A Day In the Life of A Beggar

Its afternoon already. The sun is blazing on my face and my throat is parched. But I cannot stop talking. I have to sell all the 20 pens in my hand by sunset. Clearly, I have no option but to continue to walk from car to car, auto to auto, persuading people to buy a pen. There is no place I can get a drink of water, so I see no point in sitting down somewhere or looking for a way to get water and wasting time.

I walk from window to window, thrusting the pens in the faces of the memsahibs, hoping they get attracted to the bright colours. I linger around longer where I see children, in the hope that they will see the pens and urge their parents to buy them one pen, if not the stack. But like every other car, the memsahib ignores me and pulls up her window. She is afraid I will nick something from her car. What will she lose? That rich woman, if I do take a small shiny thing from her hand anyway? She is capable enough to buy another, I am sure. “Selfish, heartless men with money”.

My own mother is nowhere to be seen. She must be somewhere on the other end of the road begging for money. The ‘badha sahib’ tells her to drag herself on a low chowki across the road. This, he says will bring more sympathy and thus, more money. I don’t like to see her like this, but I have no choice. Sometimes, I tell her to just walk normally. But she says she is so used to this that tiring her feet makes no sense. “The badha sahib is right too. And what if he sees me on my feet? He will surely kill me, or break my legs for real”, says Amma.

Sometimes I get scared, that she too will be crushed like Abba under a speeding car. The loons in their big cars have no sense and often drive over our friends and the other beggars at the crossing. Then we have to endure the kids’ cries of pain for months as they moan their loved one’s death or tolerate a broken leg or hand. Work doesn’t stop of course. Sometimes, it comes as a boon when occasionally, a kind-hearted man gives us 10 rupees when he sees a bandaged hand. But very rarely do we come across such people.

I look at these people in their big cars and think to myself, if ever I will be able to rise up to their level. Maybe someday I will run away and sell all my pens for a better price and get a better deal somewhere. But that is not easy. The ‘badha sahib’s’ men will beat up Amma and dump her in the river if they find out. Maybe I will run away without telling her. But then, who will take care of her? My sister already has to carry around 3 more brothers all day, and see to it that they get a morsel of food. I don’t know what to do right now, but I will figure something out. Someday, after Amma goes away, I will run away and make more money. I will drive a car just like these badhaa people. But I will have the heart to give away a few rupees, maybe even a hundred, to the people on the street. People like me.


I Love Being Single, But Sometimes It Sucks

One of the best fusion bands that India has produced- Indian Ocean, will be performing in the city tonight. And I cant go.

As luck has it, the performance starts late in the evening, and ends after nightfall, and like all big cities, Delhi too doesn’t allow me to stay out till late unless I am accompanied by a male friend/brother/elder person.

And that is why I can go there tonight.

Most of my male friends are busy doing other things or are simply not interested in this kind of music. I have no brothers or close male relatives who can accompany me to the concert, or even just pick me up from the venue. This is the time when I start yearning a boyfriend. My girlfriends, the ones who manage to stay out and go to cool places can do so because of this one big asset: they have a boyfriend who is most likely capable to ensure their safety.

As for me, I get stuck. Unless I decide to risk being groped or stalked or raped on the streets at night, there is little chance that I would be willing to go out alone and return home alone at 9:30 pm. All in all this makes me think, being a girl sucks. Or perhaps, being a single girl sucks.

There is another option I can consider. But it is a long one:

1. I convince  one good guy friend to do me a favour and pick me up and perhaps even come to the concert with me.

2. I convince my mother that this particular friend is a nice, decent guy and I will be safe with him.

3. Convince myself too.

4. Keep the guy in line too. After all, he IS a guy.

5. Tolerate  my mother’s phone calls anyway when she tries to find out if I am having ‘too much fun’.

6. Attempt to make her understand that the guy is nothing more but a friend.

7. Convince the guy the same.

Sigh…I guess I have to choose. To go or not to go.

Resolution Time!

December has started and it is time for us to start making our resolutions. The past year has brought many changes in the life and quality of life of the people of Delhi. While most of them were good: like the adherence to the rules of lane driving, and more appreciation for the historical heritage of the city…some new advancements in technology also exposed once again the flaws in us.

