There are times when something sends us into a nostalgic spiral, right?
One of the main reasons I love travelling, apart from the food, is the randomness of it, where some incident or some person just randomly triggers a deep felt emotion.
One day, while shooting for a show near a school in Belagavi (earlier Belgaum), I ambled around watching the vendors that typically wait outside school gates. One elderly Bhutta vendor came over and handed me a bhutta saying – “तुम भुट्टा इतने प्यार से देख रहे थे.. लो खाओ” (“You were looking at the roasted corn so longingly, here…take one“), just that.. and he left.
And that simple gesture made me recall the vendors outside my school (coincidentally this school was also St.Paul’s, same name as my school in Lucknow). It made me realise this uniqueness about these vendors; maybe because they deal with children, there’s still some innocence left beyond the sense of business.
We didn’t realise that as kids, but the way they patiently catered to the cacophony around them. They would hand out the wares, chavanni (25paise) kam padh jaaye, toh “koi baat nahin, kal de dena” (if we fell short of a few paise, they would coolly ask us to bring it the next day), or the extra 2 pinches of chooran, ber or Ram laddoo they dropped into your paper bag as compliments.
We would just leave with a thank you, feeling lucky and happily munching..
It’s much later that we realise those extra portions were part of how they make their living. Children come and go and as we move on in life we reminisce on our school days, teachers, friends but we rarely remember these vendors.
That day, standing outside another St.Paul’s, nearly 2 decades later, this gentleman, Nizaam chacha stirred my emotions inexplicably…