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March 11th, 2005

5 th March 2005


This morning, I started ‘rounding’ (as in walking and roaming around) VT Railway Station. I stood at the Bhatia Baug bus stop for a while to watch the morning sales on the roads. Soon, I felt restless and decided to walk. As I walked ahead, I thought of Arjun bhai. Just as I was articulating him in my head, he appeared before me. He was wearing a saffron tika on his head, suggesting that he had just arrived from morning prayers. He looked at me and shook hands with me. He seemed in a hurry. “Where are you going?” I asked him. “To the godown, to get the maal for the day and set up dhanda, ” he replied. “Can I come with you?” I asked him excitedly. “No, no,” he said firmly, “you cannot come there,” suggesting that it is not the place for girls to go to. “But we will meet tomorrow, at our usual time, 9 AM?” he queried excitedly. I told him that I would fix the meeting with him later.


I walked ahead, towards the polyester glass dome which marks the entry of the VT station subway. Just outside the station, a bunch of boys were playing with coins, perhaps gambling. These boys are what we image in the city as truant children, run-away boys, druggies, raggedly dressed. I stood at a distance watching them. This morning, watching them was important for me because I have been trying to understand the relationship between these children and the railway station and what these children mean to the city. (I have now started asking commuters of how they perceive the children during interviews.) As I stood watching, the boys indulged in their play. To call them kids would be patronizing. These boys appeared quite capable of negotiating and dealing with the world. I believe that their childhood is not lost; it is very much there. It is there in their play and in their lifestyles. One of the boys saw me watching his friends at play. He watched me carefully just as I was watching them. Perhaps he was noting me, marking me. Gradually, he started moving towards me. In the meanwhile, another boy emerged from somewhere and stood before me, asking for money. This boy seemed older than his age. “Will eat vada-pav , please give money,” he kept repeating to me. I asked him, “Where have you come from? How long have you been in the city?” He said he was from Shirdi and has been in the city since three days. I gauged that he was in the city from a long time but he kept repeating that he has been in the city since three days. I asked him if he would want to go back home. But he repeated, “Will eat vada-pav , please give money.” The other boy who was watching me had also arrived and was asking for money. I gave money to both of them. The latter was watching me converse with the former boy. He said to me, “I tell you, you just take this boy to Sandhurst Road and drop him there.” I could not understand why he said this to me.


During all this happening, a few people had gathered around me, wondering what was happening between me and the boy. I kept asking the boy, “Since how long have you been in the city?” He kept asking me for money. Finally, a burkha clad woman, who was standing for sometime watching us, said to me, “What happened? Did this boy steal something from you? What is the matter?” I told her that there was no problem and that I was just talking to the boy. She said to me, “These boys are thieves. They steal. Just the other day I picked up one child and put him in a rehabilitation center here. I am a social worker.” I asked her if her social work involved working with children at railway stations. “No,” she said to me. I told her that there was no problem. She then proceeded inside the station. I decided to back off from the situation and go away. The Shirdi story boy followed me to the entrance of the subway and kept asking me for more money. I refused to relent. He kept hailing me, “Didi, didi,” but I decided to not listen.


I wonder what ‘intervention’ means. I am also thinking about ‘social work’ and about ‘social work’ as ‘intervention’. Do we end up doing violence by our ‘interventions’?





  1. March 13th, 2005 at 12:27 | #1

    hi zainab, what u wrote was really touching and makes me think about the street boys and u would be surprised to know that some of these boys like their life and would’nt want to go 2 rehebelation center there r some cases where these kids r abused in the rehebelation center,i know i did a project on them in my fyba some kids have been outcoming and spoken 2 us about it,and no1 is willing 2 do anything not even the cops,probally because these places r owned by some big people

    its a vey sad story lots can be spoken but very little gets done:(



  2. March 14th, 2005 at 03:23 | #2

    hey.. been a silent lurker here for long
    its always inspiring to read what you write
    nice to have come by your site

  3. March 14th, 2005 at 13:03 | #3

    zee …u write well but its so long at times….but i know you dont write to impress….as ur a natural writer…one of the best thing i like abt ur blogs is ur concluding lines where after describing ..u give the reader a choice to think abt the thinking patterns….thnks

  4. March 15th, 2005 at 00:14 | #4

    …very very inspiring…i living in Bombay travel by local trains on a daily basis too, its very heartening to see these lil lives…
    keep writing…