Thursday, November 27, 2014

From ‘Lost & Found in India’ by Braja Sorensen

Not all who wander are lost

I was in the land where transcendence had been living for thousands of years as everyone’s next door neighbor. Everything about my surroundings drove me towards introspection, depth, and the beginnings of peace.

…..a tradesman…… showed true resourcefulness and a unique trait often lacking in Indian village tradesmen: he started to clean up after himself. In the West, this is a given: a workman comes in, does his job, cleans up, and leaves …. But not here. It’s not part of the job description and, if you really want to get into the details, it’s sometimes got something to do with sheer brute laziness, and often something to do with caste……because his caste doesn’t clean up after people….

According to Eastern philosophies, there are seven mothers: (1) the real mother, (2) the wife of the guru or spiritual guide, (3) the wife of a sage, (4) the wife of the king, (5) the cow, (6) the nurse, and (7) the earth.

….The facilities at Bombay airport…like many public facilities around the world, they charge you a small fee. No problem.
Only they wanted to give me a ticket.
A ticket.
To go to the toilet.
Even worse, I kept it.
This is what India does to you: you end up succumbing to its ways, you accept its little rules. And it doesn’t make sense. So you find yourself hanging on to a 2-rupee toilet tickets, because you know if you don’t, you’ll just wish you had.
And that’s what I love about India: it makes you do what it wants…

…..India really does have a unique slant on death: they are definitely not in as much denial as the rest of the world. None of the things that disturb the delicate sensibilities of Westerners are hidden in India: poverty, the lack of cleanliness, disease, and death – things that, in the West, are not absent, but just hidden away with the disinfectant of denial, decontaminated and sterilized to maintain the mecca that is advanced Western civilization, where even death is kept quiet, tame, well-behaved behind the sound-proofed doors of funeral parlours and softened by the thick, lush carpets that line their halls.

Something very unusual is happening outside and down the road a little to the right, just past the barber stand. I know I’ve mentioned some strange goings-on here in the village before, but right now I’m listening to a noise that seriously sounds like an absolute riot and I have no idea what it is. And since it’s 9.30 at night I’m not about to wander around out there to find out, either.
This place has an incredible knack for sounding like war-torn Beirut for a period of time, then just as suddenly it stops and a drop-dead silence engulfs the village. Seriously. It just ends. X-Files could film an episode here.

My guru once wrote, “Ritual practice is the art of making life sacred.”

…Marx Brothers saying—“Everyone has to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another drink.”

If you want to read possibly the greatest dialogue that was recorded about decision making, it is called the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is: “Do I kill all my relatives and thus fulfil my duty (seriously!?), or do I back out and make it look like I’m a good guy seeking peace?” That’s the synopsis in a nutshell.

And now in a total departure from beggars ……we went to the Taj Bengal and spent the evening in 5-star luxury. The absolute polar opposite nature… is what makes India what it is: abject poverty and overt opulence mixing like dirty unwanted street debris and blessed wanted rain, leaving crappy muddy puddles of obscure contents that you don’t know whether to dodge or dip your toe into. It rips your heart out and drowns you in all its riches in one dose, and I love it and hate it.

….should come as no surprise that cows are as different in India than they could possibly be compared to anything else in the world. I met one named Shyam at the cowshed the other day. He is a huge boy, young at only four years, and a sweeter and funnier bull you’ll never meet. When I walked into the gated yard, Shyam came running at me. I hightailed it back out the gate, only to have the cowherd laugh and tell me that Shyam was actually a big softie. I came back through the gate a little hesitantly, but Shyam turned out to be as gentle as a puppy dog. He took a liking to me and followed me everywhere, nudging me for tickles whenever I stood still for long enough, and sometimes blocking me from walking away. When I gave him my full attention he was like putty in my hands. I kissed his cheeks and nuzzled his neck and he melted. I’ve met bulls like that before but you forget that when you see one running towards you. They’re not the kind of creature you take chances with…..
I’m glad I grew up and moved here where all the bulls are happy and friendly and eat out of your hand, lick your back when you’re not watching, and run at you because they’re just plain happy to see you.

A mother understands what a child does not say
- Jewish Proverb

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