The Chat Continues…More Friends In Chembur

‘Modesty aside for a moment, aren’t we so pretty?

And yet, would you believe, they have just one of us here:-(

‘We know we got you hooked…But do look around, there’re more of us back there, you’ll like them too.’

One glance, you’ll know we’re not Parijat, Bonsai Lotus or Jasmine!

‘Small, but no less beautiful! That purple at the center breaking up the white is our beauty spot. You agree?’

Would you believe if we tell you we’re actually a Periwinkle? Of course, the leaves give it away if you noticed. See down there the purple duo, our kin?’

‘Don’t we know you can never get enough of us, Gulmohars!’

‘Figure out we’re green turning yellow or yellow into green?’

‘Or red into green or green to red?

Very small, may be (less than a cm across), but sticking together in a bunch we’ll stop you in your tracks! Admit our striking yellow amidst the green is something.

The chat to be continued!

Chatting With Friends In Chembur

A mere palm leaf, you say? I can shut out the big guy in the sky for you!’

‘You’ve seen the Thai dancers. Have you seen our show?’

‘A sure way to stay fit – touch your toes like we do…’

…Regardless of your station in life, however high.’

‘Flaunt it if you’ve got it, they say. And why not? We’re whiter than white!’

‘And to think we’re in the cleaning job – we mean the air you inhale.’

Tabebuia rosea – don’t fault us for our name is not our doing. When in bloom we are all flowers and no leaves!’

Call us immoderate, intemperate….we, the bougainvilleas, just don’t seem to hold ourselves back when in season.’

But then we do bring some color with us. Like, how!’

‘When we, the gulmohars, go flaming red, there’s no room for grays. That goes for your days and moods too. ‘

‘You’re late for your tryst with us, my friend. In early and mid summer we are at our flamboyant best in red and orange all over. The season is nearing its end – there’s still some zest left in us.’

The conversation goes on.

The Best Spend I Made…

in a long time.

On my morning rounds, a few days ago, I saw something that wasn’t there before. Abutting the fence on the outside of the garden and near its main entrance, on the pavement where we  walked, out of nowhere had appeared, out in the open,  two ‘stalls’ each having a cane chair and a foot stool. Presently two gentlemen in their fifties, sweating and in shorts, were occupying the chairs presumably after completing their rounds. One of them was being attended to by a man and woman, seemed to be in forties. And the other also attended to by another man and a woman likely to be in their early thirties or even younger. Were they one family? Were they two couples? I had no idea. In Wodehouse words they were doing things to the men’s feet and legs from knee down- the women handled the feet and the men, the legs. .

I said ‘Oh, sh**. This is the beginning and very soon there would be so many of them plying all kinds of trades completely usurping the pavement. The ward office, as always, would do bugger-all to clear up the place.

Next day they were very much there – not gone away as I had secretly wished – busy with a couple of customers. I cursed the men (the service providers) in my mind for using women to lure their customers and the customers falling for it.

On the third day, two things happened. A spark of sympathy lighted up in my mind – at least they were earning a living honourably and not going around begging as many others do, though the annoyance at the place being messed up didn’t go away. Secondly, the gentlemen being serviced were never looking at the women labouring on their feet, preferring to chat among themselves or even read newspapers.

It wasn’t until three days later I resumed my morning walks – the interruption owing to a medical condition.

This day I was fully expecting them to have digged in. So they had. Their ‘stalls’ now had roofs of canvas rolling down on three sides to keep the rain out – the monsoon is threatening to break anytime now in Mumbai. There was one more thing I noticed and it was quite unsettling – the younger woman was blind.

The unfairness and irony of life hit me hard – the medical condition I mentioned earlier was: I got operated couple of days ago for cataract in my second eye now fitted the most expensive lenses recommended by the doc – of course it did punch a good-sized hole in my finances partially offset by insurance. And I have seen enough there is to see in this world unlike these two souls in their prime.

And today it was even worse. As I passed them in my round, I saw the two – the young woman and her companion – huddled under an umbrella looking forlorn without a customer. The umbrella was centred over the man’s head and the woman partly catching the light drizzle.  I got near him to  pull him up for not covering her also under the umbrella when to my shock I noticed he was also blind, though not completely.

Overwhelmed, I moved on without a word.

I had gone a few steps. This was one time my gravy cells didn’t fail me. Rummaging my pockets – I don’t carry a wallet – I found it luckily. Went back to him: ‘Keep this – you may not get a customer today. See, it’s a hundred rupee note.’ Fearing he might refuse to accept I hastened walking away, not failing to notice a half-smile on the woman’s face that was priceless. The man recovered and shouted: ‘Saheb, please come tomorrow. We’ll do for you.’

That’s simple rural Maharashtrians for you. They don’t want it free. Their innocence, honesty…it melts you. Well, a mere hundred rupees is not going to solve their problem. Nor can I afford to part with it every day. Not that they wanted money. I hope some social organization comes to their help for providing a legit place for them to practice their trade and also to render any possible medical help.

Meanwhile I wish the chair in their stall never gets cold.

End