An extended leisure time, stretchable to an interminable period and dedicated to endless rumination, with an unending array of end products, is definitely addictive.
Those addicted to other things even when they find it very difficult to lose their harmful habits, if not impossible, still have some chance of success. The extended leisure ruminators (ELR’s) don’t even want to lose their harmful habit, because it harms others, not them. They want to return to their golden era: that time of their life during which they could afford being ELR’s.
An old friend of mine, and inveterate ELR from Varanasi, took a break from his leisured life for a couple of years and then returned to square one, happily. I didn’t have him in mind while penning the italicized sentence in the beginning of the post. When I read the sentence to him, even before I had paused at the third comma, he came with: “It’s me you are talking about.” I had to assure him that I did not have him in mind when I had begun. Now I know that he and I are not the only two Banarsi phakkads (बनारसी फक्कड़) who can remain fulfilled (no, I’ll not use the overused and overrated term “happy” here) despite having nothing, if they are in their city.
Are there or have there been such people in other places and times? Well, as बनारसी फक्कड़ has been a very known type in the city, it must definitely have had past models to mold the new ones upon. One finds mention of the same in literature on Banaras. The limited exposure that I have to such literature, still gives me the name of a book in which I had encountered the term: Bana Rahe Banaras.
My uncle, a Kasiphile, keeps mentioning the following couplet:
चना चबेना गंग जल जो पुरबे करतार. (Be satisfied with whatever little God gives O man of Kasi)
काशी कबहु न छोड़िये विश्वनाथ दरबार. (Never leave the city that’s the abode of Baba Vishwanath)
The spirit of the phakkad shines through it. Tulsidas wrote it about Kasi, he tells me. He may have written it, but my uncle and many other own it, for they have imbibed the spirit of the couplet. Kasi is in them, even if they aren’t fortunate enough (as they keep saying) to be in Kasi. Although they may not conform to Malukdas’s archetype of “अजगर करे न चाकरी ” i.e. letting God take care of the worldly affairs while one stays happy in whichever way god keeps. So, there has been a full fledged tradition of ELR’s in Kasi in the past too.
How about the other places across times? I don’t know, as I have never actually experienced any other city. Or, to rephrase it: I have never allowed myself to experience any other city due to my (perverted) sense of loyalty to my origins.
Note: I took help of <http://hindi.changathi.com/> to get the devnagari parts.
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