Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A juicy story

The sun couldn't have been brighter. It was a typical sunday. When you donned a cotton sleeveless tee and capris, perched your goggles on your nose and went to the supermarket, and to finish all odd jobs left for the weekend. As a kid, we went for fresh veggies that the villagers came to sell under the bridge. We did grow our own but Dad had to make that trip. Then I washed the car with dad and the highlight was splashing water with the long hosepipe. Sometimes there was an oil massage in winter, then a shower followed by a lovely lunch.

Anyway last sunday, it was past noon when we headed back home. I waited as hubby again stopped to buy a door handle he wanted to fix himself. My left arm was tanned dark from sitting on the left side. It was getting very hot inside the car. On the side of the road I spotted a stall, under an umbrella which hardly served the purpose of shading its owner. An earthern pot, a tall steel can, an ice box and a tray of glasses. It was a nimbu paani stall, serving chilled lime juice.

A little lad, not more than 7 years old stood behind. He squeezed juice into a glass, dropped cubes of ice from the box, sprinkled salt n spice, poured water from the can with a long handled ladle, and finally placing an empty glass upside down over the other glass, gave it a good cocktail shake. Then with a smile handed it to his thirsty customer. I saw him make several glasses. Each time he pocketed a coin. Each time he would rinse the used glass in a little bucket of water and drop the lime rinds into a plastic bag. Very meticulous.

Three tiny boys walked close and started talking to him. They hung around while he served his customers. Finally he got a little breather and poured himself a glass of water to drink. The kids looked at him longingly. I saw him raise one hand and gesture to the three little boys to wait. The next moment he dug into the plastic bag and got out used lime rinds and squeezed them again. He added ice, water and made a tall glass of juice. He halved it and handed the two glasses to the little ones. Delight beamed on their faces. They downed the glasses, wiped their faces and went their way. The 7 year old juice maker rinsed the glasses clean.

Then came a big fellow and the little one stepped aside after handing over four notes and a few coins. The big fellow counted and recounted the money. The little one stood with an outstretched hand. Finally the big fellow placed a 5 rupee note and a coin into his hand. The small guy pocketed the money and with an air of someone who has conquered the world, held up his hand to stop traffic and ran across the street.

I was fascinated. Hubby got back with the door handle and I narrated everything. "It's really sad! You mean all he got was 5 or 6 rupees for standing in the sun and making juice!!"

Now I never thought of that. The little kid looked so happy with his earnings. What particularly struck me was his kindness and his confidence. And I am very sure this is one kid who will make it big one day, very big. I wish I asked for his name.

By the way, how many of us earned anything when we were seven, or for that matter even knew how to make lime juice?


Blogger Abhishek said...

am i da 1st to post?
yea..summer in mumbai is one hell of a time...
anyways its true..people in mumbai do try different means of living..

12:31 AM  
Blogger Shubhodeep said...

nice one. once agin youve done a great job

12:48 AM  
Blogger Ashish Gupta said...

travelling a few hours every week, I too have seen such amusing 'acts of life' -- strengthen my love for life somehow!!
being jolly, nimble and full of life is a huge turn-on for me :)

4:29 AM  
Blogger Arundhati said...

Wow what a story! You have a great way of telling too!

BTW everything sorted out with Poonam. guess she talked about our ..ermm...mess! Check with her for the new twist in the tale :-)



4:36 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

You said it. That's one thing I admire out here. Every kid whether privileged or not, does something and earns his/her own money.

A scene like that can stay in your head forever na?

4:37 AM  
Blogger Atul Sabnis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Kris said...

really touching...u have a unique stor y telling style...

6:02 AM  
Blogger kickassso said...

It's funny watching at others lives like fish inside a fishtank eh?

6:51 AM  
Blogger Akruti said...

How many kids earn at the age of or 8,Rare and you are right,that kid has a long way to go.unfortunately in this country earning money at that age is only for the underprivileged,but then i think there is a lot to learn from such incidents and such ppl who struggle but wouldn give up,Yhe amount he earned might be very less but sure he earned it all himself,and he knows the imp of it.

7:53 AM  
Blogger n.g. said...

i think the fact that he takes pride in what he does and finds legit ways to break the so-called-rules is more heartening than him making money. a lot of people make money, not everyone enjoys the process.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous the harlequin said...

Eggs! I could cook eggs - fried, boiled, scrambled or omelettes - by the time I was seven. I'm sure people would have happliy paid for them, if I'd been allowed to sell.

Does that qualify?

12:03 PM  
Blogger Swathi said...

touchy, that one

yes sometimes it is circumstances which drives these kids to mature so early in life,
but i guess even kids these days the importance of money by making them earn for their pocket money (just like Tom Sawyer painting his aunt's fence :)

12:15 PM  
Blogger venkat said...

