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I am in Patna working on a film for the children’s charity I support, a dust bowl of a town someplace in Bihar. Not a place I would normally venture, but heh. I am put up in a reasonably nice hotel and promptly get about my work, there is nothing else to do in Patna believe me, so focus seems a relatively easy thing at this point.

 

All is going well till I discover that my reasonably nice hotel has a cockroach problem. Not the big uns, but little ugly blighters. The damn things are everywhere. I chase them out of the room, I squash em, I drown them, kill, kill, kill, but they keep appearing. I get the manager of the hotel and point at them. The manager comes back with some ominous green spray. kill, kill, kill.

 

For a day or so they vanish, the green spray has done the trick. But then they are back, I chase them out of the room, I squash em, I drown them, kill, kill, kill. But they cease to end, more green death spray is applied, but my nightmare never seems to cease. Where are they hiding.

 

I am writing this blog entry from a Mac Donalds (Yes, yes, I know – chav) at Delhi Airport on my way back to Mumbai. A man sits opposite and we start to have the usual conversation, where are you from, where are you going, where is your wife – he is tucking into a juicy chicken burger and lays it down on the table. It is then with a certain degree of horror that I watch as two cockroaches run from my laptop towards his burger. I am mortified. He hasn’t noticed. Nobody’s noticed. I’ve noticed. I do the honourable thing and quickly leg it.

Around the corner I peer into my laptop and there they are, whole families, whole communities, a whole silicon metropolis of roaches existing in harmony, dinner parties with fancy dresses, white picket fences, shops and boulevards. I am a delivery boy of middle class cockroaches to the world. I tried to destroy them, so they used me to spread. My cards have been dealt, karma has spoken.

 

Stuff a Buddhist approach I think; balls to reincarnation; karma, my left foot. I have take a Republican party stance on diplomacy – Peace is attained through superior firepower.  I promptly phone a friend in Mumbai – “Get me cockroach spay” I cry. “Why do you want cockroach spray” he responds. “They are in my laptop.” “What is in your laptop,” “Never mind, just get me cockroach spray, the greenier and deadlier the better. Nepalm, I demand weapons of mass destruction.”

 

This may be the last blog entry from me for a while as my laptop dissolves into a blob of plastic, silicon, insect and those F keys that nobody really knows what they do. My Karma evenly distributed.

 

My apologies go out to the Delhi airport Mac Donalds and my sympathies at their forthcoming closure, the jobs lost and the households destroyed, the suicide of the proprietor and the need for his child to go out and beg. It is a shame really that he was destined to bring about world peace till the sudden death of his father. That’s karma for you.

 

Maybe we need to live with our insect friends, maybe I should feed them instead of killing them, maybe I need to buy them multi armed Laura Ashley dresses and pointy shoes. I finish this article on flight 801 bound for Mumbai, I watch as another roach legs it from the fold.

 

Sorry Air India…….. And the…….etc, etc, etc.

That’s Karma for you.

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Linking Road is the Oxford Streetof Mumbai. It is set within the well to do area of Bandra,  and similarly to Oxford Streetit is full of complete and utter crap. Adidas and Nike labels and low quality replicas of Adidas and Nike labels proliferate like the plague. Sitting on a bench, a fiberglass Ronald Macdonald lures in the modern Indian youth as if he were a bag of sweet wielding phaedophile outside an all boys Catholic school.

 

Now I can justify to myself for going in many ways: I want to compare what it is like to the UK MacDonalds; I have eaten curry every day, twice or 3 times a day; one needs to experience all manifestations of the culture; a press gang whacked me over the head and dragged me in; I am a naïve Catholic boy. But, you would not believe me, so i fess up, I don’t mind a MacDonalds from time to time. There I said it, i will burn, i will burn.

 

Anyway, I’m in, and there is not a flippin’ burger in site. Instead of the limp beef burgers, that  bear no resemblance to their advertisements there are limp chicken burgers that bear no resemblance to their advertisements. The chips are the same though and fortunately the coke is coke and not some hybrid adaptation. Mind you coke is coke wherever you are in the world. Change is good, but sometimes what you know is the best.

