Kumbh Mela – get ready for 2013

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The Kumbh Mela is a huge Hindu religious festival that takes place in India every 12 years. In 2001, 60 million people attended, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. The mass of people was photographed from space by a satellite.    

In 2013, from 27th January to 25th February, the banks of the Sangam will once again be in an uproar as millions – devout and commoners alike will make the place their temporary homes. And the sight of Sadhus, the guardians of the faith; Naga Babas, covering their naked bodies with ash; and Mahants, lured to come out of their hideouts in forests, mountains, and caves, charging towards the Sangam to take a holy dip in the waters at the appointed time will once again make up for the visual dazzle. It’s believed that bathing here will free one from all the past sins, thereby liberating him from the cycle of life and death. Discomfort of having to travel miles and living open air under freezing weather will take a backseat and it’s the pure sense of devotion and spirituality that will prevail, evident through their faces.

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Internet Service in Agra: No Problem

Internet Service in Agra:

No Problem

In an almost back-alley of Agra, where our hotel is located, there is the usual scuffling and shuffling energy and garbled clamor that seems to be a signature of Indian afternoons. The pungent, but not altogether unpleasant, aroma of burning cow poo, a constant in Indian cities and towns, drifts past like a nearly palpable entity, an old friend. You half want to say hello.

A guy is guiding little white donkeys that are carrying gigantic loads of bricks—what seems like   300 pounds, from the visual. The donkeys do not appear to be particularly distressed over the matter, but I am distressed for them.

We need to use an internet service somewhere, and are delighted to note that there is an “internet café” across the alley. It doesn’t really look like a café—more like a cave-y thing with crumbling wall stuff going on all around it. It’s shaky, but it is what is available. (We all thought India must have internet cafes at every corner, given that they hold every phone-answering and computer service job in America, but that’s just not the case.)

We head in, not at all clear that this almost literal hole-in-the-wall can actually get reception of any kind. There’s a little kid there, probably 6 years old. Maybe 5. A couple other kids drift in and around–smaller, younger. Four, five years old maybe.

The Elder among them struts up and announces “You Need Internet—no problem.”

“Yes, we do—who runs this place?”

“I do. One hundred rupees.”

Wow. The six year old is the IT guy. The four and five year old are his tech support staff.

They get on the rickety old jalopy computers and jump start a couple of them. I thought they might need jumper cables.

“Oh, come on, now, twenty rupees maximum. “

“Fifty rupees!” He is bargaining. Wow.

“Twenty five rupees.”

“Thirty rupees. Best price.”

“OK, thirty rupees.”

We know we are getting hosed by this little guy, but it’s 30 rupees. It’s practically free. And we like him a lot.

Business guys, entrepreneurs, hard bargainers, and IT Guys. For the thousandth time in a matter of days, our ideas of how things are supposed to work in the world are shown for what they are—just one very limited notion of how the world can work.

Four, five and six year olds running an internet café.

But it’s India. No Problem.

Great Documentary about Kumbh Mela

Are considering participating in the next Kumbh Mela in 2013? If yes or maybe, this is a great documentary to watch. “Short Cut to Nirvana” gives you an insight that is quite amazing, a bit shocking. I had no idea! Are you brave enough to go next year?

Documentary

SHORT CUT TO NIRVANA is an award-winning documentary about the Kumbh Mela  festival which takes place near Allahabad, India, every 12 years.

The Kumbh Mela also happens to be the biggest gathering in history, attracting 70 million pilgrims!

From this incredible event comes a powerful and uplifting message of harmony, unity and peace for all humanity.

Yet almost no-one outside India has ever heard of the Kumbh Mela or its message.”

Santa Fe Ranked Most Artistic City in America

Santa Fe Ranked
Most Artistic City in America
Santa Fe is the most artistic city in the America. Richard Florida confirmed it in an article for The Atlantic Magazine’s Cities website.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is twice as artistic as the second city named in his analysis – San Francisco. Florida used data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau for his study.

Santa Fe has the highest concentration of visual artists for its population size of any U.S. city.

Top 10 Most Artistic Cities in America

  1. Santa Fe, NM
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. New York, NY
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
  6. Danbury, CT
  7. New Bedford, MA
  8. Boulder-Longmont, CO
  9. Barnstable-Yarmouth, MA
  10. Jersey City, NJ

Cows Works: Musings on India & Life

Cows Works: Musings on India & Life

by James Michael Nolan

“Chaos” in India

One thing (among many) that I loved about our experience in India is that it demonstrated, in ever-in-your-face, living color that so many of the rules, laws, regulations, restrictions, dicta, fiats, got-to’s and can’t-do’s that we embrace in western culture as critical to maintaining order and indeed to our survival, are actually neither necessary, nor, in many circumstances, even desirable. They are only cultural preferences. They happen to be our (Americans and Europeans, in this case) cultural preferences, so we fall in love with them and grant them the status of wisdom, wonderfulness and “better than”. (Jingoism is not the worst thing in the world, but we should be aware of it when it pops up for us—all that “Consciousness” stuff, you know…)

Stopping at stop lights, for example, is like choosing the green chile chicken chowder rather than the tostada with salmon. It is simply a preference that we have, in this case supported by laws and punishable by penalties. But stopping at a red light is not inherently right, correct, better or morally superior. Blue is not better than green—I just happen to like it better. With the exception of huge intersections in Delhi, and maybe a couple in Jaipur, drivers that I observed (and drove with) in India did not choose “stopping at red lights” from the menu.

“Chaos” is often simply an “order” that the observer does not, or cannot perceive. I think that when my ego or personality is threatened, THAT is when I am inclined to call it “Chaos”, and mean it in a negative way. Good stuff to think and write about…

By the way, my German brother-in-law, Markus, pronounces “chaos” (Kaos in German) in a way that it sounds more like “cows.” So when, after a particularly colorful auto-rickshaw ride, he pronounced “Cows Works”, I had to smile, and, especially for India, I liked his pronunciation better…

The Indian Flag

The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color: saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace, and green for faith, fertility, and chivalry. An emblem of a wheel spinning used to be in the center of the white band, but when India gained independence, a Buddhist dharma chakra, or wheel of life, replaced the spinning wheel.

Reflections on India…

Reflections on India by James Michael Nolan

Darshan and Bhangra,

 Nag Champa and pungent, burning cow poo,

 Krishna and chotchka wallahs,

 The dance of seeming oppositions

 Ultimately whirling into Same,

 Without losing an ounce of Different.

 I don’t know how that works.

 All I knew was to find my witnessing heart,

 And shush my ego,

 (Which, of course, wanted

 to gymnastic around like a boy),

 And let India sing me that song

 You and I wrote ten thousand years ago,

 But have forgotten.