Every time one feebly attempts to try and listen to those who extol the elusive virtues of the Commonwealth Games, heralded as the panacea to all our urban woes, as the magic wand that will transform our disorderly yet cherished city into a world class one, an aberration appears and calls us back to order. The latest was a news item on the front page of a leading daily. Vendors to be evicted in Games clean-up screamed the headline.
The vendors in question are part of the life line of our city. The local roadside cobbler that one rushes too in times of need, the lady who irons our clothes each and every day and has been doing so for decades now, the vegetable vendor who is an intrinsic part of every colony. They are the heart and soul of our city, people we depend on and cannot do without. My ironing lady has been ironing my clothes for the last 30 years. I have seen her children grow. She comes every morning to collect the day's clothes and her smiling face is something I have got use to seeing. It somehow makes my day. When I was in Paris for 3 years and had to iron clothes myself...ugh... I remembered Phoolmati with fondness and realised how much we depended on her and needed her. The husband's shirts were always ironed to perfection on so where my crisp cotton saris of yore years.
Many of our parents are such vendors. They are brave and proud people who left their homes many years back to come to the city in the hope of giving a better future to their children. Today their children are working in swank places but they still continue to labour and toil long hours, come what may. This is the only life they know, and quite frankly the only one we know too. I shudder to think where I will now have to head to get my shoe repaired or or to buy the missing element for the nights dinner! And the idea of not having well pressed clothes to wear is nothing short of abhorring.
Vendors, the powers that be say, are a security risk. I find that difficult to fathom. Gentle Phoolmati cannot hurt a fly, nor can our poor old cobbler. Then why this inane decision? The street vendors are the heart of the city and a real necessity. Why be ashamed of them? These small marginal economies are needed in a country with a population like ours. They help the poor survive. But then who cares about the poor. Off with their heads seems to be the order of the day.
Labels: commonwealth games