ARRIVED IN SEONI INDIA
About 200 Kilometers Northeast of Nagpur.
I am just below Jabulpur a few hours.
Place is great, and full of people and activity. I have a room with cable TV and a couple English Movie channels. I may have to stay a couple of days.
I go to the Internet now.
The bus trip was uneventful, except I opted for the expensive bus system in Nagpur and it probably cost me an hour in time. I should have just kept switching inside the bus station and not go with the private ones. They are slimier. The government ones seems more honest.
MAILED LETTER TO ANDREW IN GOA
Friday 23, January from Savagram.
GETTING A CLEAN LECTURE FROM INDIA LADY
I have an older Indian couple that has been living next to me for the last 3 days. They are very nice, and they are trying to be my parents in India. Here I am writing and complaining about India being very dirty and the lady give me a lecture on not changing my clothes or wearing the same pants twice, and she may be correct that I wore them 3 times. I had to leave for the Internet café and when I came back I washed all my clothes and hung them out to dry. She is not very happy. I am also very happy.
What is really humorous is that she probably found the only traveler in India that carries a special bucket for cleaning his clothes, and on a somewhat regular basis heat water to boil out the germs and bacteria in my clothes.
I will do a straw survey soon also to see how many clothes other people carry. But I have with me.
6 Pairs of underwear
6 Pairs of socks.
2 pairs of long pants
3 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of swim shorts
And lots of miscellaneous other items of clothes. I would bet that I have double the normal traveler. Then to carry the bucket is just unheard of, and way beyond normal.
Unfortunately she was correct and she caught me. I have been lounging around in this hotel and not doing much, but working on my computer and was not paying attention to my clothes. One this that is very good about India is you can pay people very easy to clean your clothes. What is bad is in the Ashram here they do not advertise or try to do any services for the travelers so it is a little isolated. I have been so happy in India because the cost of cleaning clothes is very cheap and I have been having exceptionally clean clothes here. If you want they will even press them in the normal cities, and not the tourist places.
I LEAVE SEWAGRAM TOMORROW
I will leave by slow local bus tomorrow and go towards Varanasi at a pretty good pace so I arrive before the 2nd of February to meet my friend Jeff. I will leave around 7:00 am in the morning and probably stop around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. The distance between cities will determine where I stop and how well I make connections.
DEBATING AND DEBATING
It will soon be the first of February and by the time I leave the country it may well be the first of March. I keep saying to myself that I will visit Europe in the spring, and I have no idea on how to get around the world fast enough for that.
My friend Jeff is going to do the Siberian Railway I guess and return to Europe. I am going to discuss this with him and see if maybe that would be a good idea for me to return to Europe.
I could blame this on weather and such, but I know in the back of my head that I am very tired of these segregated countries. All of Southeast Asia and India, and probably China and most of Asia are full of Religions that are completely racist in my opinion. They consider anyone that is not their religion unacceptable people. I know you think the Thai people intermingle with the rest of the world, but I believe that 99 percent of the women that go with western people are prostitutes so do not believe or consider that this culture accepts western culture.
I would like to spend some time living where there is less prejudice. I am going to have to really think this over and plan my adventure carefully. It was just too easy for me to enjoy Central and South America. Europe is expensive, but more enjoyable than always being a visitor. I am thinking hard about Greece, Italy, and Eastern Europe. I could float around the Mediterranean and stay on the beach and do Eastern Europe for 6 months, plus it is actually easier to travel to the USA from Europe than from Asia.
I will check out the Religions of Eastern Europe and see if they are Christian or what? I do not care what religion countries are, but for sure the countries I enter care which religion I am, so they make me feel unwelcome.
Thailand makes you feel welcome in a pay-as-you-go sense.
Greece: Greek Orthodox
Macedonia: ¾ Orthodox Christians and ¼ Muslim.
Romania: Romanian Orthodox Church
That is enough. I am pretty sure I could meander around in Eastern Europe and have a better welcoming wagon.
The Men of India are very welcoming and so are the children, I think for the women it is dangerous to be friendly. But even the men are sort of always in a weird sort of way friendly that makes me not want to keep my window closed tight for fear of peeping Toms or Voyeurism by the India Men. There was the same problem in Thailand. You would look out the door or window and catch some guy looking at you.
