In the crowded lanes of Aman Nagar slum about two kilometres from the historic Charminar in Hyderabad, Sartaj Ali sits idly in front of his one-room house for work.

Aged 32 years and a native of Bihar, Ali has been living in the housing cluster for the last three years along with his wife and two children. As if life had not tested him enough, the lockdown has now deprived him of work for the last 90 days.

“The bangle making industry has been hit hard by the lockdown. There is no business in the market and it means no work for us. It will take a minimum of three more months for the trade to get back on track,” says Ali.

“There is literally no business in the market even though we opened shops a week ago. There is barely any customer coming to the market due to the financial crisis and the fear of the coronavirus,” says Babu Miya, a bangle store owner who provides raw material for craftsmen.

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Scores of craftsmen engaged in different vocations like bangle making, zardosi (embroidery), warq making (silver foil), agarbatti making (incense sticks) and other vocations are still stuck in a crisis the lockdown pushed them into, though the city is slowly opening up.

“Our work depends on the demand in the markets. Usually in the pre Ramzan and post Ramzan period, there is lot of work. But due to the lockdown, there was no business and the stock in shops in the market is remaining untouched. Unless that is cleared, shopkeepers won’t place more orders,” says Nizamullah, an embroidery worker at the Nashemannagar.

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A few people are lucky to get back to work after their employers resumed business.

“After being without work for almost three months, we are finally back to work. The shop owner is a humble man and although there is no demand for silver foil due to lack of functions and confectionary business, he is providing us with some work,” says Ahmed, who works at a warq shop at Charminar.

“Usually, a worker earns around Rs 600 a day. But now, though there is no demand for silver foil, we are giving them some work and they are earning around Rs 400 a day. Something is better than nothing for them,” says Mohammed Adil, the owner of silver foil shop where Ahmed works.

Shops engaged in cleaning and polishing of copper utensils too are registering some business.

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“People have become health conscious and are bringing their copper utensils for cleaning. Actually, it is done during Ramzan but with the markets being shut, people could not turn up. So they are coming now,” says Khaja Nawaz, who has his business at Mahboob Chowk market.

Life still will not return to normal or even a new normal for the craftsmen of the old city, till the markets begin reporting good business.

“People are hesitant to venture into the market and with the number of cases increasing we don’t expect any business for next few weeks. We are only opening the shops following pressure from our staff. It is only adding to our liabilities,” says a bangle shop owner at Lad Bazaar. #KhabarLive #hydnews