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April 10, 2007 8:40 AM   Subscribe

The humble Street Vendor. The Pushcarts of India. Street Vendors from around the world. And some more pictures of Street Vendors.
posted by hadjiboy (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2007

Indian Street Vendors have their own **log-in** website? What is the world coming to!

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posted by parmanparman at 8:58 AM on April 10, 2007

Nice post. I dread the day when I leave Asia and can't pay fifty cents for a multi-course meal, with more flavors and seasonings than I have pounds, served on a 14" tall table and tiny plastic micro-stools.

Is it just China or do street vendors everywhere turn eggplant into one of the tastiest treats of all time?
posted by trinarian at 9:22 AM on April 10, 2007

A senior official of ITC said the prospective vendors would be selected from among the poor unemployed youth. Existing pushcarts would be used initially and later specially designed carts with the company's insignia would be deployed.

Oh man, this sounds bad at many levels. This is like Wal-Mart getting into the street vendor business. Many people in the slums are struggling to get by, and this comes along and rocks the boat.
posted by zek at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2007

Say hey hadjiboy, cool post. You're posting about my profession! YAYYY street vendors of the world! This May I will have been a street vendor for 21 years.

The street vendors of India are amazing. It always astounded me how people could make a living spreading out a small piece of cloth or a box and putting something on it but they did and do. Or a tiny stall selling a handful of bottles of soda, flower petals , kettle of tea or paan. I enjoyed the tea vendors expecially at the train stations with their huge, banged up, aluminum kettles of milky sweet chai and those charming disposable clay cups that one could throw out the window after and know it was biodegradable.

In 1976 my kid sister told me about an ad for a job being a hot dog vendor at a Sabrett hot dog stand. People were so nice while I was doing this humble job that I thought I'd try street vending again, 10 years later outside the Museum of Modern Art, here in NYC, this time selling African art.

There is an amazing political/legal activist, Robert Lederman, who has done a tremendous amount of work protecting street vendor rights in NYC. He has a Yahoo Group, NYC Street Artists (he's also an artist who sells his work on the street) discussing how to protect one's legal rights as a vendor.

My own, sorely neglected, packed with typos blog, NYCStreetVendor. It's been so long since I looked at the dang site I don't know how to log in any more. *sigh*. Ah well, time to leave for work. :)
posted by nickyskye at 9:58 AM on April 10, 2007

I love the way you construct your posts:)
posted by hadjiboy at 10:12 AM on April 10, 2007

I've been wanting to do, for AGES, a book of street vendor foods from around the world, heavy on the photos. This post reminded me & gave me the kick in the pants to get back on top of that! Thanks!
posted by at 10:15 AM on April 10, 2007

For NYC see the vendys, kinda the oscars for street food there.
posted by lalochezia at 10:15 AM on April 10, 2007

We used to visit Jingshan Park in Beijing when we were in town. We'd use the north gate, not the one by the Forbidden City. There were always twenty or thirty vendors set up on the sidewalk, selling all kinds of things. Every once in a while, there'd be a lot of excited chatter and most of them would pick up their stuff and hustle off. Then the cops would appear, checking for permits. Most of the vendors didn't have one, so they split. It was like a strong wind came up and blew them down the street.

This guy doubtless had one, but he was in another part of town.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:56 AM on April 10, 2007

I translated a book on migrant business people in Beijing that included lots of good stories about running from the 城管 (city compliance officers). They've been on a kick to tidy it all away in the run-up to the Olympics and the place is much the worse for not being able to find someone to fix your bike as easily, or a salmonella snack.
posted by Abiezer at 11:20 AM on April 10, 2007

The second link made me so hungry for Indian food. There's a place right next door, may have to do some takeout tonight!
posted by autodidact at 11:50 AM on April 10, 2007

hadjiboy, thanks for the nice compliment.

Abiezer, that is fascinating,a) that you translated a book from Chinese to English. Way impressing. And b) how cool it's about outdoor vendors! Did you/do you live in Beijing? A "salmonella snack". Cripes. Had my unfair share of those in Morocco.

It's so interesting how outdoor vending, or performing, communities pop up. For example, in NYC, when the USA made an agreement with Senegal to put military installations on the beaches of West Africa, the deal was that some Senegalese could come to America as a trade. But the Senegalese who came here knew no English, only Woloff and West African French. The mostly young men/women who came over to try their hand here in the Land of Opportunity rarely had Western style education. So they started selling cheap umbrellas when it rained, then Rolex knock-offs, routinely being taken to jail for both. They worked so hard, many of them now are well-to-do, own houses in New Jersey, or created established businesses importing and exporting from and to Senegal. The Senegalese have been my vending gurus. They are awesome, so feisty in the face of so many obstacles and bitter NYC winters, in spite of their rich Equatorial blood, which has to make the deep cold practically unbearable for them.

In NYC there have been a number of vending/outdoor performer tides that have come and gone, like the Peruvian pan flute players, the Russian poster vendors and the Haitian painters. At the moment it's Chinese portrait painters and the Chinese guys/women who paint your name in pictures, on long piece of paper, usually setting up an ironing board for this endeavor. Or Chinese straw toy insect weavers.

Street life in NYC is an endlessly amazing.
posted by nickyskye at 3:00 AM on April 11, 2007

*ach, not an endlessly amazing, just plain endlessly amazing.
posted by nickyskye at 3:01 AM on April 11, 2007

Thanks nicky! I do like to show off about that at the slightest opportunity, and as you can imagine, with a book for a small academic publisher, the chances aren't many :D It was mostly focussed on migrant business networks, especially the clothing industry, rather than street stalls per se, but they did feature a lot in the backstory of how these communities established footholds in Beijing in the early days of economic reform.
I am still here in Beijing, and street life has definitely been sanitised noticeably even in the decade plus since I first came. Obviously, the salmonella snack joke pinted to the downside of unregulated street trading, but all in all, it's a poorer place for the loss of vibrancy and colour when these things go.
posted by Abiezer at 7:25 AM on April 11, 2007

Abiezer, oh wow that you're still in Beijing. Now curiosity prompted me to go to your site, Sinalog and check out your work. Can imagine you're seeing a lot of changes these days in Beijing, in the hutong street life especially. So how's the idling thing there these days? Did my share of idling in Northern India. I miss that. A lot.

Yes, it's interesting that the urbanisers don't realize that street life, street vendors included humanize cities, bring people closer, make things safer because there is a sense of community. And I think that a busy street life generates a kind of vitality which creates business, for everybody.
posted by nickyskye at 10:08 AM on April 11, 2007

Oh God, not me moribund blog! I blush for shame! I do like it here, but sometimes wish I'd studied an Indian language or two instead. Must have been an amazing place to live.
I live in one of the last low-rise bits of downtown, but it's rapidly becoming a hutong theme park, and of course foreigners like me moving in is only hastening the gentrification process.
posted by Abiezer at 10:30 AM on April 11, 2007

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