GHANA I BENIN I INDIA I ZIMBABWE I MARS I CANADA I TOGO I JAPAN I SOUTH AFRICA
india


Sent:
January 10, 2003

GREETINGS FROM THE LAND WHERE THE ZERO WAS BORN

Namaskaram to everyone, far and wide..... Curtis here in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India wondering what to say.  First off....happy new year!!

Where to begin??

I just began to write something and decided why be so descriptive and drawn out...there is no way I'll relay everything I'm experiencing here fully, so I erased what I had and a just gonna let this all go from the tips of my neurons.  Left the West on Saturday and arrived in the East on Monday morning and found myself in the bustling city of Chennai…energized. I was met by my teacher's daughter and we took a car from the airport, an experience I still marvel at.  Traffic in this place what I would describe as ordered chaos, more on the chaotic side.  Sure there is law to be followed, but essentially it's find whichever way you can whilst avoiding cows (who really rule the road), bicycles, rickshaws and of course people. Strangely, there appears to be an understanding amongst everyone about what the limits are so you've got this amazing ebb and flow of people/particles nearly colliding and your on the seat of your pants half the time until you learn to relax and let it go...and it goes. So we arrive at my guru's house and waited for him to arrive from a previous engagement.  His wife put on the TV, though I had no interest but soon found myself watching some Carnatic (classical south Indian music) as happens regularly on the Tv and radio.....I felt to be in the right place.  Time goes, Guru Sankaran arrives and we are smiling.  Later I'm at my abode for the next while, a few minutes walk from Sankaran's house in an apartment building with beautiful chalk designs before everyone’s door step.  I meet V.S. Ravi who'll I'll be renting a room from.  A Christian who used to be Hindu, he provides me with endless discussions on everything and guidance about the city.  And for those who know who S. Balachander is, he was Ravi's maternal uncle, very cool in my opinion.  Overall, he's quite humorous and spiritual and I enjoy listening to his charming singing voice bringing forth everything from hymns to some country to film music and devotional songs.  He also sells stove vents from the apartment.

Later that night we go to see Sankaran in what turns out to be a beautiful vocal concert with O.S. Tyagarajan.....no words to describe those few hours.  I'm blessed to be there for that one.  Next day Sankaran, Suba (his daughter) and Lalitha (his wife) leave for a few days for a concert of his (he returns in a few days and then the real journey begins) so I've got a few days to adjust my everything to this bizarre, wonderful place.   I'm trying to take it all in and there's more than enough....so many layers, diversity, complexities all at once.  The history of this land alone with it's mythology and permeating spirituality of Hinduism with temples of a thousand years ago existing next to modern office buildings and cows pulling carts of dung vying for the road with a Benz. Colours are abound in the dazzling saris the women wear to the delicious thali plates that will fill you up for less than a dollar and I keep on wondering and wandering.  Though I've only been here a few days I'm starting a bit of a routine....wake up around 6am, eat (these days a little fruit and bread) and get my head in order, practice for a few hours until late morning or noon and bath (bucket shower but a mini hot water boiler included which I must admit is nice:-), then read The Hindu newspaper to see what music is happening in the evening...always something, a win=win situation for sure.  The rest of the day changes each day as there's a million and one things to do here as you can imagine in a city of 6 million and things are basically cheap.  Last night saw a Bharatanatyam performance for the first time and was spellbound.  An amazing confluence of sound and visual beauty.  Telling a story which I don't understand but it doesn't even matter.  Encompassing all things forceful, graceful, simple and complex....and there's always more.

  It's all coming at a mile-a-minute and I can't relay enough of it....come and see for yourselves, some of you already know what I'm talking about.  Beneath everything though, the wealth, poverty, pollution, hustle and bustle and struggle to survive, accumulation and renunciation of "things" tangible and intangible , mysticism, mysteriousness, consumerism and commercialism, Brahmins to the Dalits......  beneath the whole illusion of what seems important you, it's only life..existing.  As a Swami in the newspaper (?!) said, "forget that there are good and bad, honor and dishonor and problems disappear".   

  I gonna stop and try to fit everything into this feeble message......I'm hungry so I'll go eat food which I don't even know the names of yet but at least I know what order to eat them in.

  happy living...  

Curtis


ENTRIES FROM INDIA
FEBRUARY 10, 2011
APRIL 11, 2008
MARCH 31, 2006
FEBRUARY 27, 2006
FEBRUARY 22, 2006
FEBRUARY 5, 2006
JANUARY 19, 2006
MAY 7, 2003
APRIL 23, 2003
MARCH 30, 2003
MARCH 9, 2003
FEBRUARY 19, 2003
JANUARY 31, 2003
JANUARY 19, 2003
JANUARY 10, 2003


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