Monday, May 10, 2010

Wait, Gandhi? Again?

I was telling you yesterday that it's such a huge, huge world. But other days it doesn't seem so big after all. That's how I felt during the first stop of our city tour in Mumbai, where we visited Mani Bhavan, the house associated with Gandhi.

Here, he learned to card and spin, he developed much of his philosophy of social activism, non-violence, and self-sacrifice, and he initiated many effective and insightful political moves that changed India forever. The place is now a museum, research institute, library, and memorial to Gandhi's life and work.

Interestingly, we'd already encountered various exhibitions on Gandhi's life and work during our time in South Africa, as he spent 21 years in exile there, working to overcome racism directed at Indians and "coloureds". Yet, as usual, after encountering this giant on two different continents, my knowledge and understanding of his work is still miniscule.

Guides and teachers must wonder what on earth is going on inside their students' heads as we listeners "listen" but don't absorb nearly enough information. [Homework, six weeks from now: read a biography of Gandhi.] For now, I'll also give you a little hint -- Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi were not related... just so you don't fall into the error of my ways. How could I have gotten to my advanced age and not learned that?

This also serves to remind how egocentric and unintentionally parochial we all are. I remember whilst living in England, an American friend was aghast that English school children had no idea who Paul Revere was. But why should they? An American folk hero, yes, but hardly world renowned. And yet American schoolkids bumble along with hardly an inkling about India, or its past and present leaders. Though it's halfway round the world, India is destined to become so much more important in the global economy and in all of our lives as a result.

Time to hit the books and learn something, y'all!

Meanwhile, I'm going to hit the chaise longue out by the pool for a bit. It was already 86F as of 8am (the paper said it "feels like 99F"), and the weather services predict temperatures of 104F by this afternoon. Wonder what that will feel like? Melty, I bet.

I'm off to the markets and bazaar in the late afternoon when it cools off, and shall let you know what bargains I come up with. Perhaps a peacock feather fan would be advisable. I turned one down on the street on Sunday. Now I'm regretting that move, fo' sho'.


Miss Footloose said...

You wrote << This also serves to remind how egocentric and unintentionally parochial we all are. >>

Absolutely. It's easy to be shocked by the ignorance of other people, but I'm ashamed to find how ignorant and porochial I am myself at times, and I've been around the globe some.

Anonymous said...

It's true -- I've been embarrassed everywhere by my ignorance, the moreso because so often locals are amazed when "you didn't know that?" Makes me wish I had a better memory, certainly!

On the other hand, life is always genuinely interesting because there's new material to learn. How dull it would be if that weren't the case!