Street cries of the world

Street cries were once a popular subject of songs and literature in Britain, continental Europe and elsewhere. Each month from 2018 onwards I'll be scanning and transcribing publications to build this collection.



It is difficult to draw the line between the vagrant and the petty hawker, as the pursuits of the habitual vagrant are of the most varied character. One day he is a beggar another he is a Crier. To deal comprehensively with all the deceptions and designs of these rascals, there is hardly any human suffering or passing calamity of any magnitude which they do not endeavour to turn to advantage.


These are Mahars, Mangs, or Musalmans. They hawk about the town or squat by the wayside. When on the move they cry aloud Lagav jalu jokh, meaning ‘Apply leeches.’ When a person requires leeches he purchases them from the hawker at the rate of from two to three annas per dozen, and applies them either himself or with the aid of a servant or relative; meanwhile, the hawker goes away for a time, or waits till the leeches have dropped off, and been returned to him; he then draws off the blood by pricking them with a needle, washes them, and replaces them in a piece of cloth containing wet earth. When this is done, he buries the blood in the ground, receives his payment, and departs. People of the higher castes, or in easy circumstances, do not use leeches that are hawked about by the street criers, but obtain them from Muhammadans who keep shops and pay about an anna for each. When a Hindu female requires leeches, a Muhammadan woman applies them, if she objects to a male doing so, for a Hindu has no objection to a Muhammadan touching him. The Muhammadan leech-sellers follow the same course after they have been made over to them as their fellow professionals the Mahars and Mangs, for no Hindu will allow his blood to be thrown to dogs or on the road.


These are both Muhammadans and Maratha-Hindus. The time of hawking is from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The most favourable time for therm is the hot season. They make from two to four annas per day as gain, and on this they maintain themselves. Carrying their baskets on their heads, they sell the contents of their bottles at half an anna each. Each Muhammadan hawker takes a tumbler in his basket. The Hindu hawker scarcely ever does so, since Hindus object to drinking from tumblers polluted by the touch of others. The hawker uncorks the bottle and hands it to his customer, who empties it without touching his lips with the bottle, for if it did so, the bottle would be polluted, and not fit for another Hindu to use.


These, male and female, are Marathas by caste, and start on their selling expedition early in the morning. Amongst them are Salsette and Bandora Christians, known as Gaondekars or villagers. The Gaondekars come from Mahim, and the Mahim cocoanuts which they sell are considered superior to those brought from other places. The cocoanuts are fresh, and the rind is removed before they are hawked for sale in the baskets which the vendors carry on their heads. These baskets contain from 20 to 50 cocoanuts, and the price of each cocoanut varies from 8 pices to one anna. The Gaondekar cries Zia re Maimi narol, ‘Have Mahim cocoanuts.’ The cry of the Hindu hawker is Ghya re Narel, or simply Narel. When the vendor is called to a house, the purchaser selects the largest and best of the cocoanuts, then he shakes each close to his hear, in order to hear the sound of the water within, which is always distinctly audible when the cocoanut is good. If no noise is heard it is pronounced to be muka ‘dumb,’ and jad ‘heavy,’ is returned as unripe, or as not having attained the desired perfection. The selected cocoanuts having been paid for, and the basket put on his head, the hawker is off again with the usual cry for further sale. The Gaondekar’s labour stops by 10 or 11 o’clock, as by that time she has disposed of all her goods.

The Marathas purchase cocoanuts from vakhars or stores in different parts of the market. The vakhars contain both Mahim and Kalikoti or Calicut cocoanuts, but the Maratha hawker gives preference to the Kalikoti ones, because, being inferior, they are cheaper, the price of one ranging between 4 to 8 pices. There is no certainty of their always being found fresh and good when broken. The higher castes and better classes of Hindus always buy the Mahim cocoanuts, as they yield a comparatively large supply of what is called ‘milk’ when scraped into fine particles on an instrument (khaoni) for the purpose. When this is done, the pulp called choya is ground on a stone called pata, when a quantity of ‘milk’, a white oily substance, is obtained. There is scarcely a dish cooked amongst the well-to-do Bombay Hindus, in which this ‘milk’ does not find a place. Cocoanuts are used throughout India, and the milk is put in dishes cooked by Hindus, Europeans, Portuguese, Muhammadans and Parsis. The cocoanut is broken into two equal pieces with a hatchet or other instrument, but often on a stone.

