WEIGHT: 46 kg
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Every day, to make a living he performs an act that many would consider suicidal. Instead of facing lions, the young Kurd takes on the heaviest traffic in Istanbul. Do I feel fear?! Mustafa has been selling water, snacks and sweets to drivers in the rush hour for 23 years. Who could refuse a child. Born in a small town in Anatolia, the street trader now regards himself a citizen of Istanbul. It is past 10,30 p m and the last bag of pretzels is nearly empty.
The flow of vehicles towards Ataturk bridge is still excessive. Somehow he manages to emerge safe and well every time. The list of stories about broken bones seems endless. He looks quiet and chary compared to his colleague. This is about what you need to get by. Everything is expensive in Istanbul. It is much better to have at least one more working member of the house hold but I live alone.
Erjan, who is also originally from Anatolia, has been involved in street trading business for 20 years. He has perfected the art of walking between sometimes speeding cars holding his goods high so they can be seen while guarding himself against the ill fate. Mustafa and Erjan together with a hundred other street traders represent the lowest level of street trading.
Most of the prices in street trading vary between 1 lira and 3,5 liras. Neither the drivers nor the traders care for a change. When the patrolling cars spot us they can confiscate all we have and fine us. But what we do is a decent way of making a living. They have no right. That particular night the traffic is disturbed by the presences of the escorts of some authority figures. So the traders are fewer than usual. They all work in perimeters of about meters each and rarely change places from night to night.
Most of them, just like Mustafa and Erjan come from poor families from Asian provinces. Due to their social status and not sufficient qualifications they hardly have a choice but to join the street trade.