Howtomakeadollar is running a series of blogs about real-life businesses that we've encountered in poverty stricken nations around the world. In these countries people are very innovative and find all kinds of unique ways to make money. To read the whole series, click here.
The snake chamer - In the U.S. we have very few open markets. Occasionally a farmers market may open in a town, but this is usually only for a few weekends per year, and it is limited to locally grown foods. In the third world there are enormous markets full of individual stands selling pretty much anything you can imagine, not just food. India and many Arab countries are particularly famous for their open markets where you can test your bartering skills and hunt for good deals on stuff.
One cool thing that you can find in most open markets in India, the Middle East, and North Africa are snake charmers. Real-life snake charming is a high risk job. Its a guy with a little flute instrument who will sit down in front of a basket with a cobra or two in it. As he plays, the cobra will slowly come out and stare at him playing, and will eventually start to sway with the music... If he's lucky.
In reality, the cobras will sometimes just slither out of the bag and try to get away. Occasionally they attack the charmer, or onlookers. Its not exactly a safe job. But if you have good snake handling skills and a net with a long pole you can usually scoop your cobra back up before it gets away or eats a little kid. Charmers who try to do more than one cobra at a time are really cool to watch, but you should stay back a good distance, because cobras can spit their poison pretty far, and they aim for your eyes, which will blind you, or at least cause major damage to your eyes. This is why most snake charmers have such weird looking eyes, or keep them closed. Many of them are blind in at least one eye.
If you take a picture they will charge you more money, or they will grab your camera and delete it. (really). I don't know what they would do if you have a film camera, but you should pay them and not worry about it.
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