Thursday, 16 August 2012

Independence Day blues... then greens

For the last 2 weeks I have been taking Enoch an hour early to school each day.  He was chosen to be part of the group to sing at the flag-raising on Independence Day - and to read out a short speech.

Yesterday it happened.  Well, actually it didn't.  At least not what was planned.

Yes, another August 15th showed up.  India has now completed 65 years of Independence from the British Raj.  We have now achieved the average age of an Indian born today (those born in 1947 only expected to live 37 years on average!).

And yes, we did get up early and go over to the school at 7 AM for the flag hoisting and programme.  Only to find that the programme had been cancelled.

Why?  Because an ex-chief minister of Maharashtra had died the day before - and the government had notified a 'day of mourning.'

That is all well and good - and no desrespects for the dear-departed - but how can you impose 'mourning' on our Independence Day celebration?  It was the oddest thing - to see kids arrive at the school dressed up beautifully in costumes for the dances and other parts of the programme then to be told that the whole programme had been cancelled.
Jai Hind!  The rousing strains of Jana Gana Mana being sung

Yes, we did hoist the flag and sing the stirring national anthem, and a patriotic song was sung by one of the choirs, but a bitter taste remained.  The whimsy of the state - that trumps the basis of our nation.  
Yes, some of the 'patriotic' themes that are trotted out every are treacly.  Yes, there are so many things that we need to address with all our heart and strength.

Yes, just singing a patriotic song will not take away the sting of poverty - or send a mars mission aloft.  But here is one time when we can genuinely stand together - and our youngsters are being taught that all of this can be set aside - in order to 'honour' a dead politician.  The cult of the person overrides the tenous threads which can weave us together.

I don't think a single child shed a tear for the departed ex-Chief minister of Maharasthra.  But I am sure tears were shed because a beautiful programme was squashed thanks to an edict from the state govt.  And for those who didn't cry - another small erosion of trust took place.

So what did we do instead?

We took our lovely lad for a walk.

Not far from where we used to stay in the 'Happy Valley Homes' is a park that the municipality has made at the edge of the national Park.  It is quite inaccessible to most people with no bus service anywhere near and far off from the main pockets of habitation - though right next to a large expensive gated community.

When it was first commissioned about five years ago it was sparkling with swings and children's jungle gym type toys.  As with much it has fallen into neglect.  Every movable out-door toy is broken - and even some of the static ones are twisted relics of what used to be so shiny.

But at least the grass and the trees regenerate.

The monsoonal green is balm to the soul.

And what can be better than seeing flowers like these?

We returned home to a celebratory breakfast (August 15 being Stefan's birthday too) with our dear friends Arvind and Putul Singh and their lovely children Urvashi and Rishav.  In keeping with the Independence Day time - we had a half-night of prayer the previous night - and Arvind and family stayed over with us and participated in a special programme for our Jeevan Sahara Kendra children later in the day.

We are grateful for our country of India - and long that our children will grow up in a land where freedom and truth will blossom. There is a lot of work... maybe even generations of work to be done.  But we can start now.  May our blues be greened!


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