Flo Carson

Flo Carson - Social Anthropologist, studying International Development at Sciences Po, Paris. I am slightly obsessed by gender, politics, media, human rights and global health. I've worked in Asia, Africa and Europe and keen to explore more of the world we live in. Take a look at my Twitter & Tumblr for my most recent posts. tly

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sarojini Nagar

I think my favourite image of Ruby was seeing her walking around Sarojini Market. Determinedly marching with a dirty clear plastic bag wrapped around her foot. She moved forward, completely oblivious of this litter attaching itself to her body. Slowly charging, taking each step purposefully, hips shaking, pushing past the masses. Tall men shift towards her, looking down to their hands as they pull out white diamante Calvin Klein watches.  Ruby grabs the watch, turns it over, bring it close to her face 'Kitna?' she asks, without even looking at the man's face '300 ruppees'. She thrusts the watch back into his hand and continues to charge on. These men fall after her, shouting much more reasonable offers to her. 'Nahi bhia' she wafts them away and strides onwards.

'I'm bat shit. You're crazy' said a small man holding an enormous red balloon he tried to sell to me at an extortionate price. Ruby continued to lead us forward; despite her short height, her stance and movement meant she was impossible to lose in the massive crowd. 'People in India are fools, buying so much, when they don't need. People will come to the market in India because there is nothing else for them to do. They buy buy buy. They go crazy for sales. They are such fools'.She says this all as she leads me into one of the shops off the market, the window display filled with balloons and signs rejoicing in the 70% OFF they are offering. And where she eventually buys two pairs of jeans which only have 10% off their normal price. What I find extraordinary about Ruby is that she has an awareness of the goings-on in her country, often denouncing cultural habits and the 'idiocy' of the masses. But then a second later she will perform the exact action she had criticised or condemned.  She moves between 'them' and 'us' when talking about social issues, depending on whether she considers her Punjabi identity of Indian identity being the major force.

In the shop as we wait for Chandhi to try on her jeans, Ruby gets talking to a young fair woman, asking her about what her husband does, turns out he is a customs officer. Ruby is impressed and continues to talk at the woman. Then five minutes later, the girls reveals that she is actually a doctor. The way this conversation occured is interesting in itself; the fact that Ruby sought out information about this woman's man before even finding out about her really says something. Ruby then goes up to the husband and asks for his telephone number, since 'customs officers have a very good job, they often have many electrical items and sell them'.

Chandhi complains of hunger, they march surrounding me and head to a pani puri stall. A form of street food that successfully manages to offend every taste bud your tongue is blessed to posses. Tiny greasy balls of bread, inflated like balls, are filled with a green sewer coloured liquid which prides itself on being simultaneously sweet and salty.The final product is disgusting. You are obliged to eat it in one, which I did quickly and painfully, spilling the green water all over my hands and top. 'You like?' they ask me. 'No. No. I really do not like', but before I finish my statement, Ruby has turned and passed me another plastic plate filled with the stuff. 'No Ruby, I really, really think it is gross and never want to eat it again'. This is not sufficient, no does not mean no right not. She insists that I eat it and I do. Then she turns around again and hands me a plate filled just with the liquidised demon juice and urges me to drink it. That is too far  'I am not doing that. Ever. Sorry' and finally have the strength to refuse to accept the greasy plastic plate which was in fact my third lunch of the day.

1 comment:

  1. That is just so evocative!I can see Ruby and Chandi now!