Sunday, October 15, 2006

street scenes

My existence here takes place indoors, at my desk, surrounded by texts and Sanskrit and Tibetan dictionaries. But community life... life around me goes on outdoors, definitively and consistently outdoors.

Here are some very short clips to share with you a fuller sense of the sights and especially sounds of life, as it takes place on the street outside my apartment. They were all shot from my front balcony. Nothing dramatic, but very much embedded in the texture of life here.

Make sure you have your volume up for the Rickshaw clip. Its distinctive sound is spot on. The music you hear briefly is the sound that all vehicles play when they are backing up. Not all play that same enchanting tune, but they are equally, umm, catchy. The man is milking the water buffalo to bring to the hostel I used to take my meals from, two doors down from where I now stay. Click here to watch "Rickshaw Passes Below Balcony" This link will take you to Press 'back' on your browser to return to this blog.

Another sound that regularly punctuates my studying is that of street vendors calling out their wares. Here is a vegetable seller out looking for customers, door-to-door. His voice is so forceful, he even gets the buffalos' attention. In about the 8th or 9th second of the clip, he passes one of the fabulous designs that housewives draw in chalk daily in front of their homes. Click here to watch "Vegetable Seller Comes Round"

In Recycling, one of the many people who come by looking for garbage that can be recycled stands below the balcony sorting, as various people stroll by. What he leaves behind will be consumed by the dogs at night. Or left to compost slowly by the side of the road. That odd sound you hear towards the end is indeed the bellow of a water buffalo. Click here to watch "Recycling, the Hard Way"

Finally, here is a very quick glimpse of a wandering ascetic on almsround. Most every city or town of any size in India will have a fair number of people who have opted for a spiritual path that involves begging for alms, as Buddhist monastics here traditionally did. Click here to watch "Holy Man on Almsround" The orange clothes, the begging bowl, the gong to announce his presence, are all hallmarks of the wandering ascetic. That house seems to be particularly generous and/or pious, as all the wandering ascetics and flower sellers stop there and wait plenty of time before they give up, as this man does. People come through the neighborhood regularly hawking fresh flowers, which are offered daily at household shrines in many homes.

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