A worthy delivery!

There are many jobs that don’t get the attention they deserve. Or maybe a disproportionately minute attention. Often dismissive.  While several may come to your mind, sometimes starting with your own job, may I please request a temporary focus on the job of a newspaper delivery chap!

Watching him at work on the road is an exercise in joy!   And if you are half as clumsy and absent minded a bloke as me, the seamless efficiency that is a default expectation on this job can cause you to want the world to cave in and take you along with all that goes inside.  That’s the degree of shame that is distinctly possible. 

The permutations on the job are insane.  

First of all, there are a heap of brands of newspapers. And ofcourse two tonnes of supplements to each one of them. If you thought that’s the end of it all, well, then comes the language question. Especially so, if you stay in a big city like Mumbai which plays home to every conceivable inhabitant on planet earth. And his mother tongue. And his newspaper in his mother tongue too.  Ok. That may be a slight exaggeration. But only slight!

Well just as you are applying work up some math around the multitude of brands and the plentiful languages that are there, add neighbourhoods and neighbours. Neighbourhoods can be confusing. Should we say, ‘daunting’ to a rookie newspaper vendor.  Numbers, crosses, streets and of course sometimes complete with idiots residing in them.  

Plus of course neighbourhoods come packed with their assortment of watchmen, auto and taxi drivers half asleep in their places of work. In the wee hours of the morning. Waking up with a start. Rattled. Irritated and ready to pull out a AK-47. For a moment.  Thank God for the gun laws. For whatever they are worth. 

In a minute the old familiar visage of the newspaper vendor, and the rattle of the mudguard that’s hanging loose from the time Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister, makes them get to wave weak smile and an assortment of curses loosely translating to ‘useless fellow’, before dozing off. Perhaps to relive dreams where they are romancing a beauty queen laced with riches!  

If the chaps outside the neighbourhoods weren’t enough trouble, the folks inside can sure finish you off. For instance, there is a good friend who buys a different assortment of newspapers on different days of the week.  Either business must be real bad or customers delight taken too seriously for such crazy demands getting met.  A grand plan to save some ‘60 odd rupees’, he had said. Like it was an amount to pull India out of financial trouble! 

Now, now, hear me out. Imagine you are a newspaper vendor. You have to have the ability to sort out what newspapers people have asked for(and if you include that friend like mine, you also have to remember which day of the week the morning leads you to), slot it accordingly and carry it with you on the bicycle. 

You pedal around like a champ, pull out the most relevant sets of newspapers and toss it with an arch to ensure it lands at the right doorstep at the right time. If you are a few minutes late the very real prospect of facing a customer with disheveled hair and dried drool from yesterday night plentifully populating his cheek, awaits you!  Worse, he could casually ask why you couldn’t do a better job. Which is when you would want to throw the bicycle and all the newspapers in there, at him. 

Ofcourse, we haven’t broached on aspects that could become seminal topics by themselves. Like the pet dogs in homes that would want to scare the wings out every passing fly. Leave alone a small chap in a bicycle with some paper that in the later course of the day are used to parcel dog poop to the dustbin! 

To pedal that distance is enough of an ask for three quarters of people of the world to opt out.  And finally if ever you would sit back and read the crap that gets into newspapers these days, wont you wonder whatever your multi tasking was worth! 

The next time you see the newspaper chap whizzing, say something. A hello. A good morning. Whatever. He may yet not deliver better news for you. It may not even prompt him fix the rattle of his broken mud guard.  

Perhaps, just perhaps, it would help him get by with a smile!   

Click power !

Have been away travelling. That explains the silence. Will catch up !

By the way, the Meenakshi temple at Madurai, offers some wonderful sights. Of great architecture. Today, we sit here watching a dozen weddings getting solemnised.

It doesn’t take long to realise that one breed seems to be calling all the shots. They seem to have more power than the high priests and the low grooms ! For everybody is acting at the call of the …….wedding photographer.

‘Slow’ he shouts. And everything slows down. ‘Once more’ he shouts. And dutifully the groom garlands all over again, to ensure that this moment is captured for posterity.

Today, the pillars of this ancient temple reverberates with their command. Add to that, the fact that each marriage seems to be sporting a couple of photographers. Well, you have divine commotion !

The typical scenes play out.

The groom garlands. The bride garlands. The in-laws garland. Suddenly everybody garlands. He clicks every sub event. Sometimes re-clicks sideshows that are carefully re-enacted !

Everybody who is somebody walks in with a gift and upon reaching the bride & groom, freeze like kids playing ‘statue’. Perhaps wanting to extend that moment much longer than the worth of the gift itself ! All captured on camera.

Such sundry stuff, is often punctuated with shooting ‘special effect’ shots. ‘Protait ‘ ( thats the prounciation) shot : Of just the bride. Just the groom. Just the bride and groom. Just the front. Just the back. Just the hands.

Presumably all to be remixed and rolled into a big fat album later with a fluorescent spiral binding, which will have images of the bride looking longingly from the grooms palm. And vice-verca. For sure.

Ofcourse, other yogic postures would be present as well. Like the groom feeding the bride. And the bride feeding the groom !

Sitting there, the mind races to wonder what goes on in the minds of such photographers at each wedding. These folks are privy to intimate moments that the bride and groom share, like feeding each other ! Of course, in the presence of everyone who has come there. Perhaps they compare mental notes….

Of the difference in saree colour. The bridal make up. The sullen faces. The dour groom. The relatives who gift and pose for eternity. The jewelery that makes the flash on the camera redundant.

Perhaps they compare the whiteness coefficient of bridal teeth. The rings on the grooms fingers and the kilos of gold that hang from the neck! Perhaps they think of the spice in the food and the length of the decoration.

‘Smile’ He says today. Actually, he thunders. With a start and sputter, the groom lets go a smile. A trifle terrified and knowing fully well, who is in charge !

Perhaps he gets the greatest kick in teaching the first lessons in obedience. To the groom (of course) !!

Ah ! That explains it ! Not too bad for a profession ! hmm.