Ram Bir sells crispy snacks around the lanes of Gurugram.(HT Photo)
Ram Bir sells crispy snacks around the lanes of Gurugram.(HT Photo)

Gurugramwale: The damru walla

A snack vendor’s relationship with his attention-seeking tool.
Hindustan Times | By Mayank Austen Soofi
UPDATED ON JUL 31, 2019 12:40 PM IST

Many of us develop an attachment with some object or the other that happens to be a part of our daily life. It could be a laptop, a shoulder bag or, of course, the smartphone.

Ram Bir doesn’t have any of these. He has a damru “and this is my friend, my humsafar.”

Mr Bir is a papad seller and walks around the lanes of Gurugram hawking the crispy snacks. The giant wicker basket stays tied to his shoulders making him look like a tea plantation worker. “You cannot shout all the time so I just wave the damru” and its sound helps catch the attention of passersby.

This breezy afternoon Mr Bir lifts his arm theatrically into the air and shakes the damru. The dugdug-dugdug wafts through the empty street and fades away in a few moments. The muffled echo feels as old world as the soundtracks of Satyajit Ray’s early black and white movies set in the Bengal countryside. “It is like my lugai (wife),” the gentleman jokes.

A native of Uttarakhand (he refers to it as UK), Mr Bir clarifies that “my damru isn’t some old forgotten thing... you get it brand-new in Delhi’s Gandhi market for Rs 150.”

Not trusting it with a stranger, he lets the damru be examined while still keeping it firmly in his hands. “It’s made of plastic and no there’s no ball inside... the sound is automatic!”

The papad seller informs that a typical damru lasts for two years “and then I throw it away and buy another.”

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