Day Eleven and Day Twelve: ‘I Share Your Love’

IMG_3747 He was caught of guard — he was laughing and smiling right before this…I think we surprised him with the flash. Haaha (Peter, I know you’ll enjoy this one).

I am watching a clinic employee feed the fish in the pond downstairs as I type. Like I said, everything here is connected and holistic—parts all come together to make a whole, it is marvellous. Speaking of feeding, I have not ingest meat in 10 days, as I mentioned a few posts ago, I may return a vegetarian…one that eats seafood. Haaha.

I had a great meeting with the Directing Trustee yesterday and his advised me on an exciting idea for my final write-up. I am visiting a few local government hospitals meant for the treatment of survivors. Basically, I will be on the go all day, from one location to the other—I am doing six total. So I am thinking two per day for the next three days but we’ll see.

I will stop by the market and start collecting gifts seeing that my time in India is coming to a close. I fly off to Nepal next Saturday for another project.

I found out that Hitler imitated a Hindu religious symbol and turned it into his Aryan nation symbol?! Madness. I found that out this evening whilst shopping for gifts at a metal store. They all sorts of metal utensils in silver, copper, and brass. I also bought a few spices, tea, and raw mint that looks like ice crystals!

On our way back however, we saw a sad scene – a man on the side of the road bleeding with a crowd around him. It may have been from an accident or a fight or something else, either way, my heart ached upon viewing. Things can go from pleasant to unpleasant in a flash…guess it’s one of life’s mysteries that we may never understand.

I am coming down with a cold. I got wet in the rain a few days ago and now I have a sore throat, a slight runny nose, and I feel it coming on stronger. I am drinking a cup of tea at the moment and rubbed my chest/neck with Vick’s vapour rub, hopefully, by the morning, I’ll be feeling much better because there is lots to do.

Here are a few photos…I don’t have a camera so I get photos from others. I used to love 7Ups as a kid, hence my excitement at finding this one…”life is like lemons, squeeze the juice out”

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Day Ten: A NEW Day Has Come…

This morning, I would like to start off with one of my favourite quotes. I found it a few years ago whilst living in San Francisco and every year that goes by, I grow more doting and enamoured by it. It goes a something like this:

Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behaviour. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know, many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry. – J.D Salinger.

 How divine is this passage? Especially the ending, “You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”

It is 3:48 am, I went to bed shortly after 8:30 pm – yesterday I had a very productive day going through the archives. I found the 20th Anniversary of Bhopal Chemical Disaster media highlights from December 2004 and they are absorbing! I learned about these two amazing women: Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla. I am always inspired in the most unusual times and I think those aberrant moments of surprise are the salt of life. There are so many ways to stand up for something that you believe in. There are so many ways you can voice your values and what those values mean to you. The beauty of living in a democratic state is for that exact reason, to celebrate the differences and varied ways people express themselves, their beliefs, and the things that they value. Some, like Bee—who was illiterate at the time of the 20th Anniversary publication—fight for their core beliefs by protesting and fasting, but there are other ways to voice your disgust against injustice and inhumane acts. Others, like myself, select their daily actions and the written word to express what is in their souls, their beliefs, and their visions for the world. And here is a blurb from Our 15th Year and 100th Prize Recipient, the Goldman Environment Prize 1990 – 2004,  “The duo draws strength from each other. Bee’s vision and oratory passion make her a natural spokesperson; Shukla’s quiet diligence and strength make her a formiable organizer. Their partnership is all the more remarkable because Shukla is Hindu and Bee is Muslim, religious factions with a long history of conflict in India. Together, they have made the struggle for justice a powerful validation of women’s role on the frontline of India’s civil society.”

Today, I want you to think about the way you show up to lend alliance to others, the ways in which you stand against things that are opposed to your core beliefs, and the ways in which you show up against injustice and inequality in its multifarious forms (gender, sex/sexuality, race/ethnicity, age, career hierarchy, caste/class etc.). Be inspired…disrupt the status quo, think outside the box, dare yourself to do something different (within reason, obviously, haaha).

Today, I will continue reading the 20th Anniversary media release because it is wise to compare the notes from the 20th Anniversary of the disaster to the 30th Anniversary report. By comparing, I can track the changes that occurred since and the things that have remained the same. It is a way to mark progress (not that progress always equates to a victory).  In addition, I am engaging a few employees at the clinic in conversation—a handful are victims/survivors themselves, it would be nice to hear their perspectives on tragedy and the varied ways healing can occur (or I should say, the varied ways healing occurs). I will be visiting the Ayurvedic system of care practitioner and shadow his daily routine…see the healing in action, experience how it is done, here, in Bhopal, India.

