In the 1870s, the Pankhawala was listed as essential domestic staff for all Calcutta and Madras homes (not Bombay!).
A Pankhawala would find employment in the summer months, for 3 annas a day / night. With the introduction of mechanized fans, this profession ceased to exist.
The ‘punkah coolie’ was often berated and subjected to violence for falling asleep in the night. Many even died from the beating.
Carl Jost patented his ventilating fan in 1905. In his patent he states that he was a subject of the King of Hungary residing in Bombay, British India.
The Jost Engineering Co Ltd continues to operate from Bombay.
The water-carrier could be spotted everywhere -with a leather bag (mashak) containing 5-6 gallons of water -- to help the thirsty or spray the dusty roads.
The Bhistee offered his services to the public for free and even served during the World War (photo above). Each British army regiment had its own Bhistee.
Here, a Bhistee helps a soldier cool down at the railway station. The soldiers are headed to the 2nd Anglo Afghan War.
With the arrival of water taps and pipe water, the Bhistee faded away from sight.
The torch-bearer was responsible for lighting up the place. The mashal was made of rags wrapped around a rod, fed at intervals with oil from an earthen pot.
He was needed to run along palanquins during night-travel or assist during night-hunts.
A Mashalchi usually needed to run at a speed of 8 miles an hour!