Monday, March 24, 2008
People often ask me what I do for a living. This is what a typical work day looks like (thanks to SNT):
16th February, 2008
1100: 100th Anniversary of Christian Mela, Matkudeep (70 kms)
1200: Teravi function of Siyaram Kaushik's father, Bilha (30 kms)
1400: Anjor Singh's father's Dasgatr, Dalli Rajhara (70+90 kms)
1700: Dedication of Bajrang Bali temple, Parkhanda (Kurud) (90 kms+40 kms)
2100: Ankit Bagbahra's wedding, Raipur (40 kms)
2130: Prakash Pagaria's son's wedding, Raipur
On this day, for instance, we drove about 400 kms across four districts (Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Dhamtari) to attend 2 weddings and 2 funerals, & 2 public functions where I was required to make speeches. Not surprisingly, by the time we reached Parkhanda, we were already 4 hours late.
Most visits follow a pattern: you are welcomed to shouts of Zindabaad, drum beats and the lighting of fire-crackers, then you walk in a procession to the venue where they seat you on a stage, about 40-50 people- the notables of the village- garland you as people come to you with applications and other sorts of requests, then the speeches begin ending with yours, following which the organizers present you with a shawl or some such memento. After that- if you've still got time- you might be taken to the organizer's home for tea, snacks and a photo-session with his family and followers. This pattern, I believe, has endured unchanged from the days of Mahatma Gandhi, India's first mass-politician (if not before!).
The stage, for me, presents a dilemma: on the one hand, it does increase your visibility (i.e., even the back-standers can see you) but the flip-side is that it creates a 'distance' between the people seated on the ground and those atop the stage. That is why I make it a point to go through the crowd where it is at its thickest- shaking as many hands as I can while chatting with them randomly (specially the youth and children)- on my way to and from the stage. More than anything else, this last aspect tells me what I need to really know: to share in the lives- the joys and sufferings- of the people who've given my family so much love.
This clip above shows pictures of my visit to Parkhanda.
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