Monday, November 14, 2011

Through the window..- occupations, hawkers and businesses..

                 Moving ahead with the environment of the SOCIETIES..

           As I stated in the last post, the occupants of these SOCIETIES were locales who got the houses at low rates. These people were called "THE ORIGINALS". A typical feature of these originals would be- women dressed in navari (nine yards) sari, men who spitted pan on the lid of the drains outside, children who woke up early and started an ear-splitting cry and who were duly handed a 1 rupee pepsi (colored ice) to keep them quiet, the house cluttered with relatives who spoke the "language of the ghaats" and in the afternoon the unbearable smell of roasted tobacco would emanate from their houses which later in the evening they would rub on their palms with the thumb of the other hand and consume.. Their life, as I saw, passed more sitting on doors of their houses than inside. Sitting on the door served them their favorite pass time- commenting and gossiping about the "NEW OWNERS". The "ORIGINALS" somewhat had formed their own group. 
          The men in our societies were mostly on low rung positions in government offices (mostly obtained because of the caste they belonged to) and other occupations such as BEST conductors, plumbers, drivers, watchmen etc. Their wives used to think of themselves as "all knowing" even though they had never seen the face of what is called "school".  Due to their very narrow mindedness they thought we were poorer than them because both my parents worked and they thought it was totally out of dire need that women step out to work. If any young girl, no matter under what circumstances, came home late then the gossip would be like, "God knows what work she does, coming home so late!" or " Haaw they think we are idiots, which class runs so late?" As time would have it, today the daughters of these very ladies work night shifts in call centres and IT companies and I wonder who says "Hawww " for them! Yes situations change.. 
          Life in society was not all suffering and problems.. Now when I look back, I laugh at certain situations.. One of them is the array of hawkers who used to visit the society, making it almost unnecessary to shop anything outside. Everything came at your door step! Heres a list..

1.. Doodhwala bhaiyyaa :
 He was the only fellow who came without making any noise. He specialised in two arts- balancing the cycle with so many milk cans and mixing water in purchased packed milk and selling it as "taaza gaai ka doodh". One day my father caught him doing the later and then we started buying packed milk
2. Bhaajiwaali 
Starting from 7 in the morning, the bhaajiwaalis start coming in.. There are different bhaajiwaalis for different bhaajis. It serves as a timepass for housewives to bargain and get the fresh vegetables. They used to shout out loud "Bhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaajiwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaali bhaaaaaaaaaji" and then wait at the doorstep of her regular customer. Every woman had her "bhaajiwali' who sold her bhaaji at low price!

3. Macchiwaali (fisherwoman).
Now they were some women! Fierce, strong and yes no-nonsense..lena hai toh lo nahi toh me jaati!! They are the original inhabitants of Mumbai-the Kohli people. I remember them as women wearing nine yard saris, lots of artificial gold, a large nose ring called "nathni",a large kumkum bindi on their foreheads, a tokri filled with fish and a large "koita". We would shriek with terror when she threw out those crabs she kept in the lowest part of her tokri and laugh at us when we shouted "Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmy"

3.Bangdi waale ( bangle sellers).
Wow it was a kaleidoscopic view. So many colors of plastic and glass bangles this man would bring. The married women used to buy glass bangles of red and green color and we kids used to cry to get those colorful bangles and Mummy would say, "Only married women wear those" and for the longest time I used to think that these women would replace bangles so that they could break them when their husband dies! Filmy fool I was :D :D I too, with my nakhraas, got away with a few bangles which Mummy purchased from him but I soon lost interest :P 
He used to call out " Bangdeeeeeeeeeeeeeee wale- "wale" in nasal tone.. Ji ha! He is the guru of Himesh.

4.. Bhangaar baatli waala..
He used to come in the mid morning and we were his regular customers because in those times only a selected houses would get a regular subscription of newspapers. In addition to that he used to take away any plastic left overs like milk packets, bottles etc.. In return he would give a little money or sometimes garlic pods.. If the return was garlic pods then he would call out "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE lasssssssssssoooon wale!" Lasoon meaning garlic here..

