Skip to content
CityLab
Culture

Preserving the Fading Sounds of Delhi's Street Vendors

A decade-long project showcases the vocal beauty of Delhi's pheriwallas, who are fighting a losing battle against the forces of globalization.
An umbrella seller walks along a road in the old quarter of Delhi.
An umbrella seller walks along a road in the old quarter of Delhi.Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

A day in Delhi is anything but routine. With a growing population of 17 million people, the Indian capital has recently emerged as an ever-shifting global hub. Yet one thing has remained constant for generations: the echoing chants of the city's pheriwhallas, or street vendors.

"People wake up to the sound of hawkers coming to sell eggs, fruit, [and] vegetables," explains Rashmi Kaleka, a Delhi-based artist. "By the afternoon one has the cobbler—the chaader walla. On Sunday one gets the mala walla, the man who will mend your old jewelry."