“For years I would take pictures of this baba from the back sheesha of our car while stopping for chai in an area called Gharo. He would always be walking around in the most creative costumes featuring his beautiful bottle collection; styled and customized with no less creativity and finesse then our very own high couture designers. I swear, it was an excitement on its own looking for him and capturing his new additions. Occasionally, there would be times where he would be hiding (as I concluded). I would ask the chaiwalla and the pan walla (where I would spot him regularly) where "the Bottle Seller of Gharo” or “bottlle bhejne waale baba” was. They pointed in a direction and I could hear the beat of plastic bottles clanking growing nearer.
One day I decided to gather up the courage to speak to him. This was one expereince I will never forget. “innnnnnnn mehhhhhh hhh pa nnnni llloooooggo hhhhh k o o pilllll lllllla aaaataaaaaa hoo ooooon.” he stuttered. (I fill water in these and give water to people.) I learned that he would change the position of these bottles not out of creativity or artistic expression but out of necessity. The bottles weight would be a burden on his shoulders so he would tie them around his neck and change as required.
The chaiwalla and paanwalla in Gharo along with many others were convinced he was crazy and a “mental case” as they called him. How quick are we to judge those who we have no damn idea about. Let us really be the vehicles of good conduct and lead by excellent example, whether that means speaking up for injustice or carrying the burden of bottles of water to give to thirsty people.
If you ever pass by Gharo now and look for him, make sure to also ask for the “pagal photographer” who visits him often :)“