Mr. Ro met me and picked me up at 5:38 am, but train was late, in Dalton Ganj … interesting name re my Dalton letter about love (city is grungy in the early morning)… The word Ganj has something to do with gathering place, (in addition to my association with marijuana)
32 languages in the area around the Palamau Tiger Reserve
Legacy of British 200 years in India has faded even more than the legacy of the 1960s, but it’s still present
Betla is on edge of amazing natural area Palamau Tiger Reserve
Felt very connected and connecting in this natural area … ecosystem preserve in contrast to much of India
Very local peoples (trippily local in a cool way) were eating groundnuts just inside Palamau Tiger Reserve entrance near Tourist Canteen (with Heart shaped pool in cement, curiously – re Harbin)
Walked in to the Reserve itself in afternoon … another Indian started tip toeing or ‘egret-walking in’ kind of in a 1960’s way, as if he could be dramatizing tripping on acid discovering a new world, and as a kind of dance, or even becoming a wild animal himself, at one with nature in this preserve … as I, by myself, was walking in feeling my way into this biome for the first time, sitting on a log here with beautiful pattern … seeing these beautiful deer then different beautiful birds, hearing an owl … The Palamau Tiger Reserve is teeming with life, visually and beautifully …
Intercultural communications are interesting to observe and play out differently than in U.S. and uniquely to India
Hindu (Kolkata) – Buddhist (Bodhgaya) – Muslim (Betla)
Bengali – Hindi – Hindi Mugli language – 32 languages …
The village of Betla is beautiful … mostly Muslim
Muslim call to prayer … school children (k-6) next to Hotel Van Vihar (government housing, I think) … singing their lessons … nice … interesting … it’s a public school I later learned.
Anthropological sites for students galore in and around Betla and in Jharkhand, in many ways
Linguistically … ecosystem wise … unique tribes … plant wise and culturally and vis-à-vis World University and School … ethnomusically and tourism studies-wise … E.g. How do tour guides in the three main religions in Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, - those with much experience, for example, and who have developed a reputation – navigate the cultural differences and conflicts around this business, vis-à-vis their religious and world view differences and vis-à-vis the new category of subjectivity called tourists?
Indian guides’ communication is also very interesting with each other and in terms of employees +
I saw monkeys, langurs, deer, Gaur (bison), kingfishers, peacocks all in the reserve from a jeep. The guide, dark skinned, and from Betla, had striking resemblances to my cousin, SB, in Oregon.
Jharkhand separated from Bihar over resources in 2000 … how, in Dehli, did this work and on the ground? Who benefitted and what are some of the narratives vis-à-vis Indian religiosity?
Off soon at 7 am for tour in preserve …
Indian guides’ communication …
Palamau Tiger Reserve
Tourism guide English instruction in a Google + group video Hangout to any language, … beginning, intermediate and advanced … vis-à-vis WUaS … with volunteers … and Tourism guide Hindi instruction
The guides I traveled with today, Aman and the pilot Tasauar-Ansari, both Hindi speakers, to Bodiradhi (town?) and to a nearby Parvoti Temple, where we climbed up steps, then to a picnic on the beach of 3 rivers coming together (the Koyle and two others), then waiting and watching the construction of a small road over railway tracks, - where I met Bobeanand (sp?) , chief engineer of the project, whose father in law lives in Mayapur, with its Krishna Consciousness temple (ISKCON) – and then visited the amazing, extensive, Palamau Forts, old and new - both don’t speak English very well. Their knowing English would be invaluable. Maybe WUaS could help focus this in a Google + Hangout …
Betla seems a little bit farther removed from the religiosity of other places in India. Perhaps it’s the Palamau Tiger Reserve natural area influence, or the Muslim / Mohammedan influence. The new and old Palamau forts were extensive – really extensive - fortifications from the 1600s I think.
Yesterday evening, I played my bagpipe in the Van Vihar hotel briefly then just outside it. About 10 people gathered around, quite a few from Bengal, and after I had played a few tunes, I asked if the girls in a family of 4 would sing, and they started singing a Rabindranath Tagore Bengali song of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ … somewhat different but recognizable … interesting ethno-musical potential, too … then I played some tunes. Later we talked in the lobby of the hotel and exchanged emails. The girls didn’t seem shy when singing when they’re father robustly started singing and they followed suit … perhaps I’ll do such with my kids eventually … wonder about Bengali song and this hybridization … as well as the Scots in Bengal when Tagore was writing, - culturally.
