August 15th Independence Day in India
Today is Independence day from British rule in India. I am privileged to experience some of the life of India.
India is a very old country with an ancient culture, but a new country to independence. It has me reflecting on life, independence and freedom, what do these mean in today’s world. Are you free if you are dependent on a job for medical insurance? Are you independent if you are leaning on another countries culture to try to identify yourself?
India is such an interesting country. Although it now has independence it is at more risk today than ever of losing its identity. Many Indians are turning away from their ancient traditions to Western ways. The old traditions may seem simple and dated, but they often led to better well-being for an individual than many in the West are experiencing today. Bringing the best of both Eastern and Western into life can enhance ones health and vitality greatly. You see change happening in the West too where many are turning to ancient Eastern traditions of Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda to enhance their well-being. I hope we meet in the middle.
Only in India can you experience life pulsating in the streets in such a unique way.
I am currently volunteering for a special 15 day hatha program, more about that later. The program is intense and there is certainly a required carrot and stick approach, work them hard, bring them beyond their perceived limitations, then time for an easier day and a trip to visit a Shiva temple.
We all get on the bus for a 45 minute drive to Coimbatore. I sit down at the front of the bus and had to laugh out loud when I saw the sign on the bus
“All your co-commuters deserve fair treatment;
refrain from reserving seats for your pals.”
You see life happening all around you regardless of whether you are in the countryside or a huge city. The main difference being the levels of pollution. The countryside is lush, with banana plants, coconut trees and all sorts of vegetation I don’t recognize.
Motor bikes are everywhere, a common mode of transport. The things you see on motorbikes often have you doing a double take. Am I really seeing what I think I am seeing? There’s a man riding with banana leaves as wide as a car behind him. I have seen stranger, a big live pig on the back of a bike with 2 people in Cambodia, a baby being fed a bottle of milk in Indonesia, hey at least she wasn’t breast feeding at the time! Sewing machines, ladders, plastic buckets, everything can be transported by motorbike it seems.
Animals and people all living as one.
There are all sorts of animals loose on the street. Lots of dogs who are very street wise. They know to look left and right before crossing the road. You see some of them with a bad leg, or missing part of a leg, but generally they look healthy and I’ve never seen a dog fight.
A tribe of goats doing what they can to eat their way through all the food thrown out on the street is a common sight.
Cows, cows and more cows some tied up by the side of the road outside somebodies home, while others roam freely with the owner hoping they make their way home by the end of the night. The cow is revered in the Hindu tradition. Out of the window I see a cow trotting along tied to a rope held by 2 young men on a motorbike holding, double take moment.
But by far the What the What moment was when I saw a Donkey jumping with only its front legs together. It took me a moment to figure it out. It is common for animal owners to tie the front legs of animals together so they don’t travel too far from home. This smart donkey has figured out it can jump its way to freedom. Not sure how far it managed to get, but it sure gave me a chuckle for the day.
The bus drivers love to honk their horn. Every time they wish to pass a motorbike they honk to let them know they are passing on the right. Lots of motorbikes, thus lots of honking. Our bus driver likes the sound of his horn so there was more that the average amount of honking going on. Road markings are guidelines only, not always a necessity. The motorbikes are best to move to the side of the road as soon as they hear the honk, but sometimes this makes them speed up. It all makes for an interesting journey.
When you drive through a village there are small shops along the side of the road, these are about 15 feet back from the road and sell everything from fresh coconuts, tailoring services, new motorbikes and general food items. There are also stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, sugarcane juice and coconut water. Life is pulsating on every street and you never know what you are going to see.
So much to see it is a feast for the eyes.