STREET CYCLIST OF MUMBAI.
Sanjay Sharma a thirty eight year old man living in Mumbai arrives at Carter Road, Bandra to sell ice creams. He is seen at the same spot everyday from 9 pm to 3 am servicing local tourists and people who visit the area for night walks. Families travelling in cars and motorbikes often stop by to eat ice creams with their children. His bright red tricycle can easily be seen from far as he mostly prefers to stand under a street lamp.
Behind him is a dog park where locals bring their pets to play and socialize with other dogs. The park is barricaded and attracts children who get excited to see pets of different breeds at one place. Visuals of ice creams on the mini fridge and roof attracts kids towards his trike. With almost no efforts children actively nudge their parents for an ice cream stick or a cone. Therefore, Sanjay finds this to be a strategic location which works in his favor.
Sanjay came to Mumbai seven years ago in search of work. With lack of skills and education he invested in a tricycle on his friends advice and started to sell ice creams to get some income going. His family lives in Bihar while he stays in a shared rented house. From the little income generated through ice cream business he manages to make some savings and transfers money back home to her wife and children. “Sales are not consistent and the volume goes down on certain months” he says. He is well aware that consumption of ice creams is seasonal and weather conditions has a direct impact on his business. But selling ice creams on his tricycle is the only work he knows to survive and he is contended with what he earns.
Weather is not the only factor that works against him, he faces pressure from policemen too. The local municipality has stopped issuing licences to street vendors and the authorities impose fines whenever they are on rounds. Every week he ends up paying fines in cash plus free ice creams are given to them so that he is allowed to operate his business peacefully.
Few meters away, there are Ice Cream parlous selling expensive brands but he doesn’t consider that to be a threat. Sanjay explains “Those who are confident about my style of business and product quality have shown trust and loyalty. I don’t understand Marketing. My sole objective is to cater to my customers and ensure they never return disappointed”.
He further elaborates “When I remove a candy from the fridge and hand it over to a child I can relate to their happiness. I forget my hardships. Their innocent eyes make me emotional. Children are not customers to me I share the joy with them. My children are away in the hometown and one day they’ll be adults. I miss seeing them growing up. My customers keep me motivated” he concludes.
It is impressive to see how a common man has choosen a sustainable model of using an ice cream trike for sustenance. Over the years this micro logistics vehicle has enabled him to establish himself as an entrepreneur and helped himself survive the testing times. Business may not be so profitable but his confidence has increased. There is limited dependency on others for money except the company which provides the ice cream stock. The novelty of ice creams automatically draws people and the temptation is hard to resist. So next time when you see an ice cream trike grab a Popsicle stick and bite it before it melts.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai