The Financial Express
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Those special roving vendors

| Updated: September 14, 2020 23:23:01

Those special roving vendors

Of all the roving vendors, the ones vending candy flosses, balloons and air-tight toys hovering overhead are surely a different species. Unlike fried peanut, chickpea, instant tea and concoction of fried-rice vendors, any one of the above does not look for customers among adult men and women. Their customers are children and even babies. This is why they are a rare breed of vendors.

With the compulsive quarantine enforced by coronavirus, this special kind of vendors like others in an array of vending vocation also disappeared from the capital city. After long six months they seem to be back again. Maybe, not all of them have returned but in ones or twos they are trying to explore if they can scrape through the dull and difficult period.

Realistically, they do not stand a very good chance. Although the majority of the citizenry are pretending to behave as if there is nothing to fear, coronavirus is still claiming no fewer than 30 to 40 lives a day and the number of fresh infections not coming below the thousand mark. In such a situation, only the daredevils can be on a family outing. Their numbers are likely to be few.

If families do not make their forays to shopping malls, take their small ones to parks, sport grounds of local boroughs, restaurants and community centres or other venues where different ceremonies are held or festivals celebrated, who will purchase their wares? Candy floss, balloons and flying transparent air-tight toys have hardly any utility value. But to the innocent young kids, the appeal of those is irresistible. Sure enough, candy floss or cotton candy is not supposed to have great food values. Even its little customers know that the most colourful cotton-like patch is not stomach-filling. Its texture and colour offer an unearthly beauty to a little beholder's eye. The little one is happy to be a proud possessor of one such goodie.

A balloon or a string-attached hovering toy's impermanence should have refrained its buyer from parting with money. But try saying this to the little one who has set his/her eyes on one of the many on offer, sure there will be a pandemonium in a public place. Some even try to capture more than one such eye-catcher. Prudent parents comply before giving scope for creating a scene. But if for any reason, pocket does not permit purchase of the one on demand, no one is sure where things will lead to.

The vendors of these particular items bank on this ingrained psychological drive. So without having practical uses, candy floss and these trinkets enjoy demand unmatched by anything other roving vendors vend on the street or in front of parks, sport grounds, shopping malls, community centres and other such facilities that serve as destinations for family outing within the city. Also, those who take to such trades are particularly fond of children. They want to see the little ones happy. There are stories that quite a few of them at times prove their love for children by offering the choicest item for free or at prices without profit if the parents are in a sticky position.   

Now the question is, how these vendors are currently faring or where had they been? Many enterprising young vendors switched over to vending masks, gloves, sanitiser, disinfectant and other health and hygienic items, the demands for which are still high. If the ballonwallahs or flosswallahs did the same they were not supposed to go back to their original business.

One thing is clear that those who have returned with floss and trinkets have somehow survived the pandemic but how that is a different story -one that is likely to be an odyssey. These are people with a meagre capital. They will receive no stimulus package whatsoever. But aren't they enterprising enough? After all they have an acute business sense. This is proved by their keen observation of an emotional attachment that works from behind to spur their sale.          


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