To see the beauty and the horror in ordinary things – Kolkata part 2
Everything appeared normal, there. It seemed normal to walk around all those little nuns, around that writing saying “Love until it hurts” on Mother Teresa’s grave, around those beds, full of frail humans, so similar to piles of bones. It seemed natural that in the midst of all that traffic, there were signs that urged not to spit, not to use the horn and to obey traffic rules, while there were ten thousand people and cows and geese and chickens and tuk-tuks crossing the road here and there. It seemed logical that nobody crashed into each other.
It seemed rational that hundreds of people, every day, bought necklaces made of extraordinary multi-coloured buds at the Flower Market, to then hang them around the necks of the very human Hindu gods. It seemed normal that the same deities received packets of crisps, rice, bananas. That that they were washed, as during the time of prayer dedicated to Durgā, and that often had an ambivalent character: destruction and creation. It seemed normal that at the train main station of Calcutta there were thousands of people with broken shoes, wearing clothes ruined by wind and dirt, thrown to the ground, in between parked cars, so quiet yet so monstrously loud in my head, alongside mice sticking out from everywhere. As in Moscow, children breathing glue: this was customary. Castes were obvious and permeating. The idea of Hijra or “third sex”, seemed an ordinary concept too: clearly distinct from Western definition of “transsexual”, Hijras are most often described as hermaphrodites, because they incorporate both male and female characteristics, but are not considered nor men neither women nor worthy to have access to education, work, passport, bank accounts, and thus are ultimately rejected from the caste community of birth. Yet, in the midst of all this, it was natural to Feel. Feel a religious fervour that seems long gone in the West, as I felt on the day at the temple of Kali. Feel a smile, perceive its depth and authenticity. Feel your memories, appreciate the lack of pain. Perceive a straight-forward detachment from material things. Accept the melancholy of death. Be amazed that, in the midst of the horror, could live beauty.
Video – Kolkata from above – “Coming back to live” (Pink Floyd)