The Sudder Bazaar




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 Bazaar.

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 though 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,
The pie-dog sleeps calmly and sweetly
In the dust of the Sudder Bazaar.

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

There the Kabuli horse-dealers swagger
In sheepskins—the skinny side out
And jostle the Deccan quail-bagger
And the pleader's ubiquitous tout.

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

Comes the jat from slush canefields suburban
And the Sikh hating white men like swine,
With his beard fastened under his turban
And the gowala goading his kine.

Serene and most learned of manner
By the drainpipe the stamp vendor sits
With his stock in trade—value one anna
Translating our Khitmagar's chits.

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 the 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 bridegroom'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 arc a few of the faces
Of strangers come in from afar,
Of the olla podrida of races
That seethes in the Sudder Bazaar;

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

But what do I care for their faces,
For the Jat, the fakir, 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 Bazaar go to . . . Well,

So this is the reason, my dearest,
When 1walk where those infidels arc,
That I bang the small boy who stands nearest,
And flee from the Sudder Bazaar.