In India per un altra tappa dei nostri Quarantine Journeys.
di Lia Beltrami
“In the whirlwind of the air, among crowded people, a pilgrim came up to us and gave us oranges and honey cakes. He didn’t know anything about us, but he came to meet us.”
It wasn’t my first time in India. I had a memory of Kerala made of breathtaking beauty, palm trees merged with the horizon, coasts and rivers, forests and smiles. Calcutta has nothing to do with any of this. It is pure chaos. Continuous, deafening horns; rivers of people colliding in the streets and motor vehicles always stationary in a perpetual traffic jam. We met here at the airport: I was arriving from Bangladesh, Andrea and Ferran from Italy, the protagonist of Complexion, Nina Davuluri, and her manager from the United States. An interesting melting pot. We had a strong experience as guests of the Sisters of Providence, north of the big city, near the first mission of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Three highlights of the Indian journey.
One morning we got up in the dark and went to shoot at dawn on the banks of the Ganges. Noises, songs, horn sounds immersed and disintegrated in the Silence of the great river. The first pilgrims prepared for the ritual bath, scattered flowers, flooded with incense. They bathed us, blessing our work, they welcomed us into their deep spirituality, between gray and colors.
We took a local train to the border with Bangladesh to shoot in the most hidden places on the theme of skin color and self-acceptance. Nina, of Indian origin, has mingled in the crowd of personal stories, regenerating herself in the cyclical repetition. The wagons had no doors, the windows had no glass. In the whirlwind of the air, among crowded people, a pilgrim came close to us and gave us oranges and honey cakes. He didn’t know anything about us, but he came to meet us. The taste of sharing made the food tastier.
In Calcutta, the nuns took us under the bridges. They are “villages” made of mud and garbage. The girls live in fear of being raped, taken away by orcs. Some of them, on the death of their parents, went to the nearby shelter of the sisters to study and build a future. There we touched Love firsthand. Each girl told us about the experience of pain, unimaginable for anyone, and about rebirth. The first year at the shelter is used to return the smile, the second to return to dreaming, the third to commit to making one’s dream come true. So one studies to become an engineer, another wants to be a nun, another goes to play rugby. We also met one of the first who lived there, now she is a hostess: from life along the train tracks and under bridges, to infinite skies.
There we touched Love firsthand.
Two surprises in Delhi
From Calcutta we passed to Delhi, drowning in pollution, an unbreathable air, gray everywhere. But here too we found two surprises. Br. Bento, who left Goa 40 years ago, founded high profile schools and centers for street children. The preparation and motivation of all the children goes further and so does their message of peace and coexistence in an India in turmoil.
Tara Gandhi e Nina Davuluri
The second surprise was the meeting with Mahatma Gandi’s family. His niece Tara, who lived with him at the time of martyrdom, opened our gaze to the path of harmony and love for creation. Great-grandson Vidur built a very deep inter-religious prayer with us at the memorial. In addition to him and Nina, Hindus, and us Christians, the Sheik Efendi, a Sufi brother who promotes the path of peace, arrived from Germany. We prayed for peace in India and in the world and the sheikh prayed for the reconciliation of the hearts of those present. Traveling requires unhinging one’s certainties and letting oneself be done by what one encounters.
Quarantine Journeys don’t just stop in India! To mentally get out of quarantine, travel with us to Nepal, Kenya and Bolivia!
Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!
Aurora Vision Corso Rosmini 76, Rovereto (TN) 38068, ITALY