Monday, November 24, 2008
It was a city where the lanes were narrow, and every turn you took would lead you to another corner of the universe. I wondered as I wandered in these congested lanes, “Why were the streets so small? No planning in such an ancient city?” An old man read my thoughts or perhaps my expressions and said, “The lanes are small but all for a good reason. The last time an enemy's army tried to enter these lanes, they were welcomed by buckets of boiling water from the sky.”
Each house is joined to the next in these tiny lanes. From the exterior it may seem like many tiny house one after another, but some claim that inside it's really just a single house. Miles and miles of one single house. But, now the grandeur seems lost. The people have disappeared and so has time.
But, poetry and arts have survived. There is a certain tea shop, amongst the millions that this city has. Just another tea shop. A group of 7 beings come in every evening. They are the gods of this city. The locals are aware of their presence and a traveller may never even see one of these men. These seven gods speak in an ancient language, their every own. The speak of the city and the wonders it holds. They speak from within. It's as if they don't speak really, it's as if something from within their hearts emits syllables. Each one has so much to say. When you listen carefully, your world seems to stop. Their words engulf you and you must become one of them. It may seem to be only a one sided view, but who can resist the gods?
What the God's say, so do all the mortals. I had never seen such a diverse group of people, sharing similar views. The caste whose hands spin out magnificent draperies will also bathe in the holy river. They believe in the power of purification by this “Motherly” water body. The “Mother” takes care of her child, the city. She dotes on it and her grandchildren. In this nurturing environment, in the city with narrow lanes are people who work. Their hands do the thinking and the making. The artifacts they create are every one's favorites. The city seems to thrive on these favorites and the river. The outsider looks with admiration and pays for it too. I wonder if it is an industry? Will the outside world ever touch this city?
The outside world has it's chaos. But, everyone who's minds and souls have impregnated the holy soil will say the outside chaos will never come in. After all the lanes are too narrow, they claim. Is it ignorance or confidence that this city shall remain as it is, I wonder? But, from what I saw in this buzzing with activity city, perhaps nothing will change. The Mother will protect her child from all “evils”.
The colors here have faded over the decades, but new one's replace them. The sites and sounds everyday in this city remain just as enthralling as the previous day. The journeys of the people in those man pulled vehicles come to an end. They end at a dark lane. As you walk in the souls surround you. A feeling of claustrophobia emerges in this narrow lane. The Mother welcomes them with open arms. “You are born from the earth and now you shall be part of me”.
The belief of the people in this city is strong. It seems to revolve around the bull that sits on the road and often blocks the traffic. You may nudge them with your elbow, but you cannot refuse them food. Such is the city where in these narrow lanes a bull sits.