Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Hey. Remember this post
where aallllll the way down at the end of the entry I talked about going to the Sufi temple for the musical gathering that takes every Thursday evening before the Muslim holy day? (Sufism is the mystical form of Islam where music is seen as a way to worship and connect with God on a personal, almost sensual level. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban hate these people. A lot. )

Here are the videos and stills to illustrate that. The still photos are here.

Schizophrenic Snake Curse Lady and gawking children come in at the very end, and yes, that's the music that I could actually hear playing in the bazaar in the opening clip. I'm telling you, if you squint your eyes and pretend that the light bulbs are lanterns, it really feels like it could be 2,000 years ago. Unbelievable. Also, the woman singing the call to evening prayer (about 15 seconds before the end) was haunting and lovely.

Also haunting and lovely is the thing with the red threads. When you go to Nizamuddin, you're expected to take some sort of offering. There are hundreds of candle and flower garland stands for you to purchase your offering in case you "forgot"- how handy.

(I'm being a little bit cynical about this, because the constant requests for money all around you everywhere: to hand you your shoes- like a guy wants 50 rupees to bend down and hand you your own sneakers from a big pile in front of you when you come back out of a temple- to buy a candle to float in the river, to go on a rickshaw, to go on a boat, to buy a postcards and cell phone chargers, to give to a street child who will be beaten by mafia-style street thugs if he doesn't come back with enough money but who will be permanently maimed so he remains a beggar his whole life if he comes back with a lot. It's heart-breaking and annoying and guilt-inducing all at once! Yay! Conflict-y!)

Anyway, making the flower offering at Nizamuddin and giving money for someone to watch my shoes that ultimately went to a charity providing food for the soup kitchen there was easily the best "strongly suggested donation" experience I had in India.

When you walk up to the sepulchre, you're supposed to make a wish and tie a red string in the marble honeycomb surrounding the tomb. It is said that when your red string is untied, your wish comes true. If it DOES come true, you're obliged to return and remove a string as soon as you can, thus enabling someone else's dream to come true. I loved it and kind of want to start my own red string wishing.... thing-y... somewhere.

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