The ones we see through : A photo story through Pune’s oldest vegetable market

We meet thousands of people in a lifetime; we may remember a few, forget some more and see through a lot more. Out of the few we choose to remember, we cherry pick the ones we want to share our experiences with. We invest ourselves in them, dig deep to understand them, pick up on their idiosyncrasies and find meaning in their stories.

The ones that we see through, the everyday men and women who lead extraordinarily regular lives, mundane lives- the ones that we pass by or interact with so many times yet give little importance to.

Do we ever take a step back to speak to them and know their stories?

Pause and take a step back, meet the vegetable vendors of Mahatma Phule Mandai in Pune, Maharashtra, the people who have had generations in their family devoted to the trade.

The people who have lost their daily business to the swanky fresh vegetable shop in the neighbourhood mall.

The people who now live in the fear of being forgotten, passed by and seen through.


A. “I am 65 years old, it has been 50 years that I am selling chillies and ginger here. Business was better before.”- Kishan Bhintade


B. ” All of us have a license to sell specific vegetables and spices in the Mandai. Only some of us sell garlic here. Even if the others want to sell something that someone else is already selling, the profits are shared so that everyone earns fair.”- Bajirao Bhandvalkar, 76 years old
C. ” I avoid reading the newspaper while I am here, otherwise the customers will think I am busy and thus move on to the next vendor. Anyway there are only a handful of regular customers who keep us going. My other hobbies include playing with my grandchildren, what else can you do at this age?”- Bajirao Bhandvalkar, 76 years old.


D. “I have been selling vegetables here for the last forty years.”- Sharda Kasale


E. “Gudi Padwa is around the corner, so we are selling this sugary sweet, it has been manufactured in my daughter’s factory, it’s not very far from the mandai.”


F. Waiting amongst the greens.


G. “These streamers help to get the customers over!”


H. “My shop is right outside the mandai, business is better there. I have come inside to have my lunch.”


This photo story has been created by Arundhati Bhande. She is among the 20 students a.k.a heritage enthusiasts from The Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication who participated in the Make Heritage Fun! event held on 26th March 2017, in Pune, India.


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