I have to buy a business suit for a forthcoming conference. So the idea was simple and this hoarding seems to capture it well, I was looking for some feel good clothes!
But the problem with me is, I do not feel good so easily. I thought the cycle parked in front was a perfect contradiction to the message of the hoarding. I was wondering if the cycle owner was a guard at one of those shops, who work 12 hour shifts? I was wondering if he was ‘feeling good’ or not?
I get drawn to the sidewalks and the signs of life there much more than the swank shops and the malls. I was really drawn to these sellers selling the colorful firkis and they posed for me quite willingly. I do not know how much they make in a day. Is it enough to keep them going? What kind of dreams they have?
A little ahead, and still in my quest for feel good clothes I met a few small and smiling girls. They were selling flowers and I simply love flowers. The flowers were not so fresh but I felt drawn to the kids. I asked them how much for one bunch? The girl in the left hand corner of the picture below told me that one bunch was for 10 rupees. I bought one and this prompted the others to try and do some hard selling, which was quickly turning simply into pleas for money.
I think reading this post by Krish made me respond the way I did, I said, I would buy some food for them but I will not give money. The kids readily agreed.
We started with these three and I was wondering where they would take me and calculating how much it would cost? I am so used to paying Rupees 150 for a single dish of rice or more than Rupees 100 for two plates of Momos or more than Rupees 1000 for a few pizzas. I tried chatting up with them but they were not too interested. One girl said she was from a small town in UP. I asked why she left home? She mumbled something about not having a home but all the kids that were hanging around were living together. I wonder where they live? I wonder if they are safe on the streets? I only know they smiled quickly while talking with me.
The kids took me to a road side stall selling chole-kulche (vegetables with a kind of India bread). On the way our number increased to four. By the time the person started giving out the food to the kids the number went up to nine. When it came to paying for it, my bill came to a total of Rupees 90!
It was a stunning realization that a measly 90 rupees that in many cases cannot buy two plates of Momos can buy lunch for 9 people. For the first time I felt that the measly salary that I draw can go quite a long way, if I really have a will to do something. The kids took there food away and I once again thought of the task at hand- to buy a business suit.
I started walking off and a small girl approached me and pleaded to buy a flower. I said, I would buy food for her. She told me I already had. Then she pleaded to give her just one rupee. When I asked why, her answer was simple. She wanted to eat a toffee! I said I would buy the toffee. As we were walking, I saw an ice cream vendor and suggested an ice cream to her. She took the biggest cone she could spot in the picture.
This is not the stall where I bought food for the kids, but I have developed a new respect for the street food.
I went to the mall and looked for a business suit. It was priced at Rupees 4000. That can buy a meal for 400 people at the stall where the kids took me!
I tried a few but if the jacket fitted me, the trousers were small and if the trousers fitted me, the jacket was too big. I seem to have developed an uncomfortable tendency not to fall in any pre-tailored categories. I had to walk out after 45 minutes without buying one.
And in the process I have realized that in some places 100 rupees can mean a lunch for 10 people and not the price of a small shampoo bottle or two plates of Momos.