Delhiwale: A magazine vendor’s last stand
Harishchandra Singh has been selling magazines in South Extension II for the last three decades. He says once the metro trains start running here, he will change his business.delhi Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:32 IST
When he first set up his stall, everybody called him ‘bachha’ - child. Today everybody calls him uncle.
So much time has passed. These days people have stopped reading magazines, he says.
One evening, we met Harishchandra Singh, the longtime magazine vendor of South Extension II. In his late 50s, Mr Singh is a living landmark of this market. He opened his stall in 1985. While so many other South Extension markers are history (Planet M, Kit Kat Dhaba, Teksons Book Shop, Timeless Art Book Studio) he continues to survive, if not thrive.
“The business has dropped by more than half in the last 10 years,” says Mr Singh. He looks at the late ‘90s as the golden years of his trade when people literally queued up for the latest journals.
Mr Singh keeps some magazines, mostly news weeklies, on the pavement, and the glossy lifestyles inside a blue lambretta van, which has been with him for over a decade. The newspapers are piled up on a two-wheeler scooter. The van stays here for the night when Mr Singh goes home to Khanpur on the scooter.
It is eight and Mr Singh will pack up in another hour. A customer comes and asks for The Economist. She flips through the pages, keeps the magazine back on the pile, and walks away. “Young people don’t buy magazines,” says Mr Singh. “Most of my customers continue to be old-timers who used to live here.” Many have now moved to Gurgaon and Noida but even then, Mr Singh says, they buy magazines from him. “They send their drivers to pick them up,” he says.
Mr Singh says he never let his children help him with the stall. “They have to make their career in something else.”
South Extension is now in the midst of construction activity. An underground metro station is coming up. “Once the trains start running,” says Mr Singh, “I will take up some other business.”