Seventy-five-year-old Appa Rao ekes out a living by selling salt. As he walks down the streets in Vizag pulling his cart, calling out to people to buy his wares, he shares that the market is a dwindling one.
“My day starts early, and I take the salt from a wholesaler and then load it into my cart. I’m selling on the streets by 6 AM and go around till 11 AM. After that, I head home and take rest. I used to work as a daily wage laborer when I was younger, but now my age doesn’t permit me to take the load of that work. I live with my wife who works as a maid in the houses and offices near my house. I have four sons, and they’re all married and living with their wives and children. Not wanting to be a burden on them, I prefer to live with my wife independently. My eldest son died many years ago, and it is difficult to cope with the loss. The money that I earn is enough to help me tide through the times.
I picked this work up from my father and got a cart made for the purpose. Today there aren’t many people in Vizag selling salt this way, because the buyers have reduced. Only some customers buy from me, as many prefer to purchase salt packets from shops. What they don’t realize is that the salt I sell is the one that is put in machines. While the salt I sell can be washed once before use, the crystals that are ground in machines are often powdered along with the dirt in them. Once powdered, it is impossible to clean and many don’t realize that. People simply like the packing and go for that. I still, however, have my loyal customers who buy from me, and it is they who keep me going. Life is going on fine, and once I do my selling for the day, I head back home. I don’t go out much, and when I’m not working, I’m resting at home. I just hope that life goes on like it is right now, without giving any troubles.”