Post 18, Abdullahpur Basti

Credit: Atul Anand

Credit: Atul Anand

6:30 p.m.: Birjender’s brother is managing the counter. Vishnu has just returned from making his deliveries and hands over the payments at the counter. Rachit returns from Bharatnagar, some 2 kilometers away, where he has been scouting for yesterday’s newspapers. It appears that Birjinder’s son got some coverage because of a school event and the family is keen to collect all newspapers. Sadly for them, Rachit has not been successful in procuring yesterday’s newspapers.

7:00 p.m.: Rachit and Vishnu continue on their assignments. Since they are going in the same direction, decide to drive together. Rachit rides a Bajaj Chetak scooter, while Visnhu drives his motorised cart. Rachit asks me to join them. A thirty-minute ride later, we reach a large shop where Vishnu has been instructed to deliver 20 sacks of wheat flour. One by one, Vishnu hauls the sacks- each weighing 10 kilograms- on his back and carries them into a shop. Here, he unloads them by the wall and a 50-year old woman, satisfied with her stocks, signs off a delivery note and makes the payment. Deliveries completed, we join Rachit’s quest for yesterday’s newspapers, but remain unsuccessful.

On the way back, Rachit and Vishnu race one another through the crowded streets and alleys of central Ludhiana. They are both clearly having fun. Speed thrills Rachit like few things do, as I remember from the evening that Rachit raced his friend’s autorickshaw through the paths leading into Sargana a few months ago.  Then, as now, I wished I was somewhere else, not pillion-riding a man who fancies himself as a Formula One contestant!