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Friday, April 1, 2011


Poo vanguga “, rang the cheerful cry of dark skinned women sitting cross legged at the sidewalk. Gleaming nose pins and electric colored saris, stood out in stark contrast to their yellow tinged black faces. Shiny black hair adorned with white flowers added a degree of credibility to their work.

A plain sari with hair pulled back severely and imprisoned into a ball stood out conspicuously. The brows however curved splendidly, defiantly, mocking the black ball of tresses.

A deft pick of a bud, a quick twist of fingers and the thin thread was fastened to the delicate stem only to be linked to another.

“Pick………… twist……. thread ……..snaps…….” was steady , but not monotonous, rather strangely intense.

Stuck by the concentration on her work, I watched her fascinated and also slightly unnerved.

“ Rendu mozham,”

“ Erwad ”, said she , holding out the soft bundle.

“ Padhinanje”  I countered.

She did not argue, retort or even acknowledge my suggestion but merely held out her palm. Drawing in the amount she asked I placed in her outstretched palm, only to be returned back change, matching my suggestion.

Puzzling indeed!!

The little change was not really of consequence, it was a part of our behavior to knock of a few bucks on anything we buy.

Hoo, rang the shrill whistle.

Clutching the soft bundle I ran to the moving train, to grab a square inch of place to stand.

“Pick………… twist……. thread ……..snaps…….”

Coming back, I saw the woman, relentlessly stringing buds one after the other.

“Pick………… twist……. thread ……..snaps…….” now vigorously and urgently.

Within a couple of minutes she straightened and heaving the basket of soft bundles over her head she began walking briskly, almost running.

Following her I ended in a dark and claustrophobic lane where I promptly lost sight of her. Feeling my way around the walls I began to make way towards a light source at one end.

I realized I had reached the road back of my college. Feeling very thirsty, I went to a pan shop for a cold drink.

The drink however froze in my mouth. From a ramshackle house neatly tucked away from the main road, I saw that woman emerging, with others.

She was dressed in a figure hugging jeans and t-shirt; hair oiled, and blowing around ceaselessly in the wind, adorned neatly with a strand of flowers. Giggling, she passed around soft bundles to other women in shimmering outfits.

They began walking down the street nodding at the various people passing.

The vendor saw my gaze with a knowing smile “You walked in at the right time “

Puzzled again!

It seemed that the women were actually enjoying their work, the exercise felt too natural to be scripted and planned.

She caught my gaze, and returned a knowing smile. I stood there, with the kind of feeling in my tummy that you get when you are coming down a ride in a giant wheel.

Striding across the road, she was stopped by a black giant of a man with gleaming gold chains, in a spotless white mundu and shirt. A brief conversation later she bundled into a van with an anticipatory smile playing on her face.

The van turned and raced opposite me, in the fleeting moment I caught the woman’s eye, and she gave me one huge wink.

With cool feeling of the drink in my mouth, I walked across the road. The basket of buds stood alone besides the ramshackle door, with the bundles lying proudly, invitingly, waiting to be caressed by the touch of life.

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