essays • stories • interviews • poetry • art
essays • stories
interviews • poetry • art

Street vendors in Karachi

Street Vendors

I interviewed these women sitting on the pavement selling dried fruits outside the main city market in Karachi. They laughed when I asked for their permission to speak to them about my book and the research I was doing, saying ‘foreigners’ are interested in the strangest of things.

I had a translator with me, a young male. Some of the women refused to speak or have their photos taken, some agreed to one or the other, and one or two agreed to both. It was very surprising to find that they said they used commercial menstrual pads which they bought in the shops, and not reusable cloth pads, which is what I had expected.

They said they lived close by and whenever they needed the washroom they rushed home. There were no public washrooms for women in the area where they worked. They began work at 5am and left after 6pm, come rain or shine. They probably forgot about me the minute I left, but I still think about them, and how kind they were to share their stories with me. I also think about how much I take for granted, knowing there is a washroom wherever I go, which is allocated just for females, with clean running water, and proper disposal facilities.