22 September 2008

Sadus & Monkeys & Leaving India

I can't believe how quickly our time here has passed. Well actually, considering my past experience, I can believe how quickly it has passed, but it still seems the right turn of phrase - even if inaccurate. I mean after all, is there anything that happens in the world that is truly unbelievable? And if there were, why would you believe it if I wrote it? Anyway leaving philosophic/linguistic concerns aside, I ought to return to my point, which was that our time here is at an end.

Linda leaves Bangalore tomorrow in the early morning for a brief day in Mumbai and then a next-morning flight to Israel. I'll be following at 2:05AM this Sunday, stopping in Paris for the day (10 hours or so in which I'll drop off some luggage and finalize apartment arrangements and hopefully see a good friend), then arrive in Israel myself the morning of erev Rosh Hashanah.
The next couple of days will likely be quite crazy w/ internship wrap up, packing, last minute errands, etc. I feel like there is so much I want to write about (some of which I've been promising for quite awhile now). However, I don't got the time for all that (hopefully I'll catch up in Israel). What I do have time for is to give you a quick bite of our final trip in India to Hampi this weekend (and not even all of that).

Given the way we've done this India experience - which is to say, just about as fully as I can imagine having done it - our final trip was a great last hurrah. We left town after a full day of work - I went straight from MSR to a MSR party, jumped out of the cab before getting there, stopped to get some pants and shirts custom tailored, got to the party, drank, danced, ate (in the space of 40 minutes) went to the train, overnight trainride, early morning arrival in Hospet, and rickshaw to Hampi.

We spent 3 wonderful days in Hampi before taking an overnight train home, getting in at 6AM.
From the train station, I dropped my luggage at home, showered, changed, and had a quick bite, then off to the office. In the office till around 7PM, then to MG Road to try on
the tailoring, and meet folks for a goodbye dinner for Linda!

So I've got much to say about the trip itself, but since I have little time, I'm just going to share one experience with you.

Sunday morning we left a bit before sunrise to journey to the monkey temple several kilometers from our guest house. We climbed to the top, the early morning air initially cool around us, but threatening warmth and stickiness as we and the sun climbed. The monkey temple was a beautiful place and had inspiring views. But the monkeys, well I think they are pretty vile creatures.

They will attack you if you give them reason - and reason can be anything from looking at them wrong, to having a nice hat, to carrying food. Of course a full grown adult could beat a monkey to a pulp, but they will scratch and bite - and thus if you are an Indian and worry little about contracting Rabies you chase them, while if you are a foreigner you mostly let the monkies bully you b/c you don't want to fly to Singapore if bitten.

So we watched a beautiful sunrise, somewhat marred by the
occasionally aggressive monkey - and of course got to watch them pull tapeworms out of one anothers behinds (a tasty snack for a monkey apparently) and practice raping each other. Disgusting creatures.

It was when we descended the hill that we really started having a good time. You see as we had begun climbing the hill that morning music had began emanating from a small building at its foot. This music was still continuing when we descended and we stopped to watch it's makers - a group of Sadus (holy men) who one could loosely say are Hindu mystics (although they aren't always Hindu - just ask about Sidharrtha). Anyway the rhythmic chanting drumming and clanging drew us in and we stood watching. However, we only stood a short while as they quickly welcomed us to join them on their mat with gestures and smiles, giving us a pair of finger cymbals to play. This was truly the best side of Indian religion - warm, welcoming, and beautiful.

video

The cymbals were difficult to manipulate at first, but a I fancy that I eventually was able to make some passebly musical noise with them. After some time, I felt that I had gauged their bearing well enough to see if they would be willing to let me take some pictures. It turned out they not only were willing, but quite eager to be recorded. You can see them smiling at the camera in the video above. Linda got some really wonderful shots which we will post for the google group later.

These unassuming holy men asked nothing of us, welcomed us into their celebration, gave us tea and friendship - such a contrast to other "Sadus" who roam tourist areas attempting to dab red spots on your forehead, sprinkle water on you, or ask to have their picture taken, only to then demand payment. We stayed with them playing and meditating for an hour - it was a really beautiful experience and when we left, smiling faces were left behind us.

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