Kalikot cocoanuts are generally given as presents to Brahmans by the Hindus, and to women who have been paying a visit at the house, and offered to Gods at the time of puja, which subsequently are taken away by the Upadhya or Priest after the puja is over.

No Hindu will take off the stalk of the cocoanut – that by which it had clung to the tree; if this be cut off, the cocoanut is considered impure, and it cannot therefore be used for puja or given away as a present to another, though with feelings akin to dissatisfaction, he may not object to its use in his own house. When a cocoanut is deprived of this appendage, it is called munda or ‘bald,’ and styled an outcast. When one Hindu sends another a present of fruit, or of anything else, the party receiving the gift places a cocoanut in the plate when returning it, rather than return it empty.

The majority of the Gaondekar hawkers are Bhandavis or toddy-drawers, and the business of selling goes on all the year round. These people are generally poor. The sons or husbands of a few are employed as clerks, but the majority of the men and women work as grass-cutters, cart-drivers and cultivators. The Maratha hawkers, in addition to selling cocoanuts, have shops where they sell vegetables, and generally they are better off than their brethren the Gaondekars. They spend their afternoons or evenings at the vakhars at which they haggle for the purchase of cocoanuts for next day’s supply.

The cultivation of the two principal products in the bagayat or garden land, viz. cocoanut and betelnut, is as follows:– After the nuts have become quite ripe, which is ascertained when they fall of themselves to the ground, they are buried about two feet in the soil, which is previously loosened and levelled, and after the plants are a year old they are transplanted,and buried about two feet deep. The soil is then enriched by mixing up with it salt and nagli (cynosurus corocanus). The chief thing afterwards is the watering, and a great expense has to be gone to in making wells and watercourses, and wheels. After the 8th, 9th, or 10th year, the trees commence to bear, yielding twice a year, and sometimes thrice: 120 cocoanuts and 250 suparis is about the annual average produce of each tree. A great many cocoanut trees are also tapped: the toddy is extracted by cutting off the tops of the young shoots when they are little more than two feet long, and tying them very tight at intervals of a few inches. The trees tapped, while the juice is extracted, yield no cocoanuts. The instrument for cutting the shoot is called aut. It is sharp as a razor. The juice of the tree drops into an earthen vessel which hangs on the top of the shoot, and is emptied every morning and evening into a calabash, which the Bhandari carries up the tree, hanging it behind him on a hook. A ser and a half is about the average daily quantity extracted from each tree. The tadi is mostly made into liquor; a little of it being sold in a raw state. Bhandaris are expert in climbing cocoanut trees. No string is used as is the custom in some parts of Bombay and the Northern Konkan, but they ascend by means of notches cut in the trunk of the tree about 2½ ft. apart. The calabash into which the tadi is emptied is hung on a hook which is tied to the waist.


These are Hindu coppersmiths by caste. They go about the town with a small-sized box tied up in a piece of cloth, and slung across the shoulders, containing glass bangles – both Chinese and country-made. Most of these men are in easy circumstances. They go about from noon to 5 p.m., and cry out in a long smart voice Chinai bangdi (China bangles). They buy their stock from a store. Some of these men own houses in Bombay or the Mufasal.

