Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kaanwariyas are good for the night-life of Delhi.

Don't you think so? Around mid-night at ISBT
Kashmere Gate, which otherwise would have fallen
silent, they set up stalls and play red & orange songs.

Boys distribute water to those who are carrying holier
water on their shoulders. (Does holy water weigh more
than regular water?) Even I, on my cycle, am offered a pouch.

There are more than usual police-men at ISBT, going in
and out of urinals, perhaps because there is more than usual
cruising, because a festival is doing the rounds of the night.

Around 1am at Malkaganj Chowk, which is dressed in lights,
in boys dancing, in groups of women sitting out late night,
a kaanwar stops me and asks me the way to Gurgaon.

(Does Shiva reside in Gurgaon?) A little away from all this,
near the old ice-factory, a few kaanwars open the dikky of their
scooter & bring out the rum, and then I guess, bol bam bam.

Many kaanwars are running a relay race, passing the Ganga
water like a baton. They are jogging with knee pads, looking out
for each other. It is, if you don't look around it, all pretty admirable.

The dance, the boys, the women. The late-night-ness of it.
But there is one thing this year which I've never seen before. On
their bikes, their tempos, their trucks, apart from the saffron flag,

this time there is also the tri-colour. Racing in the air. Why does a
God need a tricolour? Why does the lord of destruction need a flag?
Why is a flag of a country on a pilgrimage in the hands of little boys?

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