Behind the Scenes: Nandgaon: “Manohar”


Over the years, whenever I have travelled, I have always wondered who they are and what the pictures in my frames do in real lives. What might their lives be like? Who do they live with? What will they do from this moment onwards? What do they do in the evenings? What is their favourite fruit?

And, I have always craved and my hands have itched to carve out a fictional life for them. So here I am…. in my first attempt to do that. This will be the first of a series of 15/20 really short biographies of characters my lenses spotted. Unreal names, with realistically spun stories. My backdrop is that of gulaal and colour… Nandgaon, a small village near the Krishna conscious city of Vrindavan, where Holi is celebrated like no other.


Manohar was in Barsana yesterday when his little grand-daughter Phulia fell down and hurt her knee with a deep wound. Phulia is his inspiration, his strength , his pride. When she was 3 years old, she lost both her parents when a snake bit them, while they slept in their courtyard one hot summer night.

The venomous creep had crawled up the legs of the charpoy in which all three of them were lying in, with little Phulia in the middle. Her parents feet’s were poking beyond the little heightened cane that served as the edge of the cot. The little girl had her feet ending in the middle of the bed, and while the snake bit the longer feet, the little ones, that were a little beyond its immediate reach were spared. That’s when she was sent to Manohar’s house, her father’s father- and since then she lives with them.

The twinkle in her eyes, and the clinking of her anklets kept 65 year old Manohar happy and contented. She was his heart and soul. She was a little Rdha in his life- someone he played with, teased, chided, protected and gushed with jealousy whenever she ran away to anyone else’s arms.

Manohar rushed back to his village, when his neighbour’s son informed him about Phulia’s fall. He carried her in his (still)strong arms and took her to the nearby dispensary for the wound to be dressed. Years of cutting firewood had made those muscles strong. She was home today, resting, and he was in Nandgaon, restful.

He was immersed ….in Nandgaon, singing his ‘horis‘- ballads dedicated to the Lord. Dressed in a kurta with a yellow pagri (headgear), he came equipped with a dhaal (shield) to protect him, later from the sturdy sticks of Barsana’s women. Radha and Krishna are part of his day-to-day consciousness… ‘Krishna derives his energy from his relationship with Radha! My little Radha … Phulia.

She needs this energy to get well. Radha’s shakti came from each other, and that’s why no matter what, I must celebrate today’, he said to himself.  With that, his ‘karjat‘ trilled, and his voice echoed ‘Radhe Radhe’!


Sambrita Basu
Sambrita Basu is a food-fascinated travel writer and photographer based out of Bangalore India. A background and a degree in hospitality and restaurant management paved her interest in food. As the secretary of the institution’s editorial club, she contributed regularly and wrote about food in their annual magazine, A la Carte.

Sambrita has published interviews of celebrity authors and business veterans in international publications like Infineon. Her contributions also include photographs on foods and restaurants of Bangalore for DNA—a leading newspaper publication in Bangalore. Sambrita’s creative expressions transport readers to alleys, hotels, hide-outs, restaurants, attics, and spice markets in several cities across the world.

Sam (as she is popularly known by her friends and family) doesn’t write for a living, but she lives to write.
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