MY WRITING SPACE

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International Women's Day March 8, 2013

On the occasion of the International Women's day, I was invited to speak at the Israeli Embassy in Delhi.  The guests were composed of Indian citizens, Israelis and journalists.  During the event I spoke of the pilot court case in Israel, which people are always interested in hearing about but very quickly moved up the Himalaya, in order to celebrate the beauty of the life women lead in the Indian ancient mountain villages.  I was quoted in the paper as saying that "A rape like the Delhi rape could never have happened in rural India".  I would like to correct the quote and explain in length what i mean.

I have been living in the Garhwal Himalaya for the last four years.  I have been living with the wonderful women of Shivanandi village.  I speak fluent Hindi and that has given me an opportunity to really experience their life from within.

 Men and women marry through an arranged marriage.  They know they will, when the time is ripe, receive the most appropriate spouse for themselves.  It does not matter if they are socially accepted.  If they're physically attractive, they do not have the social pressures a teenager faces in the modern world.  They do not have to fight for their place in the social hierarchy.  They all know that they will have a family, will have as much sex as they want and need in their lives.  This makes them have some kind of kindness, I have not experienced anywhere in the world.

The people of the Himalayas live in extended families and have the best kindergarten any parent could ever dream of in their lives.  Dada and Dadi (Their father's parents) 24 hours a day.  who else can take better care than Dadi?  Nature all around them, clean water, clean air, organic food, pure milk, a fit, healthy tension free mother.    There is always a family member there to carry the child, to make her or him laugh.

Every body knows every body.  Not by name but by nature.  By their personal history and even by their future.  A deep knowledge of each other's whole existence.

People living in the cities suffer.  We all know it.  Suffer lack of oxygen.  Suffer pollution.  Suffer loneliness.  Many times they live away from their families.  Away from their roots.  Suffering leads to the capability to hurt others.



The women in the Himalayas work continuously in the fields, in the jungle, with the cows.  The men plow the fields, tend to the shops, bring in some money and yes, play lots of cards.  The weather is harsh, the work is physically demanding, but the family is strong.  The sense of community is deep.  Time is in abundance and the air is crisp and opens people's hearts and souls.

The Himalayas were always here.  They always will be.  I call all people living in the cities to come and celebrate God's gift.  Come and live in a place that soothes and softens and makes you want to breath deeply.

During the talk I gave at the embassy, I told the story of LILA DEVI of Shivanandi village.



LILA DEVI has eyes that tell her life's story.  They are beautiful, round, deep and hold endless sorrow.  Lila Devi is 50-60 years old.  I was once making lemon pickle in the kitchen in Shivanandi when she walked in with an enormous basket full of... lemons.  She said she heard I knew how to make lemon pickles.  She had a lemon tree but did not know how to make pickles.  She asked me to make them for her and for myself.  While she was sitting in our kitchen, I offered her almonds.  She said she had no teeth, so she couldn't eat them but she took five almonds, rapped them in her sari and said she would take them for her children.  Lila Devi looked like the saddest woman I had ever met in my life.  I was happily making the pickles, and carelessly offered her a biscuit I had baked.  She again said "Kya kare? Dant nahi he"  (What can I do? I have no teeth).  I sat down next to her and she told me part of her story.  She opened her mouth and showed me tiny black chipped splinter looking leftovers of teeth, with only two canines still half intact.  She said she could eat only lentil water and wet chapati.  She was thinner than a leaf.

Lila Devi was pregnant when her husband died.  She gave birth to a daughter.  Her daughter was not to survive.  Both her husbands' brothers died too leaving wives and children.  Lila Devi took care of all the children of her husbands' brothers' wives.  She is now taking care of their grandchildren.  She has been worked all her life.  Serving all around her.  She has never been served by a soul.  She has never left Shivanandi village since she came to her husband's house.

I passed around a magic hat at the embassy, in the service of Lila Devi.  At the end of the evening there were 14,000 rupees (261$) in the hat.

Lila Devi had come to Rishikesh with me three days ago (April 1st-3rd, 2013).  I took her to a dentist for a checkup.  The dentist said she needed to have 19 "teeth" extracted and then fitted with dentures.  She asked to have two teeth which were paining her extremely, extracted there and then.  We did it.

Lila Devi has never left her village in more than 30 years.  Walking around the streets of Rishikesh, she was like a new born baby.  She did not know how to cross a street.  She did not know how to navigate through the sounds, the sights, the feelings.  I spent three days in Rishikesh with her.  Sleeping in the same bed, eating together, walking around the Ganga.  We went to the evening Aarti on the Ganga where she floated her flowers down the holy river.  Tears were pouring out of her sorrow filled eyes.  She was overwhelmed with the fact that the world can serve her.  That kindness exists in the world.  That receiving is part of her existence.

I went through the extraction with her and felt as if I was extracting teeth and not her.  I wanted to take her pain away and float it down the Ganga all the way to the vast ocean.  She had suffered enough for one soul in this life.

Sacha Dham Ashram in Rishikesh has agreed to let Lila Devi stay at their Ashram for the full length of her treatment (one and a half months) which will start after the wheat is harvested (end May).



 

Thank you all who donated money in helping this beautiful soul.



Lila Devi will be able to eat apples within half a year!

LILA DEVI      April 1, 2013

MAYA - Teaching herself to read      May 16, 2013

Six year old Maya and her father are trekking in the Himalayas.  Up.  Down.  Through thick jungle.  Over snow clad passes.  One foot in front of the other.  Birds, trees, flowers, views, silence.  Hot, freezing cold, wind, snow, sweat.  Water.  Maya’s eyes.  Forever inquisitive and aware.

“Papa? MMMMMMountain, MMMMMountian.  What is for Mountain?”.

“M for Mountain Maya.  Like M for Maya.  MMMMounain.  MMMaya”.

Silence.  One foot in front of the next.

“SSSSky.  Papa, what for SSSky?”.

“Like SSSSnake Maya.  S for SSSSky”.

Five days later, 75 kilometers later, Maya knows all the letters of the Alpha Bet.  Maya who doesn't go to school, taught herself the letters of the Alpha Bet in five days.  Back at home in Shivanandi.  “Maya, can you please pass me the cloth?”.  “Of course mom, here’s the C for Cloth”.  “Maya, do you want some watermelon?”.  “Yeah! Give me some W for Watermelon!”… “Mom, D for Doubleyou?”


“Yes my M for Magical, Magnificent, Maya beloved daughter!”.

Israeli National News - April 19, 2015

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