Ahmedabad: In the past one and half decade, ‘Amdavad’ (Ahmedabad) has remoulded itself from a city which poured blood on the streets, to a city that has twice the per capita income than that of India. If anything still remains the same in city, it has to be it’s thronged markets where groups of boisterous people pierce themselves through the narrow spaces to make their way.
Teen Darwaza, one such place witnesses a unique combination of Hindu devotees who come to pay obeisance at Bhadra Kali Mandir, one of the oldest in the city, and a huge number of Muslim vendors who are making their livelihood selling everyday utilities around the historic monument, each day. While walking your way from Bhadra Kali Mandir to Teen Darwaza, one can sense the remoulding in the social adeptness that must have happened in the past years, but as soon as you egress through the gate, a croaky voice exasperates your walking pleasure. Suddenly you realise that it was another vendor who is grating hard to sell, few balloons, still different from other.
Raju Bhai (45), a Sikh sikligar who has lived all his life selling balloons under Teen Darwaza, has the most distinctive styles of marketing his product. His idea of life is also quite different from most of the people around the him. Surprisingly, he does not aspire to become rich or even a little well off that what he is, in his life. Surrounded by Muslim vendors, chasing Hindu customers, Raju who is a Sikh, feels himself to be the safest person in the world.
“We visit Gurdwara every Sunday since it is a holiday and all our rituals are done according to Sikh traditions, but I have never been to Punjab because we cannot skip selling even a single day”, said Raju.
Happy to be hand to mouth, he sells around 70-80 balloons a day, making almost 400 rupees a day. He only manages to earn himself three meals a day, anything beyond that is not what he aspires.“We have been doing this for ages, my forefathers used to sell other things at this very place and we have followed the family tradition, now my children are doing the same too and I don’t want them to do anything else”, he announced.
Focused on keeping an eagles eye in and around, Raju has no knowledge about the political scenarios of the nation, interestingly he refused to recognise Dr Manmohan Singh, our former Prime minister. He has nothing to do with the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Who is Modi? Whoever he is, I dont care, I have no world other than selling balloons” said Raju.
For him education is a waste. All he wants to do his entire life is to sell balloons. He wants his coming generations for carry forward what he and his forefathers have been doing. But vendors around him had a word to say about his economic condition and even the whole ‘Sikh’ligar community.A lot needs to be changed in this one of the most developing cities of the world. Here lives a man who represents the economic state of a community which is yet to explore itself than before the outer world. Here also lies a tradition which does not make one proud. A misery of a man who does not want to earn and learn.
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