Author: Shail Raghuvanshi

Clarence John: A Bike Repairman, Wayward to Devout Christian

A native of Chennai, 51-year-old Clarence John has been running a bike repair shop on the pavement for the past 20 years. He was wayward, would drink heavily but later he changed. A devout Roman Catholic, his bike repair shop, looks more like a shrine. Shail profiles the life of a faceless person, on the streets, in […]

Ashokan, a Modest and Unassuming Tea Seller

Shail profiles modest and unassuming, Ashokan, a tea seller with a pushcart outside Shastri Bhavan. He began work early, at the age of 12, as a child labour, in a village departmental store. His small pay was insufficient to raise a family. He came to Chennai to better his prospects. A god fearing family man, he speaks in […]

A Modest Auto Driver, Narayan, Dreams Big!

Shail profiles a reticent, young auto driver, Narayan. He is soft-spoken and has good values. Though doing a small job, he has his eyes set of the goals of his life. And he is working hard to attain them. Ordinary people often face their daily hardships but some like Narayan remain focussed. Here’s an interesting account of a […]

Street Smart and Happy, Sulochana is a Vibrant Charmer!

The streets of Chennai nurtured Sulochana for more than four decades. The 53-year- old vibrant woman, full of vivacious energy, began helping her mother, at the fruit and vegetable shop on the wayside, from the tender age of 10. A Telugu, hers was a love marriage with a Tamilian. Despite hardships she is chirpy. Shail talks to a […]

Devarajan Learnt Hard Lessons of Life Selling Tender Coconuts

A humble and modest man, Devarajan, has been selling tender coconut on the pavements of Chennai, for nearly three decades. He took over the traditional work, at 18 that his father was doing. With little education, he is god fearing, hardworking and resolute. Shail profiles the man on the street, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths. […]

The Life of a Flower Seller on the Streets of Chennai

Life isn’t rosy for Hamsa, a 60-year- old flower seller on a street of Chennai. Unlettered, she is at times cheated by some customers. She educated her three daughters and only son. Shail delves into the life and times of the old flower-girl. Here’s a slice of oral history of the street dwellers, as part of the weekly […]

Lakshmi Slogged in a tea Kiosk, Educated Children, Bought two Houses

Surmounting many odds, 40-year- old Lakshmi, helped her husband manage the wayside tea kiosk. Two helper boys were fudging accounts. They were thrown out and she put her shoulder to the wheel to help her husband run it efficiently. The couple slogged. The kiosk would open at 4.30am and would remain open till 10.30pm. They take turns to […]

Venkatesha: A Lonesome Cobbler Stayed Back as Others Left the Pavement

Venkatesha has been working as a cobbler for the past 50 years. He has been sitting on the same pavement for almost half a century. New buildings have sprung up around him during this time. The way of life has changed during this period. The cost of living has risen. Everything has changed except his job and his […]

Minnal Braved Many Brutalities, Educated Children Against all Odds

Minnal Kodai, her name means ‘a streak of lightning’, had a harsh and brutal life. Orphaned at the age of 10, she worked as a maid from childhood. Marriage brought no respite. Frail in body, fierce in spirit, she became a flower-fruit- and-vegetable seller. Barely making two ends meet, she educated her two children. Shail profiles her oral […]

Malathy was pushed out to the Streets to eke out a Living after a Mill Shutdown

  A matriculate, Malathy used to work in a garment mill for seven years after she got married. But, the mill shut down and she had to stop working. Now, she sells towels and hankies on a pavement of Chennai. Shail talks to her during her working hours and documents a slice of oral history. She is among the millions […]

Letter from a Daughter to her Father

Staying far away from her father, who lives all by himself, despite his advancing age, Shail writes a soulful letter to her father, Papa. This is a part of the special feature on Father’s Day in Different Truths. My Dear Papa, This is a letter from your daughter, your one and only child, who loves you very […]