At first light the boy brought him two plastic sacks of sweets – Orbs of puffed rice glued together with toffee – In preparation for the holiday to commemorate God When street vendors could expect to make some extra rupees
I watched him struggle to keep those sacks On his tiny bicycle-wheeled trolley along with his Iron scales and weights, a stack of paper bags made from old newspapers And a small mound of unsold rice balls left over from the day before.
I watched him that bent old man in his cotton kurta Juggling the means of his survival at the start of the day.
In the evening I saw him again When I bought a bag of those sticky sweet orbs – four for a rupee –
The street was noisy, crowded It was hot The air foul with fumes and smoke
The two big plastic sacks were still on his trolley Only half of one sack had been sold
And he was still standing there Juggling his survival Fourteen hours after I first saw him That old street vendor.
For photos and stories about street vendors from many different nations, see Serious Travel Images:
There is something addictive about getting up one morning and moving on, leaving everything behind, the baggage of yesterday’s experiences and last night’s dreams; of starting out anew.
It’s an irresponsible way of life, a free life.
In this mode of existence, a day is a long time.
You arrive in a new place and confront the unknown. The simple tasks of finding a place to stay and somewhere to eat, of orienting oneself to the new surroundings and finding out when and where the next bus or train leaves, becomes an odyssey, a journey into the unknown.
Time seems endless. Life is an epic full of frustrations, unforgettable scenes and comic situations.
You can do the most mundane things – walk around aimlessly, play the tourist, take photos, or just look – and take pleasure in them. Everything is new, exciting.
Then before you know it, you wake up one morning to a feeling of familiarity – the feeling that you know this place too well, that you have been here for a long time.
The senses become dulled. You see less, notice less.
You begin to regard your hotel room as ‘home’.
Before long, the strangeness of arrival, intimidating, exhilarating, mysterious, fades. In its place comes the comfort of living to a set of small routines.
Then comes the creeping ennui, the listlessness.
It’s time to move on again.
There’s something addictive about always being a stranger, a pair of eyes wandering an immense foreign landscape, someone who is always arriving and never stays.
Ever the stranger.
See also Serious Travel Images, ‘On the Move’ parts 1 and 2:
Our language was given to us by the Gods who created our world.
We had our own language and that was who we were.
We had names for every kind of tree, for every kind of plant, for every kind of vine, plant and flower.
We had names for every kind of animal, bird, reptile and fish.
And friend, in those days, there were so many – so many – species of trees, plants, animals, birds, fish and insects.
All around us. We were a part of them and they were a part of us.
We had stories and songs to guide us through the forest, to know where we were going and why we were there.
Our language was the promise that our world would be replenished.
It was the promise that after we died, we would return to our world.
One day men who spoke a different language came with their Evil Magic and destroyed our world.
Our people were scattered.
We became slaves.
Some of us worked on the roads, some of us fixed fences, some of us worked in mines, some of us worked in factories.
We found ourselves alone, speaking a dead language.
What had we done wrong?
How had we angered the Gods?
Or were our Gods dead?
Many of us lost the will to live and drank ourselves to death.
As for me, a survivor, I spend my days walking through the mud where once the forest thrived, unable to speak to anyone, thinking words in a language no one understands.
I talk to myself, talk aloud, hoping that someone, another survivor somewhere, will hear me and answer me.
I wait and wait, listening to the echo of my own voice, Speaking a dead language.
A photo of Ivaritji, the last survivor of the Kaurna people, who once inhabited the area where Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, stands today. The photo was taken in 1939, shortly before she died, by anthropologist Norman B. Tindale. A far better reproduction of this photo can be seen in the South Australian Museum.