A Walk in the Street
A Walk in the Street5 mins 194 5 mins 194
As I step out of my apartment gate, I realize the difference between hell and heaven if there was really one indeed. Not a one given to belief in mythologies I just use these terms to describe my perception stepping out of my comfort zone in my home. While my apartment is on the busy main road my own flat is situated about 100 m from the gate and hence the calm and quietness dominate. Of course, this tranquillity is sometimes disturbed by a passing vehicle in the by lane across the compound or the grinding of some machinery in the apartment yet to be completed next door.
The main road is filled with noise and dust of the vehicles passing by. Often the road gets jammed as there are vehicles parked and reduces the road space. Alternate parking barely works as one side parking still reduces the width of the road. There seem to be no solution to all this and one moves on. Recently the pavement has been repaired and the walking quality has improved. Still, I find that the electricity corporation has put some contraption to hold the wires right across the foot path or the contractor has left behind a heap of gravel on the pavement. These things remind you that one is living in a third world country, whatever be the capacity to build rockets or satellites.
I see the fruit vendor family of four. The father must be in his fifties and the mother in her late forties. Son I guess is not yet of marriage age and occasionally I see the daughter, whom I guess is married. The father, I guess from the looks is a Tamilian what with vibhuti (ash) marks on his forehead. The marks are horizontal indicating a Shiva worshipper or his son Murugan. His wife recognizes me as I pass by and gives a friendly smile. Their son most of the time is busy with his mobile. I see their daughter occasionally. Being a price conscious person, I buy fruits rarely from them as I find them cheaper with another vendor. She has a cart outside D-Mart and she calls me anna and asks me in kannada why I have not come by lately. I tell her I came the other day by 10 am but didn’t see you. Yes, she agrees and says “but I cannot come before since I have to finish work at my home.” She gives me fruits at a good price. Sometimes they are sweet too. I wanted to tell her the fruit was as sweet as she is. But check myself.
I walk into the D-Mart with my list in my pocket and quickly finish putting things on to the shopping bag and look for my other young friend to check out. But she was not there. I don’t know her name, but on an impulse when I was shopping a few days before Christmas I bought her some chocolate. Since then, she smiles at me and I smile at her and occasionally ask we ask each other “how are you?” When I gave her the chocolate, she asked me if I was a Christian. I didn’t answer her question but countered her with another question do Christians alone celebrate Christmas. She nodded in agreement and smiled at me.
D-Mart is a fine place to shop. Apart from a standard 7% discount on MRP they also stock many things that come free when you buy one. I fulfil my filter coffee needs for example where I get one 500 gm packet free when I buy one. I am told by a professor friend who has spoken to Damani that they quickly identify fast moving items in a store (based on locality) and stock only those products mostly. They buy from the manufacturers with a good deal and pass on some benefits to the consumers. The one I visit is also mostly managed by women and very well too. On some occasions I see the stores managed by youthful boys while the women are dressed up for the festival. Since the COVID times they test you regularly with the thermometer and offer a sanitizer at the entry point.
As I walk back satisfied with my purchase, I pick up a few vegetables from the road side vendor women. They sell their heap of any vegetable for Rs Ten. I wonder at their economics. Of course, their roof is the sky and I doubt if they pay any bribes to the authorities as strictly speaking, they have encroached on the foot path. But this is not the only example of a foot path encroachment. Right to live: is it enshrined in the constitution? I ask myself. As a country we are unable to provide livelihood to scores of such women and vendors. Side stepping them on the foot path on to the road with a risk of getting knocked down by a bus or a car is a daily risk, the price one has to pay for living in this country. A bhakt would say I don’t have an iota of deshbhakti to write like this.
It was midmorning and I have had my lunch. I hear the cuckoo calling. She must have also returned to her nest after her search for food. It is time for rests and she too, like me, seems fulfilled for the morning.