11 June 2007


Bharathnatyam, kathak, Carnatic, Hindustani music, do not constitute Indian culture. These are restricted to a portion of urban elite which is no more than 2 percent of a billion Indians.

Indian Culture is adjustment, soft nature, tolerance, willingness to give, share, and willingness to help.
Most of us do not know what Yoga is
Indians adjust to any situation, however hostile it may be.
We survive against all odds.
In the next post you'll see more of 'India overload'.
I have a story to tell you.

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This is how I went to silent Valley 25 years ago. Like those two struggling people in the Jeep.
There were no buses from Mannarkkad to Mukkhali and Aghali and the road was not well laid as you see in the picture. It was a modified Jeep with an extended platform for more people to stand on. Perhaps more than 15 people were crammed inside, all tribals and all were drunk and stinking and i saw a goat inside. The goat was not wearing any perfume. i never use any perfume myself.

Two people jumped out from the front seats and asked me to sit inside. Offering their comfortable and secure seat to me. i had utter contempt for these illiterate drunk and stinking tribals
i am from the city with a walkman and headphones and a camera bag to my shoulders, i preferred to stand like the two guys you see in the picture. There were four including me.
i refused to sit inside.

i paid the money, one or two rupees, afterall it was a 16 kilometer journey. i placed my stupid orange ruc- sac with Aluminium frame on top of the jeep. there was no room for it inside.

i soon regretted my decision as the jeep started climbing the ghat road. My ruc-sac was sliding all over the top, there were three more drunk and stinking tribals standing with me. The jeep was rocking swinging and tossing me all over the place and i nearly got thrown off the jeep thrice. i would go rolling down a couple of hundred feet. My mouth was full of dust by now.

With a dangling camera bag, holding on to a bar and holding the frame of the ruc sac with the other hand on a bad dusty bumpy road and i could see the jeep driver three fourths out of his seat was driving like a maniac. i was cursing myself, my walkman was still on, don't remember what i was listening to. 

My pride kept me from screaming and stopping the jeep. i was superior to these illiterate drunk stinking tribals who seem to be quite comfortable in this situation. i was just about to give up and stop the jeep and walk the rest of the journey nearing sunset with a stupid orange ruc sac attracting the elephants.
The landscape was breath taking.

The jeep was going at a break neck speed. The chap standing next to me neatly removed my camera bag from my shoulder and passed it on to another chap sitting inside who placed it on his lap. 

Two of them held the ruc sac frame making themselves less secure for me. The ruc sac stopped sliding now. They did not even look at me,
not a single word was spoken.

A dark wrinkled hand appeared from inside the jeep, it wrapped around my waist very tight. i was as secure as a baby in a cradle.

That dark wrinkled hand of an inferior, illiterate, drunk and stinking tribal held me tight for fourteen kilometers.

i was in tears. i stopped my stupid walkman and removed my stupid headphones.
i felt so inferior to these people.

After what looked like eternity, i reached Mukkhali forest Check post. i was off loaded with all my meaningless belongings. 

Within a second, the jeep disappeared in a cloud of dust. i could not see the the gentleman who was holding me, making me secure. And could not thank those cultured people who helped me without asking. They didn't need it.
i sat on a rock and cried like a child.
We are the poor people, very poor

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i checked this time, the rock is no longer there, some shops have appeared. Lot of trash which was not there 25 years ago. The road is well laid and widened, lot of traffic now. Silent valley is no longer silent.

Now i am an expert traveler in such vehicles, chatting smoking their beedis, i let them smoke my pipe, i give my iPOD to them, they laugh at my music. 
we have fun.


"Angeldust" said...

Raufie dear (as I am crying once again)

I think the kindness, gentleness and quiet wisdon of the stupid, illiterate country folk is universal.
Met them in Argentina and also here in Canada - there is nothing like getting lost in the country...
I spend seven months in the interior of two provinces.
Your jeep on the road were my dusty one road town "greasy spoon" restaurants!

