Name's Sanjay. No more than 16 or 17, he used to sell bananas nearby. Whether or not we bought from him, he always had a cheery wave for us as we passed, particularly if our little chatterbox was along.
One afternoon, I heard a commotion. Looked down in time to see a man run up -- yes, he actually trotted up as if on a mission -- and deliberately overturn Sanjay's cart, spilling bananas all over the driveway opposite. Ever watch dozens of bunches of bananas cascade onto the road? Believe me, there's something unsettling about it. Anyway, the man then trundled Sanjay's cart off to a municipal truck at the corner, where a small crowd had gathered. I could see several local vendors -- sandwich man, key maker, old fruit man -- in the crowd. All arguing with the municipal officials, who were taking away their carts and stands.
Just another Municipal crackdown on street hawkers. Just another round of harassing people who work hard for a living, work hard to run tiny businesses. Just another step on that glorious path that will turn Bombay into Shanghai: demolish slums here, overturn bananas there.
Sanjay's cart vanishes into the maw of the truck. But he's not with the arguing crowd. He stands there in freeze-frame, staring down at bananas that carpet a driveway.
Eventually, Sanjay picks up his fruit. Within an hour, he has found a way to display them again for his customers. Now they lie on a large sheet of cardboard that itself sits on two supports. One is a frail-looking plywood crate. The other, a familiar artifact that someone on one of our buildings had no more use for, so simply dumped on the side of the road. Sanjay has retrieved it from there.
Life carries on. Sanjay's banana business hardly suffered. His cheery wave returned. All his customers continued buying from him. I don't know how many noticed that the bananas sat on an old crapper.
I don't know too what saddens me most: the vanished cart? The callousness of dumping the fruit on the side of the road? Municipal willingness to crack down on people like Sanjay? Municipal unwillingness to fully crack down on him, so he can and will be tormented again? Or a white ceramic pot under bananas?