Marti my friend & Khandala song

English: Mumbai Pune expressway as seen from K...

Marti was a girl, no a woman, a lady ! She was a young Mama Theresa, with gentle soft face and sharp grey eyes : she loved the slums and somehow got to be my neighbour, friend and sister -in- grief at plight of Mumbai‘s slum dwellers. She was from Belgium, I from India. She cared deeply about drunks lying in the pavement,about price rise and   lack of sanitation and education. And Child labour.

I was just recovering from 3 years of an illness with no name and sorely wanted to say two words to Marti. ” Shut up”. I loved her love for my precious India, but sometimes it was more than I could take. Oh yes, one was amazed at her love for all things Indian – paani puri,churidars and the famous Indian dupatta   : ” All iz beeutful, is no ?” Who wouldn’t find her likable ? However. One had their moments of mental lethargy.

She could not understand that I showed such apathy at poverty. I remember the day she came home one noon and I had got a new dress, while she had given hers away to Lata the girl with some need. Erggghhh how guilty I  felt. She said nothing, just asked if I would help out with their little school at the Borivali slums, opposite the tea shop.

Mama Teresa prepares vegetables for dinner

Mama Teresa prepares vegetables for dinner (Photo credit: HelpAge)

I said yes, thinking this was one way of coming out of the fatigue that kept hitting me in waves – one way of coming out of myself and getting back into the world of goings and comings, so I joined and those were a few months there that changed my head. I met Amma Janki, who spat paan in the floor every time she saw me,” Aarey Tu, idhar aa..”  ( Come here you !)

It was friendly, but real. ” And what are you ? Desi or what! What’s the use of educating my child Pinki and she will either die soon, or get married and you know what …… “

She broke into unmentionable detail which was funny, oh hilarious sad and funny. The old lady listened to local FM and was a little devil with words. Oneday Marti and she were arguing about hygiene when Aamir K’s ‘ Aati hei Khandala song came on.

In a few seconds  the old lady and my Belgian friend were doing that number with such devotion – I told her the lyrics were naughty -she replied who cares, I don’t know any meaning, just like the tune ! They went thru’ that entire number, the old paan chewing slum gran’ma and this soft faced ‘missionary’ woman .. I have NO WORDS to describe the moment.

Few days ago, I was writing a post with that song involved and remembered the brief time I had at the slum, homes made out of gunny sack and tin, or cardboard and bits of asbestos. There was crude lack of hygiene, an odd Levi jean hung out to dry, a fancy car even. The strangest stories did their rounds – but Marti dancing with a song that she could sing with an equally feisty old Ma in the shacks … !

Here, many years later : there’s this old construction worker couple we are friends with down the lane, across a new building coming up ; pure white hair and brilliant eyes, the two of them. No, they don’t have any Radio, but she sings and often he accompanies. Long winding village tunes about love and how her eyes shone in the moonlight….

As usual, I don’t know how to end this post…. 🙂 It is a strange life, unpredictable times – with the capacity to still startle us, if we are willing.

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Submitted on 2013/06/18 at 8:37 am

Narration is really good – how to end the post? this means you are still building it in your own :)

English: " FORESTED Sanjay Gandhi Nationa...

English: ” FORESTED Sanjay Gandhi National Park” fortressed by “MUMBAI’S CONCRETE JUNGLE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, there are so many missing bits that I want to add but it can go on and on. For instance, not all was as happy as this post may appear. That child Pinki ( her real name) actually did die. She had an amputation…the little school got shut down, for reasons you may understand. My friend and her husband were foreigners, these were slums, and I was in no position to continue it . These were construction workers’ kids living off the marshlands. At night the tide would rise in – oh it was a mess. There was a little boy, so very naughty, but eyes like stars. “ Didi muhje ghar lekhe jao.</em>..” I hugged him the best I could; his parents said he had to go work and we were spoiling them with all our fussy stories :) That last day he ran behind me as long as he could. It was the hardest thing to turn away. There were 10 others with him, and the tea shop man looking on with eyes that watched everything. This changed me though…

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Marti my friend & Khandala song

  1. I guess this is a never-ending saga of helping others and being helped yourself! 🙂
    Lovely to know a bit about you and your friend!

  2. Pingback: My Homepage

  3. i simply love the way you narrate every post. Hats off!

    • InnerDialect

      Thank you Jiggya, thats generous … ( searching for a ‘bowing emoticon’ and couldn’t find one :))

  4. I love the down-to-earth-ness of your blog. I strongly believe that in order to write straight out of your heart you got to mingle with the lesser known, the rustic, the rural, the deprived, the ordinary ones, the commoners…there are so many words to define them as they are the unit which comprises the grass roots, the basics of India. Loved Marti and the ol’ woman. We find humour, love and laughter and fun even in the grimmest of situations and that’s how life goes on…

    • InnerDialect

      Geetashree…yes, and I love your comment. For some reason unable to find the right words to reply ? Little overwhelmed here.. thank you for reading and feeling the way you do about people. W’re all the same I guess. Just that some of us were born in better beds, or got an education… unsure what to say sensibly. God bless you

  5. O’ its just brilliant. Like u, I can never dip every word of post in such an emotion that gives goosebumps.

    • InnerDialect

      Shahab : this goosebump thingie is contagious… I’m having it in my brain now just reading you . Funny na, and I thought that was the darker moment of my life ( of the post), running in an out of hospitals, wondering if I’d live at all… and a bunch of slum kids slammed me back to life…even today.. Thnks for saying…

  6. Narration is really good – how to end the post? this means you are still building it in your own 🙂

    • InnerDialect

      Yes, there are so many missing bits that I want to add but it can go on and on. For instance, not all was as happy as this post may appear. That child Pinki ( her real name) actually did die. She had an amputation…the little school got shut down, for reasons you may understand. My friend and her husband were foreigners, these were slums, and I was in no position to continue it . These were construction workers’ kids living off the marshlands. At night the tide would rise in – oh it was a mess. There was a little boy, so very naughty, but eyes like stars. “ Didi muhje ghar lekhe jao.</em>..” I hugged him the best I could; his parents said he had to go work and we were spoiling them with all our fussy stories 🙂 That last day he ran behind me as long as he could. It was the hardest thing to turn away. There were 10 others with him, and the tea shop man looking on with eyes that watched everything. This changed me though…

  7. Thanks for introducing Marti 🙂 Wonderful lady she is !!
    I suppose I have complained about this before as well.. I am getting addicted to your writing and the way you narrate life and its belongings 🙂

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