So they are friendly in India, but I can never get the feeling of good friends or friendship. I see almost zero foreigners hanging around with India people, although you will constantly see India people talking to Foreigners. I think they will talk your ear off, but to be a friend is difficult social jump. Not for the Foreigners, but for the locals. I can become friend pretty easily with the rich, or more likely we can act rich together, which just is a pain to me.
DANIEL THE YOGA TEACHER AND MASSAGE THERAPIST
I met a 25-year-old man from Maine in the USA here in Savegram yesterday. He came to see the Gandhi memorial. This guy gave me an explanation about Yoga that was perfect, but also went on to explain that he has not found anything but superficial or made for tourist Yoga in India. So my gut feeling was correct, that more or less in my opinion and his opinion the Yoga of India is weak.
But he is a vegan or a vegetarian that does not eat any type of eggs or milk either. So he then went on about the terrible food in India. I like a lot of the food in India, but I do like to eat greasy food and this is a problem. So I like the food often, but when I look how they cook it I cringe. Most everything is coated with oil and there is nothing free and simple in food. The spices level here I would say is hazardous to your health. I love spicy food, but have stopped eating so much, because I find myself needing to cough up mucous and spit. I feel a lot better if I stay with the processed foods of the Chapatti.
LOTS OF STUFF
I am missing something, and I am not sure what about this country. I was walking back from the Internet Café and I see 2 Tractors and a lot of Motorcycles and I was thinking to myself.
“Central and South America is poor and India is Rich.”
But I cannot put my finger on what is the big problem here; I think it may be the racism. The have subtle but agreed upon separation of people… I think. It is hard to see, and hard to notice, because there is not obvious separations of the people. But when I talk with a richer person in India, they refer, or never refer to what you may call street level people. It is a problem they will acknowledge very quickly, but a problem that I have not seen anybody want to touch or change. The do not like the living conditions here either, but more likely they just spend all their time staying away from the more brute style of life.
I feel positive that people of South America are more civilized, but the people of India are richer. But it would be so easy to confuse the absolutely pigsty level of living of the India people with them being poor. Some of this way of life has to do with the Hindu reverence for the cow, and not just the cow, but the cow dung or manure. They see the cow manure as being some sort of holy cleaning solution, and also the piss.
But walking to the Internet Café I will always see about 10 pigs in the path rooting around and as best I understand the Hindu people do not eat pigs. But someone is, and it is not obvious who is eating these pigs.
TRIED TO CONNECT MY COMPUTER TO NETWORK
I took my computer to the Internet café last night and tried to connect it directly to their system. It was a complete failure, but I have learned that the people working inside the Internet café will generally help me, but in this instance he did know how to create a connection.
CRAZY ITALIAN DOING A MANTRA OUTSIDE MY ROOM
I am amazed at the number of crazy people in Asia. They may think they are sane, and the other travelers may think they are sane, but I really wish they would all find God soon, so they could relax and stop working so hard to be holy. This zealot like desire of the Travelers to find God is annoying because it is just that being a Zealot. They treat anyone that is not being the holy-than-thou attitude as being an outcaste or not with-it. I am learning to avoid the crazies as a means of good mental health for me. They have a glassy look in their eyes and sort of like they just got kissed for the first time. Sort of like they just got off the turnip truck for cult converts.
Note that this is NOT normally the Indian people. It is the other travelers that are making life annoying here.
Note that he is Italian and he has changed his name to Ganesh. This means elephant in the Hindi language or could be Sanskrit. I ask him if it was Sanskrit of the local and he gave me that look like I am stupid, so I let it pass. I am in a non-violent place… hehehe
But there is a God or sacred statues and such by the name of Ganesh and seems a little crass to me to name yourself after a God or Sacred Statue. He is a mentally deranged person, and scared of his shadow. But looking for God should help him.
VERY COLD MORNINGS Wednesday Morning
It is very cold in my room. The nights are very cold here in Sawegram in January.