 5.. Dahiwala
He was an old man who carried a small bucket filled with curd.. The curd was heavenly in its taste ! He is personally my favorite hawker as his line was unique, "Dahi lo dahi.. " and he used to stop at anybody's doorstep and say, "Beta dahi loge? mitha mittha dahi" .. Sadly no picture I could search which matched his persona.. 

6..Washing powder.. 
This man used to come in the afternoon and he used to sell a lot of things on his cycle.. It was mostly phenol, scrubber, washing powder, laxman rekha-for killing ants, etc etc.. He used to call out "Washing powder pitaambari!" 

In the afternoon, various products were advertised by salesmen and salesgirl who used to roam around in that heat. The women, ever free, used to entertain them by talking and asking questions, giving them water and seldom buying their products..

Hawkers selling panties and bras (yes that too!!), sanitary pads, beauty products, hairclips and nailpaints too used to come in the afternoon..

Once its 4, then hawkers comprise mostly of those selling food products..

1.Khaari biscuit wala
. The first one to start was khaari biscuit and naan katai wala.. Since people used to love eating khaari biscuit with tea this one got lot of customers!
khari biscuit

2..Pav wala..
Now this one had a weird way of selling out his product.. He would say, "paw wala" in a very serious tone and then ring two bells of his cycle.. By that ring we would know that paw wala is outside.

3.. Bhel wala..
He was the friend of us children. In addition to selling his sukkha bhel, he used to talk to all of us and knew us by first name. He also knew what kind of bhel we liked. His bhel was murmura with few onions, peanuts, mirch chutney , salt and sev.. He knew that I liked my bhel spicy and I loveeeed kacchi kairi( raw mango).. So in late winter, when he added kairi as an added ingredient in his bhel, he would dole out a little extra in my bhel.. We used to await him every evening for that 1 rupee bhel we used to buy from him.

4.. Anda wala..
The egg seller used to sell pav too and he too had his own fixed nonvegetarian customers.. He used to be extra careful when in our society, because we were sooo many kids in number, playing ball, badminton and cricket that he was in constant fear of his eggs getting broken..

5.. Kulfi wala..
The last but not the least and one who ensured that children stayed up till he came was Kulfi wala.. He too used to come with his tokri in which he used to store his kulfi (cooled by ice which didn't melt because of the gunny sack it was kept in). I used to love seeing him make kulfi with those moulds that he had ! When I was small, I felt it was a great injustice my parents were doing on me by not buying me kulfi.. My Mummy used to always say, "I saw him sitting near the gutter, God knows what water he uses!!" and "Did you see the sticks he uses, shiiiiiiii they are sooo dirty!! " and Pappa would shout back at me when I tried to cry, "Don't you eat those, you will fall sick".. 
                                 the man who brought happiness and tears..
                                The moulds I was talking about.. you see those cone shaped steel things?

I see the post is going longg, but bear with me for a few more minutes since you have already wasted so much time :P :P 
The below three are the people who scared me to bits when I was young..

I) bububu waala or Chaabuk wala..
I seriously don't know what was his problem.. He used to come painted in such weird and horrific manner the he used to make irritating sounds on his dholak type instrument.. The sound was "bububububu" and  if some came out then "sataaaaaaaak", the guy would whip himself with his chaabuk and ask for money! I used to be dead scared of him and used to hide in the house when he came into the society.
                                ye toh fir bhi thik hai                                        lekin ye kyun?

II Chaaku chhooori  wala
Basically he was a scary looking serious man on a bicycle which had a round machine used for sharpening knives and other tools to be sharpened. Probably the sparks that came out while sharpening the tools used to frighten me a lot.

III Mummmmmmmmmmmmmy!!!! Baccchaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaao

These were unexpected and uninvited people who scared me out of my wits. All the children of the society used to hide below their beds when they visited. Elders used to handout some money in fear that they will be cursed. These were the eunuchs that came every week with ghastly make up and a voice that shook me up.