Love you and missed you

The dark wrinkled hand and the "communion": magic in more than one level.

mystic rose said...

this post is intensely emotionl for me, I know what you are talking about. No matter how 'high' we go and how many walls we build around ourselves, we are just humans and such a tremendous comfort in being just that. and nowhere else have I seen this more than with the simple native folks. kindness and warmth just becuase they are.

mystic rose said...

and very well written, i could picture the whole scene, outer and emotional as well. :)

Ruth said...

In just a few words you showed your transformation from asleep to awake. Just a few words that also transformed something in me.

When you experience the human exchange as you did, you're never an outsider again.

Thank you so much, rauf.

"Angeldust" said...

Must tell you Raufie that your account had a huge impact on me as I continued to be emotional all evening remenbering wonderful encouters I had with "strangers".
It carried on to today.
This afternoon, as I walked over to pick up the remainder of my jewelry at the gallery…

You have not only showed us the humanity in all of us but, you have exposed yourself raw as usual, but immensely vulnerable…

This vulnerability is woven trough all your pictures and accounts, but not as readily evident as in this post.
As Ruth, I must also say thank you - for sharing so deeply – I think we all be changed by it is some way or another.

It is a very simple story, of a very simple group of people, living a simply extraordinary/precious moment in time… How fortunate for all of you!
And, how fortunate for all of us who got to read about it.

Ruth said...

I agree with Angeldust, a moment in time this was, set apart.

The image - the FEEL - of the wrinkled hand on the back stayed with me and will always stay with me, I think. I can see why it brought you to tears, rauf.

zzz-writer said...

what a wonderful post
ofcourse it is touching and all but for me it is that bindaas attitude which made me smile. i am reminded of something known as 'jugaad' used in north india. and isnt it fun how so many average indians are the real heroes..everyday..day after day.
btw have you come across the rk laxman series of the common man cartoons by penguin?

her indoors said...

lovely post my friend, have missed you too. the hand that often reaches out to us is the hand that some wouldn't trust in this day and age, sad i know. glad to have you around again x

her indoors said...

hey hope you are feeling better real soon xxx

Rauf said...

Dearest Angel, We refuse to learn from the animals. There is no superior or inferior among them. They are a lot better off than us humans. To be a monkey i don't need any philosophy. That is what i want to be. i am getting there, i am getting there, its a long way to go. i wish to be alive till then. Loving nature is not enough.
lots of love and hugs Angel

Rauf said...

very sweet of you Mystic Rose,
There are many incidents like this in my life. Many teachers on the way. The kind of teachers who are not aware that they left an impact on some one. There are many lessons to learn if we are willing.

Rauf said...

Ruth, i wrote about my first visit to Silent valley and i completely forgot about how i got there, but i am living the impact of that short journey every day of my life completely unaware. We do not remember what really made what we are today. You may not be aware of the impact you create on your students, even they may forget but it will be a part of their lives as long as they live.

Rauf said...

~ZZZ~, oh yes, thats what i was and suddenly you find how things become so meaningless so fast. This is what happens during natural calamities, this is what happens during man made calamities.
You will not think of painting your walls when bombs are falling all around you. All the knowledge we gathered becomes so useless.

Rauf said...

Thank you HER INDOORS We are not alone, we teach each other a lot, there are both negative and positive sides to it. But we are seldom aware of things and attitudes that change us. They keep guiding us throughout our lives.

i am better today, too hot and humid. Hope you and Sir Himself are doing fine and enjoying your summer.

Cindy said...

What an awesome story, Rauf. I think we are more defined by this type of happening than by any other, being humbled, feeling that we are (whether we deserve to be or not) part of something far bigger and better than we ourselves are.

PS, I'm still laughing over your "humungous" post so here's another word for you- "supercalafrajalisticexpealadocious"

Rauf said...

thank you Cindy, there is always an Angel in the crowd. Today i am happy that the number of such Angels is ever increasing. These people contribute in making us.

oh yes Cindy, i can pronounce supercalafrajalisticexpealadocious
so easily, julie Andrews Dick Van Dyke Mary Poppins is my all time favourite.

Sandy said...

