COMMUNICATION PATTERNS OF
HAWKERS & BUS CONDUCTORS IN
Sudhish S. (09BS0002433)
Surjajyoti Biswas (09BS0002482)
Swarnabha Dey (09BS0002492)
Sweta Soni (09BS0002524)
Tanvi Drolia (09BS0002554)
Anand Gupta (09BS0003064)
ICFAI BUSINESS SCHOOL, KOLKATA
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COMMUNICATION PATTERNS OF
HAWKERS AND BUS CONDUCTORS IN KOLKATA
ICFAI BUSINESS SCHOOL, KOLKATA
Date of submission: 11th August, 2009
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The report is submitted as partial fulfillment of the
requirement of MBA program at ICFAI Business School,
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First of all, we are immensely indebted to Mr. Ashim Ghosh, Director,
IBS Kolkata & Mrs. Sharbari Saha, Faculty Member of Business
Communication, IBS Kolkata for giving us the opportunity to work for
such an interesting project.
We would be failing in our duty if we do not thank our respondents who
gave their valuable time and answered the survey questions with
tremendous patience and understanding.
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Table of contents
Topic Page no.
List of illustrations 06
Communication pattern of bus conductors 09
Communication pattern of hawkers 14
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List of illustrations
The study does not contain any distinct illustration. The research
is based on interaction with a number of random bus conductors
and hawkers across Kolkata.
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This report analyses the communication patterns for bus conductors and hawkers in
Kolkata. The main focus is on the how the conductors and hawker communicate in
market to make the sale. We have tried to capture the common terms and different
modes of communication used.
To collect the data we have interviewed hawkers and bus conductors from different
parts of the city. The report also focuses on the problems faced by people in this niche
Hawking is generally considered as a “menace” or an “eyesore” that prevents the
development of Kolkata as a world-class city. But this article explores the essential
presence of hawkers in a city, which requires a critical understanding of the functioning
of public space. The experiences of hawkers in Kolkata, as elsewhere in India, have
taught them not to fear a regulatory state, but a predatory one, a state that constantly
demands bribe sand threatens demolition, against which a license provides security.
Bus conductors are people who are responsible for the sale of the ticket and
management of the crowd in the bus. We have tried to depict the communication
patterns adopted by them for interacting with the public as well as the driver of the bus.
Special focus is given on bus conductors in Kolkata. Bus conductors in Kolkata as
compared to the other states are more responsive and caring to the public.
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The report has been prepared to understand the communication patterns and styles of two of the
most interesting groups in Kolkata, the Hawkers and the Bus Conductors. The study helped
remove a number of pre conceived notions about them and will certainly help understanding
them and communicating with them better.
Purpose, Scope and limitations:
The Purpose of this report is to list out the communication pattern of bus conductors and
Hawkers in Kolkata. Although the sampling has been carried out only in few places in Kolkata,
the general communication pattern is more or less the same all over Kolkata.
Sources and Methods:
Data collected is predominantly Primary data.
In preparing this report, we have interviewed conductors at several places which include Garia
(no.5) Bus Terminus, 45 bus Terminus, Patuli-Ramgarh Bus Terminu (Patuli), Bus no 71.
We interacted with Hawkers at places like Gariahat, Esplanade, Hatibagan, Ultadanga &
The report reviews the different kinds of conductors and hawkers in Kolkata, analyses the
different trends in their communication pattern, and summarizes them at the end.
There was time constraint as the research had to be done in a short time and Kolkata is a
big and diverse city.
Cost constraints were faced.
Scarcity of resources was a problem.
Only a limited number of hawkers and bus conductors could be interacted with.
