April  2003




APRIL 2003 



 Bhabesh Sanyal
 A 101 year journey

 Anjolie Ela Menon's
 Glass Art



 Rahul Sharma

 Tawang Monastery


 Pakistan's IT Markets 
 & Telecom 
 - A Special Report


 Shashi Kapoor


 Letter from Pakistan


 Celebrity Offsprings
 on their own tracks

 Meet the 3 Finalists of
 Miss India contest
 Nikita Anand

 Ami Vashi

 Shweta Vijay


 Serialisation of  'Knock at every alien 
 door' - Joseph Harris



 the craft shop

 Lehngas - a limited collection

 the print gallery


 Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in










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  Page  3   of  4

Serialization of



Joseph Harris


I breathed a sigh of relief. I could not believe that Mukerjee, now full of joy at his sale, did not realize that he had been taken by that master American huckster, Sgt. Perone. Or had he? Was it merely the age-old ritual of price and value. I never figured that one out. I was too elated to try. Richard took from his wallet the agreed upon rupees and placed them in Mukerjee's hand. He dropped the opals into his shirt pocket alongside the jeweler's loupe. "Good- bye, Mukerjee," he said, with his best smile. "We are still friends." Again, Mukerjee gave the namaste. "You will come again. Sahib?" "I will come again." Richard opened the door and I followed him. Outside, I turned and glanced back into the shop to witness a sight that surprised me. Mukerjee had mounted the counter and, in the familiar knee/chest position I had often seen laborers assume during their work at the base, offered his prayers to Allah, presumably facing Mecca in those cramped quarters. Were they prayers of thanks for a good business deal, or mea culpa confessions as victim of the shrewd American? I wondered. 

As we started down the street, an Indian boy of no more than ten, covered only by a filthy loincloth, approached us. His manner was direct and enterprising. "You like jig-jig, Joe" He pointed to a girl, wrapped in the rags of what had once been a respectable sari. She leaned against a building, looking shyly in our direction out the tops of her eyes, a smile half hidden behind her hand. She certainly could not have been more than thirteen or fourteen. The boy, his black skin chalky with dirt, persisted in his enterprise to strike a deal for his client, who was obviously his sister. "She very clean. Good jig-jig, Joe. " Richard raised a hand as if to strike him. "Get out of here, you little bugger." And then thinking better, he reached into his pocket and flipped a couple of annas in his direction. He took a menacing step toward the boy, who quickly picked up the annas as he backed away. "If I see you again, I'll get the police. You understand, police?" With a grin, the ragamuffin joined his waiting client who, with a shy giggle, scurried away with him own the street. "Damn little pimp," Richard exclaimed, looking after them as they disappeared. "Don't that beat anything you’ve ever seen." Not quite, I thought to myself, when we came on another sight only a block away. It was one of those events one always thinks of as stranger than fiction; the sort of thing one has to vouch for as truth. 

Seeing a crowd gathered in the narrow street, I immediately thought we had come upon an accident. Only when I looked closer did I see the cause of the commotion. There on a balcony just above our heads was an Indian Prince -- a minor Maharajah whom we were never able to identify -- dressed in European attire, his jet black hair glistening in the sun, throwing handful after handful of rupees to the scrambling crowd below. An ayah stood stoically by holding a large bag from which the prince scooped out the largesse. With every shower of cascading rupees the crowd grew more frenzied, screaming as they scampered for the money and, in a few instances, actually trampling on those who had fallen. When the bounty was exhausted, the ayah moved to the edge of the balcony and with a dramatic gesture shook the empty bag over the heads of the hungry crowd. A concerted shout went up expressing, as best I could tell, a greedy cry for more mingled with wails of gratitude. The prince turned unceremoniously and disappeared into the building, followed by the obedient ayah. Richard and I looked at one another in disbelief. We had obviously stumbled on an annual rite in which the prince, perhaps for the only time, had contact with the people. Never had we witnessed such instant philanthropy, which, for all its primltiveness, was surely more dramatic than our own Rockefeller handing out dimes on the street. 

As we moved down the street, we passed a halwai hoisting on his shoulder a tray of rasgoolas, white balls of honeycomb, and I tried to persuade Richard to try one. I had risked eating one before with no dire consequences, but the suggestion infuriated him and he launched into a lecture about my foolishness in taking such risks, repeating almost verbatim the medical warnings we had been given, while admonishing me of every disease from dysentery to leprosy. He assured me that Army chow, as bad as it was, provided the only safe way to health and well being. When I teased him about those Italian delicacies he was always receiving from his mother and girl friend in Philadelphia, and which he always shared with me, he thought my analogy very un-funny. His only riposte was to ask if everybody in the South was as crazy as I was. We stepped aside to avoid the sacred cow ambling down the street, our nostrils assaulted by the acrid stench of unidentifiable odors.



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