This is what happened when clowns took over the Delhi Metro
The clowns are part of Clownselors, comprising a bunch of individuals who visit children’s wards in hospitals and dance, perform plays and interact, all with the intention of putting a smile on the faces of the children, their parents, doctors and nurses.
A few weeks ago, a bunch of clowns boarded the Delhi metro.
Now before you jump to conclusions such as Batman’s nemesis Joker taking over a public transportation system, let us clarify that these clowns are of the therapeutic kind. They’re part of Clownselors, an organisation started in 2016 by Sheetal Agarwal, an M.Phil. in Social Anthropology from the University of Delhi and a Masters in Sociology from JNU. The term ‘Clownselor’ is a combination Clown and Counselor, bringing together the amusement that a clown provides along with the training of a counselor. They visit children’s wards in hospitals and dance, perform plays and interact, all with the intention of putting a smile on the faces of the children, their parents, doctors and nurses.
But this time around, while boarding the metro from Rajiv Chowk till Samaypur Badli (Yellow Line), their objective was a new one- to revive human connections. The Clownselors started laughing at the passengers to get their attention and then rolled open chart papers that had messages like: Smile at a stranger today, Share a story with a stranger; Leave your phone, Talk to each other, Phone jeb mein baatein dil se, etc.
“Many people kept their phones in their pocket and smiled, some shared a story with us, while others told us about some interesting event that happened with them during the day with them. People mentioned how activities such as these are needed in the current scenario, where we are losing humanity to technology. And the children really enjoyed the sight of clowns! Overall, it was beautiful to see these people in the metro who were not looking at their phones but were looking at each other and smiling,” said Sheetal.
“Technology has replaced real relations and social media has made us an awkward generation. We can chat for hours but would not know what to do when a person is sitting next to us. Everything is available with just a click,” Sheetal added.
It was the movie Patch Adams (1998) starring Robin Williams, based on a real person through which we came to know about the doctor who would dress up as a clown to cheer up patients in hospitals, which is also said to have inspired the Munna Bhai series. What is heartening to see is this whole concept coming to life in India, because of the initiative and belief of those who run Clownselors. A hospital can be an alienating, scary and painful place for a child, and if through a grand experiment with noble intentions we have a group of full grown adults who are ready to don a big red nose, colourful wigs and go around holding balloons just so that they can cheer up kids and their caretakers, we can certainly do with more people following in their footsteps, and putting on a silly face to put a smile on someone else’s.
The author tweets at @shadowwarior and can be reached at email@example.com