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Communication pattern of Bus conductors :
Kolkata is very well connected by buses and some buses operate very early in the
morning to very late in the night. However, Kolkata‟s bus system might take a little
getting used to. Bus stops are often not clearly marked out and can be distinguished by
spotting a group of people standing on the road side. There are no timetables and the
routes aren‟t explained so the best thing to do is wait for a bus, hail it and ask the bus
conductor if the bus goes where you are headed, if not, ask him which bus you should
take instead. They are usually very helpful and almost always provide the right
The buses usually have open doors and are manned by two conductors on each door. We
don‟t have to worry about paying at the door, once the bus starts moving, the conductor
will spot unpaid passengers and ask you to pay. A flimsy paper ticket is given and
unfortunately daily or monthly tickets are not available.
Payment can vary between Rs.2 and Rs.5 (US$0.04 to $0.10) for a trip, depending on
the distance travelled.
Classification of buses of Kolkata:
Buses of kolkata
Government undertaken Private (public buses
(run by corporations) and mini Buses)
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The basic qualification criteria for becoming a conductor in the government
undertaken sector is Class 8 th standard whereas there is no such criteria for the
private run buses. It largely depends on the owners of the transport.
The buses in the Govt. undertaken sector generally consists of a single driver and
a conductor (per bus) where as in the case of a private buses it varies between 3
and 4(1 driver,2 conductors,1 helper in case of a public bus and 1 driver,1
conductor and 1 helper in the case of a mini bus).
Conductors in both the service (govt. and pvt.) are required to obtain a license
from the Motor Vehicles .The conductors in the govt. service have a fixed duty
hour(8 hrs approx every day),6 days a week and they are required to serve either
in the Morning, Evening or in the Night Shift depending on their schedule and
requirement. The private conductors have no such fixed duty hrs. They generally
work for avg. 14-18 hrs a day (7 days a week).
The conductors are generally of two types (sub classification)-the trainee and
the permanent. In the private buses the helper is generally promoted to the place
of a conductor after he gets sufficient training and deemed fit for the job.
Function of a bus conductor:
They generally bangs the body of the bus or use the bell of the bus for
communicating with the drive
They collect the money (charge of the trip) from the passengers and keep them in
between their fingers after folding.
They shout at their topmost volume while interacting with the passengers.
Problems they generally face while interaction with the passengers:
Ramesh Prasad,a conductor of Bus no-71,who has been in the profession for 7 years
identified the following problems they face everyday.
They feel disgusted when a passenger gives them a 100 rs note for a 4 or 5 rs
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Sometime the passengers delays the payment for the tickets and gets down
without paying for the ticket
As this is their daily job or routine they normally don‟t indulge in argument
with the passengers
Their life is very hectic
They usually depend on the incentives for their living.
If the passenger tells the conductor to stop the bus in the middle of the
stoppage the conductors get irritated.
All the private buses in Kolkata have got political backings or are affiliated to either the
CPM (Communist Party of India-Marxist) as CITU or the TMC (Trinomool Congress).
e.g, all the private bus service in the Jadavpur area is affiliated to the CITU.
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Calcuttans on the street, more than any other city, have a term or a phrase of their own
for everything under its scorching sun. No city can match it for orginality and
spontaneity when you talk of a roadside lexicon. No other citizen in the world has the
intensity, the passion and the sense of humor that the Calcuttan has. With his turn of
phrase he is an Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw and Sukumar Ray rolled into one.
Expressive, explosive and always exclusive. Following are a few jargons used by the bus
conductors in Kolkata-
Handicap Handicap!! A bus conductor referring to a
baie ja,baie ja… Conductor urging the driver to manoeuvre
the vehicle to the left
Chepe daran,chepe basun! Conductor urging the passengers to
stand/sit more closely to give space to
Dada/Didi ticket ta baraben Conductor urging the male/lady
passengers to buy the ticket.
Jaldi/taratari uthun/namun Conductor urging the passengers to get
up/get down quickly.
Ringing the bell once/twice: Implies to stop/proceed the bus
Peeprey auto-rickshaws who are multiplying in
hundreds and bugging one and all
Charpoka Maruti 800
Haati double-decker buses with a 'trunk' in
which the driver sits; an almost extinct
Matchbox: Calcutta's first generation mini-buses that
left you hunchbacked and stiff-necked.
