Tuesday, January 5, 2010

zara hat ke, zara bach ke...yeh hai bumbai meri jaan

Saw Raj Kapoor's Shree 420 for my research paper on mumbai and migrants about a year ago, and in the film all poor people, including beggars were sweet, endearing souls who sang, danced and smiled even if they didn't have much to be happy about...ramaiya vasa vaiya, ramaiya vasa vaiya...while the rich gluttons fleeced them off even their little shanty spaces.
Cut to present day reality, and poor Raj Kapoor would turn in his grave if he met the beggars in Mumbai today. I mean I've heard of plenty of instances where you toss a rupee at a beggar and he'll toss it right back at you! Met this cute little bugger today...he made pitieous litle faces at me from outside the cafe window, and almost made me weep into my cup of coffee. When that didn't quite work, he actually patiently camped outside the door of the cafe. Then when I walked out almost half an hour later this time he doubled the attack...pitieous expression coupled with painful voice...."subeh se kuch nahi khaaya didi..ek vada pav to khila do." And I was taken in, hook, line and sinker.
Went with the sweet little beggar boy, brought him a vada pav and gave it to him with a huge smile and a generous "yeh lo." Sweet little boy, snatched the vada pav and ran away without so much as a smile! And to top it off he set little army of friends after me in about five seconds and I had to run...vada pav didi, vada pav...all of them were squealing, surrounding me as I fled to the nearest cab.
And what do I see when I'm running as everyone on the road stares at me? The little bugger happily munching away on his vada pav, not looking half as pitiful , endearing or innocent as he did just five minutes ago!

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