The taxi wala insisted to take me right into the heart of old Delhi. Past Ajmeri Gate and the Red Fort we reached Chandni Chawk. The more we moved, the more life of simple people unfolded. Part of an endless convoy of daily survival full of labour and sweat.
I stepped down and gave a quick look at my map. The spice market, the bangles street, all awaited me in full taste and colour. The surge of people carrying overburdened carts and endless rickshaws never came to a halt but soon turned into a crawling swarm. I left myself hypnotized to be driven ahead. Now I was part of it, a thousand eyes blinking, a thousand legs moving. A shout here, a blend of odours there. I dried my sweaty forehead with the back of my hand.
I consulted my map again. A group of Anna Hazare followers holding banners and crying their guts out, made me turn behind. Suddenly, I saw a musical instruments shop just around the corner. I glanced up a small rusty sign and climbed a narrow flight of stairs. I had to bend and enter a small door. Suffocating atmosphere full of dusty objects and there it was! Mr. Ganesh Singh taking his afternoon nap on his bench. I stood staring at him but I wouldn’t wake him up. Such a fine Indian middle-aged man! But in India you are never unnoticed. His neighbour seeing me rushed to wake him up in a torrent of words unknown to my ears. He jumped up and uttered
‘’Yes mam, hello mam, what can I do for you mam?’
’I explained that I wanted a good amount of pairs of grugus, feet bands with little bells for dancers. I’ll never forget his hearty smile. Maybe I just gave him the food for a week or even a month for his whole family. Or because we foreigners are like gods to them in Hindu tradition. He was so happy I was his client of the day!
Now I turn his card between my fingers. Yes that market with all that life, Mr. Ganesh Singh and my gurgus reign my memories till now. I’m there and they’re here. Whenever I put on my gurgus and dance, the sounds they make bring me back again and again. What is called unconditional love…