Mumbai! The city that never stops, the city that never sleeps. They say, once you stay in Mumbai no other city is good enough. I cannot agree less. The city of dreams never disappoints anyone. It may take some time to get where you want to and it may be too difficult but in this city you survive, you survive no matter what. The mystic air of this city lets even the poorest souls dream big. There is passion, strength and determination in everyone in this city to achieve their goals.
And the one thing that will be the strongest support in your struggle story is undoubtedly going to be the Mumbai Local, the lifeline of the city.
This lifeline not only helps people travel to their destination but also helps many of them survive. The railway stations are the only shelter for so many people here. The best part of these locals is that you can shop for your daily necessities without taking any extra time off from your busy schedule at your local seat and that too at an amazing price.
This exclusive market is only for the Mumbaikars travelling in the local trains. Most of these vendors are women. Mumbai locals and these business women in the ladies compartment have made every Mumbaikar’s life so easy. Who would’ve thought of a market on tracks? This happens only in India. Women’s accessories, cosmetics, bath essentials, bathroom essentials, kitchen essentials, scarves, key chains , vegetables (cut vegetables as well), ready-made chapatis, cupcakes and what not on a moving train.
We talked to some of these vendors or whom we refer to as ‘ENTREPRENEURS’(because they deserve to be called so for the amount of efforts they take) and asked them about their daily struggles.
At first I was scared if these business women would even talk to me. So I decided to buy few things they were selling. I bought a hell lot of accessories for myself. The business women were too busy with their work and decided to ignore my questions and focused on their work.
I followed them and got down at a station where one of these women got down. I asked her if she could take out 10 minutes of her work and talk to me. She very politely and genuinely agreed and stopped by to talk to me.
Her name is Savitri. She says she has been doing this for 20 years now and stays in Nerul. She along with her younger sister Kavita sells nail paints, bindi packets, ear rings and few other accessories. She does this everyday to run her family because her husband doesn’t earn anything and she is the sole earner in the family. Her younger sister Kavita earns for herself and her mother. A 12-year-old running a family! She also attends school and aspires to own an accessory shop someday.
When asked Savitri how much she earns daily she answered, “200-300 rupees per day.”
I asked if that was enough then she said, “not enough, but kaam chal jata hai.”
A female in her 40’s was selling food items like chips, chakali, sev etc. which was made by her itself. When asked why she decided to sell them, her answer was – “My family members and neighbours used to tell me that I cooked tasty food specially indian snacks. I have heard that never do something that you are good at for free. From there came the inspiration. I am a self-earner now, I help my family financially and people also enjoy my tasty snacks.”
Also asked a woman selling toys why she chose selling in trains than at a market place. Her answer was, “municipality people don’t let us sell on streets. Moreover Mumbai trains are more crowded than the streets. It helps the people for easy shopping and us to get many customers.”
There are not only business women but also young boys who sell various things. I asked a guy carrying a mini super market with him where he buys his products from. He said, ” there is a shop in Chembur from where we buy all the products. We sell almost every item at Rs. 20 each.”
When asked if they were allowed to sell in trains one female vendor had to say, “No we aren’t permitted but we have to do it as it our only earning source. We also get to meet a lot of new people who makes us happy. We also have made so many good local buddies whom we meet everyday.”
When I asked them for a picture, a male vendor happily and innocently said to me, “didi whatsapp jarur kar dena pic”
These people who struggle throughout their lives ,deal with such pain and hard work and yet are so lively. Looking at them made me feel that it is the small things that give you happiness. What I also learned from that small girl Kavita is that, no matter how small or poor you are never let it stop you from dreaming and never stop working for your dreams.