Last evening, on my way home I heard a sudden blop and slow hiss. Soon my Kinetic started shaking and I understood that I had a flat tire. Was confused all on a sudden. First of all, I take a bad route - untarred roads, places uninhabited, and smelly drains. But luckily I had the flat tire in front of a two-roomed small building. The first room was a laundry, where I found a young man ironing clothes. I asked him if there was any tire repairing shops nearby and to my surprise there was one at a distance of two-minute walk.
I reached the place and came back with a lad who replaced the flat one with the stepney (spare wheel). He demanded 40 Rs and had 500 Rs with me. I went to laundry man again for the change, which he didn't have. Instead he directed me to the next shop - a small bakery. The first sight, it was not welcoming. A very small shop with no electricity and stuffed with biscuits and packed items, a man sitting on the step and enjoying a smoke, and a place indeed shabby. The shopkeeper was an old, fat man, unshaved and uncombed hair. He was stout and dark and was selling things and speaking in Kannada. To me he didn't seem like a man who knew either Hindi or English. And I, on the other hand, didn't know Kannada :-(
I said, "500... Change". Suddenly he turned to a boy standing next to him and said, "Mone, ee kuttikku anjooru roopakku change kodukku" (Son, give her change for 500 Rs) in Malayalam. I froze. How could I underestimate a Malayalee. They are everywhere you go. Be it the densest populated place or a remote one. I had still not come out of my state of shock, when the boy handed over the notes to me. I took them in the hand, thanked them, smiled, and left.
I don't know whether I was too happy or sad for that man. Mixed feelings indeed! I was happy that I found a Malayalee where I didn't expect to find one and was sad by his shabby appearance. But I must admit one fact - he is earning a living and not begging around in the alien state!