'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Monday, 19 November 2012

No Pedlars; Hawkers; And Salesmen-An Update

I picked up a book in Stockbridge, Edinburgh at the weekend called Moving Worlds, the Personal Collections Of Twenty One Immigrants To Edinburgh. A couple of the stories give an interesting insight into the world of the Pakistani or Indian gentleman with the suitcase who used to visit The Stair. I suspect that similar to Onion Johnny that our salesman wasn't unique and instead there was a whole platoon of salesmen out there!

Lal Khatri left the Punjab in 1929 and came to Edinburgh. He was advised by a friend...If you get a pedlar's licence from the police and you buy some stuff and you sell it, then that will give you some income to live on if you are lucky. He then goes on to say...I managed to get the licence and it was very good from then onwards. Things were hard but I could always get enough money to buy bread and pay for my room and all that sort of thing. We sold all sorts-shirts, dresses and blouses. I sold what I had with me and took orders for anybody wanting anything...the prices were quite reasonable but lots of people had no money. Even one eleven-ha'penny article took two or three visits for customers to pay for. Some people banged the door in front of you...others would open it...Oh, some of those people became friends through that, and others, of course, had no time for you at all.

Baldev Singh with Pappinder in 1969

Baldev Singh came to Edinburgh in 1958. He was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1947. He is a Sikh. He grandfather came to Edinburgh as a door to door salesman...He used to sell shirts, ties, hankies, blouses, things like that. They all did that when they first came here...But 90% o' Sikhs went roond the doors sellin' with a suitcase, took orders and delivered the stuff. It's freedom to them, you see. Naebody but themselves, naebody tellin' them what to do. They used to go whenever they felt like it...

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