The highways of Hyderabad are dotted with roadside vendors selling clay cookware from Rajasthan
Picnickers from Hyderabad are making the most of the relatively cool weekend mornings, venturing out on day trips to Vikarabad, Warangal and Siddipet. En route, they are waylaid on the highways by a motley bunch of vendors seeking to lure them with clay cookware — pots, pans, glasses and bottles brought from Kota in Rajasthan.
The highways that are usually dotted with fresh vegetable and fruit sellers are now proving to be a good market spot for the clay pot sellers; they cleverly position themselves close to fruit and vegetable vendors for easy access.
Makeshift ‘shops’ on open mini trucks display their wares on the footpath, to catch the attention of motorists. The clay utensils include pots in black and brown, ‘cook and serve’ curry pots as well as pans with heat resistant handles, tava for rotis, teacups and drinking water bottles, all priced from ₹100 to ₹700.
Rajnath Singh, a 35-year-old seller says the bottles are a favourite with those travelling in autorickshaws, as they keep the water cold for a longer time. Rajnath says, “People who travel by cars usually stop, enquire and buy. Many people have also bought cups and glasses in bulk. We do not ask them the purpose, but I feel they are used in restaurants and hotels.”
Another vendor Rinku says, “This is my first time on this highway and I have been able to do decent business. I will be in this spot for another couple of days and then try and move closer to the city where there are not too many traffic restrictions.” He finds that people familiar with clay pot cooking don’t ask questions. “Only first-timers who want to experiment with mitti-bartan (mud utensils) ask about ways to wash and clean the pots and whether they can be used on a gas stove or should be used only over a wood fire,” he smiles.
Finding a digital space
Clayware is also being marketed online by several online aggregators. However, the roadside vendors believe they can sell better because buyers can test their pots and check for a crack to avoid buying poor products.
Narayan Sharma another seller explains the technique: “Knock on the vessel and listen for an even clinking sound. If that sound isn’t sharp, the pot or any clayware is defective.”
Sellers of clay cookware are cashing in on the demand with high prices, especially to people who look like first time buyers. So a clay pot without handles, sold at ₹200 by a dealer, is quoted anywhere between ₹400 to ₹700 by these roadside vendors. The cook and serve pots with handles should be a decent bargain for ₹500. Go ahead and bargain if you must: they expect it.
Narayan adds, “Kota clayware is very popular. We [roadside vendors like him] buy directly from pot makers and bring them here. We come selling along the way and wait for a wholesale buyer. Once we find our wholesale buyer, we return home.”
Also look out for the sellers at Trimulgherri, Medchal, Habsiguda and on the way to Ramoji Film City.