Tea stalls in Bangalore are always crowded with the street dogs, street urchins and the IT professionals. What a combination! I cannot quite explain what I feel when I see these kids. Sometimes they annoy you. They nag you till you shove a 1Re coin into their hands. They demand money as if it is their birthright. But at times I feel sorry for them. These kids, they are not to be blamed for their plight. They must have been born into it. Offered no choice to live a decent, respectable life but to swallow this bitter pill. May be this was indeed their birthright.
I paid the shop keeper and started walking home with the opened biscuit packet in my hand. A small boy, around 10 came to me with open hands. I gave him a rupee but I could see he was eyeing the biscuit. I have heard entertaining these kids would bring trouble since they move about in groups and if I give a rupee to one and I would need to give to 10 of them. They are said to snatch purses and chains and what not. I looked around to see if there were more of them. But no, the roads were deserted.
With a little hesitation I held out a biscuit to him. He took it from me and said “Thanks”. !! Eh Thanks?!! He actually replied in English! Least of all answers I had expected. It took me off guard. I had expected him to snatch the biscuit and run off. He grinned at me as if meaning to say “Well, what did you expect lady”.
Pre-requisite for living a life in bangalore is to have a basic knowledge of Kannada or Hindi. Else the chances of being cheated, looted or laughed at is on the higher side. I’m hopeless in Kannada and my Hindi isn’t superior. The maid who comes at my home is a native. We exchange long conversations, she speaks in kannada and me in my mother tongue, yet manage to make her do house hold chores 😉
I asked him in my broken hindi “Naam kya hai”. He replies “My name is kiran”. This boy has done it, yeah thats right, I was impressed. Probably the rise of another “Slumdog millionaire”. I smiled at him and asked ”You know English?”
Kiran: Yes yes I know hinglish.
I resumed walking and he tagged along. He was munching on the second biscuit I gave him. I asked “You live here?”. He stared blankly at me. Probably he just knew 2 sentences in English. After a pause he replied “I dont live anywhere”.
I dont live anywhere meaning? May be he meant, he does not live here. I noticed that he was not wearing as soiled clothes as the usual kids on street. I held my purse close to me so as to not give him temptations of any kind. After a few meters I had to take a right turn and proceed in a different direction. Somehow I felt the lad following me was not a good idea. I thought of sending him away by giving a 10Rs note.
When I held out the note to him. His eyes shone. His lips puckered to a smile. He timidly took it from me. Crossed the road and yelled “Deedi’ko bakra banadiyaaaaaa”. Soon I could see few toddlers and youngsters huddled at the far end of the road. Probably kids living near by.
I was educated enough in Hindi to understand that!! My face went red. . I had no words to say. . Without making a fool of myself, I exited the scene quietly.