Meet Neelamegam. He sells kitchen utensils from his two-wheeler around Ezhil Nagar tenements. The vehicle is completely covered with his wares that I fail to understand how he would sit and ride.
He has a loudspeaker which blares out pre-recorded sales message in a professionally catchy yet natural voice. A photo of his mother decorated with flowers adorns the top of the headlamp. He procures the utensils from Salem and other places. The way the women of the area were thronging around this handsome young man indicates that he must be doing brisk business.
Take any street and you will find an industrious migrant from states like Bihar, Odisha or Bengal hawking something or the other. This hawker adds music to his selling efforts in front of a poster of a popular film star on North Mada Street during the Mylapore Festival.
Most people are aware that Mylapore derives its name from Mayil (peafowl), the form in which Goddess Parvati prayed for Lord Shiva in this hallowed place. So the girl selling peacock feathers in Mylapore seems quite appropriate, whether she or her customers realize or not.
I also recall a quote where the hues of the peacock feather are likened to the colours of heaven.
As a management professional, I have studied the strategies and operations of many global retail chains like Walmart, Carrefour, Target, IKEA, 7-Eleven etc. As a consumer and official bag-carrier for the wife, I have also shopped at all these chains across the world. Yet, I am fascinated when I see a street side vendor hawking Chinese goods at throwaway prices, a hawker selling vegetables or fruits from the farm, or a family-owned and family- managed stall offering a variety of products like the one above. I often stop and study, sometimes inviting the derision of my companions.
You too may have your favourite ‘hole in the wall mart’ or your neighbourhood retailer. Let us hear about them.
The shop above, being near a temple, stocks mainly pooja articles. The book you see slung on a string is the famous ‘paambu panchangam’ (Snake brand Tamizh almanac). There are many other shops of similar size which stock a much larger assortment of SKU’s.