Spring-cleaning my hard-drive, I came across this e-mail had written to my friend Parisa Taghizadeh, a photographer on 6 June 2003.
From PK@..: 26 June 2003
This won't make money but if it inspires you to take pictures let me know.
Outside Stockwell station, in a gap between the Costcutter store and the low outer wall of a small housing project, there is a platform of wooden crates. Everyday an Iranian man and woman travel to Stockwell, in south London, from Shepherd’s Bush in the west, and set up shop there. Batteries, small synthetic rugs, prayer mats and toothpaste decorate the makeshift stall.
When it rains they cover all of their goods with a plastic sheet, protecting the bunnies and other cuddly toys. When it rains it washes the deposits of midnight drunks away. Some days the man attends the stall on his own, on others it’s the woman, who is quite skinny and wears a headscarf lightly tugged under her chin. Often she sits on a piece of cardboard on the pavement or stands reading Headway, an English language textbook.
The other day I walked past them. It was a bleach bright day and while the woman was reading the husband was rolled up like a hotdog, asleep on the crates. He is a short man, bald at the top with a moustache and graying hair.
“There are lots of Iranians in Stockwell,” he says, “They walk past everyday, hear the music and stop by.” It is the asylum seekers who live in nearby bed and breakfasts he refers to. Persian pop music playing on the couple’s portable cassette player turns their heads.
Today I saw the man mulling over a passage he’d written in Persian on a chunk of cardboard. I wondered what it was he was reading — poetry or a grocery list?
The man and woman are no longer there; nor are the bunnies. Their pitch is now run by an Indian man. In the unlikely event that they will hear this: Eid-e-shoma mobarak!
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