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cane basket weaver
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Sumati is lean and unmindful of the summer heat, weaves non-stop to finish a lamp shade. A little away from her is her mother who also busy shaving the cane strands with which the various artefacts are made. On her lap is a baby and next to Sumati’s mother, her father is taking a nap.

Sumati and her parents along with the four-five other children aren’t new entrants on this route. These roadside vendors are craftsmen of sorts and park themselves in an open area in between Tivioli and Secunderabad Club signal.

They have put their open air shop under the shade of a Banyan tree who’s hanging roots also double up as their showroom. What sells most are flat-based oval shaped laundry baskets with a lid and the lamp shades. They make open baskets as well.

In the morning they aren’t active sellers, “everyone is busy in the morning. People are either going to office or on other works. This is not the time to sell. They will notice us but will only buy when they are returning home,” says Sumati.

Sumati must be around 20 years old, she isn’t sure of her age and so are her parents. But they make a wild guess. ‘Must be 21,’ her mother says.

With the mention of a photo Sumati agrees, washes her face and quickly puts the red ‘kumkum bindi’. “I am married, so the bindi,” she explains.

This family is a part of a tribe who comes from the jungles near Tirupathi and according to them, everyone in their little village know how to weave. “We do only this work. And the cane we use is from the jungles,” explains Sumati.

Sumati speaks no other language other than Telugu but her parents speak a word or two of Hindi like — ‘jungle, paisa, karpa, baccha.’

The cane looks like the mid rid of the coconut palm but on closer observation it shows the difference. These are dry and very flexible and come in an odd shape. These canes are then slit in several pieces and then further smoothened by shaving it a specialised sickle which resembles a hand. “Every 10 days we go to procure the cane and work during the dry months,” she says.

PRABALIKA M BORAH

(A weekly feature on the men and women who make Hyderabad what it is)

Everyone is busy in the morning. People are either going to office or on other works. This is not the time to sell. They will notice us but will only buy when they are returning home

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