Rauf: Every time I come here I leave from your blog truly with tears in my eyes from either my heart opening up a bit more or something was so beautiful that you left here for us to read or see that I am speechless. All I can say is please don't ever stop sharing your words and photographs. sandy

Sharon said...

Rauf thank you for that story... those are the moments in life that can change us forever! So interesting & beautifully told.

"Angeldust" said...

Raufie dear, apropos to one of your responses I remembered a quote form Robert Schuller (one of the "saner" tele-evangelists) "I am the sum of all those I have met".

You are preparing to be a monkey?
Forever on my tongue lately referring to something technical I can manage: it is so easy even an orangutan can do it... likening myself to an orangutan, not vise-versa
Now, these guys act soooooooo much like us OR vise-versa!

There is a hierarchy within other species too and survival of the fittest among them may also mean having to kill in order to save oneself... may not be THAT simple/easy to be a monkey... ahhhhhwhhhh…..?

Hope you are feeling better

Rauf said...

it transforms me Sandy, i have written a fourteen part series on Environment. SPEED 1 to 14 a few months ago. We are too small to save the planet. it is a ridiculous idea. The human race is in danger not the planet. The only thing that will save the human race is not planting of trees, but helping each other, love kindness and compassion

Rauf said...

Thank you Sharon, We see them every day in our lives, and their number is increasing day by day. Most of them don't even expect a word of thanks, helping is a way of life for them just like breathing.

Rauf said...

How true dearest Angel, some unfortunate people are a sum of wrong people they meet, end up taking drugs, no one is a criminal by birth, nor it is heriditary.(Except for Bush) Its all the result of people they have met.
Oh yes i would love to be a Orangutang. This Karma theory really makes me mad Angel. If my deeds are good in this life i should be born as an Orangutang in my next life or a Dog or a Cat or a Pig. This karma theory is an insult to the Animals. What do you say Angel ? We should start using capital letters for all the names of the Animals like Ruth suggested.
lots of love and hugs Angel

Leila said...

Don't we love to make assumptions, and base so much on them. I see myself judge people. Even for things I would not be judged on myself. And I cant stand myself for it. But we are only human, and to err is human. How does the rest go, to forgive is divine? I can't remember. But we have to frogive ourselves for making these assumptions and judgements and accept that we have been preconditioned. It doesn't mean we can't try to be different, it just means we mustn't be so disappointed when we aren't.

These are just things I have learnt for myself Rauf, and your story reminded me of them.

My studies are okay, Im trying to keep motivation. Im glad you are enjoying yur travels. i am well too, as well as can be expected, u have seen my blog, read my poems, they are the worst feelings exxaggerated. :)

Pingu said...

Beautiful...and touching...

I loved the last line...it sums up everything...
This realisation has struck me several times...
These simple folk, unlike us 'urban elite' lead unsophisticated, uncomplicated lives...their innocence and large-heartedness teaches us all a lesson.

I narrated this story to everybody in my family.Thanks for sharing it Rauf.

And you write very well...your English isn't 'rotten' at all :)

Do post more often!

Rauf said...

Sweet Laila, quite true, you speak far beyond your years, told you that before. Half my life was spent on assumptions, quite baseless. Hurts the pride when i am wrong, yet we don't learn and keep repeating our blunders. There are some rude awakenings, some incidents which make a lasting impact on our lives. They guide us till we die.

You are too young to have any 'worst feelings' Laila, life is simple and we make it complicated. Life in paradise which every one is after, is right here in our hands. We make our lives a living paradise or a living hell.

Rauf said...

Piyari Pingu Bitiya, so glad you are here, welcome to 'Daylight Again' Glad that i am not welcoming you to a depressing post, my blog is full of them, just the opposite of yours, which is a sheer delight to read.

i am spending a lot of time with such people bitiya, unfortunately i have seen changes in them too. They dream of a life in a city, like in the movies. We have invaded them, we have imposed our values on them. We have taken away their lands, they move to the cities, end up committing crimes.
Very few tribals have retained their identity. They are our future professors. We have to learn a lot from them.


Never judge eh Rauf? We all have at some time. Still do sometimes. Just part of being human and learning. Some do some don't. You did. Proud of yer mate.

