So this man was an ordinary Madari, a street magician. That is the closest translation I can manage, because I don’t think that anything like the Madaris exist in the West. In the first place, they won’t allow a crowd to gather on the street. The police car will immediately arrive saying that you are blocking the traffic.
In India, there is no question of blocking the traffic; there are no traffic laws! You can walk in the middle of the road; you can follow the golden mean – literally. You can follow the American way, you can go to the extreme right, or to the very extreme left. The extreme right is the American way, the extreme left is the Russian way; you can choose – or you can choose any position anywhere in between. The whole road is yours; you can make your house there. You will be surprised to know that in India you can do anything imaginable, or unimaginable, on the street. I include even the unimaginable because one never knows.
The Madaris were certainly causing a traffic jam, but who was to object? Even the policeman was one of the admirers, clapping at the tricks the Madari was playing. I have seen all kinds of people gathered there blocking the whole road. No, Madaris could not exist in the West, in the same sense – and they’re really beautiful people; simple, ordinary, but they “know something,” as they say.
The man who was teaching me told me, “Remember, this is a dangerous snake. These snakes should not be caught.”
I said, “You are freed. These are the only snakes I am going to catch.” I had never seen such a beautiful snake, so colorful, so alive in every fiber of his being. Naturally I could not resist – I was just a little boy – I rushed to the school. I wanted to avoid relating what happened there, but I will just because I can see it again.
The whole school, as many as were possible, gathered in my classroom, and the others were standing on the veranda outside, looking through the windows and the doors. Others were standing even farther away just in case the snake escaped or something went wrong – and this boy, from the very first day had been a troublemaker. But my class, just thirty or forty little boys, were all afraid, standing and shouting, and I really enjoyed it.
The thing that you will also enjoy and I could not believe, was that the teacher stood on his chair! Even today I can see him standing on his chair and saying, “Get out! Get out! Leave us alone! Get out!”
I said, “First you get down.”
He became quiet, because the question of getting down was dangerous with such a big snake. The snake must have been six or seven feet long, and I was dragging it in a bag, so that I could suddenly expose it to everybody. And when I exposed it there was chaos! I can still see the teacher jumping on his chair. I could not believe my eyes. I said, “This is just wonderful.”
He said, “What is wonderful?”
I said, “You jumping up and standing on the chair. You will break it!”