New Delhi : I came to India with the intention to avoid the big cities. Like the black plague, they keep spreading & spreading, & infect many millions of people. Delhi's growth is out of control. It is amazing that it all stays together & life functions in this kind of chaotic infrastructure of 12 millions bodies constantly coming & going. Perhaps the most difficult challenge here is the simplest thing in life...breathing! This place has too much pollution from autos, buses, & rickshaws giving off black fumes of not so lovely air to breathe (giving you a daily set of black boogers!). I hear the asthma rates are increasing exponentially at a very alarming rate. In fact, this is how I felt in New Delhi, out of control & alarmed. What's so 'New' about Delhi anyway, it looks anything but new here with old dirty buildings, trash everywhere, & everything looking like it's barely hanging together.
But yet, the new conservative corporate government declares that "India is Shining!". The slogan chanted by all that are making money in the IT department (Information Technology, or more simply international call centres that go to low wage economies to save money), big corporations, large stockholders, & corrupt politicans. For them, "India is Shining" & that is exactly what they want to program in the minds of the 1.2 billion inhabitants of India & the rest of the world. But you take a look around. Maybe 1% of India is shining. Like this french photographer & journalist I met said, "India is dying, crying, & a few are shining". This is the title & topic of his current piece of work. It is a complex situation that happens in all capitalist nations where the rich get rich, & ...well...you know how it ends. He told me about the many small farmers committing suicide as their business dies & country grows with pains, while capitalists gains increase, but their furtile lands ceace to exist in abundance like the good ole days. Guess that's the evolution of a capitalist country (we all went through it no? America, Canada, etc..), and we know the communism scenario isn't the best creative solution because it's own problems of corruption & power imbalances arise. But yes, this is getting to political for a travel blog. I wish I could write more funny stuff, but my sense of humor comes out more in person, & I hope to increase my literary humor soon. These are serious things to consider though, & I didn't come to India to make up new jokes.
So, that's my serious intro to New Delhi.
On my recent second trip into Delhi I spent five days in this massive metro, as opposed to my 1st day landing in India where I made a rapid escape to the lovely Dharamsala. Because I made a new friend up north who invited me to her home in South Delhi, I was able to get an insiders view into the good life of Delhi. Antigoni (greek name for a greek gal) has been living in Delhi for 3 years working for the WHO (World Health Organization) doing HIV education & other meaningful work. Actually, I arrived on the weekend of her 3rd anniversary party which coincided with her french boyfriend Francoise's b-day party (but i'll get to this later). Day 1 I showed up in Delhi on a train from Rishikesh (5 hours) about 4pm in the afternoon & took a taxi minivan (150 Rs) to her pad, talked, rested awhile, got fed some delicious carrot-beet-cheese salad & then accompanied her & Francoise to a play. It was AIDs Awareness week & the play was about an Indian young women with HIV in modern traditional India & how her boyfriend & family did not know how to communicate with her upon finding out her situation. It was well done & worth while to attend. The building complex the play was in is very post-modern urban architecture-some kind of government center for arts & culture. For our next event we walked across the street to see 3 FUNK bands play in a beautiful outdoor garden restaurant lounge setting (I capitalized FUNK because i love funk music!). Now I see why
they say "India is Shining". The two events I attended make you feel that way. The crowds were upper class Indian and international
mostly. I did not feel like I was in India at these two events, except when walking across the street getting a glimpse of the homeless sleeping in the medians of the roads (very common here), the large amounts of honking (also very very common here), & the rickshaws that you simply cannot avoid for a day in India (they are everywhere & make India function like the tick tock of a clock). It was here at this concert that I sat down on some cushions, glancing at a hooka, ordered some food, & talked to Francoise's photographer-journalist friend about India. I was inspired by his sense of adventure & the ability to make a career internationally with his chosen work in the freelance realms. I guess I'm doing a little bit of this now with my travel writings & book. Feels good making money in
another country. Frees up your previous belief that you were taught from day 1 that you cannot work in other countries unless
you get status, licenses, & other beauracratic paper trails. But alas, the path of an artist, a gypsy, a musician, a writer, a massage therapist, a craftsman, & many other trades cannot be traced. We slide through the framework & walk through walls like Neo from the Matrix. We are the invisible community worldwide that governments fear & want to find, & fine!