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Hi Rauf,

What a touching little story. And there is so much truth in that isn`t there? Lovely picture. And I think your English is just fine :) This blogging business is really something. Being able to read words and thoughts from people in such far away countries and see that we really are all the same inside...well except for the evil creatures of the world in all places that is. If only everyone could all be friends and care for one another. What a wonderful world this would be.....


Rauf said...

FOUR DINNERS, perhaps i have missed making a lot more friends. i am glad i met you, though not in person. This is what i feel about you. i can open my heart and tell any thing to this man, even if it is offensive. i throw caution to the wind when i write comments on your page. i feel free with you.

Rauf said...

Hi T&M, How sweet of you !
Yes inside we are all the same, we have our share of evil creatures here. This world is a wonderful place and it is lot better than what it was a hundred years ago, with love and kindness ever increasing all over the world. Paradise is right here. We have our own worlds, our own paradises.
Its all up to our attitudes. Environmental awareness is on the rise. these tribals lived according to the laws of nature and we have to learn a lot from them specially the art of survival.

Lord Boo said...

Touching story, Poms.. Beautifully told :) Miss India even more now.. *hugs*

vishesh said...

sorry for the late comment,but with school and other things,i have been keeping a little away from very long posts,at last found time :)

first i never knew you were pingu's uncle :)

anyway second this is a very literate post,giving an insight to things,as far as my memory goes :) i have seen this kinda hanging once or twice on my way to thirupathi(not now when i was smaller)....they used to have so much stuff stuffed inside it was amzing,and yes india's are a very cultured society,there is a reson behind everything ,thats why i hate religions' crubing of expressions but slowly i am getting a hang of stuff,i am evolving i guess and i also noticed i am using so many "i"s after as long time :)

Cuckoo said...

I love the way you describe things along with your pictures. So down to earth person you are... Be like this always.

P.S.- I am in the middle of two trips, trying to hop into some blogs.


'n never stop mate. Freedom rocks!!

offensive? never to me. friendship transcends it anyway.

You never know. One day we might meet up (you'll probably prefer the bloggy version to the real thing!!) - no matter. a couple of beers with my pal Rauf is an ambition. One day.

Darlene said...

Rauf, this memoir was so beautiful, so touching. I'm afraid all of us have been guilty of making misguided assumptions about strangers, based on how they're dressed, if they have teeth missing, if they're overweight or underweight, if we don't like their hairstyle... the list goes on.

As we say in the U.S., by doing this, we're "judging a book by its cover." But those of us who are fortunate eventually learn that a cover is just that--a cover; and covers can often be entirely different from what's inside the book, or the person.

Rauf said...

owee Booey, kya reee ?? i'll take you there next time you come. No more such jeeps from Mannarkkad though, there are plenty of buses, but i'll take you in such jeeps from Aghali interior, if you want to say hi to some wild elephants, but only for about 12 KMs, we have to trek after that. Lots of tribals there in Attapadi range, i'll post my recent pictures soon.
ummmmmmmmma deee booey, lots of love and hugs

Rauf said...

Vishesh, i don't know what you mean by literate post. All my posts are long by the way.

No, i am not Pingu bitiya's uncle, wish i was, no i am wrong here, yes i am her uncle, i am proud to know her, such a delight she is.

Our culture has nothing to do with religion. i have written about my experiences with rickshaw wallas in the north, they are not aware that they are very civilised or cultured. They treat every one with respect. i had wonderful and pleasant experiences and rides with them.

our Chennai auto rickshaw drivers are a different breed altogether.

Rauf said...

awww So sweet of you FOUR DINNERS, yes we will meet one day.

Our life is all about 'adjusting' We keep adjusting all the time. Power cuts for instance. When the power goes off, we silently wait. waiting patiently also is a way of life here, hardly any protests. But now restlessness is on the rise. We'll meet one day FOUR DINNERS i am hopeful.

Rauf said...

