न्यू TOURIST: दिल्ली रोड map

The stage is set. Time is ticking. Just one hour left. For the sarkaar to respond. There is little hope. But the celebration, is on.

There is a quality about the rural folk of this land that is undeniable. They are Juicy. Very juicy. A word we have here called RAS. It is spontaneous. It is child-like. Innocent. And boy, it is In.fec.tious!

I walk in to find leaders from across India deliberating on stage. The path ahead. At first the crowd of listeners – in thousands – appears to be just that, a crowd. My mind is cluttered. Like the traffic i have just come from. Then slowly. Haze clears.

One photo, one smile, one click. And the genie is outta the box! Everybody want to have their photos taken. I am grabbed and taken from one group to another. The unofficial photugrapher. “Pls take our photu”. Excited. Enthu.

Will they every get to own their photos? No one asks. How will i use these photos? Not a thought. How will i tell their story? No one bothers. Its a relationship of trust. In the delight of the moment. Open hearted. The speciality of this bhoomi.

Slowly the setting becomes clear. These are not just individuals. These are Friends. Neighbours. Communities. Couples. Relationships that can be traced in hundreds of years.

Nanad – Bhaujayi. “Humra bhi photu liyo.” Old farm neighbours. Raees Bhai and Shyam ji. Whose fathers, grandfathers, great grand fathers have been farming, hating, loving … LIVING. Side by side. For ages.

Young boys. Who enjoy the city glitter, but never ever want to live here. Young girls. Excited to go back to the village and tell everybody that they have been to Dilli. These are people. Bound together by a shared life.

And then. Please note. They are also The New Tourists. A whole economy exists around protests. Parliament Street has many nomadic vendors who run the Paanch-Dus Rupaiyya, 5-10 Rs superbazzar.

The Dilli Road Map for Rs 10. A pair of socks Rs 10. One necklace for Rs 5. One roll for Rs 5. One pen for Rs 5. Here five rupees is affordable. Ten rupees in expensive. Twenty is unaffordable luxury.

On a normal day, Mohammad Azaad – the poetic rollwala – earns 300. If there are protests in town, his earnings go up to 500. Same with Sheru, the Road Map wala. He seems to be the most successful. Earning up to 1300 on protest days.

What is the vendors take on the people here? Azaad, the creamrollwalla empathises, ” देखा जाये तो, हम भी इनमें से एक हैं” I am also one of them.

The penwalla, Shailender is skeptical. He looks at me suspiciously when i ask him how much he earns on protest days. He throws back the question at me. “You also would be earning so much from these photos, hmm?!” I laugh and explain thats its for joy. He nods, but there is no belief. He continues hovering around my conversations with others. I look at him. Smile and say, “You really don’t believe me na?” He smiles, a little shy, and says, ” Madam, शहर में रह कर trust थोड़ा less हो ही जाता है.” Being in the city, trust decreases.

The clock has stopped. The time is up.

My friends from the village. They will not be coming to our city again. Not for a long time. They recognise. The trust is too fragile. Here they will always be seen as a crowd. Unwelcome. Or at best, as tourists. Clients.

The andolan? Na. The Anandolan. Not a protest. But a celebration of land. The अानंदोलन will continue. Not on tar roads. But on the free, open soil of this bhoomi. Village to village. Farm to farm.

If you keep your ear close to this land. You will be able to hear their song. You will be able to sense their dance. Breathe their smiles. Who knows, you may get infected by their ras … just like i did?!

#BhoomiAnandolan #EktaParishad  #Feb 2015


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