Meet the pied piper of the Millennium City
The pied piper of Hamelin was summoned by its citizens to get their city rid of their pesky rats. The man played his pipe and lured away all the rats.
Flute player Raju too lures rats - mallrats in his case. He plays his pipe all day long outside the glass-walled South Point Mall in Gurugram.
Nevertheless on hearing the full plot of this famous fairy tale, Raju laughs and earnestly clarifies that he is not planning an extermination of “his rats” and in any case “I find it insulting that good people going to the mall are being compared to rats!”
The middle-aged gentleman has been selling flutes for about a decade, though he arrived in the Millennium City much earlier than that from his village in Sultanpur, UP.
“Initially I was selling balloons in Gurgawa (sic).”
Nobody told him to shift to flute to make a living. “It was my own decision… I thought there was more money in it.” The flautist picked up the tricks on his own and plays “music to all the famous Hindi, Punjabi and Haryanvi and songs.”
It is true that most folks entering the mall are unlikely to buy a flute except when stirred by an impulsive desire and that is rare, confesses Raju, “but I earn well from Korean and Japanese people who come to this mall in great numbers.”
Some of these expats, Raju explains, are charmed enough by his flute-playing “and they give me hundred or even two hundred rupees just for the khushi of listening to my music.”
And now a prospective customer stops by (he isn’t a foreigner). Raju hands him a long handsome flute and asks him to do nothing but just blow air into it. He himself swiftly runs his fingers over a series of holes along the flute, producing the tunes of a classic Hindi film love song. The customer is charmed but goes away without paying a paisa.
Betraying no hint of disappointment, Raju carries on, now switching to another song. He is seen outside the mall daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
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