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kiddingtown » Lost Spring

http://kiddingtow March 8, 2011


Where is Saheb coming from? Why did he have to leave his country?

Saheb is a rag picker who lives in Seemapuri on the Delhi-UP boarder. He came to Seemapuri
from Bangladesh with thousands of others forced by natural calamities there.

Why did the author realize that her advice was 'hollow?'

On meeting Saheb the author advised him to go to school. But when she gave an afterthought the
author realized that the thought of going to school had never occurred to children like Saheb. For
them rag picking is more meaningful than schooling and learning.

Why was the author embarrassed when Saheb asked her if her school was ready?

Seeing Saheb ruining his childhood picking waste, the author once asked him if he would join her
school if she started one. Saheb gave her a positive answer. Another day when the two met, Saheb
asked her if her school was ready. The author suddenly felt speechless as she had not meant to
start a school as Saheb had expected.

How does Anees Jung explain the over sensitivity of the poor rag pickers to the rich men's

Anees Jung strongly believes that the poor people are over sensitive to the promises of the rich.
She had experienced this in the case of Saheb who believed the fake promise of starting a school
given by her.

Why should there be a hard time for Saheb to believe the meaning of his name?

Saheb's full name is Saheb-E-Alam which means the Lord of the Universe. Being a poor rag picker,
Saheb cannot believe that the Lord of the Universe is supposed to be like him and therefore he will
struggle to believe the meaning of his name.

How does the author reason the barefoot tradition of the rag pickers?

The rag pickers of Seemapuri are traditionally barefooted. The author is doubtful about the origin
and reasons behind this tradition of the rag pickers. She believes that it is an excuse to explain their
poverty. But on the other side she sees the possibilities of the traces of an ancient tradition
preserved by the poor rag pickers.

What does the story the man from Udipi told the author tell about the blindness to traditions and
religious stigma?

A man from Udipi once told the author his own story when he was a boy and his father a priest in the
temple. As a young boy he would go to school past this old temple and stop briefly to pray for a pair
of shoes. Thirty years later when the author visited his town and the temple, she saw a lot of modern
instances in the town and lifestyle of the people. The author means to indicate the timely changes
education brings to people and how the illiterate rag pickers remain unchanged, carrying the rotten

How is Seemapuri both near and far away from Delhi?

Seemapuri is a backward area on the periphery of Delhi. Geographically it is very close to Delhi
whereas its traditions, standard of life and people are far behind the time.

Food is more important for survival than an identity. How is this statement true in the lives of the
Seemapurian rag pickers?

Thousands of rag pickers live in Seemapuri. They do not have any identity in their society or in the
country. Yet they are happy for the fact that here thsey don't need to starve as it used to be in
Bangladesh where they had come from.

How did Seemapuri turn out to be a better place for the Bangladeshis?

Seemapuri was a deserted area when the Bangladeshis arrived here three decades ago. They
were forced to come here due to the natural disasters in Bangladesh. They loved Seemapuri
because they could survive here. They had food and shelter here.

How do you understand rag picking having the proportions of a fine art in Seemapuri?

Like any other art form, rag picking possesses certain talents and rules. One needs guidance and
inborn talents to be a successful rag picker. He should know where to find garbage, what to take,
what to ignore, what time is best for it and so on. In Seemapuri every child is taught the essential art
of rag picking.

'It seems that for children, garbage has a meaning different from what it means to their parents.'

In Seemapuri survival means rag picking. The elders have made it their profession for a fixed
wages whereas for the children rag picking is a game of treasure-hunting. They work through the
garbage with a hope that one day they would get a gold coin or a rupee note from the garbage

Why is Saheb keenly watching the neighborhood tennis players?

Sometime Saheb can be found outside the club watching people play tennis. He is not interested in
playing tennis. He was content to watch the game from outside. He is more interested in using the

Whether Saheb likes or not, he is altogether changed for all his prosperity. What is the change?
What does this change suggest?

Saheb was once a rag picker and now works in a tea-shop, carrying milk for a better, fixed wages.
Unlike the others in his family and caste, Saheb's willingness to opt another line of work other than
the traditional way of following his lineage is a mark of change in his life.

How is Mukesh's attitude different from that of Saheb, both two sides of the same coin?

