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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Gurugramwale: The dholak walla from Rajasthan

An itinerant musician making a living in the Millennium City

gurugram Updated: Aug 23, 2019 13:56 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Jagdish spends his working day walking along the lanes of Gurugram bazaars, singing devotional and folk songs, playing the dholak.
Jagdish spends his working day walking along the lanes of Gurugram bazaars, singing devotional and folk songs, playing the dholak.(HT Photo )
         

It’s raining heavily. Jagdish is standing under a tin shed, his clothes partially wet but his dholak completely dry.

“The dholak is my Bhagwan (god), I can’t have any harm come to it,” he says in a low voice.

The gentleman spends his working day walking along the lanes of Gurugram bazaars, singing devotional and folk songs, playing the dholak, and “accepting whatever amount of money people give me.... it could be Rs 10 or Rs 20... sometimes they give me nothing at all.”

He says he isn’t sure of his age—“I may be 60 or 70.”

Having descended from a “tribe” of itinerant musicians from Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district, Jagdish moved to the Delhi region some years ago “because people in big cities have more money and so are able to donate more cash to street musicians.” His parents, he says, used to perform musical puppet shows in villages “but we are traditionally dholak wallas.... my grandfather also played dholak.... it runs in my blood.”

The gentleman got his current dholak two years ago for the “steep price” of Rs 4,000. “But we never throw away older dholaks... they are sacred to us.”

The dholak man’s family lives in Delhi. He daily commutes to Gurugram on a local train.

The rain isn’t stopping. Jagdish covers his dholak carefully with a large scarf and leaves the shelter singing a “Jaat song about rains.” Though there is nobody in the street at the moment.