With the Indian budget 2011 dawning close the media is reporting on budget expectations from CEOs to aam aadmi. Speculation and informed guesses say the government will not introduce anything new but plough in more funds to its pet projects including its rural employment guarantee scheme, healthcare scheme and education.

Which brings to mind a narrow alley i travel through each day and at times stop since the veggies are sold at half the rate as my nearby Hopcoms store.

On this alley are faces i see every day and some times shyly smile. from the lil’ boy who serves chai and washes glasses at the irani tea store as early as 6 in the morning to as late as 11 in the evening to the patient old man, blind and arms drawn up in a silent prayer outside the mosque as busy two-wheelers whizz by and sometimes stop and drop alms into a hanky spread close by.

This lil’ alley to me is India in a microcosm. Self reliant. A communal melting pot. Colorful. Stinking. Apathetic. Bustling with energy. Laidback.

The alley is lined with small machine tool shops, shops that sell old wooden doors and window frames, shops that sell fake lee cooper jackets and jeans, shops selling chai/dosas/kababs/naans/fried fish/vadas.

Women wearing burqas lugging crying tots in uniforms, women wearing the ghunghat and bargaining with the veggie vendor, women briskly selling hot idlis to autowallas stopping by for a quick eat.

Men sitting on benches and smoking beedis in the morning, the same men sitting and smoking beedis in the evening, youngsters going threesome on a luna, an indolent traffic cop sipping chai at the tea stall, men with their white caps hurrying to the mosque, men helping kids cross the road not stopping to ask what religion they belong to.

My India.

The alley has lots of secrets to those ready to share it. Great jilebis, lovely vibrant dresses, fresh veggies and tender meat, a ready laugh and some street philosophy.

Strewn with garbage that never seems to get tidied up. Yet every day as I pass by I see the BBMP workers pitchfork tons of filth into a waiting truck. Dogs wallow in it and people walk on it. Day into night and night into day. The garbage still stays and these brave folks doggedly remove it. Perhaps some day they will win the war.

The alley has the constant patter of feet. Children lugging bags, sometimes burdened by bags laboring away to school. Lil girls in burqas or the niqab attending school. Evenings a darker part of the alley leading on to a solitary house cordoned off by a flimsy curtain plays madrasa to young minds and at times a brightly lit store is converted to a madrasa as young tots run in to learn.

My lil’ boy stays on at his chai shop serving chai and washing glasses as a busy world stops and passes him by, again.

Perhaps, some day, he will get the RIGHT to EDUCATION, our government’s well-meaning RTE will probably touch him as well but till then he washes his glasses and serves his chai.



2 thoughts on “RTE

  1. All y columnsts, big mouths… watch-out!. A fighter’s wielding the pen- oops mouse n ky pad!
    You’v got competetion foks – Desi ishtyle!
    U’ve d stuf- go for it my friend!

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