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India gate, chasing birds and meeting the bhelpuri wala- March 18, 2012

We managed to wake the kids and get us all to India Gate by 7am. Delhi’s iconic and sprawling green lung that symbolises India’s imperial and colonial history was today the venue for a peaceful and silent protest against violence against women. But more on that tomorrow.
While the protestors walked on, mum and me stopped halfway to let Aadyaa run around in the lawns. Chasing crows and mynas was fun. Eating a picnic was fun. Running barefoot was fun. But the most fun was watching the bhelpuri wala set up his mobile stall. Improvised out of a simple plastic bucket, he deftly chopped onions and coriander real fine, then sliced green chillies longitudinally and kept sliced lemon handy lest an early customer should pass by.
Chatting with him, we learnt that he is from a village near Aligarh in UP, where his wife and four children live. He lives in Paharganj in Delhi and has been selling bhelpuri at India Gate for the last 25 years! He earns about Rs 300 a day. Interestingly he commented on how people no longer prefer snacks like bhelpuri and the guy selling chips did better business catering to new tastes, while he was still selling food gone out of fashion. Not a complaint but certainly a lament about the changing times.
Aadyaa watched him in rapt fascination, only to be distracted by Udai and Nupur, who returned with stories of the petition going into the Presidents house. It struck me how little our children interact with people who comprise the very heart and soul of India. How can we expect them to empathise? For without empathy, it would surely mean anarchy and a dismal tomorrow.




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