Bangles are of eighty-nine kinds, and they vary in price from half an anna to sixty rupees per dozen, according to the degree of estimation in which they are held. Their names are:– Gajara – like a flower wreath (of eight kinds), Rasi – out of a heap, Bilori – made of glass, Rajawargi – royal sort, Kapiva – cut ones, Nagmodi – like a serpent’s walk (of four kinds), Jaributi – gold embroidery, Icecream – so called from their colour, Kolavatar (Eau de Cologne) – also named from the colour, Morapisi – of peacock’s feather colour, Anar, Motia, Pistai, Zirmi, Soneri, Hirwa, Khula Motia, Pivla, Kache-Kairi, Piroz, Dalimbi, Khula-Dalimb, Galas, Naringi, Sakarya, Asmani, Moti-Kapiva, Parvari, Kajali, Parva, Popati, Kapiv-duchya, Khula-pistai, Champa, Anaras, Chai, Hirava, Ghas, Gandaki, Kanji, Ambali, Khula-Kirmij, Narangi, Khula-ice-cream Tulsi, Gulab, Khula-morpisi, Lemonade, Phul-gulab, Dagdi-asmani Kathva, Khula-phul-gulab, Valshet, Dagdi-ballu, Handi-galas, Taktaki, Nuri, Kairi-popti, Rata, Gulab, Mulichi-kola, Tambda, Morchut, Gulkhar, Hira-varkhi, Varan-bhat, Ishki-Piroj, Firta-bavata, Ranicha-bavata, Prince of Wales Kamalavati, Kali-bangadi, Patli-bangadi, Champavati Rupyache phulache, Jubilee, Gokh-ruchi-bangdi.

The lowest class or Rasi bangles can be had at half an anna a dozen, and the other sorts at from eight to twelve annas. The bangles put on the wrists of females by the hawkers, some of whom from long experience can manipulate the hand in a way that enables them to put on the smallest bangles that can possibly go over the hand. Women of course like the well-fitting bangles better than those which are larger and easily slipped on. It is understood that if a bangle breaks, while the hawker is putting it on, the loss is his. After her wrists have been encircled with them, the woman pays the value, bows to the hawker, and retires. It is the custom among the Hindu women after childbirth (when she is unclean for 40 days), to put on new bangles in place of the old ones. This they call Balant chuda (confinement bangles). At such seasons a present called tali is made to the hawker, consisting of from one to four sers of rice, betelnut and leaves called vida, a cocoanut, and from four annas to one rupee or upwards in money. This of course more than covers the value of the bangles, for the better sort are not used on this occasion; when the bangles have been put on, and the present placed on a plate before the hawker for his acceptance, the woman as usual bows to the hawker with her hands joined, and withdraws. But before withdrawing, she receives a benediction from his mouth, in these terms:– “May you remain a married woman for ever,” meaning thereby that she may die a married woman and even in a future birth may never become a widow. The hawker is looked upon by the woman almost in the light of a parent, inasmuch as he furnishes her with what is the badge of a married woman. No Hindu woman will ever say that she bought the bangles on her wrists, or that she paid for them, for who can fix the price of a married woman’s bangles? In like manner if a Hindu female pleads on her husband’s behalf, she will beg to make her Chudedan, that is, save her bangles. But however dear her bangles may be to her, and though considered meritorious to be worn by her sex, they are nevertheless broken on her very wrists, and cast away or carried along with the hair of her head, tied in her bodice when the remains of her husband are being removed from the house, and she becomes a widow! No one ever sees a Hindu married female with bare wrists so far as bangles are concerned. Should these by some accident be broken from either wrist she forthwith covers it, so that nobody may see her bare wrist or become aware of her misfortune, and she will not even taste water until she makes good her loos. The bangles put on the wrists at marriage are called Lagna-chuda.


The hawkers of these are both Musalmans and Hindus. They deal in Persian dried fruits. They cry: Badam, pista, akhrud, &c. Some keep shops about Bhuleswar, Mumbadevi, the Market, &c. They also sell mangoes of superior sort when these are in season, English apples, &c. Among them was an old Mussalman, who, while hawking about, sang a song of his own composition and repeated each verse at short intervals. He dealt mostly in pistachios dipped in salt, and parched. The song he was singing is:–

This literally means:– “Salted pistachios parched, torn of the head, reformed of the world, come from Surat, if one eats, so becomes the mind of the other, and the third goes to fetch money. He who tastes remembers for twelve years” – putting emphasis on the words ‘twelve years.’

