A Gypsy in Dehradun

When I studied the west, which is all many of us seem to be doing by design, I came across the Gypsy as taking many forms of the outside. They were those colourful and suspicious nomadic folk, who became many things to the more settled kind. They became scapegoats for criminality and social evils, threatening the integrity of a people who has found home and organised it to grow in quantity, accumulating wealth in all its forms. The were persecuted by many, their destiny horribly intertwined in the genocidal projects of the previous century. The older names for these people have become taboo words in several cultures, including Germany. They often became the fantasy of afflicted poetic souls who sought in them escape from the confines of hyper-articulated sociability of their communities, and found in them the soft refuge of magic that seems to be otherwise lost in the modern world. I am informed that these people find their homeland in India, which though an offensive definition to the one whose home is the earth, makes sense at some level. I would refrain from expressing this sense any further just about now, for it has lent me a new avenue for exploration for the next book, and relate to you instead a small non-incident from earlier today.

I see a man. The road is busy. He stands by the divider. His bearing compels my domesticity to call him mad and move on with my life. He behaves as if no one can see him. I mean I would perhaps allow my body to perform such antics in defined spaces, such as a dimply lit dance floor, or my bedroom, only when alone or in the enabling company of a secretly crazy companion. This man though, bang in the middle of the busiest road holds a pole and moves like a dancer. He is in all likelihood invisible to the denizens of Dehradun, who seem to be moving about more busily than ever these days. As in, people avoid looking at him, for good reason, I must add, for though my gaze lingered upon his delightful craziness for a duration longer than any other, perhaps than of a child, who is far more prone to enchantment than the rest of us fully formed humans, I feel somewhat afraid that he might take it as an invitation into my world. So I look away. But then, you know, the traffic will soon move and he will be left behind and I am a writer, so I might as well observe him some more, perhaps even learn from him the ways of a real performer.

I look back. He is gone. Disappeared. Poof! I look around, not betraying my consternation, to see if he had perhaps taken the invitation or what. No. The beginnings of doubt as to my sanity express themselves rather readily, lingering in the horizon a moment too long, like my gaze had previously lingered on him. If I had imagined him, I should seek help before it is too late. If he was there and has now disappeared into thin air, well, then god help us. I can’t help associating with such a chromatic vagabond entity suspicion as to his intentions and his capacity to trick the world that doesn’t see him. He sees it all from the shadows of his obscurity and knows you more than you can ever know him. If, by chance, it is, and this far more dangerous to any modern and reasonable world view, magic, then I would have to realign my existence and reprioritize everything, from the first to the last engagement of my everyday.

The traffic moves. To my relief or disappointment I see him again. His hair brown and braided with filth, his clothes the kind I would wear in college, his walk, still by the divider, swift and most dance like, as if to exaggerate his difference from the rest of the world that moves around him and away into their professionalism and domesticity. Was this a proof of my sanity or of something else altogether. For what is the world if not recognition of oneself.


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