Friday, April 10, 2009

Whip It

In Pune we see far fewer beggars and touts than we did in Varanasi, which is a good thing. There is however, a certain sort of beggar/street performer in Pune that we never saw in good ol' UP - Whip People.

They always travel in nuclear family units and the mom always has a small baby on her hip, in a sling. Every family works the same way - Papa Whip is shirtless and walks around cracking his huge, extremely loud and scary whip. Mama Whip plays a strange sort of drum that mostly makes a metallic whirring noise. Baby Whip hangs out happily in the sling, and if there are any Kid Whips, they are supplied with either a mini whip or drum, according to their gender.

I love the Whip People. I would love to be able to properly talk to them and even go follow them around for a day, just to see what they do and what Whip Life is like. (I must've been a cultural anthropologist in a past life.) About once a week a Whip Family wanders down our back street and sometimes I go out and give them money.

Today we were out on the main drag, walking to the library when we spotted a Whip Family heading our way. As best I could I tried to make friends with Mama Whip, mostly concentrating on the wonderfulness of her baby.

We didn't share a language but we managed to swap names and introduce our children. Papa Whip seemed befuddled that I would want to talk to his wife for so long, and was so much more interested in his baby than his whip, but an unreasonably huge contribution to the Whip Fund seemed to placate him. The baby is Shatrugana, maybe 6 months old, and happy as can be, draped in a wet cloth in his sling.

Here's to redoubling my efforts to pick up at least a little more basic Marathi!


margaret said...

Nice feature on the Whips! I like Papa Whip's pants. Still don't get their schtick, though.
On a side note, your weather thingie says it is 102 in Pune today, which might be a nice break from the usual 105 I see, but "smoke with winds" has me concerned.
Good Pesach to you!

Lynch Family said...

Tell us more! What's with the whips? That baby was scrumptious! Pesach blessings to all!