It’s three in the afternoon, and Ganesh still hasn’t had his lunch. He’s been busy since morning, delivering food and medicines. Here’s his story. Ganesh’s wasn’t an easy childhood. Born in Madurai, he lived there for just a year. “My father left (the family) and my mother had an accident and has been unwell since then. So I was sent to a hostel — on G.N. Chetty Road — in Chennai when I was just one year old.” His chithi (aunt), who lives in Chennai, became his local guardian. It was she who used to visit him every weekend. “My school was just across the road from the hostel.” Ganesh talks fondly of his hostel life. He had many friends, and though some are still in Chennai, he has no time to visit them. “I liked science, especially biology. I studied till Class X, passed the Boards, but after that I fell ill.” The illness made him discontinue education, and soon, he began working.
“I got a job in a pharmacy. For six years, I worked there as a delivery boy, but that closed down. Then, I started working in another medical shop, in Alwarpet.” At the pharmacy, Ganesh’s job includes waiting on customers, home-delivering orders, and going to the stockists to fetch medicines. But even before he turns up for his day job — at 10.30 a.m., Ganesh would have clocked in a few hours of work, helping his aunt run her catering business. “My aunt starts cooking at 6 a.m. She has a young child — five years old — so I help her out.” When breakfast and lunch are ready, “I go on my bicycle, deliver that day’s food, and collect the previous day’s carriers. At a time, I can carry eight orders, so I make four trips to deliver all the 32 regular ones”.
The customers for the catering business are by and large old people, says Ganesh. “I deliver food in and around Alwarpet, Mylapore, Poes Garden and Eldams Road.” The bicycle, Ganesh maintains, is very convenient. The only drawbacks are the traffic, and rash drivers, who’re especially insensitive when it rains. “Cyclists use the corner of the road. There’s so much water there, and when they drive fast, it’s very difficult.”
Ganesh also carries food when he goes to work. He’s very fond of his aunt’s bitter gourd curry. “I like the kuzhiappam and sevai she makes in the evenings. It’s nice.” During festivals, the food is elaborate. “But not many people order during Deepvali or Pongal…”
Ganesh’s mother has now moved to Chennai, and he visits her once a month. “She likes going to the beach, so we go there and eat bajji.” But other than that, he has little time to relax; the money is okay, but his days are busy, and leave him tired; and it’s only when he talks of the possibility of marriage that Ganesh looks entirely pleased. “They’re looking for a bride for me,” he tells me, with a big, shy smile…
(A weekly column on men and women who make Chennai what it is)