Note: This post about fair is fairly boring to be fair, please skip if you are looking for something fairer!
It was after three years I decided to visit the fair. I needed a companion so ringed my cousin up-he already had late-night plans with his mates so he politely turned my offer down and then I tried mohalla kids who come for counsel sometimes–one of them had visited yesterday(actually he was the one who told me about the ticket prizes and not-so-special features over there!)–the other one, his cousin–he had plans for tomorrow as his mom and aunts were visiting tomorrow and he was supposed to stay home tonight.
Now, I came to know from grandma that my mom, brother and sister and law were going together. How, I asked. She said that he will drop the ladies and then he will pick them up. Then mom came to me and asked if I would like to join them. My brother was going to play chauffeur so I said yes. Then after two minutes she came again saying that younger brother with another friend is accompanying them so all space has been taken up. I thought it is alright and decided to go by bike alone. I hibernated laptop and as I started to move out of the house with bike grandma said that they went only three people and had space, why didn’t you accompany them? I was wondering by then; I asked what happened to younger brother and his friend accompanying them and if they didn’t why didn’t they tell me?
Actually my mom had left me out knowingly because I was not going to follow those ladies in the fair and then while returning I would have been left out. So she wanted me to go another day with a company. My father asked me where was I going to park the bike, I said I will manage. He kept asking and even suggested me to walk to the fair fearing that bike might get stolen. The neighborhood kid had already told something about petrol being stolen from bikes which were parked at the fair square when he visited us in the noon! On my way I met neighborhood uncle, father of aforementioned kid and I asked him about the vehicle safety–he suggested that it was alright. Then I moved and saw many people, mostly young lads, children and women walking on road towards fair. I parked bike in front of the cellphone shop of my school friend and told him that I was going to the fair and will be back soon.
Fair has so many popular meanings. Treating people nicely. Being just. Fair color of skin. Blonde and then this one in the present context. Hindi word is Mela. Mela comes from Mel. Mel means to meet.
So, Mela is a meet. Fair is a meeting together of so many delicacies, shopkeepers, peddlers, shows, entertainers, restaurants and other programs. I kept walking towards the square watching various shops. So many people! I took the back road which was least crowded. Many shops for betel leaves mixtures, sandwiches, electronics and all decorated fine. Mela is always crowded and always decorated. I thought of trying sweet betel leaves mixture(Paan) as I hadn’t tried it in many months. Then I thought of doing it later on. There was enough time. I saw a poster shop. What did I do last time? Bought Krishna’s posters as I was so in love with him that year. What was I going to do this time? Maybe going to buy a few posters.
Not much had changed. I observed a few kids jumping on mickey mouse shaped elastic bags. They take such delight in it. I had always wanted to jump on them but by the time they started appearing in our small town’s fairs I had grown up enough to not be allowed for them. Then I saw a shooting-balloons-shop.
Let’s try this for starters I thought.
How much do you charge? I asked.
A dark-complexioned old man in his sixties said “10 rupees for 5 shots!”
Since it was fairly loud fair all around I had to give my ear real close to him to hear what was in the rear. He gave me the gun. One grapeshot at a time. I started shooting–one, two, three, four….ten. I didn’t miss any. It was a very nearby target. Some balloons were moving in the circles but I was able to hit every time and on the way some plastic scorpions too.
“That is enough!” I said. Since I had reached quite early and there was a dense bunch of balloons in a close proximity as targets I didn’t miss any. Many people had gathered by then around me. The shopkeeper kept smiling and kept filling grapeshots.
After ten I stopped. Since 5 shots for 10 rupees, I reckoned it will be ten rupees.
He said: 80 rupees!
How? I asked.
He said something which neither made sense nor logic. But I gathered he thought of taking more money from me thinking that I had forgotten the count among those smiles. I said it was twenty rupees but he sweared on God. Then he said-ok I will manage in 50.
I draw a 100 rupees note out of my wallet and gave him. He gave me 50 back.
Smiling I moved on. So many delights for kids. Crowd was growing slowly. The swing which takes you about 30 feet high at an angle of 45 degrees; one which takes you 60 feet high at an angle of 90 degrees; the boat swing and a small fun family train. Nothing has changed!
But wait a minute–that 60 feet high swing looks so much smaller now! Since I have already travelled on an actual train–that train holds no fascination for me! Let’s move on, walk carefully; children running, loud noises, mirrors, restaurants, chains, lockets, posters, Ayurvedic shops, betel mixture shops–let’s take Paan now. I took a paan and then walked to a magic show. Took a ticket for 20 rupees and entered after a family. Since there were no souls inside except us, I decided to take the front row. A lady was standing on the stage–plump, with a lot of make-up, chewing some mixture, yellow dress. She took my ticket. I started talking to her. Since very loud music was being played in the tent besides this one, I had to give my ear to her and she had to give her ear to me and shout out loud to hear each other.
She told me she was from Kanpur. I asked which places they visit? She said they keep visiting whole country round the year. I didn’t believe her. The stage, lighting, tent and everything else looked very cheap. I kept waiting for a while and then asked the lady how long it was going to take. She slipped from the side of the tent never to appear again. It was to avoid my discomforting questions I guessed. I stood up and started walking back towards the exit and on the way spoke to the family which was sitting. I said that they were going to take forever so I am going to leave. I asked how long it was going to take at the entrance/exit. The boy said their machine was not working. I didn’t know what that machine did but I told them I will be back after some time. They returned me 20 rupees and took my ticket.
I reached to the next tent. It looked relatively better by the outset. As I bought tickets and entered, someone pointed me to a few seats on the right side in the last rows as it was already crowded by the time I entered. Three girls were dancing on the stage on song “Apni to Jaise Taise Thodi Aise Ya Waise…”
The girls had overdone makeup and they looked strange. Then they announced that show was going to start very soon. They started playing Brazil and some other songs so loudly that they were tearing my eardrums apart! The magician appeared-he also had extra makeup and very loud green colored costume with a pagdi on head. His voice was heavy and commanding and he showed some poor tricks which were very easy to guess. Why did I choose to come and see this show?
Then I moved out and ate Paan twice. I stopped at a poster shop and selected 9 posters(2 Ganesha, 2 Radha-Krishna, 2 Shiva-and-family, 1 Durga, 1 child Krishna, 1 Radha-Krishna-Shiva-Parvati combined.) They were cheap–10 rupees per poster. The art was indeed beautiful but as shopkeeper also told–prices of posters haven’t increased since last 5 years and he was right!
Fair was fairly boring and dull! I moved on to a softy shop and it was a delicious treat which I seldom treat myself to. As I started to show myself outside the fair the crow was swarming and it was difficult so I took an easy route which let me out but it was far than par. I had to take a sharing auto to reach my friend’s shop. I had a brief discussion with him and then I started driving back to home. I heard a voice from back, someone sitting on the back of bike was calling me. How did he recognize me despite beard? Ah, he has seen my new profile picture on Facebook!