Palam Vihar is a quiet neighbourhood on the poorer side of the National Highway - 8, that connects Delhi with Jaipur. The "Vihar" is flanked on the other side by the delhi-jaipur rail line, so, the vihar is spread as a narrow strip of land starting at delhi border and terminates unceremoniously into older Gurgaon.
We moved into our new home in Palam Vihar about a year back and spent five months at home, introspecting, trying out new recipes and tending the garden. The neighbours are quiet retired defence forces officers, who like to introspect, try new recipes and attend to their gardens.
Every evening we have the kids playing at the neighbourhood park and I decided to profile these kids:
Geeta: This 8-10 year old girl loves to practice her "English" with me. Every evening she gushes forth with her "Good Evening Sir" and I ask her "Where are you coming from"? She jumps off her bike and is so excited that she mixes up her genders: "Mam, no, sorry, Sir! I had gone to science tution". The other day I asked her where she lived, she said 148 (the house number).
Me: The kaks?
Her: No, I am the servant's daughter.
Me: Good, take care, Bye bye.
Monu1: About 7 years old urchin, unwashed, always in hurry! This kid is the son of a maid whose husband abandoned her years ago. The kid is all bones, but has the best twinkle in his eyes I have ever seen. He has learnt the cuss words like "haramjyade" (bastard) and uses it liberally with other friends (Monu2, Monu3 and sometimes with Anusha, the elder sister). The kid can do cartwheels very well, but the somersault is his week point. I have been training him to do the cartwheel, though I could never do it myself. The problem is that he needs to stabilize himself before each wheelie so it looks like a cartwheel with hiccups!
Anusha: The girl is 8 or so, she loves to demonstrate her Taikwando skills. She does hammer, roundhouse and front kick, her punches are lethal and she is the "strong-quiet" types. I tried to teach her a "kata" (a series of karate moves) and she picked it up quite well. She is the daughter of the abandoned maid, sister of Monu1.
Sonu: The only Sonu, he is of a stocky built, can do cartwheels, somersaults and is learning Taikwando. He goes to the government school 6 days a week and on weekends he goes to the "Masti ke Pathshala", a special school. The Masti Ke Pathshala is an activity cum class room teaching school that is operated by volunteers. Sonu has learnt pottery, mask makings and can sing too! All courtesy the Paathshala.
Chand: Son of a security guard, he must be no more than 10 years old. He made my wife uncomfortable by asking her to give him her watch. He has this habit of begging for things. His father is a guard with private security agency and is child-like to the point of being a nuisance. He climbs walls, is forever fixing something or other. We had hired him for a month or so and one day we left the house keys with him and he went inside the house, picked the car keys and wrecked the car in the driveway. He was fired in the evening, but we refrained from reporting him to police or the security agency. My wife might have missed Chand!