Although the streets in your neighbourhood aren’t exactly paved with gold, a few in Ahmedabad are at least flecked with it.

Ganga Gohel, 80, sweeps the streets of gold district in ancient walled city of Ahmedabad. She isn’t a street cleaner. She’s a dhul dhoya, a dust washer. And not just any dirt. It’s the dirt with flecks of Gold. 

What motivates her?

The city has estimated 5,000 gold and silver shops. As the 40,000 workers from the shops come and go, flecks of gold fall from their hair and clothes, to be scooped up by Gohel and other dhul dhoyas. Some even follow the workers home, raiding their showers and sewer pipes.

Once she separate the gold-specked dirt from the betel nut wrappers, cow manure, stained newspapers and other trash, it’s sold for about Rs 400/- per bag.

The dirt bag fetches more than Rs 700/- during the peak October-to-February wedding season and just before the Hindu Diwali festival, when shops clean their machines, walls and floors and during monsoon season it fetches little over Rs 300 as the rain water dilutes the mix.

It’s a very old tradition, part of the Indian mentality to reuse almost everything.



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