"Mawshi (aunty), why do you take so much risk at this age?" I asked her with a wounded heart. "Just for a square meal"...she replied with an incapacitated heart!
This is the picture shot during the recent Kala Ghoda arts festival in Mumbai. The Kala Ghoda festival is a celebration of arts and crafts held near the Jehangir Art Gallery. That was a street-acrobats family performing risky feats like walking on the high rope, jumping through a circle of fire etc, on the occasion of art festival. They had set their equipments in the middle of the road. The middle-aged lady and her children were performing feats accompanied by her man's exaggerated, loud commentary and a continuous, rhythmic beat of drums in the background.
A thick rope was tightened a few meters high in between the two thick bamboo tripods. This lady climbed one of the tripods, took a thick bamboo in her hands and stood on the rope balancing herself with the bamboo in her hands. With the rhythm of drums she started walking slowly and steadily on the rope. The heaps of spectators were looking at her style with awe-inspired eyes. Some of the foreigners were experiencing this for the first time in life. They were busy shooting this rope-walking feat in their cameras.
"Oh my God!!!!" A sudden cry of alarm echoed in the atmosphere. Something had gone wrong, and she fell down off-balance when she had finished half way on the rope,and lay helpless on the ground. She was taken to some other place immediately, and given some time to recover from the acute shock and pain.
These street-acrobats have been in business since British rule in India. Since then these street performers have been labeled as "some what bad lot". These citizens remain homeless, even after 60 years of independence of their home nation. most Indians continue to view them as 'uncivilized communities'. They live as outcasts, outside cities. Their children do not, or can't afford to go to school. Sometimes even government officials consider them as bad people, and they remain easy targets for the bureaucracy.
In this digital age of entertainment it is becoming increasingly difficult for such communities to make a living from the skillful, risky feats they perform on the streets. We are still economically highly imbalanced.
If you want to see how she was walking on the rope, go back and move your mouse over a "white star" near "home" link in the top navigation string. New image takes a little while to load. (Note: Due to some technical reason this is not working at present. Inconvenience regretted!)
Venue: Kalaghoda, Mumbai. January 2008.