny tots would often quietly play with a doll until some buyer comes along and clinches the deal. Would they ever make it to a school or turn into child workers, one wonders.

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