SUN

Today, January 15, is Makara Sankranti.  At 5 pm a ray of sunlight passes over the statue of the deity Lord Shiva in the temple of Gavi Gangadhareshwara.  The front page of the morning paper reminds us that it is not too late to “bring home happiness, this Sankranti.” Now through Sunday the electronics store has special deals on “LCD screens, laptops, mobile phones, cameras, and front loading washers.” This is yet another example of how in India the modern and ancient co-exist in ironic harmony.

Sankranti celebrates the end of the harvest and the Sun’s movement into a new season.  Sugar cane stalks line the market place, and the cows sport necklaces, colored horns or other decorations.  From this point forward the days will become sunnier and warmer.  At least that is the common wisdom. 

There are so many layers of life here that it is difficult to sort them out.  Languages, traditions, religions, and cultures flow and merge through time.  It is a randomly predictable ordered chaos:  pulsing, corpuscular, and governed by immutable truths.  We are outsiders and yet we are part of the multicolored fabric of India. 

Never does this become more evident than when we are on the streets, sharing space with others: pedestrians, dogs, cows, bicycles, push carts, two-wheelers, autorickshaws, lorries, and the dreaded buses.  We each have our station in life.  While the dogs are rulers of the night, the cows are rulers of the day.  While the auto rickshaws are the rulers of the tight squeeze, the buses have the final say in the matter.  Pedestrians have the power of the hand and eye, sometimes.  And our common bond is that we are travellers in space and time.  Street life is just one of the many silk threads that are woven into the fabric of India.  Silk, a fabric made possible by a caterpillar, made possible by the mulberry tree, made possible by the Sun, which is celebrated today as it has been for 6000 years.

January 15th also marks the halfway point for our stay here.  Our project is coming along amazingly well.  We have been so blessed to be able to work with wonderful people who have a passion for the environment.  I have lost count of the number of people who have gone out of their way to help us feel welcome.  Paradoxically, I have moments of wistfulness for both my old home and this new home that I will be leaving soon, too soon. 

We climb the stairs to the roof garden restaurant.  The orange morning sun bathes the breakfast table with warm light.  We are given a serving of sweets (sesame seed, sugar crystals, roasted dal, coconut, peanuts, and sugar coated spices).  This is a special reminder of the sweetness of our friendships, a sweetness that should triumph in all our dealings.

Good words to live by for the next two months as we still have many more experiences yet to come.

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