Dogster: Crumbling in Varanasi.

Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 11:59 PM
  #41  
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Wow again. More wonderful replies. This internet art form we call Fodors compels us to talk in little sound-bites, snatches of tunes, a suggestion here, a whimsy there - it's so great on this post to see some of your expressing your own personal symphony on a topic you've clearly thought about. It's very rewarding for me - so thank you.

It's all been said so eloquently. You don't need any glib reply from me.

It's funny - without meaning to sound overly cute, it hadn't occurred to me that I was a participant in the drama. Sometimes in the writing the most obvious things get overlooked. I saw my actions as a conduit to the story - not PART of that story. But of course I was. So your comments about my actions were particularly meaningful. Again, I thank you.

I was also grateful for those couple of brave souls who 'fessed up that this was WAY outta their comfort zone. I think they speak for the vast majority of people - not necessarily in these boards - but those guys who travel for a break, a breather, some good times, some learning and some fun. That they don't want to solve the problems of the world's poverty quite at that moment is perfectly understandable. So bravo Craig and rizzuto.

Thanks for your thoughts, too, offwego. It's only recently I've leant what you do. So words from someone who has put her actions where her compassion lies are doubly cherished.

More wise words from afterall - no, I'm not in Varanasi. I've been sitting on this for five months. Then last week, in one blat, it all came out. I had to get it right.

But I think about it. Of all the things I saw in India this one stays with me.

There's love in this story, too. It's not as bleak as it sounds.

Funnily enough, this whole story came about because of someone else's post in here a few days ago 'Where to eat in Varanasi'.

In it I added my experience of going to a rickshaw driver's place for lunch. That was this guy.

The story didn't end there.

I was invited back the next day to eat. Think about it. These people who had nothing but their love and pride offered me the food from their mouths. I took it. How could I not? How could I refuse that gesture? It was a big occasion.

I spent ten long, explosive days camped out by a Kathmandu lavatory as penance for that little adventure. I think that was a fair price to pay.

Oh, follow_your_bliss: come and get it. I'm yours. Thank you God and Hallelulya! There'll be fireworks in town tonight!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 12:24 AM
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Dogster, I'm just catching up with your most recent tale. It is heart-breaking, but also heart-warming that you gave of yourself to the family. Being with them, caring, holding the hand of one son, giving you trust (and camera) to the other... those are priceless gifts.

The the moral dilemma you describe is so difficult... I struggle with it, too. There is no "right" answer, only answers that each individual can give. We have different things to give, and you gave of yourself to the family and to us. Thank you, Dogster.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:38 AM
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Thanks travel addict, I will check out that organization.

And sincere thanks to you dogster, for sharing your story and giving us the opportunity to talk about this uncomfortable subject. The love you shared with that family will remain with them always. And your shared love is now in our consciousness as well. I think you know this already, but we also love you for sharing your life and experiences with us.
Love conquers all!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 01:43 PM
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Thank you, dogster. I'm not as eloquent as some who have responded (and I'm in Craig and rizzuto's camp on this being out of my comfort zone), but your story really touched me. As others have said, it was heartbreaking and, yes, a moral dilemma. I'm glad you accepted the invitation that day - for them, for you, and for us - it made a difference. The very act of sharing your story will surely yield good things, as at least some of us will look for/be more open to opportunities for kindness. Thanks.
Karen
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 07:37 PM
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There's no dilemma here. A dilemma is a problem for which there is more than one solution, none of which is appropriate. There is no solution to this. None.

Having just returned from India, I can imagine this story exactly as you have told it, and you told it well, in lovely detail.

There isn't an answer. And what you learn from visiting places like India is that there is often just no answer. There is no right and no wrong and no what you should do or could do or might have done, and what you do end up doing is also suspect, in your own mind and in the minds of those you encounter.

You just look and see and act in the best way you can in that moment and carry on and hope that that moment stays with you, changes you for the better, enables you to make someone else's life a bit richer by the explaining of it in words, hope that you yourself are made more resilient or more smart or more understanding or more of something that will prove useful somewhere down the line. You can't dwell on it. Or, you did dwell on it by telling us about it, and that's the best you can do. And it's good you did it.

There are a million boys with broken bones in India. There are 4 million people in the slum in Mumbai alone. There are children everywhere in India who are starving and missing limbs and suffering immensely. There are countless adults who live on the streets in rags and barely survive. It's a ragged, bittersweet place. You're just one traveler. You can't change it.

You did OK, though, just by reporting it. What else do we have besides words and photos and our own thoughts about our travels? We can't save the world, but we can tell other folks about it.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 09:59 PM
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More great replies:

Karen: you're every bit as eloquent. Your words are very touching. Thank you. And to you too travelaw, beautiful words. Love does, indeed, conquer darkness. Kathie, you know I'm your greatest fan.