So here is a list of things I would want Delhi and its people (including me) to do. These are my New Year resolutions and my wishes for the city.

1. NO spitting on the streets and roads.

2. NO urinating on the walls. Use of public urinals and an effort to keep them clean.

3. NO littering the streets with cigarette butts, gutka and chips wrappers and bottles. Judicious use of the dustbins. (Come on people, move your arses! there is a dustbin placed every few metres all over the city)

4. Conscious use of dustbins: categorization of recyclable stuff

5. NO foul language.

6. Courtesy to the people around you. (Please, shed that attitude. Help others…you will feel good!)

7. In the words of the metro announcers: NO defacing of public property (Respect your city, people!…how do you expect others to respect it if you yourselves dont)

8. NO writing on heritage buildings and monuments. Help Delhi become a beautiful place. The Taj Mahal was built for Mumtaz. Not for Seema and Amit’s love. Respect her memory at least.

9. NO physical violence, especially on strangers and on the streets. If you are so frustrated/angry, take an anger-management class or take your frustration out on productive work…like maintaining deadlines at work!

10. NO eve-teasing. Think about your own mother/sister/girlfriend/wife being treated the same way before you do it. Have SOME respect. And for the love-lorn roadside romeos out there: GET a girlfriend and stop bothering us!

11. NO drunk driving. It is NOT cool! It is not safe! And women hate it!

12. Same rule for the bikers: SLOW DOWN. We dont like Fast and The Furious in real life.

13. NO jumping red lights. Have some consideration for other poeple’s lives.

14. Lane driving. Don’t be in such a hurry. Wake up early if you have to rush.

15. NO public smoking. One word: EWW!!

16. Help someone in need. Be a good citizen. Stop robbing people.

17. Give up seats for senior citizens and pregnant women/women with children in the metro/bus. Have some manners. Would you like to be treated in the same way?

18. NO jumping queues or pushing/groping in a queue. Have patience. Trust me, things will work faster and smoother that way.

19. Switch off your cell-phones/put them on silent mode while in a theatre/auditorium etc. If you have to take/make a call, kindly leave the room.

20. NO talking loudly while in a public place. We dont want to hear what so-and-so’s auntie/uncle did and why your boyfriend is dumping you. Perhaps we have already guessed the reason for the latter.

21. Put some money aside every month for a good cause. 10 bucks a month will do. Don’t be greedy.

22. Control your children while at a restaurant. We go there to eat…not have some kid picking at our food and tie with dirty hands.

23. Relax. Dont be in a temper all the time. Life is beautiful….enjoy it.

24. Be forgiving. If someone bangs into your car by mistake, it doesnt mean he/she is out there to kill you.

25. Smile. Please.


case studies – Reserve coaches for executives: ‘Class’ified!

case studies – Reserve coaches for executives

Amit Mehta, a resident of Shatread more…

The introduction of the ladies’ coach in the Delhi Metro has triggered an array of reactions. To the women, the coach is a blessing in disguise. While most men have chosen to crib about the fact that they have one less coach to travel in, others have taken to ridiculing this new development. Obviously, the insenstive, chauvinists do not realize, or perhaps are unwilling to admit that this ladies’ coach has been introduced in reaction to their wonderful acts of eve-teasing, groping and sense-less commenting on women.

But recently, and very surprisingly, I read another kind of reaction from a not-so young and not-so-humble gentlemann in the newspaper. The poor fellow, who is sick of travelling in the over-crowded metro coaches, has brought up the idea of a seperate coach for the Business Class!

What I would like to ask this gentleman is, did he think before saying such a thing? The Delhi metro is a mode of PUBLIC, not private transport. It is meant for the commonfolk of the city, not for hot-shot business executives if-you-please! If you want such luxury, and if you are willing to pay extra for another class in the train, why not just travel in the comfort of your car, Mr. Business man?

Why bother us?

The ladies coach has been introduced not for the comfort of women travellers,but for their safety.  I would like to add before you reach that point. So, before making such remarks, please Mr. Businessman, and all you snobbish rich-jerks in the crowd…do think twice….or travel in your own 1st class-AC cars. Thank you very much.