 

Sitting in my formica wonderland I peer out of the window and watch a holy cow stroll down the middle of the road like a tart from some Northern English town, with a tiny skirt and new stilettos. I look at the cow, then at my burger, then back to the cow and I am sure he is laughing at the fiberglass clown perv. and thinking 70% Hindus in the country….my arse is safe here.

 

Every civilization has a unique way of looking at the world. A cluster of ideas which define the goal of human existence, the ways to reach this goal, the errors to be avoided and the obstacles to be expected on the way. This view defines central human experiences and answers questions as to what is good and what is evil, what is real and what is unreal, what is the essential nature of men and women and the world they exist in, what is their connection to nature, other human beings and to the cosmos. What is god, and should that cow be in my burger.

 

Three interlinked elements comprise a major part of this Hindu world view; moksha, dharma and karma, with this trinity forming a large part of the Indian psyche.

 

Moksha – the goal of life

 

Self-realisation, transcendence, salvation, a release from the world – Hindus see moksha as the goal for life. This ‘ultimate’ reality is considered beyond human comprehension, conceptual thought and the mind by many gurus, but is considered as the highest goal and meaning of human life.

 

Hindus see life as a combination of the tragic and romantic. Tragic in that it is pervaded by ambiguities and uncertainties where man has little choice but to bear the burden of unanswerable questions, inescapable conflicts and incomprehensible afflictions of fate. But within this journey is the romantic, and the seeker if he withstands the perils of the road will be rewarded by exaltation beyond normal human experience, an ultimate reality.

 

One of the manifestations of this understanding is the feeling of hope, even in the most dismal of living standards. The Indian mind tends to convert even the smallest ray into a blazing light. Clutching at straws many millions live in slums and an absolute poverty and are happy because they live with the possession of hope for a better future.

 

Furthermore, being connected to a higher reality, the divinity immanent within each human being , gives a feeling of self worth that comes from a pre conscious conviction of ones metaphysical significance. However bad life is, by being connected to this ultimate reality ones self esteem is nourished and stands against life’s despairs and inequalities.

 

Dharma

 

If Moksha is the goal of life, then dharma can be seen as law, moral duty, conformity with the truth of things, the means through which man approaches the desired goal.

 

Years ago every person knew that it was not what you did that was important for spiritual progress, but whether you acted in conformity with your dharma.  Whether you were a shoemaker, priest, housewife, prostitute or doctor all were considered equally good and equally right if it was consistent with your dharma.

 

Dharma, is being vigorously challenged by modern india, as it embraces Western ideals. Individual choice, material rewards and human aspirations as opposed to spiritual activity have led to social envy, greed and selfishness. Dharma is crumbling under modernity.

 

It does sound different – “My dharma in life is to be a shoemaker and provide the best shoes I can, so that i may provide shelter, feed and clothe my family, to perform this i am on route to achieving moksha” as opposed to “My dharma in life is to work in a call centre for British Gas and buy real Adidas trainers and hang out at Mac Donalds eating limp chicken burgers that bear no resemblance to the advertisement, to perform this I am on route to becoming obese and soulless, but at least my feet look cool”. 

 

Karma

 

The third essential idea of the Hindu world view is Karma. An opinion may go thus “even at time of death a man should wish to do good deeds and wish to be reborn in a place where he can do good deeds again. After many lives of good deeds (living in dharma) a man will attain moksha. If he does evil deeds, his form changes till he falls lower, till he becomes a jar (an innanimate thing). So karma can be seen as the cycles of birth and death in which an individual soul progresses or regresses through various levels of existence; and the control of this movement by the karma of the individual soul, the balance of right and wrong actions that accompany the individual from one birth to another.

 

This can allow Indians to accept the inevitable dissapointments that afflict even the most fortunate of lives but it can also lead to denial. I perform an action now, because of  actions from a past life.

 

 

So to consider this in context I look at the holy cow walking down the road. Its soul must be heading towards moksha to be experiencing the existence as a holy cow, which incidentally is supposed to be holy, because it contains all the gods.  Its current dharma, well that one seems easy, it just needs to wander around and be holy and not get itself trapped in the christian area and its karma, well I don’t know where it came from or where it is going, but it sure isn’t going to be eaten here, not for a few years yet anyway.

 

Now kfc over the road………Are there holy chickens?

 

 

 

 

 

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