Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Indian Independence day

In the meanwhile I had found my own place to stay, although it will turn out to be only for a short-term. The “looking for a flat odyssey” is still not over, so you’ll have to wait for some information on the Indian life style. Today it will be about the 15th August, which is the Indian Independence day and basically brings all Indians up on their roofs.
Already on Saturday, the day before Independence Day, I came in touch with some history of India. I was planning to visit the India Gate as it is one of the famous Delhi sights, but due to the preparations for the big day, it was closed and locked behind fences. The picture I took from far is no point sharing it with you. Standing there without a clue what to do I was kind of only waiting for the heavy monsoon showers which came over the city as soon as I knew that I can’t go to the gate. In the same time a rickshaw driver passed by and offered his service, respectively a tour to a lot of sights. I didn’t wanted his whole tour, because it seems a bit too much of a hustle to me, if I would have done his sight-jumping tour. It wouldn’t have been much of actually seeing and getting the intention of the particular sight, because he just would have given me some time for taking pictures. “We drive there, and there…and you can make pictures, and come back and then we go there, and there…” he always said. I suppose that most of you have the approach of taking your time when you wanna relax and really get into the presence of you actions. Hurrying was none of my intentions, but standing in the rain also didn’t seem to amusing, especially since you never know when the monsoon rain stops. Thus I told him to just drop me off at the Gandhi Smriti – the Gandhi House – and let me do my way of sight seeing, and so it was ok for him. The rain became really heavy and there were almost no cars or rickshaws on the street anymore. When we arrived at the Gandhi museum, which is actually the house where he was living in his last years of life, the driver told me that he’ll wait for me and that we can go to other sights afterward ;-)…Well, I again could just tell him to leave and offered him a reasonable charge for his service, but he didn’t gave up. Since he was an old man already he also tried to get with “I’m driving rickshaw for my whole life and you really think I won’t wait for you!?”. So you see that language barriers also exist in India, because that was not the question at all. Anyway, after ensuring my that it is not a big deal for him to wait about one and a half hours, I finally went in the Gandhi House. Story to be continued…
Since it was raining, there must have been only ten tourists on and in the entire property and museum and that was pretty cool, because the experience gained a lot of quality. Besides getting to know all the facts of Gandhi’s life and stations in his life, which were shown in pictures, texts and puppet scenes, you really can feel a peaceful atmosphere and a good vibe around the area. It will move you, when you read what he has done for mankind and especially how he achieved his vision of a free India, independent from its conqueror England. He did it without any violence! India gained its independence on the 15th August 1947 and not even half a year later Gandhi was shot down. “Mahatma Gandhi’s death shocked Delhi and the whole of India with ‘the impact of atomic force’…” (The Hindu, 31 January 1948) and millions of people have been on the streets to give him his last honors.
Gandhi actually spent the few last month of his life in that house, where the museum is located nowadays. Thus I got the opportunity to see his room, which just had all the basic stuff. In my opinion the world would be much better, if most of mankind would disclaim their unsustainable and consumptive life style and prevent the earth from damages. So therefore Gandhi was not just an non-violent revolutionist, but also a great man of sustainability!

“Simplicity is the essence of universality.”

Since it was raining cats and dogs, I was really delighted to here that there will a movie on Gandhi to be shown in the museum in some minutes, so I went outside to tell the driver not to wait for me anymore, but it was still the same difficult…I sometimes think that Indian people’s work attitude is similar to the European car industry’s market understanding some years back. They both do not ‘work’ according to the demand! While in Europa all the Opel’s and VW’s almost got bankrupt, because they manufactured products which nobody ever wanted to buy, here in India people also try to sell you things most of us don’t need or at least don’t see a use in them the way they are presented to us. In my case I really had to give me best in explaining the rickshaw driver that I don’t want his fast-forward ride through the city. Although being in a calm Gandhi-like mood it was still a bit annoying when the other one didn’t want to understand. At the end a gave him a reasonable price for driving and waiting for me and I was running back into the museum. Just to give you an example how a heavy monsoon rain looks like, the following picture it took – totally wet, but in the house again – from Gandhi’s veranda.

Not just the streets were flooded, but also the entire garden! Anyway it was still relaxing to spend the day before Indian Independence Day in memory of Gandhi. The following pictures are from the almost spiritual gardens of the Gandhi Smriti.

If anybody ever wondered, what round circle there is on the Indian flag, then here is the story and relation the the nations pre-eminent political and spiritual leader during the Indian independence movement. Gandhi was always making the thread for his cloth on his own spinning wheel to encourage all people in India not to buy all the stuff the English brought them. In this way he also made the Indian economy getting started, because people realized that they can live on their own working skills and manpower. To always remember this fact, the Indian flag carries a spinning wheel in the middle.
To also finish the story line of the driver and myself, it turned out that he was still waiting in front of the museum, so I at least let him drive me home, because I spent too much hours in the Gandhi Smriti as I could still have done more sight-seeing. Some weeks later I got told by an Indian friend (thanks to Karan) that he might have been influenced by his nature: Never being alone! So, if you see it this way my loyal friend was just taking good care of me and wanted to accompany the ‘lonely’ European.

The 15th August, birthday of a great country, started with sleeping very long ;-) ..My first three weeks in India had been quite exhausting, mostly in a positive meaning. After lunch I did what every Indian is doing on this day. It takes some preparations, but I had done them the day before… I’m not talking about the big military parade infront the Red Fort, but about flying kites. I invited some friends, climbed up the roof of the house where I was living at this time and tried to make it look like Indians were doing it. Sure, I must admit that we didn’t had the time of practicing as much as the kids were doing it some weeks already, but nevertheless we sucked really much! First, the colorful, thin-paper kites have to get on the rope, which holds them into the air and believe me, this is a secret technology on its own. Second, you have to throw it into the air and pull slightly on the rope, when the kite’s nose looks up. But since there is not wind at all, it is really hard to get it up. After getting a lot hand signals from other roofs, me landlord helped us to bring it into the air. Finally, the kite flies until we had it in our hands… We tried it hard until it was dark already, but it seems we still have to work quite hard until the Republic day in January!

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