Monday, April 13, 2009

Mysore, India

"Ours is a colourful and diversified world. It is also a complex one." Syncretism Syndrome



The majaraja's Palace
Gideon and I at the Palace at night.

St. Philomena's church
Apu, our rickshaw driver who Gideon loved.
Laura's flat, I had an ongoing obsession with the colorful front doors of India as seen below:


Our rickshaw driver, Apu's children.
Swimming lessons


The amazing colors of the market.
Laura navigating the market with G on her back.

The indians shop at the market everyday to cook their meals, so everything is fresh, fresh, fresh...what a concept!
Look out india, gideon is at the wheel

colorful bangles, yes please!

The slums of mysore







I was wrong, unfortunately Slumdog Millionaire was the perfect introduction for my trip to India! I was there visiting Laura who is practicing Yoga in a city called Mysore in southern state of karnataka,India about 3 hours from Bangalore. Of all the amazing sights and sounds of India from the spices, sarees, language and culture- the poverty gripped me the most.
My trip to Kenya about 9 years ago now shook me to the core as did India, which ultimately is a good thing. According to Indiaonestop.com "India has the largest number of poor people in a single country, of its nearly one billion inhabitants an estimated 350-400 million are below the poverty line. More than 40 percent are illiterate, with women, tribal and scheduled castes particularly affected."
Now, my perspective is only after spending a mere 10 days in one section in India, so while I was there I also read "The White Tiger" which also sheds light...well a dark light on the social restrictions and contributing factors to the ongoing poverty India faces. Essentially the book is a fictional tale of one poor man's rise to riches, the immoral way. But nonetheless gave me an even grimmer view of India and the hardships these people face while I grapple with which brand to buy at Target. The book mentioned the people living like animals and I couldn't have said it better, with seemingly no hope of getting out of their situations. One small example, our auto rickshaw driver, Apu has two young boys who we invited to swim at the pool with us. The pool was at a fancy hotel according to their standards in which only the children of the upper class can afford swim lessons. This concept never occurred to me, I can't even remember learning to swim because its almost a basic standard of living in the States. His kids had the best time with us, but I doubt will ever set foot in a pool again, Apu wasn't even allowed in the hotel because he's just a rickshaw driver. Such heartbreak.
Despite the hardship the Indian culture was indeed rich with color, tradition, and language. The food was absolutely incredible.....their curries, dal, chutney, and naan bread, I met spices I've never heard or seen, did you know that curry is actually a leaf? My senses were inundated with the fragrant spices, rich colored sarees, unending beeping of horns, and cow dung!!! They essentially worship cows and by some miracle you see these skin and bone cows meandering the city streets, our rickshaw driver stopped at every one to pay homage. I couldn't help but think I was living in Old Testament times!!
I'm still decompressing and digesting all that I saw and experienced, sort of a "what now" feeling?! I looked at those children thinking their potential will never be reached, they will never be presented with opportunities and experiences my child will have and has had already (I mean, he has a passport for crying out loud!) In my opinion, these children epitomize the definition of injustice. I'm praying about my overwhelming responsibility to respond.
Through my entire journey there I kept wishing somehow I could ask or know really how these people felt about their lives and current situation.....I think I got my answer. At the airport, while I was being searched through security (somehow I am always chosen for this) I had to step behind a closed curtain while an Indian woman checked me, she asked, "Mam, what do you do for a living?" I thought of all the things she could have asked me, she wanted to know what I had become, you could see the wanderlust in her eyes...

I love the call to action from Isaiah:

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood." (58:7)













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