A Souvenir from Kinnaur
by Vincent Van Ross

Most Indians
Do not wear hats
Some used to wrap
A piece of cloth
Around their head
And call it “Pagri

But, there are places
Particularly in the hills
Where people wear
Distinct caps

When I visited
The tribal belt
Of Himachal Pradesh,
I was immediately
By the fawn coloured
Pillbox cap of Kinnaur
With a velvety green strip
And a red-and-white border
Around it

Impulsive as I am
I rushed to the first shop
In the vicinity
And bought a Kinnauri cap

But, the moment
I stepped out of the shop
And went around the village
Wearing the Kinnauri cap,
I found everyone
Laughing at me

I rushed back to the shop
And asked the shopkeeper
As to what was wrong
With my cap.

He too laughed at me
And, told me
That the way
The Kinnauri cap
Is worn gives away
Information about the person
Wearing the cap

He told me
That the way
I was wearing the cap
That I was a widow

I folded my cap,
Slipped it into my bag
And quickly walked out
Of the shop
Saving the cap
As a souvenir from Kinnaur

PHOTO: Cap from Kinnaur, India.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vincent Van Ross is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi in India. He writes on national and international politics, defense, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics. Apart from this, he dabbles in a little bit of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings. His articles and features have appeared in over a dozen newspapers and magazines in India and Bangladesh. He is also a renowned photographer and an art critic. His poems are littered in anthologies and journals across the world and on numerous poetry sites and facebook groups on the web.