A farmer on his wagon in Vainikkala village, Taipalsaari, 1910.
Picture: Ethnographic Picture Collection, The Finnish Heritage Agency
When I was small, about eight or nine years old, we lived in Afghanistan, in Kabul. The shops were far away but we had street vendors with wagons. Sometimes a horse would pull the wagon, sometimes a donkey. The wagons were so packed that the vendors had to walk alongside them, there wasn’t enough space for them to sit on top. Often, when mum was doing housework and we were playing in the yard, we’d hear a loud voice from the street: “Onion!” or “Potato!” Sometimes, the noise would wake me up from my afternoon nap. Some vendors sold plastic things and some women vendors sold fabrics and jewels from the cardboard boxes they carried around on their heads. Usually we paid with money, but sometimes we used dry bread as payment. Sometimes we could exchange old goods for new ones.
The vendors were sometimes very old. Occasionally I’d feel sad when people would come and look at the goods of an old vendor, but end up not buying anything. Sometimes they bought, sometimes not. Like when it was Ramadan and the vendor would be hungry and thirsty, but he still needed to walk. This picture reminds me of this memory from my childhood. In this picture too there is an older person and a similar wagon.
I saw a picture of a bakery on the internet and it brought back lots of good memories from our local bakery in Kabul in Afghanistan. The baker was our neighbour. In Afghanistan, we never made bread. We always bought the bread from the bakery. I made bread myself for the first time in Finland. We would take our own flour to the bakery, and the baker would keep a record of everybody’s flour situation. Everything in the bakery was done by hand, and the flatbreads were cooked in the tandoor oven, which was heated by firewood. As a child I really liked this bakery and I was interested in baking bread. I asked the baker to teach me how to decorate the bread by pressing patterns on to it. Long metal servers were used to take the bread out of the tandoor oven. I remember my father giving me ten afghans in the mornings. I’d use this money to buy bread for the beggars in the street. When I came to Finland, my work involved helping people. I’m now retired.