In the 1950s, traveling puppeteers from Rajasthan set up a tents in a field on the outskirts of Delhi. Today that space is Kathputli Colony, which has been enveloped by the expanding Delhi and is now home to around 30,000 people. The colony’s name points to its history – Kathputli means puppet in Hindi. The colony is still home to puppeteers, and also to magicians, snake charmers, acrobats, musicians, wood carvers, and many other types of artists.
I find it hard to write about our time in Delhi without worrying that I’m oversimplifying or misrepresenting the city or its residents… but here it goes!
We left Delhi last week after spending a month in a cozy, lovely apartment in the south part of the city.
Last Saturday, within the span of about two hours, Theo received seven kisses and two lollipops, all from people we’d never previously met.
We mentioned the attention to a Rabat resident, who told us that this was typical in Morocco. When he was visits Europe, it feels strange to not pick up and play with random children. Even further on that extreme: the United States*, where he found that mothers would look concerned if he simply smiled at their children.
Cultural norms – they vary. Brian and I acknowledge this, and understand that in some countries (well, Turkey) strangers will find it very natural to spend an extended period of time petting our child’s blondish hair, even though it feels odd to us. And that in most parts of the world, people just give candy to children. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where we actually have a saying about candy from strangers. (For anybody from outside the US, the saying is: “Don’t take candy from strangers.” Pretty simple.)