The designer state of Rajasthan is full of surprises. Not only with the rich history it possesses, the heritage land brims with cultural as well as artistic diversity. A colleague, who had recently gone to cover a music festival at Jodhpur, was not just in for a cultural shock but learnt a valuable lesson! Hunting for a good news report, our colleague and another senior journalist, who was accompanying him on the tour, decided to take a guided tour of the fort, which may fetch some good topics to write on. The two hired a local guide and started the tour of the glorious Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur. The senior journalist, following the beats of dhols and nagadas, reached an open courtyard, where he witnessed a troupe of local dancers performing some folk dance. Spotting a dancer wearing a saree and going by the gait, the senior scribe was sure the dancer belonged to the LGBTQ community and an interaction with one might reveal their social and living conditions, resulting in a good news report.
And so our colleague went ahead to question the dancer and asked what social challenges they faced, to which the dancer replied in the negative. The senior journalist wondered whether social awareness in the state might have developed in recent times and perhaps this could be a reason why dancers belonging to the LGBTQ community are not looked down upon as stigma anymore. Surprised by the questioning, the dancer soon judged their intentions and himself replied that he was actually a male, who dressed up as a female for performances. The reason is that women in the community were not allowed to perform in public. Embarrassed with this candid response, the journalist duo decided to always think before they leap!
Despite requests not to throw colour or water balloons on the unwary or those who do not want to play Holi, it is hard to contain children. They start their “celebrations” a good week to 10 days before the festival. Armed with water balloons, the kids can be seen perched on roof-tops, targetting the passers-by. A colleague narrated one such “aerial bombarding”, when a marriage procession passed through a west Delhi colony. The narrow colony road, with houses lining both sides, turned into an ideal ambush spot for the imps. As the Barat reached a particular point as if on cue, the marriage party was greeted with a volley of water balloons. The first to scramble to safety was the bridegroom, followed by the rest of the “family and friends”. The band players also rushed to a side to escape the balloons. It was a hilarious sight, the colleague recalled, with the horse (Ghori) left standing all alone in the middle of the road, looking lost and with no clue as to what had transpired to drive off the entire procession!
The smart young generation continues to amaze one, a colleague recounted. Taking the Metro to the office, the colleague spotted a young mother coaxing her son to eat. Fetching the boy of around eight home from school, the lady was trying to feed him before taking him to his tuition classes, it transpired. But the playful child was resisting all attempts. Suddenly, he pointed to the overhead announcement, which requested passengers not to eat or drink in the Metro train and its premises and admonished his mother for breaking the law and forcing him to eat! Whether the kid was being a “good citizen” or saw this as a ruse to escape food is left to one’s imagination, but the child had his moment of glory.
Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan described challans for violations of law as “an education process and more like a friendly activity”!
Contributed by: R V Smith, Kunal Roy, Hasrat Sandhu and Asha Ramachandran