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Nomads selling happiness on the roads

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“We sell joy and happiness through toys, but our own lives are deprived of It.”

says a roadside toy seller while stuffing into a Teddy Bear.

One can witness a lot of teddy bear shops on the Mysore road just across the Raja Rajeshwari Hospital near Kengeri.  There are around 45-50 shops present at the moment, but it all started 10 years back in 2006 when a few migrant labourers from North India came to Bangalore in search of work .

 

From where this all started!

 Kishan a migrant from Delhi was one of the earliest to set shop here. He had come all the way from Delhi, the capital of India, to earn a living.  Seeing tens of cars parked on the side of the road and hundred of happy faces searching for the perfect teddy bear or a Shinchan doll one might think that these people must be making a good living here. But this is far from truth.

‘Most of the people just come here stroll around have their children play with the toys for a few minutes and leave’ according to most of the shopkeepers.

Ramprakash from U.P. said “When we came here there was nothing on the road, we leveled the land ourselves to set up shop. It was difficult in the beginning but then the business picked up with time and now it has all gone down because so many people have started setting up shops here.”

Even though the number of customers has gone up considerably over the years, the number of shops has increased so much that the business gets divided and no one makes a good profit.

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 Ramprakash said that shopkeepers get the readymade teddy bear outfit from the market and then fill it with cotton to complete the bear. “We get cotton from the market at the price of 25 kg for Rs 4000, a teddy costs us around Rs 1000 and we sell it for anywhere around Rs 1500-2000.” added Ramprakash.
On an average a shopkeeper makes Rs 1000-1500 per day and after taking out all the expense they are left with only Rs 700-800. Many of these shopkeepers have families of 7-8 people.

 These people have been roaming all over the country in search of work. They used to sell these toys in Mysore and Mandya earlier as well.

 

Kishan

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One of the earliest shopkeepers is Kishan. He is 27 years old and polio stricken. He has a family of 6 who all live in a single tent. Kishan moved to Bangalore 10 years from Delhi. He worked as a labourer at a few places and finally set up shop here.

When the business started flourishing he called over his family to live with him. He has two kids 6 years old daughter Khushi and 12 years old son Arjun. His wife Savita told us that there are no schools for our children here, they used to send their children to an Aanganvadi nearby but eventually got them out as there were no teacher in the school.

 

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We live here in such miserable conditions. Here, sometimes snakes crawl into our houses.

 We’ve had incidents with the local goons as well, at night they come create ruckus and steal our toys said Savita. They don’t complain to the police because they don’t want trouble with those people.

 Kishan said “Money comes and goes but our well-being and happiness is more important than that, we have young girl living here. We don’t want any more trouble in our lives.”

Some of these have people been living here for more than 10 years and still don’t have a water or electricity connection.

 Inspector Manjunath, Kengeri Police Station says “Its an illegal establishment, we have asked the people to get themselves registered and get adhar cards made.”

 If it is an illegal establishment how have these people been doing business there for the past 10 years?

The people informed us that they’ve been duped certain imposter as well who came as government officials and asked for Rs 100 per family to get their adhar card application processed.  Now after 10 years they have been given an eviction notice by the Namma Metro and have to evacuate the area within in the next three months.

 

Eviction Scare

The BBMP Chief Engineer B. S. Prasad said “We have drainage system for NICE road and now the extension of the Metro on Mysore road we have no option but to evacuate these people from the area. We are planning for their rehabilitation.”

 Kishan’s wife Savita concluded it by saying “We would be very happy if government could think of us once and do something for our children.” she said with a smile on her face.

 

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