In a hunt for a dealer’s warehouse, I find myself on the street right next to the railway tracks near the Kandivali East station. Narrowed by the vehicles parked by train commuters and regular flow of pedestrian traffic, ‘station ke baju valay road’ is what it is called.
A reasonably conspicuous sign board near a well grown peepul tree at the head of the street says ‘Mahadevbhai Desai Road’, but few seem to be aware. Even if they know it is unlikely that they would know who Mahadev Desai was and the role he played in India’s independence movement as Mahatma Gandhi’s personal secretary. If only he was not put into a side street! Quite unlike the MG Roads we have all over India.
The public toilet is one of the busiest buildings on this road, and is heavily patronised by not just travellers but also residents of the area.
At the far end of the road one can find a reading room for the public, where concrete blocks and broken pillars have been creatively turned into benches. Gujarati and Marathi newspapers are neatly stuffed into the slots made specially for them.
Mid way down the road, a Shiv Sena notice board finds space next to a matching orange flag pole where people congregate to see the Indian tricolour being hoisted on Independence Day.
The most interesting sight on the street is that of a lone vendor, a beautiful woman with colourful pieces of cloth. Usha, she said her name is. Having migrated from UP, she lives on the other side of the tracks, but says she cannot sell there as it is someone else’s territory. She buys the old cotton sarees from a town-side market and sells them to carpenters and other construction workers. The cloth is very soft and ideal for polishing and cleaning. She earns Rs 200-300 each day and this keeps her household going. “Why are you asking me all these questions? I won’t get into any trouble, right?”, she asks. “Oh no! I just like to talk to people about their lives”, I tell her, and she doesn’t hesitate to pose for a photograph after ensuring her pallu is properly set over her head.
“Get the proper address of the shop you are looking for”, a boy tells me. I will need to return another day!
Pics taken in August 2014