Friday, May 29, 2009

I am in love with this peanut wallah:)

I am in love with this guy who sells peanuts on the highway. I really am. He is nice, clean-looking. He is there walking amidst the crush of highway jam, honking cars and trucks and autos and motorbikes and not so affected by all that, almost a yogi, cool! His hands hold those paper cones with just a handful of peanuts, each cone costing Rs 2. On days I manage to catch him (he is always running off towards other cars, just like in the movies:) I feel a great sense of achievement and love the feel of warm peanuts all the more (Oh, there are other guys too selling it, but there is something about this fellow, so earnest, so hardworking). Btw. how they manage to keep the nuts so warm? I have tried to click him several times and always failed. One time he was there, with our windows rolled down (on all sides) and my husband managed to buy a set of five cones from him, but as I lifted my mobile camera (with my five thumbs, all with no cognitive ability) he shied off from the frame, standing just so behind so that I could not click him (for this blog)..And I felt very bad, at having offended his sense of privacy and decided against attempting such shots later... We Indians, so rude!!

But I love him because he embodies what this city stands for...hard, clean work... Oh, there are also the beggars here. But more than them, we cannot fail to see those clean, hardworking folks, walking sometimes in the hot sun (selling ice-chilled bisleri bottles) or these peanuts. I remember this right from when I came to Mumbai over 20 years ago. and still they are here, these hardworking souls from around the country, making a tough living, in the cleanest way they know how... My soul feels touched and I love this city, its muck nothwithstanding. The `timepass peanuts' they were called those days. I remember also how as soon as my train from Chennai pulled in, the urchins will leap into the train to collect the newspapers (so they can earn their money by selling it at the raddiwallah:) .. That too, that stunt of running into the monster of the train, would amaze me. I also loved the enterprise which the city represented. The coolies in Mumbai would not cheat or argue or irritate you as they did, definitely in Chennai (the worst of the lot those days)... I used to love that also about the city.
I still love those boys who sell those books in the heat of the city -- most of them are pirated books, but I don't love them for that reason. But that they are choosing to work over begging or stealing. I love that, I really do! And the magazines off the city's signals... them too. And those strawberry wallahs, those flowerwallahs, and those mangowallahs off the signals. They are not encroaching but doing something in the best way they can... Clean, hard work....
If ever all that changes too much, I will leave this city. As will most others. And those of you looting it, you would have lost your golden goose... and there will be no more golden eggs, lo!

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