Walking Through The Idea Of India
How about playing Megasthenes?
You may not be a historian or a diplomat like this Greek, but you can follow his adventurous yet reflective way of exploring India. And India's multicultural ethos, its natural beauty, its resilient society, the sumptuous festivals and ceremonies, the wisdom of the seers, all remain the same.
Walks Of India allows you precisely this secured, therapeutic freedom. We would not be a lesser host than Chandragupta, the Mauryan emperor who welcomed Megasthenes! We would make up for the regal opulence with warmth andexpertise. Let Walks of India help you take part in this rewarding role-playing!
Come, discover the India we see, smell, breathe, think. Come discover the Idea Of India!
Bhishti is a north Indian word, with perhaps a Persian antecedent. The Persian word behesht or bihisht means paradise, and many West and Central Asian images of paradise are incomplete without depictions of rivers and verdant gardens. Perhaps for those without ready and easy access to piped water, the bhishti was a veritable messenger from paradise! In British India, these men were known for their loyalty and efficiency, as has been immortalized in Rudyard Kipling's poem, Gunga Din. The bhishti, an Englishman says, is a better man than himself: "Tho' I've belted you and flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" According to one writer, "The Bhishti, or water-man , with his Mussick (goatskin water bag), is a familiar figure in India and follows the calling because it belonged to members of his family for generations before him. These men carried the water to resupply British troops when marching or in battle.
A conscientious worker, he has often shown great bravery under fire, and a fighting regiment once selected for the Victoria Cross a Bhisti who had carried water to the thirsty and wounded during the thick of battle." The bhisti's is a profession that invokes nostalgic memories of a different and apparently fast-vanishing era in Calcutta. In goat-skin bags called mashaks, bhistis used to carry water to a number of homes and army regiments around the city, besides providing water for washing its streets. As civic amenities have become increasingly mechanized, the bhisti finds his livelihood in peril, except, perhaps, in neighborhoods where such amenities are not to be found.
The bhishti is a symbol of an urban India where life seemed relatively more leisurely and less ghastly, where people may have been more patient, and less brutally competitive.
You may book and see Bhishti's on the Confluence Of Cultures Walk in Calcutta.
Major General Charles Stuart, a British officer in Calcutta, was a great proponent of the Sari, the Indian wraparound elegant garment for women. So much so that he went to the extent of saying that European women must give up iron busks as "wearing iron busks makes women highly susceptible to lighting strikes and discarding iron busks from their wardrobes would immensely enhance the supply of iron in Bengal for farmers who desperately need new wagon wheels". He published his letters extolling the virtues of "elegant, simple, sensible, and sensual" Indian saris vis-a-vis "the prodigious structural engineering Europeon (sic) women strapped themsleves into in order to hold their bellies in, project their breasts out and allow their dresses to balloon grandly up and over towards the floor". Join us on the Park Street Walk in Calcutta to check out Hindoo Stuart's tomb where he's buried with all his favourite Hindu idols.