Against the stark barrenness of the white desert, there live numerous colourful faces and each has a story to tell. Here are some of them who walked a while with me on this journey and left an impression on my soul, through theirs.
The Tanpura Singer
Deva Bhai sat under a shaded canopy, surrounded by tourists who were busy playing dress up all around him. I had been following his voice for the past 10 minutes and had finally landed on top of this hillock where he sat singing devotional songs with an intensity I have very rarely encountered. His hands played on the tanpura as the deep crevasses of his skin stretched to the high notes. I took a seat opposite him, took out my camera to record, and looked into his eyes questioningly if he was okay for me doing that. Through the melodies that continued to pour out without a break, he nodded in affirmation. After the song was sung, he specifically requested that if I mention it anywhere, it should be correct in its form and translated it for me. So here is what the song in Gujarati meant “my life is not so precious, I made so many offerings to you, if you don’t take this life, there is no worth in living”
The Bangle Seller
Sama Ben was standing in the outer patio of her home with a display of handmade lac bangles. The wobbly table that provided as a display top of her wares was covered in a vibrant colourful cloth that matched what she was wearing, giving a sense of continuation in everything around her. She is one of the oldest residents of this village and still runs a business of her own. When I asked her how long she has been at this, she just laughed and said as long as memory serves her well!
The Wispy Haired Runner
While I was lost in a set of steel pots stacked outside a beautifully painted doorway, I heard a clambering of little footsteps behind me. In the camera-shy place, where most residents declined to be photographed, this wispy-haired and gooey eyed boy ran up to me chanting ‘mahro photo lo’ (click my picture). His name was Dharmesh and he sprinted off immediately after the shutter was pressed. I had to chase after him to show him his image, which resulted in a display of all 32 (if he has that many yet!)
The Lone Contemplator
I didn’t interact with him, I don’t even know his name, but the calmness and peace that he exuded sitting on that stone slab during sunset, made me stop in my tracks and stand in awe. I have talked about trying to find a moment’s peace, I have strived to be calm, I have looked for the Divine, and I have been seeking within. This man, that day, somehow managed to encompass it all in one breath for me. It was only prudent not to disturb him and keep moving on my own path.