And thanks StCyrc: our trip reports are very different, aren't they? I'm glad you've got this problem all sorted out. Here was I thinking there was a dilemma - and there isn't at all. Oh, well, we can all relax now.

I've spent seven months in the sub-continent over the last twelve. All I've realised is that I don't know anything at ALL about the place. So it's a relief to see your certainly.

I've been following your report. It's great fun. You sound like a show-biz kinda gal. I think it very accurately captures that first time flash of the place. It's a shame you didn't get more time - we're only half way through but so far, if we remove the travel time and hotel time, you've only had a total of 20 hours actually out on the streets - and those spent with a tour guide hurtling round the tourist attractions. Wow, it's a wild ride. Lotsa fun. But I'm wondering where you're getting your conclusions from.

I know that slum in Mumbai - it's called Dharavi. I spent three days in there about five months ago. There's a few companies who will take you. It's a fascinating place. Now that was really a wild ride.

Your words:
'The slum is endless and horrific. I open my window to take pictures of it... but the stench is more than I can bear. I fear I will vomit out the car window...'

I think one of the points I was trying to make is that if you stop the car, get out, spend some time in the slum instead of driving by it gagging, some of those moral certainties you express so passionately might just, possibly, disappear.
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 04:03 AM
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Amen, Dogster.

I have two quotes by Mother Theresa on my wall:

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”


It's a good way to remind me to start somewhere. Anywhere. I believe you have helped that family more than you know just by acknowledging their plight. Sometimes just being heard is all that we as human beings need.
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 11:30 AM
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<There's love in this story, too. It's not as bleak as it sounds>

Now you've gotten to it.

The space where that kind of love begins is the exact point where one person's compassion meets another's hope. A miracle happens at that moment and a river of love is born. Ripples we will never see, outcomes we can never imagine.

I encourage myself daily to stretch beyond my comfort zone to live at the source of this joy.

Even if it makes me want to vomit at first.
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Dogster- Were you ever a participant in the acid test bus?

http://www.geocities.com/beat1ebum/further.html
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Oops. Only read the first entry. Didnt realize the nature of the thread..sorry!
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 08:40 PM
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We'll have to forgive Mango - he gets easily confused. The poor old thing just wanders in and out of these rooms - he doesn't know where he is most of the time.

But no Mango, I wasn't on that bus. I wish. But your assumptions are correct - yup, the counter culture was alive and well in my life but I was a couple of years too young for the Pranksters - and in the wrong country. My time was in London 1969 - 72. Same, same but different.

Oh, dear - I was a naughty lad. heh. I'm happy to say.

But I did spend a week with Ken Kesey once in 1980. I'm not sure that counts.
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 03:48 AM
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Dogster, still following this thead.

Now "Mother Theresa" has made an appearance. Do you care to comment on that?

Now it's 5 Nov, and it's just possible that you are a Republican. If you are, please explain why. If not, then .. what can I say, except it's over.

It's over, the election is over, and Bush and his cronies are gone. At last!!

Hard times up ahead so
I hope all the ObMy ama supporters are going to stick with him through thick and thin.

My best to you (even if you are a Republican).
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 04:29 AM
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Ahhh, afterall, I can tell you're a happy camper right now. I can smell your happiness. It's a wonderful day for the world. Let's not worry about Mother Theresa today. Go - celebrate.

[As IF Dogster would be a Rupublican... lol. I represent far too many minorities. They'd have had me put down years ago.]
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 04:47 AM
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Dogster is neither Republican or Democrat, nor Red, nor Green, nor Labour, nor Conservative, etc...

Dogster is not a category or a cause, he is in all his complexity, simply our forever beloved, though elusive, Asian correspondent extraordinaire, Dogster.
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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Someone pick me up off the floor and carry me straight to Heaven.

That's the best compliment I've ever had. Bless you jaya.
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 08:08 PM
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<<And thanks StCyrc: our trip reports are very different, aren't they? I'm glad you've got this problem all sorted out. Here was I thinking there was a dilemma - and there isn't at all. Oh, well, we can all relax now.>>

I don't think we have it all "sorted out." I just insist on proper terminology. And my screen name is StCirq, not StCyrc, so I hope you actually read carefully. From some of your comments, I might think you didn't.

<<I've spent seven months in the sub-continent over the last twelve. All I've realised is that I don't know anything at ALL about the place. So it's a relief to see your certainly.>>

I applaud your ability to avoid those pesky responsibilities that plague us more mortal folks, like paying for college tuition and mortgages and write up reports and having to go to meetings and produce tangible, billable, results. I really do. I spent more than three of the past 12 months traveling, and I am constantly paying, in terms of dollars and time lost, for the privilege to do so, yet it is my priority and will always be and always has been. And the entire POINT of my post to you was exactly that one cannot figure anything at all out about something like what happened to you. What did you miss in my comments? They were centered around the fact that India is a total mystery and one cannot assume anything or make any conclusions at all. What did I miss here?

