varanasi, benaras, kashi, india
it is raining in the oldest living city tonight. a city so old, it has three names. falling rain always makes me feel like curling up in bed. and so i am. my 2 roomates are out at dinner, they will have to walk back through the narrow, twisting alleys in the rain. but maybe it will have washed all the cow poop away...
walking through these alleys, you see so many seemingly broken people. literally. their limbs broken, handicapped and begging. so many that you have to stop seeing them. no matter how much yoga you do, how much meditation, it causes pain to see suffering.
today anka, the director of the documentary we are making about this trip, and i went to a village nearby varanasi to see about teaching yoga to some dalits. dalit is the untouchables of the class system. we were introduced to the director of the program by our friend appu, who is a brahmin, the highest of the caste system. he said that people are superstitious and say that if you touch an untouchable, your skin will burn.
these kids had very little, dirty clothes and snotty noses. but i did not feel sorry for them or depressed by spending time with them. it was as if we opened a can of joy. pure, unadulterated enthusiasm.
it was easy to look into their faces, to look at their eyes because we are sharing with each other. i am coming to teach yoga and they are open and excited to learn.
i think it comes down to that...it is difficult to look at the people begging in the city because i feel overwhelmed, underequipped and guilty, and because i am ignoring them. and because we are separate from each other. it is easy to look at the dalit children in the village because i am parrticipating with them. so when we sustain the gaze, it is hope and friendliness passing between us.