Otherwise Nondescript- Part II

This is perhaps a sequel to the story of Amma, a maid in my neighbourhood. However, I believe, every life tells us a different story, though on the surface they may sound similar to somebody’s saga.

Living in India, it is not very difficult to spot a life lead on the edge. Us city dwellers have perhaps grown so immune to them that it seems futile to stop and give such lives a look, or get into any introspection. They are nondescript lives; so easy to ignore and move on. “Yes he / she is suffering, but that is fate.” Rarely, do you come across anyone lauding the spirit that propels fighting adversity.

Last Sunday, I had an interesting encounter; an encounter that has refused to be out of my mind since then. There is a small beauty parlour that I visit frequently. It is just another parlour that one might mistake for a shop selling trinkets, or cheap accessories.

Enter the place any time you will find an awkward silence welcoming you, indicating that there is no hot business happening there. I reckon the parlour is run by a lady from Assam who has found a good location for it in the bustling Eldams Road.

Such beauty parlours are always run by women from the north-eastern parts of the country, Darjeeling and Assam. They have a knack for running such set-ups. What I like most about them is their cheerfulness, their readiness to toil hard, even if it means working in a place that is so far from home. Some might reason that it is natural, for these women have little choice with vocations. But, there is little to feel cheerful about a job that involves threading uneven eyebrows, and waxing hairy arms and legs.

This time I managed to strike a long conversation with a couple of girls in the parlour. “I am Victoria, one of them said, grinning from ear to ear. And, she is Enrita. We both are from Assam; I am from Guwahati and she is from Tezpur.”

How long has it been since you visited home? I go home once in three years and she is planning to go next month. But I don’t know when my next trip will be.

While Victoria was talking, I made a mental calculation. She has been working here for the last nine years and visits home once in three years, meaning she has been home just thrice. Don’t you miss home, I asked, quite hesitantly. I was scared that it might be too personal a question to ask. I shouldn’t sound too inquisitive. It was not my business at all. However, I wanted to know what makes someone come to an alien land and spend ten years of their life, doing the same monotonous stuff.

I could easily visualise the scene at her home in Guwahati: A family of almost a dozen children; each in a remote place, trying to make ends meet at home. All of them are likely meet each other at least after three years.

I opened my eyes to see the cheerful Victoria again. ‘Is the wax too hot ?’ I smiled and nodded; she continued her banter about the weather and latest films, while I took a mental trip to her home in Assam


5 Responses to “Otherwise Nondescript- Part II”

  1. s.k.balasubramanian Says:

    I READ YOUR BLOG ON THE SEMMOZHI CONFERENCE. i entirely agree with all your views. There was absolutely no necessity for a multi crore family boaster fad. So and So’s granddaughter was given an opportunity to play veena. HOW gracious would it have been , if a visually or physically handicapped person had been given a chance.I feel flattered to have such a friend whose prowees in English prose and poetry IS MARVELLOUS . Best wishes s k b

    • thnks so much… ur words are really encouraging 🙂
      really nice of you to have gone through my blog and taken the time to respond to it..
      thnks a tonee

      janani sampath

  2. Kasturi Ray Says:

    Hey Janani,
    In Bhubaneswar too, such parlours exist and most of these beauticians or call them helping hands in the parlours have girls from the north-east. As i read your blog, i visualised the same things here, in my city too.
    But honestly Janani, i felt the story should have continued as i wanted to read more. You presented the otherwise non-descript issue pretty well.

    • hey kasturi!

      thnks a tonne… 🙂 more on it soon.. I am quite intrigued by these girls’ lives.. they seems so happy and content.. I am curious,too, and want to know more..

  3. “They are nondescript lives; so easy to ignore and move on. “Yes he / she is suffering, but that is fate.” Rarely, do you come across anyone lauding the spirit that propels fighting adversity.”

    very true! I use to ignore and just mind my business until some months ago. But you are right when you go to some place regularly and meet the same person often, you tend to be more curious. There are quite a few places, that I keep going often to… a Kerala restaurant, a Bengali chat shop where people from Bihar work.. started making conversation with them and it is sort of intriguing. Now I’ve started making conversations with strangers in bus when I go out of Chennai and not only had some really wonderful experiences but gives me a rare opening to their lives.

    Hope you had seen ‘Angadi theru’! A brilliant film! There is this brilliant song ‘Kathaigalai Pesum’ which comes after a horrid period for both of them, yet the portrayal of them singing and dancing happily like there is no tomorrow, literally, struck me very hard. It had a very strong impact on me. This is something I would call the spirit that propels fighting adversity.

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