April 14, 2006

Very clean

I'm standing at a corner near Charni Road Station, chewing on a bit of bubble gum and trying not to feel the heat. The large tree to my right has a small colourful portrait of two gods, and a sign advertising Star Pest Control. Behind me on one of the pillars that supports the foot overbridge leading to the station is a sign saying: Required Urgently Smart Female Computer Operator, Work Time 10 am to 8 pm.

Squatting on the pavement under the tree is an older woman, obviously suffering from leucoderma. I notice her because she pours water over a small area of the pavement. Quite a lot of water. Then she reaches into a bag behind her and pulls out a cake of soap. She scrubs the wet pavement with the soap. Then she reaches into the bag for a rag, with which she wipes the soapy pavement.

Then she pulls towards her a small pile of dirty clothes I hadn't noticed before. She washes them, scrubbing them one by one on her patch of pavement that is now soaped clean.

Very clean.

1 comment:

scribbles said...

sorry for posting here, this doesn't have to do with your post (beautiful post, btw) but i needed to find something out and wondered if you could help. i was wondering if you had some information about the best places on the web to get immediate information on what's happening in jantar mantar (since i'm not in delhi now, and won't be for some time). i've been checking out www.bhopal.net regularly, but i was wondering where on the net to find, for instance, information on the delhi slumdwellers' protest. do you know of websites and blogs that carry news?
i'm scared by medha patkar's fast - on the one hand there may well be no alternative, on the other hand, all of this must be weakening her incredibly. and we need her more than ever, not only for the narmada displaced but for the survival of indian democracy. and i'm terrified that some day, some government is simply going to take the bull by the horns, go the distance and embrace fascism, and say, 'screw you, die, we don't need you', and let hunger strikers die. are we reaching the limits of this kind of resistance? and yet, for peaceful mass movements, what other weapons are there?
and - i can't help this - we're being asked to believe, by online and offline middle-class agitation, that reservations in a handful of elite institutions (however good and great) are the great, traumatic threat facing indian democracy? which india are they talking about?