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Stitched, Sealed, Delivered

When you are posed with sending a parcel from India you don’t have to look far for help. Outside most local post offices sit men ready to package your goods in white cotton, all set for postage – the humble parcel-walla, at your service. Earlier this year in Ahmedabad we presented them with a whimsical challenge: to bundle a typical, large chai-walla’s teapot to be dispatched back home to New Zealand. To spice things up a bit, we wanted it swathed in an indigo-dyed, Gujarati block-printed cotton.

From his street-side perch, our parcel-walla took on the task with the same consideration and care I have seen him commit to a number of my previous packages (mainly the odd decorated rickshaw mudflap). With earnest dedication he applied his skills to bind and bundle, stitch and secure our unwieldy kettle.

Just as he was finished, an elephant swung by to see what all the fuss was about.

And fittingly, a roaming chai-walla turned up to offer us tea – with a teapot very similar to the one we’d just popped in the post.

Our parcel-walla has been working from the pavement outside the Mirzapur Post Office, alongside his father, for 15 years.

His son happened to be there that day too. When I asked if he would also take up the trade, they proudly told me, no – that he would gain further education than either of them. He mentioned to me that he is keen on becoming a police-man – though I think he may also have a future as a millinery model.

Back home in New Zealand, it’s time to put the kettle on…
Related posts:
Same, Same but Different
Bollywood Poster-wallas
Walla: Pavement Purveyors on Flickr

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • sreetama ray (@StudioandLola) May 10, 2012, 10:45 PM

    I think the teapot looks nicer with clothes on! Charming post :)

  • Zach Hyman (@SqInchAnthro) June 21, 2012, 5:40 AM

    That teapot looks truly gorgeous in that block-printed pattern. Quite a skilled parcel-walla, indeed!

  • Pitsch Leiser July 4, 2012, 4:17 PM

    Your storytelling is just so soulful! It makes for a gorgeous discovery everytime I follow one of your new posts.

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