The Pale Blue Wall

On Mumbai’s busy roads, the pavements have lived to tell many tales. Tales of resilience, survival, joy, sadness, suffering and a co-existing framework which has every oxymoronic possibility surviving many a test. Including the test of time.
On a friday evening i stilled ongoing life on the pavement. Two photographs, clicked in quick succession, from the confines of a comfortable car that was moving. These scenes are so common, that the eyes refuse to stop and stare. On this particular Friday, my eye first saw and rested with what i saw. The capture by the camera provoked this post. Fortuitous images that are so common! The pictures tell a tale. Picture one. And Picture two. I attempt to tell the same.

Picture 1:

This appears to be a living quarters of a fellow Mumbaiite. There are pictures of ‘God(s)’ that hang from a borrowed wall. Multi hued images in a pale blue background get distilled attention. Dried leftovers of a garland adorning some pictures. A peacock feather perhaps in ‘honour’ of Lord Krishna. Or perhaps it was Lord Kartikeya. Life seems to have moved on. Goddess Lakshmi right up there. She, the Goddess of wealth seems devoid of the dried garland.

Stacked bricks on one side, which in all probability is a boundary of some sort. A stuffed polythene bag and another cloth bag that hang from two different nails add to the precociousness of the dwelling. On the same pale blue borrowed wall. Maybe, that was all. That made a room. Perhaps a home.

Of course, there is the red tiled pavement of the Mumbai Corporation and the blue sky of mother nature, which neednt be mentioned as they are not ‘personal belonging’. But in this context they seem relevant. Very.

Picture 2:

Right next door, life continues. Buckets which held engine oil once upon a time and a motley assembly of multi hued plastic pots metamorph into a partition. An old tarpaulin sheet and another polythene sheet which seem to have seen many monsoons and summers come & go, occupy the picture. Well, these sheets will tell quite a few stories. To the pavement and the sky ! Regardless of the stories, they do provide some kind of a roof and a stilled living quarters right below.

A clock on the wall stares through. Perhaps to tell time just in case mother nature plays truant !! The rope that holds the trapaulin together is fastened to a lamp post. And it doubles up as the cloth-line too. Life under a lamp post !

The cot and the cyle in front, lend themselves to become the front wall of the home. Whenever sleep or rest beckon, they sure must be moved. But that must be a different story. A plate with grains meets the eye. Odd placement though. Just before the cycle. Perhaps an offering. perhaps food for the night. Perhaps.

And oh yes, there is a bare chested man, tending to the Gods.

Life goes on, under the lamp-post. With the borrowed wall, the red pavement and the blue sky providing context. And oh yes, the Gods. They are up there too. On the pale blue borrowed wall.

7 thoughts on “The Pale Blue Wall

  1. Swatantra says:

    Amazing thoughts! It reminded me of a story of the book A Fine Balance!

    Kavi! I really want to appreciate your thoughts behind the pictures! and want to say again you should write books!

  2. Saravanan says:

    The best example to the phrase that GOD IS EVERYWHERE. Hope that one day everyboy is given with proper shelter to live with.

  3. Kavi says:

    Swatantra : You are a very kind person !! Thanks for the comments. Will need to find more ‘willing subjects’ for a book…!! 😀

    Saravanan : Welcome here ! And thanks for the comment ! Yes. One day. Some day !

  4. GuNs says:

    This just reinforces my comment on your previous post. This is what I hate. There is no romanticism about poverty. There is nothing great in living on the roadside. It is NOT an achievement, nothing to be applauded.

    We’re better off trying to find solutions to these problems instead of pitying the poor souls. Educate them and ask them to go back to the villages or LEARN a skill like plumbing, carpentry etc. and come back to have a shot in the city with enough ammunition to help them. Millions of people come to Mumbai uneducated and unskilled, hoping to make a living and end up on the streets. Watch the scene in Swades which is so brilliantly shot and conveys this message.

    I am saddened the most not by these people but by the sight of their children. The children have an opportunity to break out of this poverty because the government provides free books, free education and even free lunch to the deserving children. The parents though have no interests in sending their children to school and giving them a better shot at life. I understand that their would be hard pressed to spare the labour that their children provide but then such sacrifices are indeed the things which are commendable and not the poverty itself.

    I personally know a number of people who’ve lived in slums without means to ensure two meals a day studying well and making a good life only because their parents have been more understanding, intelligent and less selfish.


  5. Adhyayin says:

    Would you like to contribute to our blog which tries to suggest “solutions” to common social problems?

    Take a look and leave a comment there if you wish to join as a contributor.

  6. Kavi says:

    Guns : You raise an important point. And ofcourse, i would respond in a new post.

    Adhayin : That would be interesting…!

  7. Shiva says:

    Reminds me of the lines from a poem by K.R.Narayanan

    “One half of our society guzzles aerated beverages
    While the other half has to make to with
    Palmfuls of muddied water”

    A thoughful post Kavi!

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