Pettah, where old Colombo meets the demands of modern consumers, is an endlessly fascinating place. It is labyrinthine, perhaps a little dusty and dirty, but it’s always full of surprises, stories and people. We took a walk down some of Pettah’s busiest streets during the recently concluded festive season, to capture the everyday sights.
A nattamai screams profanity at a colleague at random. The colleague makes a crack about his mom. They both laugh. Nattamai is the word given to men who earn a living by transporting imported goods from the harbour to the many shops of Pettah, mostly on a cart which they pull (for electronics and other goods) or on their backs (for vegetables and fruits). They pull their wooden carts through the busy cross streets to deliver goods to wholesalers and retailers. Your average hard working nattamai earns Rs.2,000/- on a good day.