Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dare to Dissent. Dream Different...part II

I visited a commune recently. I know you're thinking "Hippies!" here mom! It was exactly what my heart has craved every single time I've searched for this elusive clan. A small, two room house with a wide open veranda, crouched over a seasonal stream, with a wide, shady banyan tree with thick roots forming the main support against which leaned an old man, wearing impossibly thick glasses, peering into a computer. A little girl, lovingly bullied a puppy, as her father brewed fresh Italian coffee. The rooms were their workshop. The motley bunch from different parts of the world slept on simple mats, with cushions and patchwork sheets for comfort. They described to me how they have mastered reconverting plastic into fuel, all the while playing with the little girl, teaching her life's tough lessons about bullying, with love and refreshing honesty. Their home exuded the fresh, clean, simple love that the five inhabitants of the house had for the environment. They recycled, generated no waste, lived simply, and loved their nightly chillum sessions. There is a woman, who has, over the last one year, singled out Goa's garbage problem as the one issue she wants to solve for her state. A German lady I met, told me of her barter system, in busy Berlin, where people can leave unwanted things (clothes, shoes, books, toys), and anyone who might want these things, can come collect it. All in barter. There are many who have gone back to old school sustainable farming, and every time I meet these people, I can't help but think, that this is dissent. A refusal to kow-tow to "normal" systems set up for us by those who continue to believe that bikini-clad women on the beaches of Goa are the reason for rape.

We are living in an age when the media has sold its soul to the politicians and power. Where the world believes war is a solution. Where humans maim animals for fun, and rape little children to play out their twisted fantasies. We pay toll taxes for broken roads and where we come from is what will decide whether someone wants to rent out a house to us. Thankfully, Travel-Tripping allows me an alternate world. A mysterious, magical world, where I can see your soul. So many people have opened their hearts, minds and homes to me, believing the work we do might perhaps bring a difference to their dissent. Where ever we go, we are invited into people's homes, asked to share the simple, meagre meals meant for them and their families. We get messages from across the country, congratulating and encouraging how we speak of being part of the solution. A stranger walked me back to my hotel through the darkest lanes of Ranchi, hoping that his gesture will enable me to have faith in mankind again.  Many of you reading will scoff at my words, thinking of how you've told me I've sold my soul. Perhaps I did give in to the glamour of living in Goa. Perhaps part of me truly believes in these single-minded, ridiculously idealistic, yet worldly wise souls who continue to believe that every deed counts. Part of me believes I should just give up, and run away (I've started hitting the beach with my friend, Chicken Legs). I usually don't know which instinct to follow, so choose to believe that it is better to live with wonderment than be beleaguered with bewilderment. (Aunty Acid, I miss you very very much!)

You see, all of us hope for a better tomorrow. All of us dream of our future - some of us dream of more money, and some hope for love. Some simply want the truth. Like the little, old bent woman in Latehar said to me, "Hume Vikaas nahin chahiye, sachai chahiye." (We don't want development, we want the truth.)

I dream of the day when we will realize that freedom is the ultimate truth. To lose ourselves in the sounds of freedom, the birds, the bees, the strong, silent trees. We are all born to be free, to spread our arms, and lie in the grass, or spin silly circles under the starlit sky. It's only when each of us know the truth of freedom, it's only then we can truly connect with the concepts of creation. It is only then we can love the leaf fluttering against the morning skies, as the purple night fades into the pink-yellow of sunrise. It is only then that the tongue can truly taste sea-spray, or smell fresh earth as toes curl into the green, green grass.

It was a dark and stormy night, and as we spoke of how our nation has only ever declared war on its own people, Amita looked me square in eye, and said to me, "Sometimes, there's no point talking endlessly about the same thing. Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do to get something done." The crackles of storm static in the air made her statement more enigmatic than she perhaps meant. Her simplicity and zen calm has taught me one of the most important lessons I've brought back with me from Jharkhand: We are not alone.

Our lives and loves are simply bubbles of space collapsing and coalescing with each other. "When you know how to use it, disobedience can be a virtue.[3]" So go ahead, dare to dissent. You just gotta dream different.

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