We find freedom in the new global village. Afterall, if there is no WWIII & things pass like Y2K & business is as usual, the world will evolve into ONE global economy. The prophesized New World Order, with one money linking all countries (like European Union, but this will be Earth Union), all people, all trades, everything computerized, perhaps even the surgical computer chip heard about in conspiracy theories.
But whatever happens, we shall overcome. The whole us vs. them game is almost over. Freedom will prevail. Humankind's lust for freedom is as deep as the need for love & intimacy. We must be free! With freedom, the world truly is our stage, we let go of rage, fly from the cage & run wild in the utopian earthly gardens of abundance. The New World Order is nothing to be afraid of because there is one thing about governments...they are not as powerful as they think. Their power is temporary & in the hands of a few puppets. Individuals can find loopholes in the system, "Chant down Babylon" & set themselves free. Especially alternative lifestyles where one leaves the system to grow their own food, lives simply in rural settings & becomes self-sufficient, sustainable, & lives off the grid & therefore outside the system. We always have a choice. We do not have to keep up with the Joneses, buying new cars every 3 years, mortgaging a house & living in debt for life. Unless that truly makes you happy & free, why go there?
Eco-villages, formerly known as communes have become a perfect model for the ultimate freedom & harmony. Sustainablity and Eco have become key words even in the mainstream. We are finally becoming a more conscious global village that will have no choice but to be ecological (afterall, it's logical to save our ecosystems instead of kill them off right?) & to be sustainable makes all the sense in the world, no? To grow your own fresh, healthy, organic food (yes, no pesticides, genetically modified chemical junk in this experiment). What a concept? Just like the days of old previous to our mad population growth & love affair with chemicals in the industrial age.
Yay for de-evolution! We will have no choice but to revert to the old organic methods that may not make as shiny & perfect looking produce, but in fact have a much higher vitamin & mineral content. Of course, we do have new methods of organic farming such as 'Bio-dynamic farming' & other permaculture methods that communes such as Findhorn have pioneered (they are famous for growing humongous sized amazing fruits & vegetables in the 70's that brought them worldwide fame. they have been one of the most successful communes to date). As for growing crops inside the 'urban jungles' of the concrete madness we call cities, it can & is being done in a large way. Cuba has led the world in this new movement back to organic growing & their metropolis of Havana has
abundant gardens on rooftops, parks, sidewalks (where we have grass to look at & for dogs to pee, they grow crops for the starving!).
I hope to go there someday soon & photograph & research this positive aspect of their play on communism for the people.
One last fact i learned before i get back to Delhi & India...the average North American consumes 30 times more than the average Indian. 30 times! we better start learning how to sustain off all that trash we consume, eh? That's why I like art made of recycled garbage, it just makes sense using what other people in our rich cultures throw away. I met one guy who claims he never buys anything when he moves to a new big city. He finds furniture, clothes, & everything to live simply by in alleyways as people throw out good stuff in mad shopping sprees.
Day 2 :: Started the day by teaching my first unofficial yoga class with one student, Antigoni. Taught her the Agama yoga I learned at Trika school in Rishikesh. It felt real good to finally teach yoga, after learning so much & becoming more comfortable with the poses. Afterwards I went with her & Francouise driving all over doing errands to get ready for their big party the following day.
Don't remember much that day except a blur of shops, cars, poor people, black smoke, & turning down a McVeggie burger
because I still don't like McDonalds & only use them to take craps in their bathrooms! At least they're good for something huh?
But to each their own. Oh & McDonalds in India of course does not serve hamburgers due to their ancient belief in saving cows
for milk, yogurt, & their amazing gifts they give humanity. Holy cows walk & roam the streets of Delhi & every other city in India & therefore avoid the untimely deaths so common worldwide. I do hear that they often die here prematurely though by eating plastic bags & other
garbage that suffocates them. Many people take cows to the vet for surgery to avoid this & save their lifes.
Later this night we went to the annual Delhi Jazz Fest & saw 2 bands. The first sucked. Cheesy light fluffy jazz with doo-wap diddly doo wap female vocals that all made us feel like we were on a cruise ship & 20 years older than we actually are. I like my jazz
either funky or dark & dirty. The second band was great though. They were from Germany & had a great blend of experimental
(even Radiohead-ish), dark to light, funky to ambient...very diverse. They had a standing ovation & two encores!
