Rahul - naam to suna hoga

Rahul - naam to suna hoga

Article dated - November 2006

Did I tell you about the little boy I met in Shekhawati? Rahul. Yes, like all hindi film heros, Rahul. My guide for Shekhawati. I picked him up at Mandawa and from then on he tagged along with me.

A teenager, studies when he is not showing tourists around, in Standard 8. Bold printed shirts, acid wash jeans, and a handkerchief knotted to his neck. He is quite intelligent, knows at least a dozen foreign languages, and struts around Mandawa like a local hero greeting all foreign tourists in their respective language, much to their surprise. Of course, he fails in his studies at school. He does not really need to study, he says, he earns enough as is. And then he has an assured career in politics, and consequently the voting right to strut around the little town and do just as he pleases. He has pledged his loyalty to some political party and regularly attends their meetings. So he goes around spreading goodness in the world, staging a strike in his school to write off the fees for all the students who haven't been able to pay up for various reasons. He likes the teacher who tells him, you can do well if you want, but is not convinced enough to follow her advise. But for all of this, he is after all a child at heart. He tells me, "You know, initially I didn't have any idea about dressing. I never bothered. I used to wear a pair of shorts, barefeet, with my "gamcha" (a thin cloth towel) around my neck i would go out into the street and show tourists around. Then one day a friend of mine said - you should dress well. now you earn good money, so you shouldn't be seen around like this. If you dress well, the tourists will be impressed by you... you know, that very day, I went and bought five jeans and five shirts, all matching, and a sneaker. and since then i have always dressed smartly, and now even the local people talk to me with respect." Well, he kept me company all the days I was there and told me many such stories of his life, his little brother who's education he pays for, his father's little tourist shop, his school, the town, the people, it's politics, it's goons, and heroes.


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