These hawkers are very few in number, and go about from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. With the exception of about three or four, they are to be seen chiefly about two days or so previous to the Hindu holidays, for their goods are then sought after by the Natives to prepare a dish or so. There are some who cook almonds as they do vegetables, adding dolichos spicatus, salt, red pepper, cocoanut scrapings, and butter or sweet oil, heated with assfœtida and mustard seed.


These are both Muhammadans and Mahar-Hindus, but the majority of them are of the first sect. They go about the town in the early afternoon, crying “Batle Batle a sodawaterni, kulumwaterni batle hose to ana” – “if you have sodawater or Eau de cologne empty bottles, bring them.” They purchase bottles of all sorts; also old and broken furniture, waste paper, old clothes, &c., at the cheapest price possible.

The Mahars confine themselves to buying bottles only. They also pick up bottles thrown into gullies by respectable Hindus, who would not openly sell bottles the contents of which they had consumed in secrecy.


The ice hawkers are Muhammadans, who go about from 12 to 2 pm. and from 7 to 9 in the evening. They cry, “Vilaeti pani, ice,” “English water, ice.” They retail ice from one pice upwards. Their business lasts all the year round, but falls off very much during the rains. They are generally poor and of the lower classes of the Muhammadans. They gain from two to four annas a day, and on this maintain themselves.


These are chiefly Muhammadans, with a very few Maratha-Hindus. The Muhammadan cries “Ice cream,” and the Hindus “E-ice cream,” putting emphasis on the word ice, and then “A Hindu ice cream,” making it known thereby that he is selling for Hindus only. This hawker does not carry his box on his own head, but employs a Hindu coolie or porter for the purpose. His time of hawking is from 7 in the evening to 2 the next morning, and the hot season is the most favourable for him. He sells his cream at one and two annas a glass. Perhaps, on an average, he may make six or eight annas per night.


These are Muhammadans and Marathas or Hindus; their time of hawking is at night, from 7 pm. to 12 or 2 in the morning. They cry “Ganderi, gulab gandheri,” “Sugar cane, sweet as roses;” this they sell by weight at one anna a seer. They buy the bundles of sugarcane from rakhars. During the day they scrape the canes with large knives, and cut them into pieces, about an inch long, with scissors made for the purpose. From each cane they make about twenty pieces. The knots and ends, called gathi, are sold to cattle-keepers. The pieces are then soaked in water to make them appear fresh and weigh heavier. They are then placed in a wooden tray, on which a plantain leaf is spread, and are covered with a thick cloth soaked in water, to keep them in good condition. To the tray is attached a small earthen or tin lamp, to afford light. These people sell from 10 to 15 shers a night, and are much patronized by the lower orders of people. The business is carried on all the year round, but during the rains the demand is not great, as then the streets are deserted. In the warm months they have a good business, because people who stay out late are tempted to buy it to refresh themselves.


These are chiefly Hindus, and their cry is Ghe mirchia kothimbri, bhaji, meanign chillies, coriander shrub, and vegetables of sorts. They go about the town from early morning till 11 a.m., and again from 4 to 5 p.m. After this, if any vegetables are left which are not likely to remain fresh till next morning, they squat by the wayside or on a veranda near a bazar, and do their best to dispose of them, and then return home. These people leave their houses as early as 4 a.m., and go to Byculla where people from the parts and from Mahim, Warli, Bandra, and the country, bring vegetables of all sorts for sale. From them the petty hawkers purchase their stock, bargaining so as to allow of some gain. This bazar, which is now held near the Victoria Gardens, was formerly held near the Byculla bridge. It is over by 6 a.m.

After the hawker has done his morning work he returns home, and after his meal he goes to sleep. What is left he takes out again in the evening. Such hawkers make a daily profit of 6 to 8 annas or more, and their business lasts all year round.


