Monday, November 17, 2008

Family, Politics, Love and God

I've actually returned to the states from India a couple of days ago. I was unable to post my last adventures as the power went out too frequently in Varanasi. I will continue posting my last 4 days there plus post photos. Because I type so slow I will continue posting over the next 3 days.

11/9 5:15 PM
Sony could not come today as her sister-in-law went to the hospital. The tabla instructor, called Guru Ji (Beloved Teacher) will arrive here at 6PM for my first lesson. I spent the day walking through the town. Met some interesting shop keepers where I sat in there shops, drank chai, and taked about family, politics, love and God. One shop keeper was a very engaging young man, 28 years old, named Moona. He has lived his whole life in Varanasi and is very passionate about his home and his beliefs. He calls the Ganga his mother. He said, "Many people say the Gqanga is polluted, but I say it is not polluted because it is our mother. If a mother puts her baby son on her leg and he urinates on it does she cut her leg off? No, because she loves her son and her son loves her. So too, it is with the Ganga."

7:00PM-No tabla instructor. A driver downstairs said maybe 7:00 maybe 8:00. He never arrived. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow (tomorrow to Indians means sometime in the near or distant future). Oh well, let go of expectation - I will have a different experience. Sony called later tonight and appologized for not being here. She said she will come tomorrow and I will begin tabla lessons tomorrow at 12PM.
There's a festival occuring this week in Varanasi called Deo Dipowli. It clulminates on Nov. 13 with millions of people coming to the Ganga to bathe at sunrise and then finale celebration with music and dance. This is a celebration of the new cycle of the Hindu calender..

11/10 4:30AM
Up for yoga, jal neti and a new adventure. Sony called today saying she is still not able to come to the academy as her sister-in-law is still in the hospital. Grace and I left by rickshaw to go to the embassy to register our place of residence. I arrived back in time for my tabla lesson. Guru Ji is an elderly, portly man, doesn't speak English and gummed betel leaf throughout the lesson which made it difficult to understand the little I could understand. After the lesson I went out to purchase some things and ate an early dinner at a restaurant. Arrived back at the academy fully intending to practice tabla in earnest when there was Akkash, standing at the front door. I hadn't seen him since the day I arrived here. Akkash said,"Hurry, hurry, you have to come right now." he grabed my hand and pulled me over to a car waiting for us. i asked him where we were going and he said, "to the hospital." He led the way to the room where Sony, her sister-in-law (who is lying in bed seriously ill), her S-I-L's husband, Debo Mishras' mother(Mata Ji), and Mata Ji's sister were all in this small bare hospital room. Sony had asked Akkash to bring me there to meet the family. Sony, is Deobbrat Mishras' wife, who along with his father run the academy. Deobrat and his father are away on tour in Germany. The family has been holding vigil in the hospital for 3 days with no sleep. I felt very awkward being in this hospital room with a family that I was meeting for the first time.When we returned to the vehicle I told Akkash I needed to return to the academy at once to practice tabla. After 5 min. of travel , Akkash had the driver stop the car. He got out of the car with me in tow, saying that now I had to see the Monkey Temole. Well, it was a very small temple. I think it was more of an excuser to meet his uncle at a cart next to the temple selling betel leaf. Betel leaf is a stimulant that mostly men chew. They cram it into their mouths and chew it to a liquid red pulp then spit it out in the street. I now implored Akkash to return me to the academy. On the way there he informed me that I needed to meet him at 5AM tomorrow . Sony had arranged for him to take me on a boat ride on the Ganga.

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