The vegetable market that I live on, Pali Market, is a fascinating microcosm. I hope to write much more on this later, but in honor of the upcoming Indian holiday Women’s Day, I thought I’d start with this piece. It’s about the one vegetable seller stall “manned” by a female (yes, I realize there are lots of female vegetable sellers. But she’s the only one with a stall!). [for those of you non-Hinglish speakers, subziwalli is the feminine form of ‘vegetable seller’]
1. Go ahead – be the only woman. I have no idea if this woman resents being the only woman among a street packed with men, but if she does, she definitely doesn’t show it.
2. Quote a fair price (and stick to it). Contrary to what some Indians might think, I am actually aware of the market prices for vegetables, despite being a foreigner. I recognize a fair price. However, I am also willing to pay extra for the exotics, and for not needing to haggle.
3. Specialize. Find out what you’re good at and be the best at it. Subziwalli doesn’t bother with low-cost potatoes and as a result, every week I spring for the much higher-cost soya beans.
4. Be the first store open and the last one to close.
5. Build a great team. Subziwalli has not one but two lackeys.
6. Never ignore the female demographic. I don’t shop at any other vegetable stall because I want to support sabziwalli so much. She is not the cheapest nor the closest to my house.
MMNFD: “Philomena Fernandes, one of the few woman autorickshaw drivers in Mumbai and the main breadwinner of her family of five, started driving an autorickshaw 17-years-ago…” [just read this whole story!]