Sunday 1 May 2016

Clean My Ears - by Anu Mehta

 Clean My Ears

This scene reminded me of my collage days, when I used to walk down Victoria Terminus now called Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station. Times had changed for me now; this time I, was driving down the same busy frenetic, less-than-pristine street of India's commercial capital, Mumbai, right in front of CST Railway Station.

This man in red turban was busy doing business of removing wax from the young mans ears. I wondered who was this man in this city who had time to stop and get his ear cleaned? And how could he think of having his ears cleaned on the street, by a man with a battered leather satchel of unmarked vials dangling from his shoulder?

I simply got fascinated by the whole scene and clicked various snap shoots of them in action. Million questions flooded in my mental space. Is this practice safe? Would I allow this man to peep into my ears? I must admit even the thought scared me. Yet swabbing dirt and wax out of people's ears has been business for more than two decades. Kaan saaf wallahs, as they are known in Hindi, still dot the sidewalks of Mumbai, identified by the red handkerchiefs tied around their heads. Many of the last remaining traditional ear cleaners hail from southern India. Some trace the profession to the 18th century, when India was under Mogul rule and much of the southern region belonged to the Nizam or monarch, of Hyderabad. His method is to dip the cotton-tipped pin in hydrogen peroxide and scrape the outer ear canal before proceeding to the inner canal. An old pair of tweezers helps pick out stubborn bits of dirt and wax.

Well I looked back at this man who was getting his ears cleaned.The expert ear cleaning magician had propped his bag of tools on one leg. He had pulled out a steel pin the length of a pencil, swathes the tip in a wad of cotton and guided it toward this man who was willing to get aural canal cleaned.

 My doubts  around this practice disappeared when I looked the happy, satisfied and peaceful expression of the man getting his ears cleaned. He not only seemed confident but also seemed to trust this utter stranger with strange equipments. 

I am sure this profession seems strange and instruments and way of working seem even stranger to us, but I am sure its safe or people would not have the expression this man had. What do you think?

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