<<I've been following your report. It's great fun. You sound like a show-biz kinda gal. I think it very accurately captures that first time flash of the place. It's a shame you didn't get more time - we're only half way through but so far, if we remove the travel time and hotel time, you've only had a total of 20 hours actually out on the streets - and those spent with a tour guide hurtling round the tourist attractions. Wow, it's a wild ride. Lotsa fun. But I'm wondering where you're getting your conclusions from.>>

Show-biz kinda gal - wow. Boy, is that a not-so-subtle put-down or what? Except I was in show-biz, many, many years ago, so I give you points for seeing that. I guess thanks for the observation that this was my first time in India. I made it abundantly clear in my post my purpose for this trip, how it was organized, and why it was necessarily so superficial. There was no need for you to go on about how superficial you deemed it to be. Must be author envy or something going on here, really.


<<
I know that slum in Mumbai - it's called Dharavi. I spent three days in there about five months ago. There's a few companies who will take you. It's a fascinating place. Now that was really a wild ride.I guess.>>
Your words:
'The slum is endless and horrific. I open my window to take pictures of it... but the stench is more than I can bear. I fear I will vomit out the car window...'>>

I think one of the points I was trying to make is that if you stop the car, get out, spend some time in the slum instead of driving by it gagging, some of those moral certainties you express so passionately might just, possibly, disappear.>>

Well, yes, and I would have happily stopped the car and gotten out and spent three days there had my schedule and my plans allowed for that. I would have gotten past the stench and the vomiting. I did it in Africa many times. Your assumption that your freewheeling style of travel is superior to that of anything else is just, well, silly. Can you not understand what KIND of trip this was - I made that very clear at the beginning of my report. I was meeting my daughter, who was disembarking at Chennai. We had four days together to see the highlights of India. I had in total 10 days, so a bit more. But we did not have the luxury of getting out of guided cars or wallowing in Mumbai slums. It was a first trip to Asia for both of us. It was a whirlwind overview. It was completely as billed, our First Passage to India. End of story.

I don't even know what "moral certainties" you refer to. When I write trip reports, and I tend to do so mostly in the moment, at the place that I am reporting from, it's just chronicling what I've experienced that day...

How can you derive "moral certainties" from what I wrote? I'd really like to know, from one writer to another...


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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 10:33 PM
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What a long and passionate post. Thank you StCyr, for your thoughts.

Life's a bit too short to take them apart piece by piece. Somebody else can do that if they can be bothered.

Just two things: 'show-biz gal' isn't a term of abuse in my eyes. Quite the reverse. It accurately describes the persona you project. Expansive, breathless, loud [in a good way], fearless, lots of fun, lots of energy, full of the joy of life, not shy of an opinion and, I note from your last post - easily roused and full of passion.

Nor is my mention of it a feat of E.S.P. - you've talked about your 'dinner theatre days' in a previous post. Which, as you note - I've read.

Had you bothered to do me the same courtesy, you'd note from my previous posts that I'm the first one to suggest the Dogster way of travel is only for idiots and fools. Lordy, it's an Easter Parade of idiocy. Go look.

Your way is far superior. Maybe not everybody in here has read your post - so it's great you've clarified where you're coming from. Thanks for underlining my point.

I do understand that having time and money to travel makes me rather an unusual case. But really, there's nothing very special about it. I'm retired. I've had the good fortune to earn enough money to travel in my dotage, that's all.

I'm not a writer, I didn't know you were. I just pop my stuff in here to fill my tragic empty days.

Really, I wouldn't get too fussed.
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 03:08 AM
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StCirq, you're taking this all way too seriously.

And I'm really surprised at your unabashed resentment of Dogster's financial situation to travel as he does. So what? He's retired, he's paid his dues in life, what's it to you?

And finally, are you always this irritable?




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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 04:58 AM
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StCirq
Oh dear,That was quite a tirade. I will be most happy to polish your halo, I assume the St stands for saint.

However not everybody in this world has college tuition to pay, some have already done it, some never had to. There are actually quite a few people who have the means and wherewithal to travel a lot, without reports to write or dollars to earn. Very frequently it is called retirement.

We all travel differently, each of us react in our own ways to the same experiences. The one thing that has become very clear in Dogsters' writings that there are no judgments, except perhaps of himself, and his sometimes really dumb actions.

Let the tale of Varanasi continue without peevishness, please.
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