The clock strikes at 12 noon. Under the hot sun, an old couple gets down from a rickshaw with some closed containers, pay the auto driver and start their daily chores. In the corner of the street, they set up a small table, open the containers, put up a small board and wait for customers. A few men and women come and grab some food. Some carry it with them, some sit and munch on the healthy and delicious home-made food.
Well this is an everyday scenario in the City of Dreams, where I live. Many people like the couple above work day and night so that they can earn something which can help them to obtain a square meal, if not two times, at least once in a day.
Local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai and probably the only source of transport for lakhs of Mumbaikars. There is one lady whom I spot every evening when I travel in train in the ladies compartment. Neatly dressed in a salwar kameez with a huge bag filled with the one dry food stuff known as Kachori (a round shaped salted snack with some spicy filling) which she sells and a small little purse hanging over her shoulder, she starts her journey at 4 p.m and ends it at about 11 p.m. every single day. Several people returning back home, after a tiring day at work, are her daily customers. In a crowded train where there is hardly any space to move, this lady swiftly walks through the compartment with a smile on her face calling on to people to explain how healthy her product is and sells as many packets as she can. She gets down from one train and boards on the other till all her packets are sold off. I dont know what makes her work for such long hours every day. Her husband may be unemployed, she may have small children or old parents to be fed at home or her or probably she would be working merely to be financially independent.
Like her, there are several others, some selling small decorative accessories for women in train and some making sandwiches across a busy street. I am always amazed at the sight of such hardworking individuals who may or may not have the physical capacity to work, but, have immense mental strength to fill their own stomach. Whatever may be the reason for the hard work put in by these people, it shows their determination to fight all odds which life has brought before them and to make continuous effort to improve their situation. I see some people begging on the streets, some caught by police for stealing something. I rather feel why don’t these people learn from such hardworking individuals and earn money through legitimate means rather than obtaining it through illegal mediums.
A few of whom who are reading this may feel that even they work they and night to meet ends meet, then, what’s so special about these street vendors? Well the fact is that, these people have found their means of livelihood on their own accord without anyone’s support. They did not have the luxury to study in a good school, get a degree and work in an air conditioned office like several of us do. However, they did not lose hope and started doing something which would help them to live a decent life.
We all have something to imbibe from these vendors. So next time when you spot a person selling something, look up to him with respect. You don’t know how many people are waiting at home for him for a small bite of food.
See you next time !!!
– Miss Sunshine