- By Deepa Krishnan
I met this courier boy outside our apartment complex a couple of Sundays ago. He was sensibly dressed for the rainy season - shorts instead of long trousers, water-proof bag, documents covered in plastic. It was 9:00 a.m. and his day was just beginning.
I said to him, "I just bought a new camera, I'm learning to use it. Can I click your photo?" He nodded and said ok, and he posed for me on his bike. He had an infectious, almost cheeky smile. In fact, he came across as a very confident kid.
Nine am, quiet Sunday morning in Sion
He was wearing a T-shirt that said 'Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere'. It brought a grin to my face.
Confident look and cheeky T-shirt.
I showed him the photo in the camera viewer, and his smile widened. Since I'd just bought the camera, he asked me "What does this camera cost?".
I spread five fingers of my hand and said "Fifty thousand". He made an expressive "Oh boy" gesture, half grimace, half-grin, and I suddenly felt the sharp divide between our lives. I knew he thought I was super-rich. I suppose I'd react similarly if I went to that crazy Ambani house on Altamount Road.
I wanted to say something to the boy. Should I say "I didn't start out rich. I've worked damn hard for this"? That seemed too much like a guilt-assuaging trip :) Or should I say "If you study and work hard you can get there too"? That seemed like too much of a lecture to give to a stranger. But everything else seemed inadequate. So in the end I smiled and said "Yes, it's really expensive, no? I got free vouchers at the Croma store, that's how I bought it". The explanation eased things a bit...anyway, he said bye and zoomed off on his delivery round.
I thought to myself, just another day in Bombay, where multiple worlds collide. The differences are there, staring us in the face. We can't wish it away; all we can do is handle it as gently as possible.