shopping

Post 57, Arati Chowk, Ludhiana

4:30 p.m.: Dasharath calls me to chat since we haven’t spoken in a long while. He tells me he has been very busy, working at a convenience store where Rachit helped him obtain employment.

5:30 p.m.: I arrive at Kamal Flour Mill. Rachit is away in Model Town, where Birjinder’s wife and children have gone shopping. I sit by, writing out my observations as Bablu, Mevalal, Kalki Prasad and Hiralal continue their work at the mill.

7:00 p.m.: Rachit and I chat on the phone, while I continue writing my notes at the mill. Rachit tells me they are now at Agarnagar, and will be back in another hour.

8:30 p.m.: Rachit returns with Birjinder’s family. Birjinder’s wife and children emerge from the black Nissan hatchback laden with stuffed polythene bags. Rachit reverses the car into Birjinder’s tiny garage as if it were the easiest thing in the world. He steps into the mill, exchanges a quick wink with me to say hi and bye and carries a 5 kg sack of wheat flour into the house.

I sit about a little longer before taking leave of the others.

Post 55, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

6:00 p.m.: Rachit is in Model Town, where Harjinder’s wife has gone shopping. All his co-workers are at the mill: Bablu, Ambika, Kalki Prasad and Mevalal. Mansharam arrives in his auto after having completed his deliveries and appears to be in a foul mood:

One gets everything here in Ludhiana: work, money, everything. What one doesn’t get is respect. The younger generation: the m******f****** just do not respect us. They keep addressing us as ‘chawl bhaiya’.

I ask him what chawl bhaiya means. He explains:

They call us bhaiya because that’s what people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are called. Chawal (rice) is our staple diet so they mangle the word chawal and call us chawl. And so we become chawl bhaiya.

Post 28, Ghumar Mandi

6:15 p.m.: Rachit is parking Birjinder’s car outside the Mom n Me store in Ghumar Mandi: the store is quite large and stocks children’s clothes. Birjinder’s family has come to the market to shop for the occasion of the forthcoming Gur Purnima festival. Rachit informs me that Birjinder persuaded his family to shop at Mom n Me because they still accept the old high-value currency notes.

AA.2016-11-10.Shashi Devi with her grandchild.People getting xerox of form and id in a grocer store.Ludhiana.jpg