Tag Archives: Gurgaon

Humans of India #3

With rain pouring heavily yesterday evening, I decided to leave my two wheeler at office and take an auto back home.

Two street urchins (who looked 15-16 years old) sharing the front seat of an auto approached me.

We conversed in Hindi throughout, but is translated to English here.

Me: “Queen’s Plaza, Sushant Lok. 40 rupees.”

Street Urchin 1: “Get in. Just tell me the directions”

I get into the auto.

Me: “You look very young. Do you have a license?”

SU1: *turns back* “No.”

Me: “How old are you?”

SU1: “17.”

Me: “And you?”

SU2: “Should be 15 or 16”.

Me: “Is this your dad’s vehicle?”
SU1: “Yes. He drives throughout the day. Now, he is very tired and lying at home. We take care of the auto post 8 pm”

Me: “What’s your name?”

SU1: “I’m Munna. He’s my younger brother, Akash”

Me: “You guys go to school during the day right?”

Munna: “No longer. We cannot afford it now.”

Akash takes on from there.

Akash: “Munna went to school till Class V. In Class VI, he wanted to shift to a better school. The fees they asked for two years was 15000. Our dad couldn’t afford that much. We had to stop schooling then. 4 years ago. It never really took off from there. Now we’re comfortable doing what we’re doing.”

Me: “What are you doing now?”

Akash: “Outside Gate 2 of Ardee City, we have a Tea Stall. My brother and I take care of it during the day, while our father drives the auto. In the night, our papa takes rest and we take care of the rides from 8 pm till 11-11.30 pm.”

Me: “That’s good. You’re working hard. Why don’t you think big? Why don’t you go to school now, if you can afford it?”

Munna: “Sir, to think big, you also need big money. Our mom had a heart surgery and half of my dad’s income is spent buying medicines only. Our mom can no longer work. How can our dad’s income alone take care of our studies, mom’s medication and regular expenses? We have got used to it now. There’s no way I am going back to school now”

Me: “Can you read English?”

Akash gets all excited.
Akash: “Yes, yes. A bit. See that board there? It reads ‘Gold Souk'”.

Munna smiles.

Me: “Where are you guys from? Natives of Delhi?”

Munna: “We’re from Malda district, 12 hour journey from Kolkata. We rarely get to go home. Once a year, may be”

Me: “Even I’m like you guys only. I’m from Chennai, but get to go home only once in three months”

Akash: “Oh, Chennai. We’ve never been to any place south of MP”

Me: “You like to travel?”

Munna: “Of course! There are lot of places around our home town in Jalpaiguri we’ve seen. Very good places”

My house arrives. I ask them if I can take a picture of/with them.

Akash smiles and agrees.

Munna: “Why sir? What will you do with it? You’ll send it to us? Actually, I’m feeling a bit scared. We are less than 18 and driving auto without license. What if police figure us out with that photo”

Me (smiling): “No problem. Do you know what day it is, tomorrow?”

Akash: “Our nation’s Independence Day”
Me: “Happy Independence Day in advance”
Munna: “Same to you, Sir”.

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Humans of India #2

I was walking back home after doing my weekly groceries shopping at Queen’s Plaza, a small market in our locality in Gurgaon.

“Would you mind having hot Dhal Kachori, Sir? I serve Idlis and some drinks too.”, an old man, told me in Hindi, with gleaming eyes and a child like smile on his face. I was already tired from a long day’s work and had made up my mind to go back home and hang up my boots for the day at the earliest, but something in the old man’s face told me I should visit his store. And so I did.

I ordered a plate of Idly Sambhar and started digging the Whatsapp chats for the day I had missed, not in a mood to strike any conversation with the shopkeeper. Through the corner of my eye, something in the menu card of the shop caught my attention.

“Please make your day useful. Help a mental girl enjoy today”, read a sign board.

Rashika Maharishi's Home Kitchen

Rashika Maharishi’s Home Kitchen

The old man saw me seeing the board, and started a conversation. He somehow figured out I am not a local guy and tried his best to speak in English to make me feel comfortable.

“Dhal Kachori, very nice. My daughter-in-law make. You try and tell”, he said, in a dialect Prabhaker (from Shantaram) would easily relate to.

The shop’s name read “Rashika Maharishi’s Home Kitchen”.

“So Rashika is your daughter-in-law?”, I asked him.

“Yes yes. *smiles broadly*. She is my beta ka bahu (daughter-in-law). Very good in studies. She completed B.Sc in Home Science and won three awards during college”. When he told that, I could see his chest puff with pride.

“She makes the food, and I sell them. She makes tasty Kachoris, Samosas, Idly and Kheer. Very tasty. B.Sc in Home Science. Three awards during college”.

“Oh, really nice”

“Yes, yes. My son is working as trainer in Delhi Airport. I am retired. My wife no more. My daughter became mental when she was 2 years old. Head on collision with a car. That guy didn’t even stop to react, just sped away. Just like that. Since that day till today, my daughter hasn’t changed. I have taken her to many doctors across the state. Sab ne haat kada kar diya (Everyone told there’s no scope). She is in her twenties now and will live just a few more years. But I am very proud of her. I will take care of her to the best of my ability, till I breathe my last.”

My eyes welled up. The best part was that the old man didn’t narrate the story in a sad tone. He was smiling all through. He just accepted his life’s truth and decided to live with it.

“Your Idly ready sir. Sambhar very nice. Eat and tell me. Made by my daughter-in-law. Very good in studies”, he smiled.

“What else do you have?”

“It’s already 9 pm. Samosas have sold out. I just have two pieces of Dhal Kachori”

“I’ll buy it”

The old man. I'll ask him his name, next time

The old man. I’ll ask him his name, next time

While he was packing the Kachoris, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind.

All of us have so many things to feel grateful about. Yet, more often than not, we end up feeling depressed about things we don’t have or things that don’t go our way.  And then, there are rare gems, like this old man.

I told myself, “The next time I even think about fretting over a long stressful day at work, I will remember this gentleman, and stop fretting”.

“Welcome again to my shop, Sir”, he said, handing over the parcel of Idly Sambhar and Dhal Kachoris, with the never fading smile, that takes to his face, like fish to water.