India and our Great British Empire

Autoethnographic musings upon life… This year I spent the summer in India – while I was there I painted many little pictures in my sketchbook, completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course and experienced ‘Life’ through a new lens. I wrote several musings and I’m going to post them here… And I’ll attach my paintings too.

Lord Krishna’s Birthday, India and our Great British Empire

Today is Lord krishnas birthday, to celebrate we all bought saris and went to a magnificent white marble Hindu temple covered in sparkly lights and beautiful, rhythmic “Hare Krishna” music and dancing and twirling and golden gods everywhere you looked! It was truly magical – and I got to go there in my very first tuc tuc!!!!!!!

Covered in sweat we waited at the road side for our tuc tucs to bring us back to the yoga school and we all chattered excitedly.

Everyone was elated!

It had been a fabulous night of dancing and singing and twirling around with gorgeous radiant little Indian girls showing us how to dance!
One of the other students had noticed some baby piglets, “Oh my God how cute!!!!!!!” I exclaimed and got closer to take a look.

And then my heart fell.  I noticed they had been born and were living in a HUGE pile of rubbish. I was then reminded of the cow I had saw just a few days earlier who was eating a cardboard box… That had saddened my heart a fair bit too.
I left the piglets with my gift from Lord Krishna – I had made an offering to Krishna in the temple and I was given the sugary butter and sweeties (his favourite foods) to eat so that my life may continue to be sweet and rich. As I climbed into the tuc tuc it struck me that those piglets would probably not have a rich and sweet life.
As our tuc tuc meandered back to the yoga school instead of gazing at the Ganga and laughing about how I’d never complain about pot holes again (as I had been saying on the journey there) – I looked to the other side of the road. The side where the beggars “lived”.

And as we drove past all of the men with no limbs I thought about how significant this day truly was. For it is not only Lord Krishna’s birthday –  it is also Indias independence day. The anniversary of the day that my country decided to “give India back” and as I looked upon those men with no legs I was reminded of all the heated debates I have had over the years about the legacy of our “Great British Empire”…
Yes, I have always “got” your logic – my life would not be sweet and rich if my forefathers had not raped and pillaged the rest of the world.
But for this – I have never felt thankful and that has at times infuriated others in the past. It is just that for me – I know at what price these gifts have came.
I always have.
Ever since I visited the slave museum in Liverpool when I was 7 and saw just how our glorious buildings were created and paid for.
And on that bumpy ride home in our tuc tuc this evening it really pained me to see how India – with its rich and inventive and spiritual past – is a third world country where the electricity is not stable and the water isn’t clean and the cows eat cardboard boxes.
Yet most of her gold lives in glass cases in museums in my country – for all of the world to see – in my country where electricity and clean water are not even given a second thought and Lord Krishna’s birthday is not celebrated, with those twinkly lights and the glorious music and all of the people singing and dancing and being thankful for the rich and sweet life that he has bestowed upon them.

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