Anumita,this one is very touching and you wrote wonderfully.I am not so sure that he would make it big,very big. I hope he would ,wish he would. But so many kids like him have so many obstacles to overcome to lead a decent middle class life. But the great thing about so many Indian people is that they are happy with what they have unlike in the west.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Atul Sabnis said...

Happy to see that posting first on your post still has a lot value, and sad to know that I have missed it!

Dignity of labour - I would have titled this post. We often miss that. It's easy for us to watch and judge what is right and wrong. I have seen similar kids half-heartedly wipe non-existent dust off the windshields of my car, sell chicken soup for the soul in the blistering heat of Mumbai, polish shoes that mirror our guilty faces, pick-up our wildly thrown coke cans to be able to recycle them. They are street urchins. We are keen to blame social structures and then, just drop our coke paper cups on the track as we board the 5:17 Andheri Slow.

Hubby's comment was apt - every effort has value - and value is determined only by what we feel is valuable.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Geo said...

So this really is a story about juice and not a juicy story :_(

Expectations... :_((

1:47 PM  
Blogger love life said...

that was a gud post...appreciate ur observation lots...
u rock Anumita,,needless to say the Child rocks ofcourse!!

3:25 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

ahbishek: I think summer in bbay is much better than a lot of places in the country. I personally love the sun!

shubhodeep: Thank you.

ashish: You are right. Being out shows us so much more. It's amazing!

arundhati: Thank God! Will speak to Poonam about it.

gabby: So sweet! It's really endearing to see kids earning thier own money.

kris: Thanks :)

kickassso: Yes, it is but I am sure there are others watching us too.

akruti: You are so right. It's actually sad that he was out on the street working on a sunday instead of watching cartoons and getting spoilt rotton at home.

nish: Exactly, that's what was so endearing. He was a treat to watch.

the harlequin: Hey, that's quite a feat! It qualifies by far! You must have graduated to cooking outstanding stuff now!

swathi: It's always circumstances that go some way to make us what we are. That kid will surely have great stories to narrate to his kids someday!

venkat: Yes, must admit these kids have it tough. But you must applaud their spirit. Nobody deserves to make it big more than them. And you are wrong, they are not happy with what they have. The hunger to grow, to become something is what drives them.

atul: For an equal number who choose to work, there is an equal number who choose to beg. If the ones that work weren't around, there would be a lot missing from our comfortable lives. Child labour provides for us in so many ways!
And those who don't work still need to eat. So they beg and we pronounce them the bane of society.
It's a cruel circle.

geo: The title was intentional. Wanted to see how many came for the title! :)

love life: Thank you!

4:34 PM  
Blogger Rash said...

heartwarming :)

7:40 PM  
Blogger Truth Fairy said...

You are very observant! All that kid needs is a chance to pull himself up from the ordinary. How many of us stop what we are doing and get ourselves involved in such things? There is so much we so called educated people can do. But we never seem to get out of our own mess. Compared to the less privileged, our problems seem so trivial, doesn't it? I guess you can find a Mohan Bhargava only on the silver screen and not in real life.

That ranting apart, you wrote that very well. I think it triggered something in me. Sometimes I think of quitting everything I'm doing now and doing something worthwhile, in my country, my home! Stories like yours makes me introspect. Bravo!

8:12 PM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

dont say that.......cuz da last time i was there ...in april....
it was hell.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Prerona said...

brilliant. this is my favourite amongst all ur posts yet

he's earning so much. interms of experience or what he's learning. its so cool, na? reminds me of these 2 boys i used to watch when i was home last. i will show u their snaps someday :)

8:39 PM  
Blogger Mukta said...

Hi Anumita,

Lovely post! It's getting cold in Pune. Why do I say that? Well, no-one's making lime juice here. :-)

Write to me, please.

8:47 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

reminds me of that sond, just another day in paradise....a very poignant post! there is so much misery in this world!

11:48 PM  
Blogger johnny boy said...

I have seen many such heart-warming incidents too! It really inspires you and makes you feel nice doesnt it?? When you see a 7yr old - struggling himself for existence - sharing whatever little he has, with his 'friends'!! :) Very touching. He could have so easily had the extra juice himself or even made some 'quick' money out of it. But then, he dint!
He might have just earned 5 bucks that day, but if he brought a smile on ur face, and made you feel nice - the worth is much much more than that! How i wish he knew about this. Wish he knew that so many bloggers, from far and away, were feeling good about him!!
I have alwez noticed this generally - the attitude to share whatever they have - is much much more prevalent among the less privileged people in India! In a way touching, but in another way - not too encouraging..

12:29 AM  
Blogger UD said...

first time on ur blog, good posts.

1:56 AM  
Blogger drsankalp said...

not bad...lol
c yaa

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Kahini said...

