Wednesday, December 31, 2014

From ‘Hero on a Honda. Reflections on India’ by Anthony Richard Farmer

Given the potential for violence; driver to driver, driver to pedestrian or driver to animal, I saw no offensive gestures, no calling into question race, religion, gender or parentage, no shirt pulling, head-butting or punch-ups. In India….
I haven’t encountered any impatience with feral animals either, no matter how offensive or inconvenient their actions. Indeed, the norm is to show kindness and compassion, at worst indifference, towards animals in the street. Unwanted food waste is deposited in specific places for animal consumption…. I watch water, seeds and fruit placed on walls and on rooftops for birds, rodents and primates to consume. Non-violence and compassion contribute to the easy going nature of India. Kindness, inclusion, patience and respect are the hallmarks of Indian society.

…..the lake-side residence where Rudyard Kipling lived and began to write The Jungle Book…..The house is whimsical, set at the end of a large lake, surrounded by hills, filled with water lilies and litter in equal measure. It’s a small palace, so picturesque ……..its very unlikely that any lake in the Western World would be so full of rubbish, here piled up at the downwind end. It’s a disgrace but this is India and comparison is odious.

The once glistening streams and rocky rapids now flow like black smelly treacle, clogged with litter. Wedged uncomfortably between hotels with names like The Hillock, The Hillstone ……tribal families eke out a living but they’re unable to wash in the streams and have less and less land on which to grow a few crops. Their goats eye the lush hotel gardens while sifting through the garbage on the street for food. No-one takes much notice of the state government notices declaring Mount Abu a ‘plastic-free zone’.

India welcomed me and I felt immediately at home, inspired by color, landscapes, buildings, customs and the industry and warmth of its people. The India I encountered was playful and innocent……
No matter where I went, who I met, I never felt unsafe. I experienced no unpleasantness, no discrimination, no harsh words, no resentment. Everywhere, I encountered open-hearted welcomes, sunny smiles, genuine curiosity, delightful humor, and unconditioned inclusiveness. Indian people, from all walks of life and in all circumstances were kind, joyful and generous; Indian people made such an impression on me. I tried my best to engage India at street level……..No lofty observations from exclusive hotels. Always I found generosity of spirit, sometimes it was quite overwhelming and most often from those who had the least to give. That I didn’t speak their language made little difference.

So much of India has entered my soul and will remain there forever.

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