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Small-time hawkers try to cash in on Covid-19

Vendors sell healthcare products on the go
A man sitting on a sidewalk along Dum Dum Road, near the railway station, with a tray full of masks, plastic face shields and hand sanitisers.
A man sitting on a sidewalk along Dum Dum Road, near the railway station, with a tray full of masks, plastic face shields and hand sanitisers.
Pictures by Biswarup Dutta

The Telegraph   |   Calcutta   |   Published 30.05.20, 10:27 PM

In the times of a pandemic, public health messages sell. So thinks a man sitting on a sidewalk along Dum Dum Road, near the railway station, with a tray full of masks, plastic face shields and hand sanitisers. Included in his wares was a series of posters in Bengali — on basic hygiene tips to counter Covid-19 — clipped to the carrier and wheels of his bicycle. The tips — wear masks, wash your hands with soap, maintain social distancing, don’t spit and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

If big brands are investing in masks and hand sanitisers, small-time hawkers are trying to leverage Covid-19 in their own way. Many people who have had their livelihood threatened by the lockdown have started selling masks across the city. Most of them do not own a fixed spot. From Ballygunge to Behala, they keep moving, selling cotton masks that cost Rs 20 upwards.

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On Saturday, a kilometre away from Dum Dum, on Jessore Road in Nagerbazar, another man sold masks on the move. The masks (picture above) were clipped to the edges of his umbrella. Saturday’s maximum temperature was over 35 degrees and the maximum humidity was well over 90 per cent. The man kept walking slowly and stopped whenever he came across a prospective buyer. 



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