The sun was setting hazily on Delhi's enigmatic skyline of red brick and junk slum as the express train from Bangalore slowly completed the final minutes of its 40-hour journey. Dust constructions in pale red, dilapidated multicolored vehicles, and masses of brown people pasted themselves to my weary retina in vague orange blots. New Delhi would be my last stop before returning to the Netherlands after a three-year quest for genuinely effective political theatre, a quest that had taken me to the remotest parts of rural and urban Asian jungles. I was exhausted but somehow managed to muster the energy to search for Safdar Hashmi who, according to friends in Pakistan, Calcutta, and Bombay, I absolutely had to meet. He was one of India's most effective street theatre artists. Now, months later in the northern European winter, I am glad that after a day's search I found his modest two-room apartment tucked away in an endless row of tenement houses near Jawaharia Nehru Stadium. He opened the door with an invit- ing smile. I apologized for disturbing him at home. Not at all and would I please step in. He was lean and tall and wore slippers under a white tunic and trousers. An unmanageable forelock of black hair hung down about his spectacles. An Indian version of Danny Kaye, I thought. "You must be Eugene van Erven," he said in fluent English. "Come in. I have been expecting you." I had written to him several times without receiving a reply. Later I realized it may have been his idiosyncratic way of testing foreigners; if they really wanted to speak to him they should prove their determination by tracking him down-the hard way. My effort had appar- ently been satisfactory and during the ensuing five days Safdar took me in rickshaws and on scooters to several performances of his legendary street theatre group, Janam, and shared with me his wealth of knowledge and his original insights into Indian politics and culture.
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