Mukesh and Saheb belong to slums and are forced to work as children. Saheb is cool and lack
much determination in life. He is less expressive. Changes happened to him unexpectedly. Mukesh
is determined and well planned. He is practical too. Unlike the rest of his people, Mukesh is ready to
rebel with the social set up and is optimistic about his bright future.

What is the incongruity of Mukesh's dreaming to be a motor mechanic?

Mukesh belongs to a bangle-making family in Firozabad. His people believe that they have to keep
up with the traditions and that they have to do no other work other than bangle-making for the
auspiciousness of marriage in the country. But Mukesh wishes to be a motor mechanic which is out
of question in his tradition.

How does the author narrate the child labor prevailing in Firozabad?
Around 20,000 children are working in glass furnaces with high temperatures, in dingy cells without
air and light. Here they slog their daylight hours, often losing the brightness of their eyes. Their eyes
are more adjusted to the dark than to the light outside. Due to this they often end up losing their
eyesight before they become adults.

Karam and God-given lineage amply tell the sad picture of the stigma of religion that rules the poor
people of India? Explain.

India is still primitive in many spheres of life even in our time. A big majority of Indians in the villages
still believe the division of labor system that began centuries ago. When one is not doing any better
in life due to the unwillingness to adopt another profession, they accept it as God's plan and do the
same work as if it is a God given lineage.

Which are the two hurdles that Mukesh has to break away for a better existence?

Mukesh has realized that being a bangle maker will not alleviate his poverty and therefore he wishes
to become a motor mechanic to be successful in his life. But doing any job other than bangle
making is out of question in his society. He has to first convince his family and society of the need of
undertaking another profession. If the society lets him choose his way, Mukesh has to face an
inconvincible group of middlemen, politicians and their watchdogs, the police of Firozabad, who are
altogether the sole beneficiaries.

Why is Saheb not his own master?

Saheb was his own master when he was a rag picker. He was not accountable to anyone nor was
he to work for someone. But now Saheb is working for a tea shop, having to carry milk from a milk
booth. Even though he is paid Rs.800 and all his meals, Saheb has lost his freedom to roam with
his friends and to be his own master.

How far is the change good for Saheb?

Saheb was once a carefree boy, with no responsibilities and tensions, and of course, no
achievements in life. But now he is a responsible boy, earning more than anyone in his society
does. While the others go on a lazy life, Saheb-e-Alam is rising to a prosperous life. Soon he will be
rich and leading a different life and a model for the rest of him.

In what sense is Mukesh’s father a failure and why is he a more successful man than many others in
his slum?

Mukesh’s father was once a tailor before he became a bangle maker in Firozabad. He was a failure
in his life as he could not teach his two sons nothing other than the art of bangle making. But he
could have a better house than all the rest of the people in his slum and therefore he is a success in
his life.

Explain: Daring is not part of his growing up.

Mukesh’s society does not dare to question the social evils that they suffer under the middlemen
and politicians and policemen. Most people here believe that they are asked by god to carry on this
unprofitable profession of bangle making while some people blame their destiny for their
wretchedness. So no one is allowed to think differently and the question of how to overcome the
curse of the middlemen usually doesn’t arise among them because if any one dared to rise against
them, they are suppressed.

What do you mean by 'stigma of religion?'

Religion has the power to make anyone anything. Once one got trapped by any religion, he is no
more ruled by reason; superstitions start ruling them. He finds reason for any senseless act of him in
the mirage created by the religion. This illusion is called stigma of religion.
What is the vicious circle for the people of Firozabad? Why is it called so?

People of Firozabad live in an illusionary world. Bangle makers over generations, they believe that it
is a god-given work that they are doing and feel proud of being bangle makers. In fact this
superstition is a trap for them. They are in an inescapable whirlpool, surrounded by beliefs and
traditions. They do not understand that the rich people and the politicians want them believe such

Do you think Mukesh will reach his goal of becoming a motor mechanic? Give reasons.

Yes, there are all the possibilities that Mukesh will one day become a motor mechanic. First of all it
is his unique ambition in life that he shares with none else in his society. He is aware of the hurdles
he has to face. His dream is a very reasonable and not far from his reach if he could overthrow the
middlemen or run away from them.

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