After our talk, another man, Satyendra, asked if he could accompany me to the little, very little, shops in the center intersection in town. I said yes … I’m not entirely used to Bengali’s openness and connectedness and friendliness … and we walked in and he looked like he had a slight disability, walked with a photo slightly pronated and could have been epileptic or something, but we talked, and he went in to get rum asking if I’d like some – no, I don’t drink – paid possibly less that was asked in this 3 sided stall of a liquor store with a heavy gate and lock across it, and whisked away with his hand any possible protest from the sales person – Indians tend not to get upset and keep from erupting in anger in general … so I’m not sure about this interaction. Satyendra had first bought be two packs of chocolate biscuits, partly possibly in thanks for my piping – he said he really likes musicians. He might possibly have been coming onto me in an Indian way … not sure … but he was also friendly and it was interesting talking with him a little.
Someone in the hall just said that Bengal was under the British for 200 years … and didn’t seem to mind … a lot of cross-fertilization …
I bagpiped in the area in front of the Palamau tiger reserve and in the public school this morning.
Elephant riding this morning at 7am was a delight … just me and the guide, named Imam Udin (sp?) - the elephant driver guide could have been the person who ‘tiptoed through the tulips’ in a very egret way yesterday as I was just beginning to explore the Reserve … I think he’s smart and am not sure about the extent of his English … India is so old …
Just got my laundry off the line on the roof and took a much welcome shower … my clothes hadn’t dried yesterday, so they stayed out overnight, and were dry after a day traveling around … Back to the gate to the preserve for a ‘safari’ at 4:30pm.
Heading to the town of Neterhat tomorrow, at the southern end of the Palamau reserve, then to Ranchi, which used to be a capital city under the British, and is the capital city of Jharkhand, and which could be interesting, although played down in Lonely Planet guidebook.
More piping this evening …
Around 7pm … knocks on my cold hotel room door for the second night in a row … not used to such … who’s knocking I wonder, and where’s my happy light within, Hindu / Buddhist consciousness, being of service and connecting inter-culturally? … a friendly Bengali and two relatives this time, inviting me out to play my bagpipes … he was mentioning curious allusions to sharing the bus … and something about a campfire … I go out to play my bagpipes ...
In general I feel safe from theft in India (although I'm also careful) – India seems to have much integrity, significantly due to its religiosity, I think.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The room is cold in Betla and the sun is shining outside, as I awake. I depart from this little Muslim village next to the Palamau Tiger Reserve in a little more than an hour for Neterhat and then Ranchi, Hatia train station (one of two stations in Ranchi). Mr. Ro, the tour operator, one of two partners with Mr. Asla, a Muslim, has been helpful throughout. He speaks English quite well, and has navigated the slightly stronger energies for me of dealing in a Muslim world of little negotiations about money and about tour itineraries for example. In addition to some unanticipated guide fees, only partially mentioned in Kolkata with VF (a Hindu, first wearing a forehead mark and a leaf on his head when I went in with Main Majumder), the Jharkhand tour operator, who arranged much of this trip, I gave Mr. Ro 500 rupees extra yesterday about the 9700 rupees I paid in total (plus guide fees for about 5 days). Negotiating about itineraries and money with hints of latent anger with Muslim Asla is part of the process, and VG was good, in general, helped get me a cheap price for this trip, and has to negotiate much of these processes, too. Mr. Ro has been a skillful mediator. His phone number is lower on the Betl Tours’s business card, where Mr. Asla and Mr. Ro are partners.
Privacy in the states in India is different here than in the states, culturally. And family and extended families seem much more significant. Subjectivity – social roles – are very different – in terms of what’s possible, what exists - for example, religiously, souvenir stand-wise, musically, tourism wise, taxi wise, monk-wise, doctor and lawyer and engineer-wise, than in the US. India has so many people!!!
As I was talking with the Majumder some days ago vis-à-vis World University and School, expanding circles and networks seem to be important - how to expand the networks of academia – Cornell, University i (Sat, Main and my father were all professors in the same department at the University in Pennsylvnia), of extended family (and in Bengal), of Google, of the SF Bay Area, of Reed, of companies, for example – as WUaS grows.
Dogs trot past the window. Sounds of mostly Bengalis and their kids (including the African Bengalis I played my pipes for last night, and who later came into my room), I think, on holiday, in the corridor outside my room, in this slightly run down hotel.
It’s time to pack, and then walk into the Palamau Tiger Reserve once more to commune there in its beauty. And to eat a bite of the 3 little Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bars, one pretty young Bengali and the African Bengali, I think, Rintu Ghosh, by name, gave me after my piping.
It’s time too to continue to revise my Harbin ethnography and finish doing this. And it’s time to put an 8-10 WUaS slideshow presentation together for Chennai and with PV.