Wotta lovely story.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Docs Dope said...

good story..but i am sure that young boy will grow up to be a criminal..because life on the street is tough and coming from a poor background, a career in crime is the most lucrative option

1:36 PM  
Anonymous colours said...

Lovely - it was like a motion picture unfolding in front of my eyes

10:24 PM  
Anonymous pallavi said...

tough... when I was seven I was fascinated with sketch pens... did not know how to make anything.. man..

12:22 AM  
Blogger Khushee said...

You write extremely well. I could see what you saw!

And I agree with your last statement :)

6:02 AM  
Anonymous sherriff said...

only 6-7 rupees for a hard day of labour...the world sucks...child labour is a problem in our country...recently even I have mentioned in my blog...use of leftover lime for making a lime juice for his freinds...that was very touchy

4:24 PM  
Blogger Twilight Fairy said...

Well at least I know how to make nimbu pani..and the first 10 Rupees that I ever earned at the age of 8 I guess were due to me jhallo-fying a hand fan for half an hour while my Mama slept during a power outage.. :p :)

10:04 PM  
Blogger sinusoidally said...

Hi...I came to your blog thru Ardra's...

I liked the story. Learning life thru nimbu paani, hai na? :-)

6:45 AM  
Blogger hope and love said...

touching story.. loved it..
ya i too feel that the boy will make it big one day..
he has it in him.. and its all that matters.. the amount he gets now is not important..

10:02 AM  
Anonymous random surfer said...

how do you know he was 7?

1:24 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Anumita, yes, that was a good post. More so because you brought it up with such subtlety, and because you could see soemthing from your everyday life. Good work... do keep us posted.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow....we all should learn from them!!

btw...how u doing anumita...long time...:-)


7:36 PM  
Blogger AmitL said...

Hi,Anumita,I loved this post..quite a keen sense of observation u have.And,yes,what matters is the pleasure the lil guy got when he got his 'salary'...if he smiled,he was happy(which is more than can be said for most people who earn even in 5 figures but look disappointed).And,I'm trying to recall,did I know how to make lime juice when I was that age?*muses*

8:55 AM  
Blogger UD said...

Hi all,Sorry to post a comment not related to this post,
We r in athe process of creating the directory of DESI bloggers all over the world.
So drop ur blog address at
tell ur frens too.

9:11 AM  
Blogger the Monk said...

nice post...when we were seven we didn't have to, now did we?not that it's right, but circumstances...

2:02 PM  
Blogger Parna said...

am certain i commented on this one. what the hell happened to that? :(

anyway, its a lovely inspiring story. kudos to the kid.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Chakra Sampath said...

> how many of us earned anything when we were seven, or for that matter even knew how to make lime juice?

- very well said!

9:15 PM  
Blogger exasparater said...

nice post!

11:32 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

rash: yes, very.

truth fairy: Actually though we observe, we dont really get down to doing anything much. The intentions are honestly there but call it lack of time, or whatever, we hardly get down to it.

abhishek: April is peak summer in bbay!

prerona: Thank you. Show me the snaps of the 2 boys.

mochta: Am reading your posts. Will write in a mail.

gulnaz: There is, but there is always a rainbow to look forward to.

johnny boy: You are right. He was truly generous. He himself had plain water.

arun: welcome and thank you.

drsankalp: Welcome.

kahini: Thanks :) Where you these days?

docs dope: You may be right. However when we see a child working so hard we like to think the best for him. And there are enough examples all around to think likewise. Finally he ll land where life leads him.

colours: Glad you could see what I saw.

pallavi: I dont remember much of when I was seven.

khushee: Thanks Khushee. How you doing?

sherriff: It really hurts to see children earning a living. They shouldn't need to.

twilight fairy: Wow! That's wonderful! My fanning would only get in a rupee a two, and definitely not from mom.

sinusoidally: Welcome. Right, life through a lemon...

hope and love: Yeah, it's more of hopes and prayers that he makes it big! He deserves to.

random surfer: I just know. Like I know a lot of other things.

sudipta: Thank you.

bips: I am good. You? Update your blog please.

amitl: You are right. Not many appreciate what they earn. I watch these guys taking out their change very carefully, counting it all, folding the notes gently and keeping it away very safely... and suddenly feel a new respect for the money I have with me.

monk: I know. It's unfair that we had it easier than some. Then again instead of cribbing I should be thankful for what I had.

parna: It happens to me all the time. My comments on people's posts disappear regularly.

chakra: Thanks, chakra. By the way, did you know how to?

exasparater: Thank you.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Stone said...

lovely post!!

8:13 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

Thank you, stone.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Raccoon said...

aye...i agree...more than the confidence, I think it is his kindness that sets apart this kid and will stand him in good stead in all times. Surprising, how the smallest nuances of character may potentially lead to the biggest results...:)

great observation, A:-)

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, this is malisha here
What's your email address?

3:38 PM  

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