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  • White water thinking

    Posted on October 11th, 2009 Sheila Yair 1 comment

    delhiNight2With photosynthesis, plants take CO2 and water and turn it into food. They add a drop of sun to each molecule they create. We humans do the opposite. We take food and turn it into waste. Hemingway once said, humans take fine wine and turn it into piss. But it is more than that. We take nature, animals, plants, rivers, oceans, mountains, and plains, and turn it into waste and pollution, in the process releasing civilization. We take these drops of sun and convert them in to ideas, some good like art, culture, science, philosophy and some bad ones like war, slavery and abuse. We were up in the mountains among all the resources and now we are in the midst of the civilization production line. There is nothing like an Indian city to let you know you are out of the mountains, even a small one, the heat, the filth, the misery and noise. But we are in a big city, New Delhi, the capital. Delhi is an extremely busy city, constantly bustling. It has a long rush hour, about 24 hours long, a rush day 7 days a week. The subway we take is always full of people. The roads we cross are always overflowing with traffic, constantly presenting a challenge to reach the other side. But Delhi is a main junction and you have to go through it to get to the different parts of India. We have traveled the north, and now have to decide which of the other three directions to take. Heat rules out the south, and politics seems to rule out the west. We have thought of traveling to Pakistan and Iran, but Pakistan wants $300 upfront, before they approve or disapprove our visas. I can just see the smile on a Pakistani clerk as he stamps my papers with rejected in big red letters “No imperialistic Zionist is coming into my country”. You see my passport bears my birth-country, why do they always have to put the country of birth on all passports? Why are we humans so obsessed with boarders? So while in Delhi, one of the days I decide to brave the overcrowded train and face the challenge of crossing the roads and I head out to Akshardham Temple. It is a fairly new temple, with supposedly amazing elephant carvings. I have a weakness for anything elephant. The temple is very large and stands in the midst of extensive grounds. It took seven thousand stone carvers five years to complete. Every inch of the temple is carved with something. The mixture of styles is mind boggling. The domes are of a British parliament, which they in turn took from the Greeks. The spade shaped arches are from the Mughals. The towers and courtyards from the Muslims. The symmetrical shapes are from the Rajput. The swastikas and deities are from the Arians. And mother goddesses and holy animals from as far back as the Indus Valley civilization 2500BC. All carved in a characterless fashion so typical to modern things. Like a huge plastic resin mold, similar to the cheap handicrafts you find in the markets. This temple is modern India in a nut shell, in a pink meticulously curved nut shell. It is not surprising that a country over 3.28 square kilometers with 1.1 billion people and almost 5,000 years of history would be so diverse, you can only expect that. But it is not only diversity. India is so full of paradox, full of contradictions. Jungle carvings in one of the most polluted places on earth. A country filled with vegetarians but some of the most miserable animals. A nation that believes in the holiness of rivers but systematically pollutes every single one of them. A non-violent people that occupies territories and possesses an atomic bomb. A history with a woman president and a very strong women prime minister but countless women who don’t even go to school. And then suddenly it hits me, this is the India people look for. It is not a mystical place filled with answers. It is a place so illogical, it forces you to think. It obligates you to reevaluate everything you know. Your brain looks for anything logical, your mind tries to grab anything rational in the turbulent reality around you. Perhaps that is why for centuries, Indian philosophers and thinkers have keenly searched for perfect peace, nirvana, in this chaotic place. Perhaps this is why the theory that reality is an illusion was born here. Some people come here and start thinking only until the first yogi they find. Others can spend a lifetime thinking. But whether alone or with a guru, whichever way, India tosses serious whitewater five current thinking your way. So go ahead and use those sun drops.