How is life with HIM Pusa

Jerry Tours - From Kathputli Colony to New Delhi and Beyond

There are many experiences that each of us has day in and day out. Sometimes they are personally significant experiences, sometimes they are insignificant. At the end of the day you usually tell your loved ones about the events or process what you have experienced overnight in a dream. However, when unknown and new situations override the usual mechanisms of processing in the evening and overnight, we are initially overwhelmed and hardly know how to classify them. It has been like this for two days now and that is why I have now decided to record what I have experienced in writing.

 

On Monday of this week, Matthias and I decided to visit the slum of the Kathputli Colony in Delhi. In the run-up to the event, we had already informed ourselves on the Internet and found out that so-called “slum walks” are also offered in this slum. Horrified by the idea of ​​entering the home of around 2800 families in a group of tourists, we decided to explore the area on our own. A total of 40 minutes passed on our drive from Connaught Place, the magnificent shopping mile of the Indian capital with Rolex, Armani and Starbucks, to the slum of the Kathputlis, the original inhabitants of a region in Rajasthan, who are especially known for their many small artists, such as magicians, puppeteers and stilt walkers is known. On the way there, I became aware of the symbolism of the gently sloping street - we drove from the dazzling tourist world of Delhi to the reality of most of the residents. We went where only a few tourists go, namely to the very bottom.

When we arrived the place represented hell on earth. The stench of human and animal excrement, putrefaction, rubbish and putrefaction billowed towards us and the flies that buzzed through the narrow alley of the slum in front of us already made it clear how precarious the living conditions for the families living there must be. Next to the halfway asphalted path lined with small, shabby stone huts was a garbage dump where people moved slowly - in search of edible leftovers and usable rubbish. Step by step Matthias and I left the dazzling world of Delhi behind us and saw and felt the everyday life of the poorest of the poor. We saw countless children half-naked playing cards or doing their business on the hard surface, teenagers sitting around smoking on the sidewalk and people who looked questioningly at us, the white visitors, from their huts. At first I couldn't help feeling very uncomfortable. In particular, the sewers that ran along the way constricted your throat. Excretions, leftover food and rubbish mingled in it to form a slowly flowing stream. Power cables hung everywhere, which the residents had stretched along the houses and across the narrow alley.

Contrary to all these negative descriptions, the two hours that I was able to spend in the slum were the most valuable to me that I have been able to experience in my life so far. Although the reality of people's lives is completely inhuman, we were greeted everywhere with an unbelievable warmth that will give me goose bumps and tears in my eyes for a long time to come. The people, young and old, big and small, ran up to us beaming with joy and greeted us with an enthusiastic "Hello" or "Namaste". Questions like “Your name is?” And “Where you from?” Were beating down on us. We shook countless hands, took little girls and boys by the hand and put smiles on their faces and on ours. The deeper we pushed into the slum, the more people came up to us and, despite all the horrors of the slum's environment, we encountered honest, unadorned and incredibly loving cordiality. Nobody asked us for money, like on almost every corner in Delhi, nobody tried to sell anything - the people simply welcomed us and accepted us into their circle without suspicion. Soon we found ourselves in the "living room" of a world-famous puppeteer, who had already toured France, Germany and Africa with his puppets, and we were part of a small private performance, which he and his children let us be part of. We clapped enthusiastically to the rhythm of the Indian drum (tabla) and saw genuine enthusiasm in the eyes of the many children of our host. Soon afterwards we met Jerry Singhwal, who grew up in the slum and, after a short conversation, offered us a tour of his homeland. Jerry, 19 years old and a survivor like everyone else in the slum, introduced us to the deep structures of the slum over the next hour and a half. The chaos of the slum, viewed superficially, gained structure bit by bit. The individual quarters were all divided according to their place of origin, occupations and religions. There were the artists of Rajasthan, here the craftsmen, garbage collectors and hobbyists, there the Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus. Again and again we met new people who talked enthusiastically with us - Jerry by our side as a translator.

In the middle of a desert of dirt, rubble and ashes, next to the train tracks, which were used as toilets by the people, suddenly a Hindu temple for Lord Ganesha (the elephant god) shone. We were kindly asked by the many people around us to pay the appropriate honor to the many-armed human elephant and to kneel down in front of him, praying and barefoot. Of course we complied with this request, prayed as we were told and so enthused the crowds. At the end of our tour through the labyrinth of the slum, we climbed onto the roof of a house and were the selfie kings of the slum amidst loving children and young people. Suddenly we were no longer - as previously assumed - at the bottom. We felt, with the people around us, higher than the highest roofs in the city.

Here we once again became aware of what really matters in life and how often we in our society allow this jewel to be stolen from us by small everyday problems. The people we met here, who on the surface have nothing but their bare skin and a few walls, have found what so many people around the world are looking for: happiness - in abundance. A truly inspiring if also very thought-provoking stay. Thank you Delhi. Once again you have opened a new page of your infinitely long book for me.