—Blaise The hawkers strain their voices, screaming out

—Blaise Pascal

The early morning sun marks every man’s race for his bread. I guarantee lots of men their bread. The men who come from suburban centres and even villages reach by six in the morning and start cooking food for the office goers. The hawkers do not arrive before 9:30 am. The municipality sweeper comes and starts sweeping my face rather harshly. He doesn’t however look as unhappy as the white-collared employees and entrepreneurs. And I thought money meant happiness.

Soon, students trod most unwillingly towards their school followed by their worried parents. The teachers follow the same route as well, perplexing me with the look of disgust on their faces. Some of the shops resting on me start opening and the morning prayers are performed with some rituals in some of them.

It is 10 am by my watch now. Thousands of people are rushing on me. Their life has become so full of worry and care that nobody has the time to stand and stare. The hawkers strain their voices, screaming out the price for their wares. Occasionally, some argument over the price gets ugly and harsh words fly thick and fast.

I am a world of rare profit and delight! Come to me during lunch hour and witness thousands of food connoisseurs delight in healthy street food.

There is nothing in the world that you will not find on me in Kolkata. Shirts, sarees, salwar, jewellery, designer wear, gifts, toys, books (pirated versions included), music and movie CDs, purses of different shapes and sizes. You name it and it is there. The boot- polish boys are one constant factor on the Kolkata pavement since the early years of the 20th century. Oh! How could I forget the ice­-cream man with his mobile shop? What about that lemon water man? He is said to be getting the ice used in his drink from the morgue at a very cheap rate! Happy drinking indeed though I may be ‘dead’ right!

It is sunset time. The rush is thicker for office workers walk back home. A bus bumps a man walking on the road. He could not use me. I am meant for hawkers! The hawkers at times start running during a police raid. Some currency exchange settles all! No law can restrict hunger, you know! I am a hawker’s bread.