TOO MANY PHOTOS
I am having a photo problem. I am able to take too many photos because of ways of taking photos, and I am just overwhelmed with work. Every time I take a photo I need to create a caption for the photo. This takes time, and I am starting to avoid doing my weekly newsletter just because of he quantities of photos. I am going to have to stop carrying my camera with me.
MY THOUGHTS SO FAR ON THE ASHRAM
After walking around today, I am hard pressed to say that this is a retreat or in my dictionary as defined an Ashram. I would say I am at a place that is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi and is trying to maintain his former residence for people to see, then if you wish you could have a veggie meal.
Now I came here to do this, I came to see how Gandhi lived, but I was sort of expecting to see how an Ashram functions and am a little disappointed. I may have to go to a real Hindu one to see this, but nonetheless I am still working on learning about Ashrams and Gandhi.
I did expand my knowledge of Gandhi and am onto some further clues to helping me to understand the man. A lot of the quotes on the walls today were about truth and being a good person, while the autobiography was more about him being a lawyer, and some of his doubts about his actions. I did not see the experiment of truth in the book, although I did see some of this experiment in truth in the quotes inside the Ashram. I took photos of all of them, and will check soon to see if they came out OK.
I am still checking, but I am pretty sure his Leprosy and Yoga centers are closed. There seems to be very little of the former activities that he wished to promote still functioning. I am in some ways worried about the ability of this memorial to continue to function. I do no think it needs money, but there does seem to be a need for human energy.
I think they need a Guru, Swami or some Sadhu that is really got nobility about the person to run this place or be a charismatic manager. I am lost to see who is really running this place, and not that that matter, but if this is to be vital there needs to be energy.
There is Gandhi foundation, but I am not sure of the goals.
I walked into my room a few minutes ago, it is about 10:00 PM and outside is very black and very eerie here at the Sevagram Gandhi Ashram as I just returned from the internet café at the small village or square and on the floor walking around is a huge cockroach. My instant reaction was to find my shoe and smash the little bugger.
Now I am at the former home of one of the man that championed the values of non-violence and the idea of Ahimsa or to “do no harm,” so this act of violence on my part was thought over a couple of times before the shoe hit the cockroach. I supposed the last thought in my head before I had a good first shot at this cockroach was,
“Do I need to kill the cockroach?”
So Gandhi did make an impression on me, but I just read a quote on the wall earlier today about a book has no value if you cannot put the words into action. I keep dwelling on this Ahimsa idea and trying to figure out what it means. I suppose it appears that killing cockroach does harm, but that is definitely an oversimplified version of values. Sometimes to not do something causes more problems, and does more harm than to act.
Civil disobedience is to me also passive aggressive behavior and in a pre-meditated sense, this becomes to me violence. A much better sense or use of violence than killing people, but a still in my mind a lower form of violence. Starting to slice and dice the uses of violence and I am sure I can come up with some really juicy situations that would cause anyone to talk about violence. Gandhi himself sort of alluded to his support, or how he drove or helped in Ambulance in a couple of British wars and in some ways was a tacit support of war.
But nonetheless I do not see any great value for cockroaches and will continue to be a meat eater. I suppose we do what is normal for an animal I life, and I am not in denial of something else second and me being an animal first.
2 SOUTH KOREAN GIRLS
There are 2 South Korean girls in the Ashram or walking around. I have talked with them on a couple of occasions, and they are very nice. Their English is very bad, and talking is slow and full of misunderstandings, but they are nice girls. I have discovered that they do not like walking on the street alone, and the men here must really stare and make comments of sorts. I am not sure how the men act with the women but for sure the girls do not like how they act. I am going the same direction as they are, and am trying to learn, or figure out if they wish to travel with me, so they feel safe. They are extremely well mannered women, and it would be easy to travel to Varanasi with them, other than it is slow talking and can be confusing.
I have met a few India boys wandering around just outside the Hotel or the Ashram and this is fun for me, but I have noticed that they all know too well about who are the women inside the Hotel. It is obvious and I think natural that India boys would want to meet the Western women, and think if I was them I would be doing the same, but I agree or think this is difficult for the Western women.
I do not think it is a real problem, more of an annoyance.