Saturday, February 14, 2009

What is it about this place?



What is it about India? Stepping off the plane I recognize the smell. It's incense mixing with the dry air. The ground is dusty dirt. Bollywood songs blare out of rickshaw speakers. I know I have arrived, and I can't stop smiling. The streets are crazy. "No one at home would believe this," I always think. A picture would not do it justice. You need all five senses to set this scene. Cars and Motorcycles driving in every direction with no regard for lanes. We squeeze through impossible spaces to get ahead. A cow sits gracefully, serenely in the middle of the road as buses whiz by. Only in India.

Men huddle around a tiny counter sipping steamy chai out of little glass cups. Every couple of minutes someone lifts the a jug into the air and lets the water fall into his mouth without ever touching the spout. A man smokes cigarettes and pees by the side of the road. This is India.

The women are in dancing sheets of color. Rolls of belly flesh peek out. Their hair is long and braided. Some sweep streets with brooms made of twigs. Many are hidden inside. They smile and the sun shines off their gold nose and ear rings. This is India.

And this is India: In the morning I wake up and I am happy. I give thanks for another day my soul, my consciousness has been returned. I lie on the floor and breath for a moment letting the night's grip on my body slip away. I go to yoga practice. As I raise my arms in the first movement of Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salutation A) I give thanks again, this time for this miraculous instrument I call my body. Each day I really am amazed at the arch of the arm, the picture of the hands in prayer before me.

Each day another opportunity to use this gift of life for good. A chance to ease suffering and increase freedom. A chance to honor the earth by not taking for granted her many offerings. So many chances to do good. So many choices to make.

And this is India too: Today a man I see everyday has a blockage in his heart, and though he works long hours and with constant kindness, he can not possibly pay the 200,000 to 300,000 rupees -- $4,500 to $7,000+ it will cost for his surgery. His name is Guru and he is the corner coconut man here in Gokulam. This too is India.

If you've been wondering what you can do to make a difference, help Guru. Maybe that's why you happened to read this blog today. Click here and scroll down to give any sized donation.

What is it about this place? Nothing. This is a place like all others. You can leave it or you can touch it. You can make it better or you can make it worse. This is a place like all others. A place where anything is possible.

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