Cuckoo, too many of them in and around silent valley, very pleasant sounds, its hard to spot them, perhaps i am very slow in spotting them. So nice to hear all the birds chirping when you wake up. i am out without brushing my teeth with my camera looking for birds.

i am not sure if i am down to earth, i am arrogant. By the way my next post is going to be a humongous one with lots of pictures. Sorry thats what i am. It will take a while to load.
But i'll keep your advise in mind and come up with shorter posts as punctuations.

Rauf said...

Long time Darlene, hope you and Mark are fine, i kept checking for updates on your page.

Quite true, i am guilty of judging and assuming all the time. i never learn and keep repeating it. Mind forms an opinion immediately before going deep, for me the first impression has misfired many times. In most cases there is no second time, as a result i would have missed making many more friends. Blogs, emails chats, with people you hardly know is a different world. i am glad i have met some very sweet people.

please give my regards to Mark. Hope you both are enjoying life Darlene.

"Angeldust" said...

Lets use capitals for Animals - it makes me feel all fuzzy inside, all over...

I had a number of really "special" dogs in my life, but Charlie the American Cocker Spaniel, was my biggest teacher for eight years (he came to me when he was almost four) taught me a whole lot about myself, life and about animals in general.
We managed to communicate rather well (as he was also multi-lingual) and had the understanding of a two year old child (at least!!!) without a doubt.
BUT, he had the wisdom and love of an ancient soul.
I should write a book about life him!
I was not the only one smitten with him as all that knew me and met him had subsequently separately invited him to come along for visits and parties... Even cooked meals for him!

Talk about reincarnation and, also talk about angels coming in all shapes and forms!
An extraordinary experience.

I used to call him SeƱor (Mister) Charlie...

I believe that bond, "communication", undestanding is possible between all species.
We just have not tried - as you say, we feel ourselves superior.

A shift in consciousness must occur for society in general to perceive other living (and apparently not living) beings as one.
We ARE one.
YES, even the bees and the rocks... I should write about my experience with the rocks, changed MY life.

In brief - to answer your question as to Ruth's proposal: absolutely!


Love and hugs dear Raufie

"Angeldust" said...

PS: Regarding Bush, I will NOT make any comments, for I may end up on a "no fly" list at an airport counter...... after I paid about $85.00 dollars for renewing my passport!

Ouch..... it may be too late, they have been listening to phone conversations all along...

Rauf said...

Dearest Angel,
Actually this was Ruth's idea, using capital letters for animals, names of the trees fruits and flowers.

A friend of mine calls his dog Akbar, one of the great Mughal kings of India, who practiced secularism, there was peace and harmony during his time.

you know something is seriously wrong with me, i talk to the trees. when i am tired and resting leaning against a tree. i talk to the rocks too. wonder what they have seen through ages, they would have seen many clowns like me.
When i have a piece of rock in my hand i ask how old are you ?
We don't seem to pay any respect to the age.

lots of love and hugs Angel

"Angeldust" said...

There IS something "seriously OK" with you!


All Smiles!! said...

very well written Rauf!! you have a unique way with words, keep writing..

Rauf said...

thank you ~ALL SMILES~, such incidents change our lives.

Anonymous said...

incredible blog...I saw this thru a post you made to my friend Cynnies blog at 'Waiting for life to Start'...I was just in India for first time a few months ago for International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, and we also worked at an orphanage there...was an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing! Namaste, friend

Rauf said...

thank you Anonymous, Hope you carried pleasant memories from here. India is a land of extremes, a little shift in attitude is required.

Anonymous said...

Your photography is incredibly beautiful. I hope you know that.

Abraham Lincoln
the robins
the Japanese Beetles

Rauf said...

Thank you Mr. Abraham Lincoln i discuss issues here with supporting pictures, good and bad.

shooting star said...

i travlled through remote and rural parts of gujarat..and i had the same experiences...these village people in all their simpleness are far more richer than we are or we ever will be..i look back on my gujarat trip wiht nostalgia and happiness always...

Rauf said...

Yes Shooting Star, there is a great deal of richness in our poverty. Making adjustments is our culture, its in the blood of every Indian. They are willing to give and they are willing to help. i spend a lot of time in the wilderness and villages of south India. Welcome to Daylight again Shooting Star