Onion Johnnies set sail for Britain again

Updated 28 November 2012
0

Onion Johnnies set sail for Britain again

ROSCOFF, France: Onion Johnnies, the travelling salesmen whose berets and bicycles inspired Britain and much of the world’s classic image of the archetypal Frenchman, are setting sail for England once more.

Beset by tough market conditions at home, the producers of Brittany’s celebrated pink onions have decided it is time to introduce it to a new generation of British housewives with their Gallic charm and strings of eye-watering produce.

The Etoile du Roi (Star of the King), a replica of an 18th-century sailing ship, on Monday set off from the Breton port of Roscoff, weighed down by a hefty cargo of onions that it will deliver to London on Dec. 6 after stopovers on the Channel island of Jersey and at Portsmouth, on England’s southern coast.


Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

Updated 26 April 2018
0

Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”