I went to one of the local malls that is a fifteen minute ride in a tuk tuk, man, what an experience! ‘twas a scene movies are made off. The organized chaos of traffic and driving in these parts leaves me gasping for air—it is both fear and excitement…it is electric. I was accompanied by three others—two from Europe and one from the UK. The two Europeans are testing the water to locate areas off contaminated drinking water, they will then coherently inform the health services and government agencies. The British fellow, Pri, is documenting stories and creating a counter-narrative—think Foucault, basically, the method of story-telling—which is congenial (so we will be working together for the next few days). At our team meeting this morning, we were all given a chance to share our interest in Bhopal and also share our area(s) of proficiency. This will help us navigate a way to build on each other’s work and work together on future projects—this is heaven to me because there is nothing I adore more than like minds living and working together, kibbutz much!?
Before I left JFK, I was exchanging e-mails with a few friends, one of which, Brad, said this to me: “I’ve found that new adventures are both frightening and refreshing and often bring out the best in us.” He could not have said it any better! That has been my experience the past few days. I have always been an independent free-spirit-gypsy-loving type of person, you know, the Nietzschean idea of amor fati:
“What is it, fundamentally, that allows us to recognize who has turned out well?
That a well-constituted person pleases our senses, that he is carved from wood that is hard, delicate, and at the same time smells good.
He has a taste only for what is good for him; his pleasure, his delight cease where the measure of what is good for him is transgressed.
He guesses what remedies avail against what is harmful; he exploits bad accidents to his advantage; what does not kill him makes him stronger.
Instinctively, he collects from everything he sees, hears, lives through, his sum: he is a principle of selection, he discards much.
He is always in his own company, whether he associates with books, human beings, or landscapes: he honours by choosing, by admitting, by trusting.
He reacts slowly to all kinds of stimuli, with that slowness which long caution and deliberate pride have bred in him: he examines the stimulus that approaches him, he is far from meeting it halfway.
He believes neither in “misfortune” nor in “guilt”: he comes to terms with himself, with others; he knows how to forget – he is strong enough; hence everything must turn out for his best.”
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely to bear what is necessary, but to love it.”
This trip, as I mentioned during my grant interview with ICI, is not only professional/academic, but one of personal advancement. There is no separation between the man and his work/career—it’s a holistic endeavour. In support of Brad’s e-mail, and Nietzsche’s amor fati, here is Helen Keller to shed some vision and light: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” Anyone who participated in competitive sports—either in high school, college, or professional—and was highly successful at their event will understand this quote, I sure do—ask Gail Devers or Allyson Felix, or any other Olympian. As I transcribe my notes, the evening prayers are vibrating through the air…and it is a reminder that I am here, in the East, doing what I love. Bhopal is one of the most traditional of Indian cities and the residue of age-old traditions are everywhere. After my visit to the mall this evening, it is apparent how distinct this area is in comparison to other parts, even a fifteen minute ride away.
I acquired some goodies—a canvas tote bag and a tee-shirt that support the victims campaign to clean up Bhopal. It is a nice way to raise awareness and spread the word (walking advertisement…the best kind). I am creating a repo with the librarian/archivist. She has been here for seven years and her grasp on the history of the disaster exceeds many! I will be engaging her in many conversations over the next two weeks. I scheduled a sit-down Tavis Smiley meets Charlie Rose-esque interview with her…bound to be riveting. J.
It is time for dinner—I may return a vegetarian…well, a seafood-vegetarian, haaha.