Driving through Pune roads, can at best be said to be strenuous and every signal halt a gross waste of time. Yet these very halts offer a quick bargain as well are a pointer to the latest trends. Almost all major junctions have group of barely clothed kids selling seasonal goods. Come summer and one can choose from activity books for children, fancy yo-yos, rubic cubes, racket shaped battery powered mosquito killers and removable shades for your car windows. Its the time to pick up a few strings of fragrant mogra gajra’s and if you cant stand the heat, try out the portable battery fan.
Rain or no rain umbrellas are readily purchased in the monsoons, as the rainbow coloured accessories can serve as a self protection device too! Beat the ergonomics monster with neck supports in different colours for your car! Duster cloths miraculously appear as the windows mist over in the showers cutting visibility to almost zero!
August brings forth little tricolours to affix on your dashboard or desk too. The latest rickshaw fare card or boxes of tissues are perennially in demand. As the year draws to a close, the little urchins dart inbetween vehicles with Santa caps and stockings. A bountiful crop at Mahableshwar means strawberries galore at the traffic intersections. Getting delayed for that party? No problem- pacify your hostess with a huge bunch of roses or gerberas all picked up enroute of course!
I hate to give money to beggars yet the sight of a mother with newborn hanging on her chest brings out conflicting emotions. But these children were not begging just pleading with you to buy his wares....
They seemed not to have had a bath for ages... As for food, ribs and bone ends poking through the torn clothes told their own story. My fingers itched to pull out some tissues from the box she is selling to wipe the phlegm of the kid's nose or swat flies settling on the wound on her arms.
Who funds these goods? Do the families selling them make enough to get two square meals?And many more uncomfortable questions...
Yet what do I do? Just turn my head away and desperately wait for the light to turn green.
Is there nothing we can do for these families? Should the authorities not be doing something? Can I do something? Should I?
Why me? But then ... why not?