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: