Thursday, 29 November 2012

Delhi Diwali: For them

(Texts and photos by Pupps Roy)

1am. Diwali night in Delhi. Diwali is over for all of us. everyone has gone off to sleep. But the celebration still continues for the have-nots of our society. Meet Sanju, he is the domestic help of a rich family in the GK area. He wants to celebrate the festival of lights and fire. Even though Diwali is over he is still ecstatic with his Diwali do and why not, Diwali comes once a year. Irrespective of the social division between the poor and riches the excitement is sky high for everyone. He is searching some skyshots, crackers, anaars that have not burnt properly or thrown away carelessly by some rich kids so that he can use them and bring on Diwali. He is wading through the heaps of crackers waste, Cardboard and paper litter scattered near every house with the help of a stick. Hope he finds some!

'I love diwali and I love fireworks. Just wait and see.' He lights up like a skyshot. He spoke like a storm now is gone and busy with joy and Diwali enthusiasm. His mom is watching his son from a distance with her saree that she covered her nose and ears to protect from cold and pollution. It gets quite chili at this of the year in Delhi. Some people are still burning crackers even after the deadline declared by Delhi Police. How many abide by law in Delhi? Only Jude Law works! Sanju comes back with handful of crackers and other diwali fiework stuff. Its enough to keep him busy for 15 minutes. There he goes lighting them. His mom cusses him and follows him around and asks not to go very close to the fire crackers. Her name is Meena and she too works in the same house as a cleaner.

"We are from Muzaffarbad and its so nice that they kept us here" Meena says with a deep breath. They are poor but they are happy. Or its just Diwali in the air and their happiness reflects in their face. Its risky to light the crackers that have not burned properly. The wicks are almost gone. But Sanju won’t listen. He is a superman in a joyful state and he can do anything. "You know parents wont change, children wont listen". Meena is right. We all pass through the same phase in life. Sanju feigns a superhero character from a TV commercial. He carries 10 kilos of Atta in one hand and also lugs a big bag of vegetables in another. He walks from GK to Aiims and back twice a week to save the bus fare. He runs and fetches tennis balls for his employer's son during his entire tennis lesson.

Boom. Zooot Bang! Theere is Sanju's skyshot. It glows like a flower in the darkest sky. His mother claps and Sanju jumps in joy. He goes on lighting an Anaar. His ma warns him not to go too close to the crackers while lighting them. There it is. He finishes his diwali crackers one by one, bit by bit. Mother shouts at Sanju, "let’s go and sleep now. Lot of cleaning to be done tomorrow morning”. Sanju stares back and gives the best smile in the world and disappears with his mom behind the huge wooden gate.  Happy Diwali!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ode to Delhi Winter: Eggs

(Text and photos by Pupps Roy)

Students snacking before they enter for their tution class
Last year it was 1 for 5Rs. Last to last year it was 1 for 5Rs but 8rs for 2 again this year its 6Rs for 1 or 7 for 40 Rs. There's an inflation and it shows everywhere in India so why not with the egg industry? Why would they be exempted? Autumn reflects the transition from summer into winter. Mercury in Delhi starts dropping and the poultry price starts increasing. This happens every year in Delhi. So here is the story. Sometime in the month of September Egg-walas(egg-man) flock up in every colonies of Delhi with their cart full of eggs in different choice and size. Eggs, one of the notorious body warmers for Delhiites can’t wait to enter in their lives. The arrival of night becomes one and half hour earlier than summer and these Andewalas(egg-men) adorn their carts with their ingredients and utensils and they are out on the rutted roads of Delhi. They are here, there everywhere.



Eggs in different forms. You can have it boiled, half boiled, fried, half fried, omelette or toast with eggs. Just tell him and he will do it for you. He is making it right infront of you so you can stop him if he is frying your egg a little longer than you want it so. He is your egg-man, Andawala. Imagine cool breeze blowing on your face and you are taking a hot bite of a boiled eggs spiced with onion, green chili and corriander. Winter doesn’t get better than this.

Yogesh is chopping green chilli and not wearing a sweet grin. But he tries to. He is found everyday at the corner of Ljapat nagar 4 ring road

Mostly these egg-men hail from the rural districts of Bihar and UP. In summer they sell Kakri, a vegetable from the same family of cucumber and radish. Greener, thinner, little spirally in shape and longer than cucumber and it tastes chewy and soft as you go on eating. You have to eat it with a dash of chaat masala and lime. After the month of August Kakris slowly exit from the vegetables Market and just then they are replaced with eggs. And now eggs roll all over Delhi to bring warmth to the delhiites.

Smoking oil waiting for the chili and onion


Cheap diet, pretentious, tasty and considered as almost vegetarian in mostly Delhi households. So why not eggs? Have you forgotten the old commercial "Meri jaan, meri jaan murgi ki ande, Sunday ya Monday roz khao ande". This daily diet of Delhiite becomes rife in winters and around these "thelawalas(egg cart men)" become the gathering of heady passersby, mid-lifers, hard labourers, drivers, students and many of us. An uniform clad cabin crew maybe going to the fancy places for snacking but he knows exactly what he is eating now. Eggs for the evening at this nameless mobile egg cart. He devours a boiled egg in one gulp. He is sorted. The egg-wala serves one by one with his utmost pleasure and skillfull hands. Cleanly deshelled boiled eggs, nicely fried eggs without burning the white, well cooked omelet and perfect egg toasts with exact amount of chilli and salt. Because Delhiites will not pay for bad food so he has to be perfect. Your egg meal is over and you ask for napkin and he gives you a piece of a newspaper cutout. "No napkin sir, sorry!". Such a nice thought of recycling paper. Amazing!!!!