If you have driven around Hyderabad near Hitech City (and presumably other places as well), you will undoubtedly have come in contact with the junk sellers. Like the beggars, they flit in and out of stopped and moving traffic like Frogger on steroids, but unlike the beggars, they are selling things instead of just outright asking for money.
The junk sellers can be any age or gender, but they all have 2 things in common. They all have some cheap junk that they feel is incredibly necessary to your life, and they all have this highly irritating habit of standing and tapping on your window for a very uncomfortable duration. It doesn’t matter if you’ve waved them away, if you are slowly inching the car forward and threatening to run over their foot, or if you let loose a stream of angry rantings (yes, Scott, I mean you…), they stay there, staring in the window, tapping, tapping, tapping, hoping that you will buy whatever it is they are selling just to make them go away.
Now, I wish that I could say that there is a good selection of cheap junk to choose from, or that the junk changes regularly so as to always be new and different, but it is not so. Here is a rundown of what we have seen over the past 4 months (I know that I have missed a few):
Toy Space Shuttles: The peddlers walk amongst the cars, zooming their space shuttles through the air like toy airplanes.
Toy well Pumps: Each peddler has a bag full of them. Tiny little water pumps with a moving handle that ACTUALLY PUMP WATER. Though I have never examined one, I know that they pump water because it has been demonstrated at my window-side probably 200 times. I’m afraid that these people must be suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome with the number of times they pump that little handle a day.
Tennis Racket Bug Zappers: Is it a tennis racket? Is it a bug zapper? It’s BOTH! Give that mosquito a good wack, and delight in the faint crackle and puff of smoke that results. The score will most certainly be Love-Love for you and your electrified tennis racket!
Multi-connection car chargers. Have a Sony cell phone, an Apple Ipod and a Nintendo DS that you want to charge in the car ALL AT ONCE? Well, have they got the product for you! They are nice enough to swing it around by the wires so you can get a good look at it too!
Multi-purpose towel: I’m assuming that this is mostly to clean your car with, but since I’ve seen them wiping the sweat from their brow with it as well, I know that it has many uses. Just don’t expect it to be particularly clean when you get it.
Rubber Balls: A multi-colored ball, made of pure bounciness. This I know because they stand for what seems like 5 minutes demonstrating that it bounces up and down, up and down, up and down. I am not sure if it is some sort of hypnotism geared toward getting me to buy, but it leaves me wanting to scream: “Its a ball, it is round, it bounces…I GET IT ALREADY!”.
Bobble Head Dogs: A dozen little brown dogs that nod endlessly at the traffic from their perch upon a cardboard tray. Bring one home today…they’re always very agreeable!
Our level of irritation with the junk sellers is directly proportional to how long they stand and tap at the window and how bad the traffic has been that day.
I have no idea what prices they charge for their wares, but I am certain, as with most things in India, the prices have a direct correlation to the color of your skin. We would find that our price was much much higher than some of our friends here.
Perhaps some day I will buy something, just to find out, but I guess I have to wait for them to sell out of their bouncy balls and well pumps first. Judging by the huge bags they carry, its going to be a long time.