Came out from “Jazz by the Bay’, a club in Mumbai, into Marine Drive. Called the ‘Queens Necklace’, this area is among the most desirable and expensive real estate in Mumbai. Was approached by a really old bent and gnarled woman begging for some money. I asked her where she came from. ‘Sholapur’ she said, but had been in Mumbai for longer than she can remember. She left her village in search of food and a better life. A better life ?…..
She came to Bombay (as it was then), when some of the buildings were still being built on Marine Drive. She smiled almost with pride as she told me that she was a labourer working at Rs 1 per day in those days. And then her wages went up to Rs 1.50 per day. She swept her hand proudly as she pointed at some of the buildings she had helped build. Suddenly she was no longer a beggar, lost in the mass of people of the street that India prefers to forget in the mass hysteria of India’s new billionaires and stock market (over) valuations. She was an individual that had contributed to society.
I gave her some money, and as I drove away she was still smiling and waving at me. I think I reminded her of a time when she carried herself with pride and hope. Even at Rs 1.50 a day And my last image of her was this frail old woman sillouetted against the large imposing residences. Still waving.
And I thought ….
Each building must now be exchanging hands at values over $ 100 million. While an old woman that helped build it still begs on the streets.