Why India has more temples than toilets

‘There are temples everywhere!’ beamed a visiting professor of history a long time ago. He was referring in particular to his visit to the south of India. That may be the case. For the countryside people across the subcontinent, the whole of nature is a nourishing shade to relax and unload. Morning and evening, alone or in groups. It’s a matter of cultural convenience at work. Nor could the eco-friendly benefits of the practice to the performer and recipient be denied. It is sustainable, to the highest degree imaginable. And they do it behind the bushes, not over the Taj Mahal. What makes it a practice to look down upon, and denigrate the country itself, is the association with poverty. But we know it has nothing to do with lack of money. Since all noble Indian cultural practices have mythological stories associated with them, I wonder what story goes with this practice. Which sage’s wrath, or the wrongdoing of a king, denies two...
Read More

One Day on a Summer Spring Festival

Holi (the spring festival) isn’t for the timid and the faint-hearted, and those with a more pacifist mind or idealistic conception of festivals would prefer seeking a quite place on this boisterous morning. The New Panvel city borders the countryside with a plethora of hills that invitingly peek at the nearby inhabitants on their windows and bungalow terraces. Not unknown to me, for I had been there on a trekking tour to a hilltop village a year ago. So it was that I left the holi revellers behind to get some fresh air and change of scenery. Unknown to me, I was on my way to visit the very same villages I had observed from those hills, and refuse paying ransom to a bunch of kids. The driver of the six-seater minivan (which is normally packed with twelve, one perched on the window grill) would have thought me mad if he were to know that his passenger didn’t know his destination!...
Read More