India Art Journal Aug 19,20,21,22 by Meera Rao
"My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between I occupy myself as best as I can."
Playing, working, dreaming and praying seems to occupy most of the people as they go about their daily lives here - not in any particular order though. There is a school near by and I see children in their crisp white and Khaki uniforms happily playing, talking and gigling as they walk or bike. On most evenings though the alley behind our building becomes the cricket field with a stone or two standing in for wickets. The boys only need a ball and a bat to play and I love watching them from my balcony.
A big gypsy family has taken over the sidewalk in a street close by. They have set up three or four tents where they live, sleep and make plaster casts of various masks and statues. Every day I see them working, cooking, playing or sleeping as I walk by on my daily errands. They display and sell their wares right on the sidewalk too so we have to walk down on the road in that section of the street! But the bright blue tents, the ladies in their colorful sarees and the statues in bright paints with gold accents have definetely changed the look of the street!
Around the corner from our building is a big compound with a grand old palatial house in ruins (word is that it belongs to the royal family that once ruled the state) that seems to be undergoing some renovations recently. There is a colorful 'lorry' in a corner that definetely can't rule the roads anymore. But that doesn't seem to matter to a young boy whom I often see sitting in the driver's seat and turning the steering wheel vigorously dreaming surely of roaring down a highway :)
Roadside shrines are everywhere. Soon after nagapanchami festival of the serpents, the neighbourhood beautiful black stones shrine for the serpent god under a huge tree was drenched in red kumkum and yellow turmeric. Every day devotees leave flowers and lit lamps, incence. Walking past it somehow always reminds me of the ancient wisdom of respecting all life and infuses me a with sense of spirituality