Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sleeping in the Shade

They say that Vishnu sleeps on the Ocean of Bliss, and dreams, and we and the world are his dream.

I thought of that when I saw the Taj Mahal.  In front of the Mausoleum is the long running fountain you see in pictures, and on either side of the fountain is a beautiful park filled with fruit trees. Under those trees, shaded from the hot midday sun, old men lie sleeping.  My first thought was that India herself is the dream of those old men, snoring in the shade of the Taj.

One old man twists and turns on the hard ground, bitten by bugs and tormented by nightmares.  His are the dreams of hungry children and ruthless dacoits, of beggars pleading for a rupee at the entrance to the Kali Temple in Kolkota.

That dapper old fellow, the one twitching a bit and wearing a well-pressed dhoti, is busy dreaming up Bollywood, dancing in his sleep.  Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai cavort at his command; he is the Director and Producer, the true Star.

The lovers, the suitors, the dreamers, they are the dream of the rotund old guy sprawled out under a flowering mango tree, the one surrounded by butterflies.  He smiles in his sleep and his large gray moustache twirls upward.

A scrawny old guy chews in his sleep.  When I look closer, I see that he has a ragged five-rupee note clutched between fingers crowned with black-crescent fingernails.  The shopkeepers, the sellers, honest and dishonest, labor for his dreams. Commerce flies behind his eyelids.
Photo by Laff for Photoshop Contest on

A wooden staff lies by an old man wearing an old, clean dhoti and tie-dye turban.  He dreams of fertile fields and waving grain.  The guy who sleeps too close to the fountain and feels the spray of the dancing waters at his back dreams of floods and storms, gales and monsoons, snow in the Himalayas.

And finally, alone in a corner of the Mosque that flanks the great monument, a quiet old man wearing white sleeps quietly. His prayer rug is beneath him, and peaceful smile plays on his lips.  He dreams only of God, and thus of everything.

I wonder whose dream has created me.  Perhaps it is the shopkeeper, for that is my ambition.  Perhaps the lover, and certainly the holy man who dreams of God.  I smile at them all, and try not to wake them.


Hope said...

Any one of those dreams would be a blissful place to live. I've always heard the musing that our lives are nothing but a dream, and we don't actually wake up until we die.

Not sure if that fills me with hope, fear, or dread...but if you were describing my dreams, I know they'd be beautiful :)

PInky said...

Thanks, Hope, for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it. India is such a mess of contradictions, I can't imagine it just being one dream! If I can share a bit of its richness, one of my dreams will have come true. I hope you get to see it someday!

Unknown said...

Very informative article. Pretty sure people would love to go to that place for shopping. Specially to those who are semi naughty or semi conservative people. I guess there are a lot of things their that can be bought. Nehru jacket