Antoine Norman was a tourist. He liked to take photographs. And he usually travelled alone. He liked it that way.
With a brown haversack and a dark green coffee flask strung from his shoulder, he could wander off to places we can only imagine. You’d see him scouring the streets of Bombay near the Fort area; or catch him clicking away on his small DSLR, trying impatiently to capture whatever it was that he wanted to treasure.
Antoine didnt like taking cabs if he could manage to cover the distance on foot. He loved walking through the broad roads and narrow lanes in the City, looking up and down, all around. The architecture of the famous monuments, that of the now forgotten derelict mansions, and even those high rise buildings which obscured everything else from view. They made him smile in wonder just like an infant smiles at his mother, in recognition.
He took immense pleasure in collecting souvenirs. Souvenirs that were more of insignificant junk to us. Things like black beads and colourful buttons, newspaper packets, wooden pens, thrown away earthen diyas and cheap posters.
He would often enter one of those road-side shops when the shopkeepers hollered him from inside. He knew they increased the price after seeing him or maybe his clothes, he couldnt tell that; but he never bargained too much. He laughed along with them as they tried to convince him the price and he always paid a little bit more than what he believed it to be worth of.
There were other Normans, Pauls and Harrys who wouldnt pay one more dime than they ought to. And he knew that very well.
What he missed the most from these travels back at his own town was the local food. He would enjoy eating puri bhaji, missal pav or pani puri during his frequent visits here. The steaming delicious street food, the noisy enthusiastic crowds mixed with the cries of the vendors who tried to attract people to their stalls; seemed to beckon at him from faraway.
Antoine was a tourist, who loved these streets that brimmed with life. Maybe it was this vivacity that tugged him here and why he couldnt stay rooted to his homeland.
And like bee to honey, we would find him revisiting this place over and over again.