Flower-selling is invariably followed by men. In a small light basket they put wreaths or garlands of Megri, Champeli, Jai Jui, Chapa, Gulchhedi, roses, and other flowers but the greatest demand is for the first two. The basket, tied with strings and hung from the hand, rests on the waist. Their business commences in the afternoon from 3 p.m., and lasts till 9 or 10 p.m., during which time they go about from house to house crying out in a sharp tone the names of the flowers they carry. Hindu women are fond of decorating the topknot, shenda, with garlands of either of these flowers, and this practice is common both with respectable women and prostitutes; the doors of the latter are open to the flower-sellers till a late hour, and it is an indispensable portion of their toilet; for however poor they may be and unable to find jewels wherewith to decorate their persons and show themselves to advantage, the wreath must be got and put on every evening. These flower-sellers follow no other profession. They buy their flowers from gardens on an annual payment, for they do not all rear flowers. As flowers are in great demand with the Hindu women, these Malis manage to make a comfortable livelihood. If they do not find customers they go to some of the numerous Hindu temples, and present them to the gods. Well-to-do Hindu females buy flowers daily, in which case they pay a Mali from Rs. 10 to Rs. 16 a month, and the Mali is required to give them the best flowers made into wreaths.

Besides these there are other classes of nominal Malis employed in gentlemen’s gardens to water trees, who make away with the inferior kinds of flowers such as Jaswant, Kanher, &c., from the gardens, and sell them to the Malis, at from one anna to eight, according to the quality and nature of the flowers. These inferior flowers are not purchased by Hindu females but are used for the worship of the goods. The Malis tie a small bunch of Tulsi or sweet Basil and a leaf or so of Bel, and sell them at the rate of a pice for each bundle, or on a monthly payment of from two to four annas. Poor people who need flowers for their house-hold gods are supplied every morning by a few Banyas living on the Bhuleshwar road. But should it not be convenient for a Hindu to go that distance, he will, before the break of day, go to some garden near his house, and steal the flowers for his gods.


These are both Narwadis and Maratha Hindus. They carry a basket on their head, and cry out “Retini bhunjeli singa, garam garam,” meaning ‘ground nuts parched in sand, hot, hot.’ They hawk about the town from 12 to 5 p.m. They purchase these nuts from godowns, and parch them either at their own houses or get them parched at kilus in the town. Hindu women and children are very fond of the nuts, and both males and females eat them, especially on Ekadashi (11th) and other fast days. They would not buy them from Muhammadan hawkers, and hence there are no hawkers of this article belonging to that sect.


The hawkers of papad, very thin cakes, or wafer biscuits are both Banyas and Musalmans, male and female. Hindus, Musulmmans, Parsis and others are very fond of these. The cakes are very thin, and made from the flour of udid or mash (phaseolus max), highly seasoned with asafœtida and salt, called papad khar. These ingredients are all kneaded with the udid flour and plantain or other water into a tenacious paste to form the papad, which is rolled into cakes as thin as wafers. These are dried in the sun and kept in quantities, and then baked at the fire until crisp, or boiled in sweet oil, and eaten with great relish.

There is another kind of these wafer biscuits called in Marathi Kalakhand. These are made in the same way as the papad, but highly seasoned with the hottest chilli pepper.


The hawker of Kunku is generally an old woman, by caste a Hindu. She does not cry out as she goes along, but goes from house to house asking if the inmates are in want of the stuff. The Kunku is a reddish-coloured powder, prepared by steeping the roots of turmeric for three days in water and for three days in limejuice. The roots are then cut up into small pieces, and kept for a day in a solution of sal ammoniac, alum, and limejuice, and when dried, ground in a hand mill, and the power mixed with cocoanut oil. When ready for use it is applied to the forehead by married and unmarried women and girls. Widows are forbidden the use of it.

