The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

The Sudder Bazár (Rudyard Kipling)

The motive that calls for my ditty
       Is to tell you how many things are
To be found on the road to the CIty  
       Which we call it the Sudder Bazár.

When the Mission bell's tinkling insistence
        Has ceased, through the dust laden air
Comes the call from the Mosque in the distance, 
       The call of the Faithful to prayer.  

Unmoved, tho' the world fall asunder, 
       The voice of the muezzin you hear, 
While our guns, in the citadel under, 
       Are booming for Tel-el Kebir.  

With an eye to where offal and meat lie
      The kite circles near and afar,
And the pie-dog sleeps calmly and sweetly
       In the dust of the  Sudder Bazár.

And the wrinkled old sweet-seller squats there
       With his daughters (two two-year-old houries )
And his sweetmeats in basket and pots there, 
       And his bank, a fat bag full of cowries.

There the Cabuli horse dealers swagger
       In sheep skins—the skinny side out—
And jostle the Deccan quail-bagger
       And the Vakil's ubiquitous tout.  

Staid bulls, much beloved of the Brahmin, 
       Stroll round, taking food as they go;
And the cat shares its meal with that "varmin"
       The bottomless-pit-coloured crow.  

While the ekka, a tea tray on wheels, dear, 
       Flies past, as the occupants sit,
(Since a pony you know never feels, dear,)
       All five, tugging hard at the bit.   

And wicked wee tats with a coat of 
       Fluffed wool, (brought down south in the hope
Of a sale) like the man Swinburne wrote of 
       "Kick heels with their neck in a rope," 

Disturbing the marriage procession
       And its cohort of tom-tomming men,
And the bride-groom's sublime self-possession—
       That dusky young husband of ten.  

In the midst of this turmoil pell-mell met,
       You may catch from the spot where you stand
Some glimpse of T. Atkins's helmet—
       The power that governs the land.  

And these are a few of the faces
      Of strangers come in from afar,
Of the olla podrida of races
      That seethes in the Sudder Bazár.

Some notes from the gamut of face-tints, 
       That ranges from yellow to tar;
The pavement mosaic of race-tints,
       That mottles the Sudder Bazár. 

But what do I care for their faces, 
       For the gosain , the jât or the Sikh
When here, in these populous places
       I meet ninety thousand a week!

Oh give me the wet walks of London;
       And a tramp with my sweetheart as well,
And our "Power in the East" may be undone
       And the Sudder Bazár go to....Well.  

So this is the reason, my dearest,
      When I walk where those infidels are,
That I bang the small boy stands nearest,
      And flee from the Sudder Bazár.


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