The entrepreneur at the mela


Surajkund International Crafts Mela, Haryana

A picture speaks a thousand words. While leaving the Surajkund Crafts Mela, I saw this young crisply-dressed gentleman(let’s call him Mintu) selling these horses to passersby. He reminded me of the Indian entrepreneur, self-motivated and raring to go against odds, the odds here could be the event organisers as It looked like he gate-crashed. This gentleman was carrying three of his horses as he wouldn’t have the time to replenish his stock midway. There was a lot of confidence in him while he tried to sell his pieces to people passing by, some families stopped, tried to haggle on the price and mostly moved on when they couldn’t get a deal of their choice. Mintu looked prepared for the evening, he was trying to spot his potential customers, eye contact is enough to make the move, his eyes met mine but I think I did not fit the bill because he then glanced over my shoulders. A glance here and a glance there, he was hunting for two sets of people; a potential customer and the potential babu who could evict him and ruin his big day.

In Daltonganj, where I spent a part of my childhood, these horses would be like trophies in the drawing room, a piece of art to show off to visiting guests, the talk would be of how one managed to get a good deal on these pieces of art and how it would beautify the space that it occupied. Drawing rooms that I remember often have stuffed animals, crystal pieces, artificial flowers in vases and not to forget the framed paintings and cross stitch done by the girls before their marriages. I remember the display of one of my relatives; the daughter proudly displayed her pieces of craft in the “sunmica” lined case. Whenever I got an opportunity to see her craft, I went back home and haggled with my mother for pocket money to buy material to replicate the very same pieces.

Coming back to Mintu, I started to think about his potential customers. A family with children was interested, the child was inspecting the horse while the parents looked on, Mintu would occasionally pat the horse to demonstrate how sturdy it was, the child was convinced but not the parents, the father was still thinking if the price was right while Mintu was employing every trick in his trade to convince his grahak(customer). After all this time, the father finally found reasons not to buy; “Ghar par jagah nahi hain rakhne ke liye aur waise bhi tum ek din main bore ho jaoge”(There is no space to keep it at home and you will get bored of it in a day)

Mintu was smartly dressed for his age, trousers with a folded hem and matching shoes. He looked confident as it is not easy to carry three horses against the flow of people, I have a feeling that he must have observed and learnt from his elders. With his three horses, he stood out from the crowd. Was this the primary reason for him to carry three of them? If he was carrying one, I am sure I too would have missed him.

I imagined him studying his customer and then using the right words and descriptions to make the pitch, there must be a strategy and some planning and these must have worked earlier in his favour. While most of the people just walked past him, some glanced at the horses and hesitatingly heard him out. With a few hours remaining for the mela to close, I wondered how many horses he had sold, did he have more stock, was it strategically stored somewhere around the premises for easy access, what if he sold all three within the next few minutes, would he have more to sell? I think he needs his three horses to be battle ready, it gives him the confidence to sell and makes him stand out in the sea of people.

I observed him for only 2-3 minutes and then took a picture. I wish I had stopped to talk to him, I could have learned more. 

Photo by Anand Prakash

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