The lot of the Hindu widow is hard indeed. She is not only prevented from applying kunku to her forehead, but forbidden to see her own face in a looking-glass. At the time of the removal of the remains of her deceased husband, the kunku is rubbed off her forehead, and she herself consigned to a dark room, where nobody can see her; her very children are kept away, and nobody, not even her grown-up married daughters or her mother, will see her face. Only widows like herself can have access to her. Dinner is served her by a widow, but in case there should be no widow to do this a male cook leaves the plate in the room at some distance from her. If the unfortunate widow, who has been punished (as it is held) by the Almighty for sins done in a past life, is poor and cannot afford to employ a cook, then a daughter, if she has one, will do this service; but before approaching her she will inform her mother that she is coming; whereupon the latter covers herself from head to foot and crouches in a dark corner. The food is then placed at some distance in the dark room, where she is kept from the time of her husband’s death. Young and old, beautiful and ugly, are alike amenable to the hateful rite.

The cruel treatment of widows has long excited the compassion of Europeans, who would not be backward to do anything for the Hindu widow, but are powerless in the matter. A girl of 3, 5, or 7 is betrothed or married to a person of 30, 50 or 70. She does not know what marriage means, has perhaps never seen her lord’s face or only by a shy glance, bashfully taken at him, and the person called her husband dies hundred of miles off. The poor little thing is his widow; she cannot apply the red stuff to her forehead; she must not attend the marriage or thread ceremony; she is forbidden to join processions; her lot is cast in the dark recesses of a single room, for was she not the cause of her husband’s death? The younger she is, the greater the sinner she must have been to be overtaken so soon by the calamity of her husband’s death and her accusations are proportionately malignant. Her presence is a curse that must never blight social festivity nor sacred ritual, the house is cursed for her sake, no accident or misfortune occurs but it is her fault, she is the drudge, the butt, the sorrow, the reproach of her family.

For three days a Hindu widow is not allowed to step into a new house, but three days after the housewarming is over, she may enter it. The writer of this knows of a case where a girl-widow often asked her mother, when seeing her mother comb her hair and apply kunku, why her (the girl’s) hair was not combed nor kunku applied to her forehead, when the mother would cry bitterly, and clasping the young widow tenderly to her heart would say, Child, it is my fate, would to God I had not been born to see you so. The mother and father led a solitary life, they attended no festivities, the former would not stir out of the house, she combed her hair and applied the kunku early in the morning before her widowed daughter left her bed to put such painful questions.

The British Government has passed a law permitting Hindu widows to re-marry, and giving them the same rights as those enjoyed by women whose husbands are still living. But a Hindu married woman will not appear before any person without kunku on. There are some women who keep a small looking-glass and a karandi (wooden box) containing kunku under their pillows, and apply the latter with the help of the former early in the morning before leaving their beds. Fashionable women do not apply more kunku than would adhere to a needle’s point between their eyebrows, but the majority make a mark of the size of a small pea, and others of low caste and some Brahmans make the mark of the size of a shilling or a florin.


The hawkers of thread and needles, &c., are Bohoras, Muhammadans. They carry a small square wooden box on the head containing small looking-glasses with tin frames, thread, needles, pins, glass-beads called pot, wool, match boxes, soap, buttons, studs, sleeve-links, lead and slate pencils, slates, corkscrews, knives and forks, spoons, scissors, knives, notepaper, envelopes, &c., and cry Suya dhaga, agichipeti, sabu vilayati. The articles they vend are bought from wholesale dealers. It is women generally who buy from these hawkers.


This is a profession followed both by Marathas (Hindus) and Musalmans from the Dakhan, men and women. The morning and noon is the time they go about. Taki means ‘incision,’ either on the hand-mill or a slab. They operate on curry stones and handmills. The latter, if small, is called in Marathi jate, and if large, gharat – indispensable articles in every Hindu dwelling. The curry stone is a slab 18 inches by 6 or 8 and about three inches in thickness.

