In Transit: Paper Plates

Drippings of tamarind smeared onto the neatly cut dolly plate as he picked up the still warm somosa and bit into its peak…

The mint chutney tasted a bit like bitter spinach; he asked himself, had these owners cut down on costs? But still good, he continued enjoying his mid afternoon snack.

Chutney too flowed down but on the paper plate they did not mix. The sauces were like that magic river in Brazil, like vinegar and oil, two streams one red like mud, alongside another of full dark, green… He noticed that the paper dolly was not made of the usual old newspaper from another state or from a dried banana leaf, instead it was made from a crisp white sheet of printed paper… text black in times new roman font, his eys began to move from left to right as he chewed the mix of seeds, potato, peas and read: “The World Bank… Sunel… Poverty Alleviation Program…” he couldn’t pick up all of the sentence as it was covered under the drippings… he couldn’t see, but it seemed like a covering, a sort of development proposal, some type of intervention program… probably the short section on background… he wondered as he chewed… was this what was left after so many hours of development policies, were ideas reduced to reduced to be made merely into receptacles for food… did any of the program accomplish anything? Maybe he should be positive - a sign that the programs worked reaching even the urban shop keeper, coming from the grassroots, falling from the top, hitting the middle elements of society reminding them for the need of action in the most unlikely of places…he chewed and threw the paper on to pile of trash that formed infront…

He remembered his Bengali friend, her stories about how students found the answers to tests often on plates for curry or under roadside sweets… worse maybe not? Either way… the men who made these plates, under bridges with hand made cutters. a kilo for 5 rupees… he wondered if they read their contents, from newspapers, to love stories, to development action plans, to business ventures, to bank accounts, to the future. In India everything is reused… throw out your trash and somehow it is made new.. someone is aware of your mistakes, of your glories, of your forgotten neglected ideas and plans… forget big brother watching you, instead merely your brother…

biasab, mabsab

In another place you might worry, but here you suck in air, your mouth is still hot, you reach for the papaya and cashew shake… you slow to intake the pink juice and cool your mouth… you watch the traffic, and soon sink back in to it. Full and ready for a nap… lazy as the sun begins to set and you hear the shuffling of feet.

Jaipur - Rajasthan

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