Bhaji Gully, a narrow street leading out of Grant Road station has long lost its real name amid the numerous vegetable sellers that have squatted outside the shops lining the street. With tomatoes and onions spilling onto the street and jharoos and dusters waving in your face, you often forget that there are shops behind that milling mess. Last week, for instance, I was shocked to discover a quaint little cake shop behind the yams and the pumpkins. I went inside hesitantly and even more tentatively bought some cake to find that it was the best cake ever!!! And can you believe that I walked past this place sometimes twice a day for the last thirty years and was not even aware that such a place existed???? Needless to say, I’ve been back with alarming regularity with the excuse that now I need to find out which cake is best……….
From seven in the morning till late at night, this place is busy every day of the week except for Sunday evenings. The slow crawl in the mornings when the shopkeepers are busy getting their stalls ready turns to a steady stream of housewives and college students who use this street to access the tuition classes at the other end of the street. Finally at around 6.30 in the evenings when the trains empty out hundreds of commuters, there is a shoulder to shoulder crowd with shoppers stopping by to pick up their daily requirements.
Most of the shopkeepers know me now and I often call them up to have things home delivered. But from time to time I like to go to the market to get a feel of the pulse of things . So this morning I went to the market and walked up to my regular vendor. While he was busy scribbling my order, I could feel he was distracted and sure enough, I found him looking distinctly over my shoulder. Miffed at his attitude, I was about to ask him what had so distracted him when I found that everyone around me was looking up. I turned around and found nothing amiss so I asked him what everyone was staring at.
” A monkey”, he replied with a straight face, waiting for the next item on my list.
Sure enough, when I looked to where he pointed, I saw this scrawny little baby monkey, quivering in the gentle rain, waiting forlornly on an awning , not knowing what to do next. Everybody kept following his movements and suddenly there was a big commotion as the monkey jumped off the building and onto the street! All the street urchins who normally volunteer to carry your bags began chasing the little fellow while the crows began cawing raucously overhead.
Before either of them could get to the monkey, he stepped into the Udipi restaurant round the corner ! I wonder if he got a cup or tea or was turned away instead.
Within seconds, the market went back to normal and everyone forgot the monkey……..