Plans for the lottery, and a naming ceremony pre-poned
In 15 days, Ravindra Loke (42), an enumerator for Census 2010 — commuting six days a week from his Dombivli home to Parel — has managed to complete the first-round of paperwork for 145 houses in the area. He says: “There are 240 totally, but many have left town for the summer vacation, so those are pending.”
A clerk at Shirodkar High School, Parel, Loke was among those selected by the BMC for census duty. Vaishali Surve (49), a BMC Public Health nurse and supervisor, accompanies him. Loke already has a bag of stories from the exercise.
Take the six-member Tirpude family at the Bombay Improvement Trust colony (or BIT chawls, as they’re popularly called). Arun Tirpude (65), the head of the household, is a retired MTNL worker. He lives with his wife, Pushpa, their two daughters — Pratiksha (27), who is married and lives here with her two daughters, and Swapnali (20).
Loke is filling out the form, asking details including age, occupation, birth date and possessions.
Pushpa rattles off everybody’s birth dates without a pause, but a while later, has to call out to Swapnali in the kitchen to ask for her exact age.
“Do you have a car or a jeep?” Loke asks. Tirpude chuckles: “When we win the lottery, we’ll see about that!” It’s an irony of sorts in this housing block, which has 80 families living in each of its three buildings – they have television sets, washing machines, cellphones, but lack regular water supply.
Despite their modest means and the space crunch, many of the colony’s residents are ensuring their children get a good education. Swapnali is studying for a B.Com in Sydenham College, Churchgate.
Loke’s visit to the Jadhav family upstairs led him to an interesting slice of life. The two-month old baby girl in the house hadn’t been named yet. When Loke asked the other four family members for her name, they went into a huddle. “Nishka!” declares the mother, “Her name is Nishka!”
The family had named the baby on the spot for the census enumerator. “Nishka means honesty,” says Nilesh Jadhav (45), the proud father.
Sometimes, the people behind the door simply don’t trust Loke to be who he says he is. A lot of time is then wasted in convincing them of his identity.
Once, a mentally-disturbed woman who was alone in the house began yelling and cursing Loke after she opened the door. The neighbours explained her condition to him and advised he come back after 8 pm when the owner of the house returns from work. “All in a day’s work!” smiles Loke.