Live and let live…

Day Nine: Sandalwood, Kurta, and a Rickshaw = Atiba’s in Heaven!

I finally found sandalwood after a few days search!!! (Yes, Lex, I will be bring some for Ava, she’ll smell charming).

I had a meeting with the director of the clinic yesterday and another meeting with him today. There is also the staff meeting happening this evening (I think I mentioned in the beginning that there is a weekly staff meeting).

It is now 5:48 am, the sky is opening and the animals are making their varied sounds, accounting for their existence.

The site tour yesterday was quite an experience. I learned a lot about the abandoned plant, and myself. I learned that the rusting/decaying structures that are left can be a metaphor for the conditions directly surrounding the abandoned plant and the lives that co-exists symbiotically. There was a brief moment of a scare, but all is good…one must be cautious at all times because everyone else is not as solicitous/alert/and or vigilante, so you must pick up the slack when others fail to pay heed to what’s directly in front of them!

I will hand out a questionnaire today and hopefully have all the data by Friday, which means, my weekend will be spent collecting, sorting, analysing, and making sense of it all. Though, I plan on making a visit to Sanchi (Google it, hella cool!).

I am receiving such fond e-mails from loved one (family and friends) and it is a joy to wake up t such kind and loving words—funny at times, which is always good! Thanks Lex, Linda, Lucia, Marty, Uncle Kendell, Steggy, and Aunt Betty.

Dharma Love.

The ancient town and gardens of Suzhou

Despite Shanghai being an absolutely mesmerizing city, staying there for a while can leave one feeling a bit locked in. After some emotional turmoil on a Friday night, I decided I needed to do something completely different when I wake up. Buying a plane ticket to Beijing for the next morning sounded exciting but too complicated and draining. So I decided to go to one of the surrounding water towns, Suzhou.

I have been wanting to visit the water towns since my arrival but my lack of Mandarin terrified me. I have already had enough experiences of being hopelessly lost without any English language nor people around me. Thankfully, I decided to stop thinking rationally and just let whatever happen to me.

I was still feeling a bit nervous, but a boy from Mexico miraculously moved into my hostel dorm and decided to join me five minutes after we met. It is better to be hopelessly lost with someone else, especially someone as irrational and fearless as Rafael. We watched little bats fly over us inside the canals, rode a tuk-tuk, almost crashed, and ran into the last train back exactly 50 seconds before the doors closed. The nighttime was so pretty that I secretly wished I missed the last train.

On a more interesting note, Suzhou was the home to the very first sex shop I have seen so far in China. None in Shanghai. What does that tell us?

Here are some photos:

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Take me back!

Union Carbide Tour—ghost of Decembers past

It’s 4 am in Bhopal. I am up doing prep work for later today. A few of us will be taking a guided tour of the Union Carbide site @ 11 am. Afterward, we will walk around the colonies directly affected by the gas leak of 1984 and the subsequent contaminated water. I know it will be a mentally and emotionally draining experience…but it must be done. I Just finished sending a few e-mails to my family to check in. The prayers are sounding through the air, I wish you can experience it!!! Funny how a place can inspire you—being in this holistic space has an effect—consciously and subconsciously. For breakfast, I had a cup of coffee followed by Tulsi tea, an apple, and a pear. Here’s a view from my room…and obviously after I wrote that, I thought of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, haaha!

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We conducted a few patient interviews this morning. Interviews are always a bit awkward especially when it is around such a sensitive topic like this and so early in the morning! I know for me, and most people, diving into raw emotional trauma at the start of the day is exhausting and draining.

I have started my “final reflection” presentation, so I will work on that until we leave for the site visit @ 10:45 am. Until then, cheers.

PS: It is sunny and not raining for the first time in days! Yippee.

 

 

Day Eight: Do you have any Indian Sandalwood Oil? I cannot find sandalwood anywhere, ugh!!!

Today’s agenda: (1) visit the permit office to tour Union Carbide; (2) first round of interviews with staff/administration and doctors; (3) visit the Old Market.

Thought for the day:

“Hurry to your own directing mind, to the mind of the Whole, and to the mind of this particular man. To your own mind, to make its understanding just; to the mind of the Whole, to recall what you are part of; to this man’s mind, to see whether there is ignorance or design—and at the same time to reflect that his is a kindred mind.”