Electikey Chalao: a bus conductor's coded jargon, telling his
driver to speed-break in order to jerk
passengers further in, since they are all
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crowding near the entrance.
Dada, je akebarey daak-ticket hoye sarcastic comment targeting Romeos who
shetey galen: refuse to budge from the vicinity of the
ladies seats, invariably getting 'stuck', just
like a stamp on an envelope
Sandow maashi: a tongue-in-cheek conductor's term
describing a not-so-young lady wearing a
sleeveless blouse, a la Govinda.
Langras: three-legged tempos that limp along and
handicap other drivers
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Communication pattern of Hawkers:
According to the survey conducted by the team in the five major marketplaces in
Kolkata (Ultadanga, Hatibagan, Esplanade, Chandnichowk & Gariahat) the hawkers of
Kolkata can be classified into many small segments depending on the parameters like-
activeness & behavior.
Classification of the hawkers on the basis of their activeness:
On the basis of the activeness hawkers of Kolkata are of 3 types-
1. Over-active hawkers:
This type of hawkers makes unnecessary noises in the marketplace. They
generally do excessive effort to attract people to them or their product. They
shout unnecessarily (sometimes with a microphone), make funny comments or
gestures to make their selling superfluous.
2. Active hawkers:
This type of hawkers doesn‟t overdo anything to sell their products. It doesn‟t
mean that they don‟t shout at all, they start calling the customers only when they
perceive that the customers are coming towards their stall or about to buy
something from them. They behave very politely & frankly with the customers.
This type of hawkers often succeeds in retaining their customers.
3. Inactive hawkers:
This type of hawkers prefers to remain silent; they don‟t do any considerable
effort to attract the customers. Even when the customers come to them to buy
something then also they hardly do any kind of interaction with them.
Composition of different hawker markets of Kolkata:
Esplanade Hatibagan Gariahat Ultadanga Chandnichowk
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Classification of the hawkers on the basis of their Behavior:
On the basis of the observed behavior the hawkers are classified into two classes-
1. Well behaved hawkers:
This type of hawkers generally wants to maintain a decent relationship with
their customers. They behave politely, softly to their customers & want to
avoid unnecessary arguments with the same.
2. Rude hawkers:
This type of hawkers deals their customers very badly. If, for any particular
reason, a customer leaves their stall without buying anything they get very
angry & start arguing with their customers with abusive languages.
Moving & static hawkers:
According to the ‘stability’ (i.e., whether the hawkers move from one place to
other place or whether they remain stick to one place to sell their products) the
hawkers can be divided into two classes, namely, „moving hawkers’ & „static
Moving hawkers frequently change their positions or go door to door to sell
their products. This kind of hawkers has very good communication skills through
which they can easily make good relationship with the local customers.
But Static hawkers prefer to run their business in one space only.
List of Hawkers & their Pick-up lines:
Hawker’s Name Monthly Items Seller Type Pick-up lines ( in Meaning in
Income or Bengali) English
Hariprasad Sahukar <2,000 Lemon seller Moving “Pati lebu Takay du 2 lemons in 1 Rs.
Basanti Bera ~3,500 Cooking seller Moving “Basooon…aeeee…b Does anyone
utensils asooon lagbe?” want cooking
Rajkumar Das ~2,500 Old buyer Moving “aeeeeeee…. Purana anyone wants to
newspap khata-boi bechbe? sell old books,
er, plastic Purana shishi newspaper, glass-
goods, botol……aeee…kago bottles etc.??
Poritosh Mitra ~5,000 sweet seller Moving “nalen gurer sandesh Fresh sweets….
