A time to reflect

Scenes from Worli seaface

Update : Yazad has pointed out the Livelihood Freedom Campaign Petition which is a movement by the CSS to address the plight of street entrepreneurs who work without any kind of legal backing, making them vulnerable to harrassment and restrictions..

Please go and sign the petition here
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Sitting here in Delhi on work, my mind keeps going back to last Sunday evening. A typical windy evening at Worli seaface… Couples meeting on the sly, women friends catching up over corn and conversations, parents with children clamouring for candyfloss and rides on the small merry-go-round, serious walkers and joggers, some with their dogs…

Candyfloss on a rainy day

Vendor

The corn-seller was doing brisk business – she and her small daughter and her smaller son huddled around the small coal stove… People crowding around her, each repeating his/her own order, despite the fact that the corn seller went about her work without even glancing up at any one of them…

Intent on work...

And suddenly, this police van stopped on the road in front of them. A fat policeman walked out, picked up the stove and walked towards where we were sitting – on the short wall facing the rocks and the sea. And as we sat watching in open-mouthed horror (and I am not exaggerating here), he dropped the stove along with the contents on the rocks – more than twelve feet down…. And he left as quickly as he had materialized – and I still sat open-mouthed (that must have been a pretty picture – but I was too shaken to even think of taking a photograph of the cops).

The last glimpse I had of the cops was of the corn-seller in her yellow sari shouting heatedly to the rear of the van as they drove away…

All I could manage to think and say was – This is her livelihood – and the cop has managed to take it away from her in a moment – and it was not as if she was doing anything illegal or never-done-before… What will she do now?

Rescue

She did not do anything – again out of nowhere, a boy much taller and older than her son (who was with her near the stove earlier) materialized, he slid down the wall and went down to the rocks. And picked up the stove.

And climbed up with it – as his head surfaced, some other man came up to him and took the stove from his hands, cleaned it and handed it back to the woman.

Scaling heights

And the woman set up shop in exactly the same place as before. Very soon, it was business as usual for her… And all this happened in less than four minutes.

She will be back at the same place the next day. So will her customers.

And the police too…

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