The constituents of good curry stuff are a couple of chillies and a piece of cocoanut, both either dry or fresh, some fresh coriander, and saffron. These are put together and ground upon the stone, called in Marathi pata (slab). The grinding on the pata is done by means of a stone roller about 2½ inches in diameter and 18 inches long, called varonta. In addition to curry stuff the well-to-do Hindus daily grind cocoanut scrapings, which is thus made to yield a juice called either shire or dudh – in colour like milk, and this juice they use in their kadi (curry). Now the slab and mill require at intervals a Takiwala, who goes about with a curved iron instrument pointed at one end with a small handle made of wood fixed to it. When he is called in, the pata or the mill, as the case may be, is laid before him and after fixing the price, he proceeds to hammer away to make it rough, as necessary for the proper grinding. From a half to one anna for a pata, and from 1 to 1½ anna for a jate, and from 2 to 2½ as. for a gharat satisfies him for his labour. The muller is not operated upon, but in some cases among Portuguese it also is dressed. A few superstitious Hindus of high caste will not allow a Musalman to operate upon their pata, though they will not hesitate to buy a new one from a Musalman stone mason. Among the lower castes, after the redressing of the hand mill, a handful or two of rice is ground by the owner in the mill, and from 5 to 7 circles drawn with the flour on the middle of the public road to ensure that the work is good and may last for a long time. When the hawker goes out in pursuit of his calling, he carries his instrument on his shoulder.


These men tastefully arrange their various kinds of sweetmeats to attract people to their shops. Some of their articles are exceedingly sweet, and others indigestible, but the Hindus and other natives indulge freely in them, and often to injurious excess. Among them the shop of Amichand, with no pretension whatever to show is considered the best, as the articles sold are reputed to be always made with clarified butter, ghi, of a superior sort, and sold at fixed prices. His halwa, a kind of nutritious sweetmeat, is of the very best kind, and no high-caste Hindu, excepting a Brahman, will buy this sweetmeat at any but Amichand’s shop. He sells his halwa at three annas per seer.


The Mochi makes singularly formed pointed and square-toed shoes, also slippers, and it is a peculiarity that he generally works with his head uncovered.


These men are either Musalmans or Hindus. They go about the town from 11 or 12 till 5 p.m., calling out “Chindi, chitdhi,” or “phateli, tuteli, chindi,” ‘rags, bits of rags.’ The Musalman, when he is called, inspects the rags one by one, and then looking at the seller declares them no good or fit for his purpose, wishing thereby to lower their value. He then offers a trifling sum for them, and goes away a short distance, then returns offering better terms, say at the rate of six annas per man, and completes the sale by paying the money. The Mahar hawker will not pollute the rags by his touch, but have a look at them from a distance. In addition, the Mahar picks up rags from lanes, gutters, &c. The wives and daughters of these men follow the same occupation, and even visit dust-bins, where they pick up cocoanut shells, pieces of wood, &c.


The hawkers of these are Musalmans, Banyas and Marathas. The Banyas mostly hawk onions and garlic only. They cry out “Kande, lasun, batate,” ‘onions, garlic, and potatoes.’ Some, when hawking garlic, only call out “Lasun, ghoghari lasun,” ‘garlic from Ghogha.’ They purchase these articles from godowns in the markets, and retail them by weight. Their time for hawking is from 7 to 12 a.m. and again from 3 to 5 p.m. The rest of their time they spend in their houses making preparations for the next day’s sale or in purchasing new stock from vakhars.


The hawkers of pulse are either Kharvis or Marathas, Hindus by caste. Early every morning they go about the town with baskets full of pulses calling “Wal, watana, chane,” ‘dolichos, peas, and gram.’ These are put in water a night previous to soften them and the next day they are fit for eating, for generally no pulse is cooked without first soaking it in water. The hawker buys these articles in quantities, according to the requirement of his customers, and keeps the stock ready for sale. His busy hours are from 6 to 9 a.m. During the rest of the day some sell parched pulse calling “Chane, kurmuri,” ‘gram and parched rice.’ Besides gram and rice, they sell almost all pulses, including ground seed, and beaten rice called in Marathi pohe. At night or late in the evening they hawk about gandheri, or sugarcane cut into small pieces.


