Friday, January 11, 2008

Museum musing

Today, I had to go back to the FRRO on ManSingh Road. You turn in your papers (for request of visa extension) between 10 and 12 "only," wait till they accept them which usually takes till 2.30 or so, and return at 4.30pm.

I had two hours, so I went round the corner back to Gandhi Smriti. Today the power was on, and I enjoyed the exhaustive and state-of-the-art interactive museum upstairs on the first floor. There are all manner of multimedia displays and lots of great vintage film footage.

Still, the most effective parts of the museum are the most personal and the simplest. This time inside Gandhi's room, I noticed something in the corner I didn't see yesterday. Two pairs of the wooden sandals, and a walking stick. These weren't in a glass case, but just leaned up against a corner, as though Gandhi were coming right back for them. I just started crying.

Fortunately, there was a modern metal chair right there (maybe other people have been overcome seeing the room) and I sank down into it. The shy young museum guide in her khadi uniform was watching me from the corner, halfway pretending not to notice, and halfway curious. Finally she approached me.

"Which country?"

"I am from USA," I said, choking back tears.

"You are very inspired by Gandhiji?"

I nodded mutely, sniffing.

She smiled as knowingly as a 20 year old possibly could. "I think you are a friend of Gandhiji," she said, as though I were someone who had actually known him.

A friend of Gandhiji. I had to smile. "Yes, a friend." I was trying hard not to cry openly as I knew I had to look decent to go back to the Foreigner's Office and I didn't want to have a red nose and runny kajal down my face.

Ruby turned out to be a history major who was volunteering in her spare time. I was extremely heartened to hear that people are still majoring in history. All I have met since I arrived in India are engineering and B Comm students.

Anyway, the wireless place is closing now and I have to sign off.

No comments: