How I became a local star and stood on the stage in front of hundreds of people.

It is already getting dark and rain clouds appear on the horizon. Time to search for a place to camp. ‚Where are you from? Where are you going? May I invite you to my village?‘, asks a man at the end of his 50ies. Not an inappropriate moment to ask me this question. ‚O.K.,‘
I follow him on his motorcycle and find myself in the 5000-inhabitant-village of Varshi. After passing through the village to Mr. Girdhar’s house, so the name of my host, we have a tail of rubbernecks. Without asking they follow into the house. The living space, where I am accommodated together with my bike, opens with large doors to the street. The doors are opened and as many villagers as the room can hold rush in. One wants to have a look at my bike and observe me, initially while drinking tea. The Indian tea, by the way, is very delicious. Water and milk, or even only milk, are boiled, then tea, some coffee, spices and sugar are added, but unfortunately it is only served .

At dinner time a pattern from stone powder is drawn on the stone floor at the centre of the old house, as a tribute to the guest, later again something similar is done in front of the entrance to the house.
At a street food stand, I am asked to try what the locals do for cleaning their teeth and their stomachs after eating. A leaf is wetted with liquids and coated with various seeds and powders and then it is rolled up, put into the mouth, kept there for a while and finally eaten. Expecting to feel extreme heat, I was quite surprised how pleasantly mild, eucalyptus flavoured the leaf was – more like toothpaste.

This has been followed by a little culture. Today is the last night of a religious period. The story of Krishna has been told for the last 7 days. Krishna is one of the most important divine figures of Hinduism. A major event for the residents Varshis and surrounding villages. On the stage is a preacher in his early 20ies who is telling in a high voice in Hindi, accompanied by keyboard chords. An interesting drama, though, I don’t understand a word.
In order to make this evening most memorable for me, I am made part of the events. I must go onto the stage, take a floral wreath, and drape this around the preacher, in between wait sitting on the stage. Not everything runs smoothly. I swear, I was instructed wrongly. The preacher takes it lighly and takes matters into his own hands. Hundreds of spectators have something to laugh about. It becomes a long evening.

Nevertheless, I have to get up early the next morning, and walk out of the village – it’s yoga time. Mr. Girdhar practices it every day. I can watch or participate. With the aim to bring body and soul together and keep healthy, the yoga includes several exercises – strengthening and stretching exercises, some laughing, some dancing, some praying, imitating some animals, and especially various relaxation exercises and breathing techniques.

In the event planner today there is the concluding dinner of the „Krishna-days“, a meal for 7,000 people. People are sitting on a gravel square, women and men don’t mix. A rice dish and a dessert from wheat and caramelised sugar cane are served on sewed leaves. Very tasty.
Otherwise, I spend the day being shown around the village, sitting again in the midst of countless people to answer questions about me, my journey and Germany. I am introduced to all important people of the village, and everyone wants to invite me into their homes. Countless chats over tea take place. I’m a popular guest, my popularity increases even more when an article about me is published in the newspaper featuring an interview from the previous day.
On the evening another parade follows. Religious relics are carried through the village while people are singing. Patterns of coloured powders, known as Rangoli, to welcome a god, are
in front of each house.
Afterwards, dinner at the doctor. My host has long been in bed when I arrive ‚home‘.
The much too short night does not save me from getting up at 5 in the morning to practise yoga.

A ceremonial farewell is scheduled and advertised at the temple since the previous day. In front of this temple my bike is set up on a podium, I also standing there facing the villagers. First, I answer questions again, then speeches about me are given, I give a speech for express my gratitude, followed by ritual obeisance. One puts a long orange scarf around my head, a so-called Paghari, paints a coloured dot on my forehead, hands me gifts. Additonally, I’m given the same coconut again and again. My main task before continuing my journey is the presentation of my bike. Through the crowd, I turn a few laps on the central square. A motorcycle escort accompanies me the first kilometre out of the village. I am told that everyone was glad to have me, and my bike around. I have to promise to come back in a few years.

A very special experience with insights that you would otherwise not gain so easily. Although both sides spoke some English, unfortunately, there were times when the language barrier prevented a deeper understanding.
Fascinated by the experienced, I continue my journey.


translated by Denise and Tom, corrected by Kirsten – Thank you!

pictures for this article: Varshi/Indien : Fotos
press: Dhule/Indien, 03.06.2007

19. Juni 2007 - Tom & Denise | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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