“Chai lenge aap?” Govind asked me as I browsed through the clothing racks.
“No,” I politely declined.
“Matlab aap jaisi chai bhi mil jayegi,” he said. When I looked askance, he quickly went on. “Mera matlab vegan walli chai bhi mil jayegi.”
“Ok,” I agreed. “Par bina cheeni ke.”
I was on the lookout for some gifts and someone had recommended this wonderful shop in Dharamkot. I proceeded to pick out a few shawls, pyjamas, a bag and even a pair of shorts for yoga practice!
Selection done, Govind put out a small stool for me inside the shop. I surveyed his shop through the steam of my soy milk chai. His shop doubled as his workshop, with two industrial sized sewing machines. “I’m working on money belts these days,” he told me, indicating to the belt bags hanging outside the shop. “There’s been a demand for these.”
I looked appreciatively from the sports bras, to the wrap around skirts to the coats in his shop and asked him if he made all these things. He nodded.
He told me how he was originally from Pushkar and had led a nomadic existence for the last several years. “I was also in Hampi,” he said. “Then one day they decided to break down everything, from the stores to the houses and we had to leave. But otherwise the market there was good, and the winters even better.” During the course of our conversation I found out he had set up shop in Manali and Goa as well. The scorching summers in Goa had driven him up the hill to Dharamkot. Surprisingly, most people I’ve met in this small hamlet of Dharamkot are outsiders, making this a potpourri of interesting individuals, and adding to its quaintness.
“What business do you do?” he asked me.
“I teach yoga.” I told him.
“You should move here. You’ll make a lot of money,” he said, echoing the business advice most yoga teachers are privy to.
“Hmmm,” I said as I walked away with large-ish shopping bag. Non-committal in the face of unsolicited advice about my “business”.