I remember the one time when my brother was a newborn and the maalish waali aunty used to lock the living room and I had to sit alone in the small outside area which had a sofa. These people came that day and since I didn't have money and I was soo scared that I didn't even peep through the door, they started banging the door soo loudly for almost 5 minutes that I thought they will barge in somehow through the door and I screamed "Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy bacchhaaaaaaao". That seemed to work and the voices calmed in some minutes.. Earlier I was just scared, but after that I became petrified of them..

So this was one part of life in SOCIETY.. 
Let me know if the posts are getting too long to bear.. I will try to cut down a bit..


Atrocious Scribblings said...

Very colorful albeit long post, makes me regret missing all these vibrant and unique activities that India has to offer.

You have captured the essence of the Street hawking very articulately. Especially the Bangle Sellers, Bhel Waala, Bhaajiwaali and Machi Wali. Descriptions were brilliant.

Do write more on this, would love to read.

TheGirlAtFirstAvenue said...

I am loving this series that you are writing :)
Loving the childhood innocence, the descriptions, the simplicity of life back then... everything :)
Looks like all everyday things were brought to your doorstep! LOL at the chaabuk waala.. I still see them even here sometimes.. I automatically cross the road and go to the other side when i see them going from shop to shop whip in hand.. :P yes even now!!!
Really enjoyed reading this! :D

Red Handed said...

Ah the people who make India as INDIA..
Without them we will be an ordinary society without colours and no soul
These are the people who makes our country so vibrant and different,
Great post!!!

Mystical Skeptical Me said...

I love the way you have described everyone! So entertaining it seems! Reminds me of my village where this Bangle waala would come and woman would flock around him! :D :D And your reactions! *Mwaah* Maummmmmy Bachao! :D :D :D Awww, I love you for writing this, sweetheart!

PS: I love Khari biscuits! :D

Keirthana said...

A very incidental and colorful narration of your life. Loving it :) As I was reading, I thought you didn't have a kulfiwaala in your life and there he too was there. I still remember how I used to pester my mom to get me a kulfi. Awesome moulds no? Aww.... Those moments were fun :)

Anonymous said...

India would be nothing without all these amazingly hard-working and dedicated people. They make India what it is!

Great post.

Purba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Purba said...

I remember when I used to stand in the balcony and wait for the gannewala..shakkarkandi wala...chooran guy..

And now I stay in a sanitized complex where hawkers are unheard of.

Sigh..I miss those days!

Rahul Bhatia said...

Your post brought back memories of my stay at Andheri in Mumbai many years ago and all these people were regulars! Thanks a lot for this lovely post!

maithili said...

@ atrocious scribblings: yes India does have many vibrant colors to offer :) Thank you so much.. I will definitely write more about this and yes will try to make it shorter :)

@ Hehe yeah everything at doorsteps! Those days were so much of hardships and yet so simple and so innocent.. Seriously chaabuk wala! I don't know why they do that.. Its as if we are sadists and should pay for the hurt they inflict on themselves..

@Red: Yes these are the people who make India so vibrant.. Just goes to say that Indians can earn anyhow ! We have that capacity to earn from anything!

@MSM : Thank you dear.. Yeah bangles wala was so much awaited :)I too like khari biscuits with tea :)

maithili said...

@Keirthana : Kulfiwala! How I have cried for kulfi! More than the kulfi I used to love the way he used to make it! I wanted those molds to play :P

@fancythisfancythat : hehe what a blog name you got! Need to drop into your space soon!

Yes these are the hardworking people of my city :)
Thank you for dropping by at my blog :)

@Purba : Yea I wonder what will happen to these professions as the mall is coming up and the entire city is becoming a huggge mall.. I too have moved into a place where these hawkers are unheard of..

@Rahul Bhatia : Oh you have stayed in Andheri! These people are regulars in the suburbs so no wonder you have known them.. Thank you :)

संजय भास्कर said...

Thoughtful, deep. Your writing is very powerful!

sanjay bhaskar