Cobblers and street vendors

Pavement trading places

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If you have some favourite footwear that your shoe mender back home wants big money to repair, then consider bringing them to India. Somewhere on Delhi’s streets you’ll find a man squatting on the pavement surrounded by tins of polish, brushes, strips of leather and rubber, knives, pots of glue, and thread and needle. There’s not much they cannot repair but get a quote first. Failing that you can always get new shoelaces or have your shoes polished.

They’re not the only ones who can’t afford premises and who use the pavement as their trading place. Fruit, clothes, knickknacks, wallets, purses, belts, embroidered fabrics, material from Rajasthan with those little sewn-in mirrors, sun glasses and books are among the many things available off the pavement.

That’s not to mention the food sellers offering, chaat (fried snacks), bel puri (a ball of batter filled with potato and a pepper sauce and paan and a very wide range of take-away snacks.

You can also get a haircut and a shave, or have your clothes ironed. If a man with a red head-scarf with little metal sticks poking out of it approaches you then you’re about to be offered an ear cleaning. It might be wise to decline.

At A Glance


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