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Rocky Biswas ~6,000 Imitation seller Static “ei j didi, boudi ra, Hey sisters!!! I’ve
jewelry notun notun design new designs of
Bilas Kishore >5,000 chaat seller Static “Jhalmuri, bhelpuri, I sell different
paprichat….kheye kind of snacks… If
jan.. kheye you eat once,
jan…ekbar khaben .. surely u’ll
..bar bar asben!!” return…
Biswanath pramanik ~4,000 ice-cream seller Static “aeeee… kulfi Cold Ice-cream…
Montu pal ~6,500 Cloths seller static “ekta kinle 100 aar Buy 1 @ Rs.100,
duto nin 150 takay. Get 2 @ Rs.150
Raju Mondol ~6,000 Cloths seller static “Ek ka Do” Bye 1 get 1 free
Some special Characteristics:
The time when a hawker is dealing with his first customer of the day is known as
“Bouni ka time”. Usually in this time he/she doesn‟t bargain too much with the
customer. At this particular situation, the hawker behaves very politely to the customer &
doesn‟t argue too much as he/she may lose his/her 1st customer of the day.
Though the maximum numbers of hawkers of Kolkata are not literate enough & they are
not comfortable in speaking English, it has been observed that they can easily bargain
with the foreign customers. Usually they communicate with the foreigners with broken
English. For e.g.
Foreigner: How much is this?
Hawker: 900 rupees sir.
Foreigner: no. no. it‟s too much!!!!
Hawker: it good… sir. Take na sir!!! Take….
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On the basis of above discussion it can be concluded that both bus conductors &
hawkers of Kolkata have a very interesting communication-skills.
Communication pattern of the bus conductors consists of the components like-
1. Communication with the driver 2. Communication with the passengers. They
communicate with the driver through bell, or banging of the walls of the bus etc. They
also use some special kind of jargons to communicate with the driver or other
conductor(s). On the other hand, in case of communicating with the passengers only
oral media is effective. Their life is very hectic. They feel very irritated when some
passengers give them 100 rupees note for a 4 or 5 rupees ticket or delay the payment etc.
But they don‟t normally indulge in arguments with their passengers.
On the other hand communication pattern of hawkers have more variety than that of the
bus conductors. Different hawkers have different levels of activeness. The level of
activeness of the hawkers varies from one market to other market & it also depends on
the personality of the hawkers. There are some hawkers who behave rudely with their
customers, as well as, there are some hawkers who behave very politely with their
customers. This type of hawkers generally uses many interesting pick-up lines to attract
So, in the city of joy, Kolkata it is an absolute pleasure to watch the activities &
behaviors of the hawkers & bus conductors. Their language, their behavior have become
an integral part of the culture of Kolkata.
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It has been concluded from our research that there is a lot of pre-conceived notions
against bus conductors & hawkers.
We have the following suggestions for the parties involved-
Bus Conductors They should have little patience.
They should be able to understand and speak in Hindi also as a lot
of non – localites are availing the bus services
Passengers They should talk politely to the conducters
They should carry change and if possible be aware of the tickets cost
They should be ready with the money when required
They should get up and off the bus only at prescribed bus stands
They should understand that the conductors are just doing their
jobs, therefore, cooperate with them
Hawkers They should always have a smile on their face as it affects the
They should negotiate politely
They should not force or pounce on passersby
They should not block the road
Should not sell unethically
Customers They should not behave in a snobbish manner
They should talk politely to the hawkers
If not interested in buying, then atleast not misbehave
One should understand that the hawkers are trying to earn their
living, so please treat them like just another human being
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I. Questionnaires for the survey:
FOR BUS CONDUCTORS
Average income per month
No. of family members
Problems faced while interacting
Political affiliation (if any)
How do u communicate with driver?
How do you communicate with the
Average income per month
How do you communicate with
Type of products sold
How do you communicate with
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II. Pictures of hawkers & bus conductors:
Hawkers of Ultadanga market
Hawkers of Gariahat market
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A hawker, selling oranges at the
footpath of Park Street.
Picture of a bus conductor
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Picture of a bus conductor
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