Friday, February 29, 2008

The talking is free

... but the content you have to pay for.

Meaning, this is going to be another rambling post. (Official tag: 'blah blah blah.')

New photo albums of Rajasthan from both E. and I on facebook, so check it out if you can. I've tried to label things somewhat clearly.

So, Western news. Edwards really did the Clinton campaign in when he quit, eh? She probably would have taken the next few states if the leftist dem vote wasn't being split between him and Obama. I think it's a good thing overall - not just because I more or less, given the three major options, like Obama, but because I think he'll cut deeper into the GOP voteshare than Clinton would have, and that might be a big issue with McCain since no one seems to be noticing that he's every bit as batshit crazy as the rest of them. Evidence provided upon request. Or just click any one of those links over there ----->. There was a really interesting post up at Pandagon from a few days ago about an interview in which McCain pretends not to know whether condoms help reduce transmission of HIV. And that, friends, is really, really bad news.

There are these ads here, for I don't know what, but they're these huge billboards with a huge cartoon of the US, the geographical outline dressed in the stars and stripes, and it has a cartoon of HRC and two anonymous men in suits and the headline "Auntie Sam?". I cannot figure out what it's an ad for but I've seen it multiple times. There's something else on it about "the democratic choice" and then the logo of some product we don't recognize. Of course that's nicer than she's been addressed as by most of the US media in years.

But I was talking about gurudwaras. Or I was meaning to. And Amritsar.

Going to the gurudwaras was incredibly interesting, and being now on the Ganges, even more so. I'll be spending the rest of tonight doing some contextual reading about both Hinduism and Sikhism. I shortchanged Amritsar a lot, in my previous entry. It's just not quite enough to say that the Golden Temple was amazing, beautiful, etc. When we first saw it, it was already edging past dusk, but there were still prayers being sung. When you see it, it's floating in the middle of a square, still pool which is surrounded at some distance by a walkway of marble. You slowly make your way around the entire structure, and you stare. I would have sworn it was lighting itself. It was so phenomenally serene. I could have sat there for a long long time.

To enter, like all gurudwaras, you remove your shoes and cover your head. Before entering the complex you wash your hands and dip your feet in a shallow pool at the entrance. You walk down a few steps, which is meant to remind you of the humility needed to approach God. Then, in the Golden Temple, for about 20 minutes you're knocked on your ass by the beauty of it all. I'll share the details of how you proceed through a Sikh shrine once I've got my background information straight, so in the meantime you'll have to take my word for it - it's amazing.

Tonight we've taken a walk and seen the evening arati, though from more of a distance than we were hoping - we might try again tomorrow. We're getting up early to do a (beginner's) yoga class (embarassing) tomorrow. I'm looking forward to showing off my utter unflexibility and lack of co-ordination in the early hours. Then back to ogling the mountains. I said I was enjoying the Himalayas, right? We're doing a 7k hike tomorrow and then in the afternoon.... possibly reading.

I know, blah blah blah. I know it's a vacation, but I haven't been idle in a while.


E'sDad said...

I was tempted to tell you how profoundly I was affected by the Golden Temple but then thought it preferable for you to see it without preconceived notions ... plus I couldn't come up with the words to describe it. But I think your phrase "phenomenally serene" sums it up perfectly. Hard to believe that Indira Gandhi ordered Indian troops to attack it to remove Sikh militants. It makes her subsequent assassination, if not excusable, understandable.

M. said...

It's definitely worth the trip to Amritsar... which is quite a trip.

I had a hard time getting my head around the militant episodes as well. I did a little reading on the Sikh independence movement in Punjab-Haryana, but I'm still struggling to reconcile what I've read with the beautiful, beautiful, ethereal building we saw. I suppose the next figure to read up on is Indira Gandhi...