The hawkers of butter are generally of the Carpenter or Gavli caste, Hindus, with a few Musalmans. The hawker of the Carpenter caste starts early in the morning from Warli, Mahim, &c, and hawks about the European localities with a fresh supply of butter in a small wooden tray, and calls out, “Loni,” ‘butter.’ They sell butter by a measure called cop, from the English word ‘cup.’ Each cup costs one anna. Hindus seldom purchases butter from them. Butter is made at outstations, and imported in large quantities, which the well-to-do Hindus purchase and boil into ghi. The hawkers of the Carpenter caste, who deal with Europeans, &c., make about fifteen or twenty rupees a month; the others not so much.


The Pinjari or cotton cleaner in Bombay is always a Musalman. He beats the cotton against a tightened leather cord, till it becomes loose, and then fills pillow-cases and mattresses with it. He charges three pices for cleaning and filling one and a half to two seers of cotton.


These people display much skill in printing from wooden blocks, which they hold in their hands, but their work is not much in demand since the handsomer and less expensive English prints have come into fashion.


The Sutar goes about the streets inquiring if his services are required. He employs few tools, and in a sitting position not only makes neat furniture, but boxes of sandle-wood inlaid with metal and ivory, in the most delicate and elegant patterns.


As soon as the dry season sets in and the winds prevail the trade of the Patangwala commences, for old and young of all castes delight in flying the Patang, and while the Musalmans select those which are adorned with the crescent, the Hindus choose those which are ornamented with stars and painted in gay colours. The price of these kites varies from one pice to twelve annas. The smaller kits are called Vavdi and the larger Patang.


The hawkers of locks and keys are Bohoras only, Musalmans by caste. They go about the town and Fort, crying out “Tala, chavi,” ‘locks and keys,’ or “alaya chavi,” ‘keys.’ They carry with them some scores of keys of different sizes on a large iron ring, and a small wooden box rolled in thick coarse cloth, containing implements necessary for repairing locks, and fitting new keys, a few broken screws and nails of sizes. The busy time for these men is from 10 to 12 o’clock to 4 p.m. There are very few of these hawkers, and they do not make more than two to three annas a day.


These are Musalmans by caste, they cry out, “Morli suri la dhar lavayachi,” asking whether any one wants his vegetable, or other knife, sharpened. The whet-stones are turned with strap round the axle, and pulled to and fro by the alternate motion of the arms. They charge from one to two pice for sharpened a vegetable knife, and one pice or so for a pen-knife or other small instrument.


The hawkers of such articles are Hindus, Musalmans, Banyas, Marwadis, Marathas, and others. They hawk about the town the whole day, and sell by weight. The Kansars manufacture the pots at their own houses or workshops. Few purchase them from wholesale dealers. The Marwadi repays himself by selling those mortaged to him and not redeemed, or he buys old and worn out ones at the lowest rate possible, and after cleaning them sells them on credit at the highest rate. Besides these Marwadis, Musalmans from Delhi and other places and Mapillas from Malabar also come to Bombay to sell such goods. These hawkers are generally well-to-do persons, being men of property; they do not cry out, but go from street to street. Those that come from Puna call out “bhandi patele,” ‘pots.’ They do not sell for cash, but barter for old clothes, &c. The Mapilla from Malabar goes about ringing a small bell which he carries in his hand at intervals. The Marwadi holds brass hanging lamp in his hand and goes on shaking it, so that the chain coming in contact with the lamp produces a noise, which makes known the Indian Jew come to sell his goods.


The hawkers of molasses are by caste either Banyas or Marwadis. They go about with a wooden or metal tray on their heads, full of molasses,and a scale and weights. They call “god le patni god” or “god sakarya god,” meaning take, if liquid, patni, and if like sugar, sakarya, molasses. They hawk this article the whole of the day, especially a few days before a Hindu holiday. They do not confine themselves to the selling of molasses only, for they also sell clarified butter, sugar, oil, &c.