<<  Pondicherry, 2-Feb-2013  >>

Mighty powerful day: loooong post!

Soul of The Ocean, message from my previous reincarnation, Europe vs. India and Picasso in me

This is a long post. Sorry, but it was a powerful day and I want to record it for myself as precisely as the treacherous words allow me. Skip it if you don’t have the time :-)

Let’s get through with some mandatory geo facts, so that I can move onto more important things. Pondicherry, a coastal town in Bengal Bay (I’m back on the east coast now) is not a colonial town. It is downright European town, little France. It used to be French colony, but it was established only in 19th century, so it doesn’t have that historic feeling of Cochin, but it looks like if someone beamed it here straight from Cote d’Azure. Police station looks like if Cruchot himself worked in it. So, the town looks strange, bit inappropriate in India, but I didn’t find it very pretty or interesting – I definitely wouldn’t rank it among India’s top ten, like Lonely Planet did. It’s expensive, and streets are mostly empty, although all hotels were totally sold out. The night bus unloaded me in Pondicherry at 5:00am, and I spent 1 hour in a rickshaw, looking for any guesthouse or hotel which would be open at this ungodly hour and would have any vacancy, but without success. So after enquiring in 8 places, at 6:00 I told the rickshaw driver to drop me off at beach, where I would wait for the sunrise and try my luck then. I found myself a nice bench, next to another bench occupied but another homeless man and waited for the sunrise. Aztecs obviously hadn’t forgotten to sacrifice daily portion of fine young men and the sun did rise (again).

And then it came upon me: I suddenly comprehended the soul of The Ocean, its mystical power, which it has over us. The power of The Ocean lies in mingling final frontier and infinity. Ocean uncompromisingly divides your world in two halves: one, the world as you know it, terra firma lies behind you. Everything you know is there, behind you. In front of you, is the ocean, untouchable, not useable, elusive. You can just stare at it, at that forbidden half of the world. The shoreline recklessly cuts you off and suddenly your world has clear, defined and undisputable limits. This is The End. Turn around to see your world. This is The Border of your space. Unlike in most moments of our life, when the space radiates infinitely in each direction - you can always walk around one more corner, cross one more street, a valley or a mountain range – and the world is somehow shapeless in this illusory infinity, here at the ocean’s edge, the world gains form, and hence it suddenly makes sense to us. But at the same time, while being brutal but kind border-giver, it gives you hint of that infinity, which it first destroyed, because somewhere on the other side of the ocean, way behind the horizon, there are another worlds, worlds far away from yours, unknown, terras incognitas (I guess it should be terrae incognitaein proper latin, am I right dear sister?), limitless in their possibilities, unreachable, infinite. This is why the oceans, The Ocean, cast such a might spell onto us.
It maybe sounds obvious, but it's one thing to read or think this, and completely different thing to experience that feeling. This experiencing it, is what happened to me. No, I hadn't taken any drugs.

You might say, that Magalhaes stole this dream of infinity and mystery from us, when he carelessly circumnavigated the world and crushed our dreams without asking our permission, but luckily, our souls (or minds?) are too small to understand such distances and scales, and therefore, the fact that I have seen Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans all from their both sides and from their middle as well, does not dilute the spell at all. Zeus, thank you casting my soul so small, that Poseidon’s miracle cannot be taken away from me.

After comprehending the soul of The Ocean :-) at around 8:00, I hopped on another rickshaw, found the only affordable (yet overpriced) vacant room inthe town and I walked throug the city.

Next point: Message from my previous reincarnation.
Pondicherry is home to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, very popular ashram, which was established by Indian philosopher and mystic Sri Aurobindo and French expatriate, known as “The Mother”. I went to the very limited visiting area of the ashram, basically only Mother’s grave-cum-shrine and a book store. BUT, in the bookstore, I noticed that some shelves had some literature in foreign languages (meaning other than Tamil, Hindi, English and French), and just out of curiosity I scanned the labels: Russian, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, German, Bulgarian and Slovak. SLOVAK! I looked around, there was nothing in Czech, Polish, Hungarian or other languages, but there was a Slovak shelf. They had 3 books, booklets to be more precise. They were booklets on “integral” (meaning standard + spiritual) education and self-education written by The Mother. I couldn’t ignore this unique Slovak island (last time I was this surprised was in Salt Lake City, where they had Mormon brochure in Slovak; see that similarities?) and I picked all of them and went to pay for them and this communication with a man behind the register took place:
Me: “How did you get these books? I’m very surprised that I found Slovak books here!”
Indian man: “And you would be more surprised to know, that there was a man from your country, who lived and worked here with us for many years. He translated these books.”
Me: “Really? What was his name?”
– I don’t even know why I asked this, I surely didn’t expect to know him.
Indian man: “His name was, …
[thinking] … Marcel”
And the God’s light shone upon me and a smile from ear to ear appeared on my face.
Me: “MY name is Marcel. And it’s not a common name in my country, it’s quite rare name actually”
Indian man: “Well, that’s a very nice coincidence!” and he smiled a big smile as well

Part three: Ramayana vs. Urban ballet
There were two performances organized in Pondicherry, which would both start exactly at 19:30 and so I had to choose just one of them. The first one was open air Indian theater (large one, with around 300 seats) and the second one was Urban ballet, organized by the local French council. Now, guess which one did I choose. This is not a small question. The choice was significant: would I choose India or Europe? Would I choose joining the locals to see something essentially Indian, or would I peek through a wormhole, to temporarily escape from India and view something from the continent and culture which I left behind?
I want you to really guess, so I’m not giving the answer in this post :-)

Part four: Painting
For some reason (French lobby) Pondicherry does not apply Tamil Nadu’s tax on alcohol and so it’s “cheap” here (still on par with Bratislava), and so after the performance, I decided to take a look outside my shell and go to bar. The first one was empty, the second one was bit alive so I bought rum and coke and wondered around. It was semi open air place, and some people were painting –the bartenders gave them canvas instead of a tablecloth and some colors and brushes. They invited me to join them and gave me a brush. I suddenly realized, that I hadn’t painted anything for more than 20 years, since the elementary school, and I had no idea what to paint. A couple sitting next to me (they were Ukrainian) painted a really cool thing, I knew that with my painting “skills” I would surely paint some childish non-sense, but after 10 minutes of thinking what the hell to paint and overcoming my embarrassment, I painted the only thing which came to my mind – Shiva, traditionally dressed in a tiger skin and Shiva Lingam. Later I painted really stupid “portrait” of that Ukrainian guy, by doing just 4 super childish brushes.
And then, when they were closing the bar, the Ukrainian guy, nicknamed Chuda, who was dressed as if he came straight from Woodstock (even in Woodstock he would look over-hippie), told me that he really liked those 2 paintings, and asked me if he could take them home, because they would like to have some “Indian painting” :-) So he cut them from the canvas, rolled them and took them with him - next day they were going home. He told me that he would send me by e-mail a picture of those masterpieces hanging on his wall in Kiev. Hahahaha, the silliest painting in the world, made by me, will be hanging on someone’s wall. Life is funny sometimes :-)

Too bad, that this powerful day, had also its bad part – in the evening, my iPod mysteriously disappeared from my bag. I have no idea how I could have lost it, the earphones remained in the bag, but iPod was gone. I had it for 8 years, it had done its part, but anyway I’m sad that I lost it (but not pissed-off or angry), because it was working well, and it also means that I lost my music. I have only partial backup on my notebook. R.I.P. dear iPod, may someone who found you (or who stole you) make good use of you.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak