The Village Vendors

December 20, 2021

I have observed that most villagers who move to cities for better prospects, tend not to notice or appreciate the simple customs, practices and social institutions of the village. The village vendors is one such example. They are a fascinating section of our traditional society. Although I grew up outside India, I have learnt to appreciate and cherish these customs and traditions of my native village Pangala/Pamboor in Udupi District.

Similar to my previous three articles titled ‘The Other side of City Life’, ‘Embracing the Monsoon Season’ and ‘My Parish Feast’, in which I tried to describe rural life in my village, in this article too I would like to describe another aspect of village life - the “Village Vendors”. The fact that my maternal grandparents live in a village has lent me an opportunity to spend more time with them over my holidays, learning about how people support their families through different trades.

For those of us who now live in the city, we may be most accustomed to the neat aisles of packaged glory that you can find at the supermarket chains that have become a part of our daily lives. But In the villages, however, you can find a different type of retail activity, like the weekly market ‘Saanth’ where you find organic produce, vegetables, fruits, spices and pulses grown on the farm. Vendors travel from all over the nearby villages to display and sell their goods. While the market is noisy due to vendors yelling around to catch customers' attention, the buzz is creating an ambience which I have come to enjoy.

Local ‘kirana’ stores (Retail stores)

Generally, food and FMCG products were sold in small family-run and independently owned stores in villages. It usually involves packaged essential food items, toiletries, eggs, bread, spices, rice, salt, cooking oil, etc., and things that could be purchased without any offer but most people buy these on a monthly or weekly credit account and pay as per the terms.

Restaurants (Hotels)

Restaurants in villages offer a wide range of authentic flavors. It is named as "Hotel" and serves a generic set menu of breakfast such as poha, upma, banana buns and idly with chutney and sambhaar. Likewise, the lunch time menu mainly consists of vegetarian or seafood thaali’s. In the evenings, kadak chaa (tea) or coffee with potato bonda, sweet potato dishes, masala dosa and various other fritters. Each item is reasonably priced. It's a challenging job for these restaurant workers as they start around 4 or 5 am and close at 9 pm.

Stand-alone food cart

One of the easiest and the most affordable ways to enter the food industry is through a food cart. Food carts have low risks and small investments. The locals and mostly daily migrant workers gather here to eat evening snacks such as chaats, sweet corn, charmuri and so on. There are now some carts that serve Chinese-style food, which attracts the youth. It is only the weather and sometimes problems with licenses that pose a threat to these operators.
Sugarcane juice vendors

As everyone seeks to cool off the heat during summer, sugarcane juice vendors prepare ice cold beverages. They position themselves at prominent places in the village market or town. Their daily routine involves buying bulk sugar canes from wholesale markets and extracting juice and serving them to the customers.

Sale of fish door to door - Fishmongers

This is probably one of the most difficult jobs I have ever seen; women walk miles upon miles carrying fish baskets on their heads. Their logistic arrangements are spot on, as they have their own routes and regular customers. They deliver limited and selected fresh fish and in some cases, they also dress it to give it to the customers.

Tailoring shops

Village tailors maintain a good relationship with their customers and stitch and deliver the clothes to their homes on time. It seems likely that the trend has changed since the majority of people opt for readymade garments. There are however many loyal customers who continue to stitch school uniforms, alter clothes, sofa covers, window curtains, etc.

Seasonal traders

This type of business which is typically conducted by one community, has been passed down from generation to generation, and is still operational today in villages.

Traders collect raw cashew nuts during summers. They are sorted for export by size, quality, and weight. Mangoes are also available during the summer season. It takes a couple of months for mangoes to ripen after a mango tree blooms. During this time, traders contact tree owners to buy the entire crop.

In the remaining months, the traders sell a variety of products like stainless steel and aluminium kitchen utensils either by direct sales or by exchanging the old for the new and collecting the difference. Also, in specific months, empty bottles, used newspapers, and scrap materials are collected, and people will store and secure them.

Apart from the above trade, many people live off the sale of their own organic vegetables, homemade pickles, pure ghee, honey, coconut oil and so on. Several door-to-door services are also available for the elderly in the village, such as hair cutting, knife sharpening, shoe repairs, bangle sales for ladies, bed sheets, door mats, and sarees.

Spending time in western countries and cities, people discover that the realities of life in rural areas are quite different from those in urban areas. There are lots of challenges, such as poor power supply, dusty roads, mosquito bites, and limited internet access. However, rural life is generally peaceful, enjoyable, and filled with natural beauty.



By Shannon Jean Menezes
Shannon Jean Menezes resides in Mangaluru. She is an ACCA affiliate and currently working for one of the big 4 accounting firms. My hobbies include reading, writing, traveling, photography and volunteering.
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Comment on this article

  • Stany Dsouza, Kaup/Mumbai

    Fri, Dec 24 2021

    Good observation. Covered almost everything. It's like booster dose for those who migrated to urban as well as foriegn countries. Keep it up.

  • Amiliana Mathias, Mangalore/Germany

    Thu, Dec 23 2021

    Keep on writing Shannon. Old people will recollect their sweet memories and young people may learn about the village life history. God bless you.

  • Avid Alex, Kaup Udupi

    Wed, Dec 22 2021

    Kudos Shannon. Keep writing. Village Life is always beautiful to those who love nature and peace

  • JRM, Santhekatte, Udupi. Dubai

    Wed, Dec 22 2021

    Nice article. It is the reality today. Kudos to Shannon. Congratulations to Proud Parents JV and Flavy.

  • Jayakrishnan V, Sultanate of Oman

    Wed, Dec 22 2021

    Nicely covered the life of Village Vendors. Kudos Shannon..👌🎊👏👏👏

  • Amol Kumta, Kumta / Muscat

    Tue, Dec 21 2021

    Great article. Took me back by couple of decades.

  • Evelyn Priya, Bangalore

    Tue, Dec 21 2021

    Well written covering all the vendors in village life. My favourite being the fish mongers😄

  • Vincent D'sa, Dubai/Shankerpura

    Tue, Dec 21 2021

    Good topic and the narration as well. It is unfortunate to observe that even this rural culture is declining. It is a matter of time (maybe a decade left) the "Saanth" culture will be a part of history. Only barring a few in 'metro' rural areas, most have vanished. Fisheries women are on two-wheelers! One of the famous Tulu drama artists said that'Saanth' and 'Toddy shop' was where his selection of topics usually happened to write comedy-drama. The elderly village people gathered at the 'saanth' had a lot of fun culture. It is good to see you writing on rural life born and brought entirely in Gulf.

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