Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dreaming of India

There are only a few more complicated places in the world.

Cast systems, the rise in technology and education and that some of the poorest people in the world are just steps from some of the most wealthy.

No, this bit was not brought on by Slumdog Millionaire. Well, sorta. (Damn good movie by the by. Go see it. Tell them your Auntie Pix sent you.) Last night I saw The Darjeeling Limited for the first time and I'm inspired to write it.

Diwali, the festival of lights, is a prime fes...Candles at a Hindu festivalFirst, let me tell you about Darjeeling. I love Wes Anderson. He is very much an acquired taste, I feel, because of his unique styles and aloofness of characters. (the aloof always fades by the end) I love his movies. I love that everyone in the beginning is strange and alone. Unexplained things happen around them and they float around, searching. And there is always quirky things in every corner of the films. A character that never wears shoes. Or that the whole cast wears the same outfit for the whole movie, just different colors. I love those little things you notice that you whisper to your best friend in the movie.

Basically, you have three brothers who have been through a lot and seem to be so caught up in their own shit that they're missing the point of this amazing trip they're on. Then there is disaster and after having the metaphysical crap kicked out of them, the brothers find their path again.

A large Ganesha murti from a Ganesh Chaturthi ...GaneshaIndia is a place I know little about. My mother told me stories of her travels there, about how beautiful and brutal it was. About the time four men were following her to her hotel but she was more scared of the monkeys at the temple. About the beggar woman holding a baby that had a hole in it's stomach, screaming. She loved the temples and the food but came away so sad about the state of people's livings. But that was 20 years ago...

Instead of wonder and excitement, most my friends are fearful of a trip to India. Even though it's the world's largest democracy and the major religion being Hinduism, it's a scary place these days. Major terrorist attacks on westerners last year and attacks on Jews, Muslims, Christians and Indian civilians have left a seed of doubt in so many minds. (not to mention that, according to the state department, "rape is the fastest growing crime in India." What has happened to men that now they suddenly think it's ok? Or perhaps it's just being reported more...) So what am I to think? There are so many scary places in the world and it seems to be getting worse and worse, especially for Western woman. (who also happen to be 5' 10'' redheads who stick out like sore thumbs... except in Ireland.)

So then I remind myself of Spain. Years ago, visiting my cousin who was studying dance in Madrid, I got on a train to go see Toledo when our train caught fire. This was around the time that Islamic extremist bombed 4 commuter trains killing almost 200 people, the deadliest attack in recent European history. Everyone hurried off the train, the men helping the little old ladies down off the train (which, without a platform, was quite a leap). I sat in a field, looking at the engineering marvel as the men in their uniforms searched the train up and down. I asked a very handsome man from Madrid, "Aren't you scared of getting blown up?" He replied, "I take this train 3 times a week. I can't stop taking it or my business will suffer. It's up to G-d whether it is my time to go or not. I will not cease living because of a bomb that might be there."

Handsome and did I mention smart? Words to live by...and I will try do so.

I had to share this out of pure curiosity. While perusing the state department website I found this:
"If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station."
Wait... why would people want me dead if my cab driver hit someone? If this happened in New York there would be burning cars all over the place! Can someone explain this to me?
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