What a day…what a day I had! Woof! One thing is needful when coming to India—patience. We arrived at 10:25 am and was informed that we had to wait until 11 am, we didn’t leave the office until 3 pm…permit in hand. We are not allowed to take photos or videos during the tour tomorrow, which is fine with me. Taking photos at times can hinder having a true experience with an object, I’ll will bring my note pad and pen, as I always do, and take copious notes. I made it to Old Market where I purchased bags of varied fruits, no veggies—I will buy veggies on my next trip…Friday evening…I will also buy spices and fruits. I have been contemplating what to bring home as gifts to my family and friends and I’ve figured it out—spices and teas! After all, I am in the deep East, the land of ‘exotic’ spices and teas!

In an attempt to relax after a mildly frustrating morning/afternoon, I am writing this blog and having Tulsi tea, which is delicious!

Because of the long wait at the permit office, our scheduled interviews were postponed until Wednesday. Tomorrow morning, I will start interviews at 8:30 am, then we will head to the Union Carbide site for a one-hour guided tour at 11 am. We will then walk around the colonies and converse with individuals directly affected by gas leak of 1984 and the subsequent contamination of drinking water in the years that follow, including presently.

The clinic is self-sustained and follows a strict no ‘outside chemicals’ model, in order to keep in good faith—since the patients are victims of a chemical gas leak. Everything that is used here is manufactured on site, which goes along with the holistic approach embedded within the clinics configuration. The medicine is made here, plants are grown in the garden, cultivated, and turned into organic remedies and treatment. The water is filtered and treated on site allowing foreigners (like yours truly) to consume with ease and at their own leisure. There are cooks on site too, providing vegetarian meals three times per day.

I will end today’s post with this…I had my first encounter with a victim of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, and it was an intense one, definitely divine in its occurrence. I will not describe it here because sometimes details are rudimentary.

Museum Visit: Remember Bhopal Museum

Here is one photo. I will upload more later (the internet is slow tonight).

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Every photo gives the option of listening to the victim’s testimony in Hindi or English, hence the receiver.

Here is a link: http://rememberbhopal.net/the-traveling-exhibition/

Day Seven: Snakes on a Plane – or no, I mean, snakes in the garden

Before coming to India I binged on a Nat Geo docu-series on Netflix called Wild India, woof, hoping to get accustomed to the sights, sounds, and creatures that roam these parts; however, no matter how much one mentally prepares for something like this it is always a shock when you find out that you share a space with creatures like tigers and snakes—after all, they are God’s creatures too and need love though they are terrifying things to many of us.

(Side note: I came across an article this morning which makes mention of an alligator crossing the streets of New York City!? Holy Moly! I have replaced one jungle with another, haaha).

I just spent an hour walking on one of the many balcony here pondering and meditating…drinking water and watching the trees sway in the wind. Since it is still raining, I cannot do my usual exercise routine, instead, I walk around in circles—think Socratic dialogue. From afar it may look cray-cray, but that is how I stay well-balanced in a world that is disconnected and hectic. It is essential to slow down and stay calm and avoid non-reactivity. I was doing a gratitude salutation by channelling the souls that are guiding lights in my life—from teachers, to friends, to family—it is a nice way to stay present and put things into perspective. If you are reading this, you were thought of during my walk/rain salutation. Smiles.

Today’s agenda: Go to New Market …I will go to New Market and then visit Market during the week. I will then take a cab to the area right outside the Union Carbide plant. We are hoping to get a permit that will grant us access to the plant itself which stands as a museum of death and a constant reminder of 1984—how can one move on when you are greeted by the very thing that ruined life as you know it?  Over dinner last night, the researchers and I planned a movie night for Monday (7/27)…we will be screening the Nat Geo documentary on the Bhopal disaster that was aired on Indian TV Wednesday night (7/21).

I have scheduled back-to-back interviews for Monday and Tuesday with staff, administration, doctors and health practitioners—it will be demanding, edifying, and rewarding (I’m using a translator which changes the speed and flow of an interview). The following week, which will be my last week here, I will have the same schedule but with patients/victims of 1984 (directly and indirectly affected).

Update: I was disappointed by New Market, ugh. We need permission before entering the UCB site so tomorrow morning we will go to the office and seek a permit.

The attached photo was taken from the cab on my way to the market—and I am entitling it “the family that rides together, stays together.” #i’mlovingit!

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The team cooked dinner together and now we are in the library working. It’s 10 pm on Sunday night and we are working away—reading and writing. We are all working on different things but collectively, on the same topic. I came across a dissertation that speaks on memory-making which will be of divine help. I started reading it and will complete it within the next two days.

Back to work…

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