In the West, personal life is kept behind the family fount door; deliberately, to be away from strangers, neighbours and prying eyes.
Not in India. In India’s the street life is close, very close, first-hand and right outside the front door.
In India the first role on the street stage is likely to be the day you are born. The big events of life will unfold on the streets, played out in front of the people of the street, in villages, towns or in cities. Marriage is not just for family or friends, it is a celebration for the community. Even in death there is no privacy. Death is for the whole community to express grief; wail as they carry your body on that final path, along the street that has been home, love and life, for each and every day of life. Once at the funeral pyre the cremation is for every one of the street to look on, to see the flesh smoulder, become distorted, become ablaze and watch fresh turn to ash.
In India death is the final act of a life lived on a stage, so has every day in-between life and death been on the stage of life.
The street is a flowing river of many plays, with the players performing differing roles each and every day. This stage does not have a dressing room to take a step away from life to prepare to be seen, or to be private with friends and family or even to wash or defecate away from the others. In India the majority of people are born on the street and then each day the player wakes on the street to defecate, wash, cook and eat, pray and celebrate to the God’s with colour and emotion.
The street offers work the West has given away to machines or taken away by Human Rights, or just hidden away from public view in the shame that man should perform such work.
Children play cricket with lorries, cars, dogs and cart’s all sharing the same pitch. How easy Lords must seem to the few who master their craft.
Laughter and love, debate and murder, all share the same clogged stage flowing and showing life in all its forms.
First on the streets were the wandering cows, and then came the goat herders, the shepherd’s and the workers; all walking freely as their Gods intended. Then came riders on the backs of elephants, camels and horses; and then came the pull carts and pull rickshaws. And then the street hawkers, the entertainers, the beggars and snake charmers. Following close the bicycles and then bicycles as rickshaws. Each did not replace the other, only added a layer of interest to the street. And then came the scooter and the motor bike. Followed by the first car, the first lorry and the first tractor. Yet they still all mingled and shared the same street. Slowly came the second and then the third car and lorry, and then all multiplied until the street was busy with all of man and man’s mad motoring inventions.
On show on any journey across the continent is always a large variety of India’s street life. Never overlook what is perceived as the mundane, the bland and the obscure. Beauty is easy to see in the Taj Mahal; however it is not so difficult to see beauty in the humdrum, the common place of life. Then there is the empathy with the marginalized, the disengaged from society. Many on the street are horrible, and even threatening. However, put yourself amongst her people and you will be caught by something of India; her time and her place.