Day 3 :: I found myself teaching yoga again, now two students, uhh..friends really that just wanted to practice & allow me to review
what i've learned while teaching them some of this exciting super jedi yoga! Next we went to Hauz Khas Village & I began researching that neighborhood for 2 of my travel stories, one on the historic park nearby, & one on the artsy hip village shops nearby. It was divine timing that Francoise's house & rooftop party were in this area. Prrrrrfect! After checking out the ancient Islamic tombs of the Mughal
invaders of early 15th century Delhi, and checking out some funky original shops in the village, I went to the party. The rooftop was
filling up with ex-pats from all over the globe that live & work in Delhi. Alot of French, some Latinas from Mexico, D.R., & other assorted varieties of youngsters having a good time, sipping wine & eating cheese (this was a French party ya dig?) & alot of other great
food that people brought. Actually had the best chocolate cake EVER (seriously!) & decided to bend my no sugar rule for this (thank
goodness i did! it was worth it!). I didn't want to dj but about 10pm I brought out my mp3 player upon request & played some originals
& other songs. Dancing on rooftops is fun! Until the neighbors complain....then it's over, like our party. But that's ok, it was Sunday
& people had work the next day I suppose. Besides, we have to respect the neighbors & us being 'foreigners', outsiders in their land,
we especially must pay respect & not push too many traditional buttons of rules, regulations & conservatism that could upset the
status quo, dig?
Day 4 :: Antigoni had to leave Delhi for work at an early hour so I packed my bags (i hate doing this...just when i'm getting comfortable somewhere) & went to North Delhi's Tibetan Colony called Majnu-Ka-Tilla for 2 nights. There I refound my love of Tibetan people,
art, food, & buddhist temples (there are 2 there, but very small & humble). I bought a book I sent to my dad (this is a whole story in itself. India Post!!!), some dvd's, & used this colony as a place to launch on Delhi excursions for more travel writing stories!
I did some research one day on music shops in Delhi for buying musical instruments (which the publisher of the book, Connesseurs Guide to Delhi, thought was a good idea for me to research) and I also wrote one story on Majnu-Ka-Tilla.
Four stories now, in 4 days! Wish I could post them now but All Things Asian publishers will hopefully copywrite all 4 of them & then
they will be in the book, and I will get paid cold cashola!
Day 5:: I saw the Jama Masjid mosque, the largest Islamic temple in India, that is absolutely mind blowing in size, age, & beauty! I think it was made by the same master architect as Taj Majal, which I unfortunately will miss in this India #1 trip, but whatever. Buildings schmildings!
Just a hop, skip, & a grumpy jump away I was at the Red Fort seeing with my own eyes another very historic building of Old Delhi
made by the Mughals (i believe in 1400's) which the British eventually took over & used & returned to India hands after 1947 Independence. It is massive! I really enjoyed seeing the ancient original 1300-1400's books with Islamic writing & art in the museum inside. I love Islamic art & writing...it's so harmonius & elegant. I wish there religion was more understanding of all truths & not
so fundamentalist & extreme. They have contributed so much to India (and the world) in architecture, art, music, & other inventions.
I wish racist & ignorant people who don't understand the islamic people would look a little deeper. It's just the extreme fundamentalist that are causing all the problems (Islamic, & Christian!). What I don't like about the Islam faith is the way they categorize all non-believers in their faith as infidels, unholy, & outsiders. I feel this in their gaze.
I like how the Sikhs accept all faiths, all religions, all truths of one god. I believe in that. I believe tolerance, acceptance, & total
freedom are the way of the ancient past & the way of the future. No more wars for people's grammatical errors! God is God.
Everything is holy. There are many paths to the mountaintop , but they all lead to the same goal. Enlightenment, which some call
Heaven, Christ Consciousness, Samadhi, Nirvana, the land of Allah, Shambhala, ...
Many paths. All true. Please people, stop your fussing & fighting as ole Bob Marley warned you 40 years ago!
"we don't want Armageddon. Love will conquer all." (another ole reggae song by i can't remember who?)
Day 6:: I took a train from Delhi 2 days & one night & 40 hours later in Goa , spent night at Colva beach and 3 local buses for another 3 hours to get to Arambol where I am now & hope to stay for 1 month or so. Nice to get out of the cold north & cities to decompress & relax for my last 3 months down here in the tropical south!