Gandhi Park

DSC01926mahatmasquat.JPG

This blog entry about the events of Friday, October 29, 2004 was originally posted on November 01, 2004.

DAY 377:  In 1888, a young man from India went to London town to study law.  Three years later he passed the bar exam and became a bona fide lawyer under the British court system and eventually became the legal representation of a firm in South Africa.  Little did the young Indian man know at the time that a couple of decades later he would be hailed as a saint by some — and shot to death by another.

If you haven’t figured out whom I’m talking about yet (psst… here’s a hint, look at the picture above or read the title, stupid), it’s Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi had come a long way since his younger days of parted hair, hats and three-piece suits; his time as a lawyer and learning from his guru Raj Chandbahi only helped him on his later quest for social justice and a moral and just society — which brought for the older, bald-headed, glasses-wearing image of Gandhi you’re probably familiar with.  This quest for equality was instilled in him in 1893 when he was to take a train through apartheid-instated South Africa on business, only to be forcibly ejected from his first class seat because of his skin color and nationality. 


IF YOU HAVEN’T FIGURED IT OUT ALREADY, this history lesson is a result of my visit to the National Gandhi Museum in Delhi, my low-impact place to visit since technically I was supposed to be in bed all day recuperating from the hole in my leg.  I had seen Dr. Gupta that morning to get my wound redressed with iodine ointment and a new bandage; he told me that I should let it heal for two more days in Delhi before moving on and that I should go to him for a fresh wound dressing at least two more times.

That didn’t stop me from getting to business as usual.  Watching the news in my hotel room with my leg elevated in my bed got to be boring again, so I took one of India’s signature auto rickshaws to the National Gandhi Museum across town in Old Delhi.  Outside the museum was a replica of the hut he lived in during the early 20th century when trying to protest against the oppression back in India; Gandhi did as much as he could to help the Indian struggle in South Africa before dealing with the struggles back home in 1915.

Gandhi’s strategy for dealing with the South African and British oppression was a non-violent one, which he called Satyagraha.  Gandhi once wrote:  “Truth (satya) implies love and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for… force which is born of truth and love or nonviolence.”  While that definition sounds like a real stretch, its practice worked effectively.  Arguably the most famous of Gandhi’s acts of non-violent protest was his ultimate action of civil disobedience, the Dandi March.  In March 1930, Gandhi and his followers marched to the shore and did the very, very bad thing of taking salt from the water there — which was a big no-no in British law.  The act caused an uproar in society, which was exactly Gandhi’s goal.  (The only thing better would be if Gandhi ordered a bunch of pizzas in the Queen’s name and didn’t pay for them.)  Gandhi’s non-violent strategy was a big hit, so much that it inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to do the same in the Civil Rights Movement in America decades later.

The story of Gandhi is a long and moving one, most of which is too long to explain here.  I’d say if you are interested in learning more about the life of Mahatma Gandhi, go and rent the 1982 movie Gandhi starring Ben Kingsley and directed by Richard Attenborough, who also played the old man in Jurassic Park.  I think Attenborough is in the process of working on a sequel to Gandhi called Gandhi Park (working title), in which scientists are able to bring a clone of Gandhi back to life using DNA embedded in a mosquito preserved in amber, so that they can build a theme park around him where he will inevitably show up in his loincloth, chase down park guests and bite their heads off with his bare teeth.


GANDHI’S LEADERSHIP IN THE INDIAN RIGHTS STRUGGLE was praised by men of power all over the world (including Charlie Chaplin).  Eventually he pulled enough worldwide support that his work helped bring India its independence.  However, not everyone was a big fan of Gandhi.  In 1948, an Indian man pretending to bow down to Gandhi in respect after a prayer session, opened fired and shot Gandhi in the heart three times

“Not since Buddha has India so reverenced any man… Not since St. Francis of Assisi has any life known to history been so marked by gentleness, disinterestedness, simplicity of soul and forgiveness of enemies… We have the astonish phenomenon of a revolution led by a saint.”  -Will Durant

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”  -Albert Einstein

“He was right, he knew he was right, we all knew he was right.  The man who killed him knew he was right.  However long the follies of the violent continue, they but prove that Gandhi was right.  ...Resist to the very end, he said, but without violence…  Of violence the world is sick…  Oh, India, dare to be worthy of your Gandhi!”  -Pearl S. Buck

Yes, India, dare to be worth of your Gandhi, or his clone will inevitably show up in his loincloth, chase you down and bite your heads off with his bare teeth!

But seriously, what India lost was truly a living saint, a light showing the way according to Jawalarla Nehru.  Nehru continues, “...the light that shone in this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years and a thousand years later that light will still be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumberable [sic] hearts.”

This light is represented in the physical form at the Raj Ghat, across the street from the museum, where an eternal flame burned near a simple black slab of marble placed in memory of Gandhi at the very spot he was cremated in 1948.  A solemn place where women brought flowers and their husbands brought video cameras, it took much needed attention away from the funny-looking trash bins around the surrounding park.


INSPIRED BY GANDHI’S CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, I decided to really go against doctor’s orders.  Feeling that I couldn’t spend another day in Delhi “resting,” I went ahead and booked a bus ticket to Agra the following morning.  That evening I told Dr. Gupta that I really had to leave and couldn’t go in for his wound dressing the next day (it was possible he was just dragging it out for more money), so he simply gave me supplies for me to do it myself.  It was a good thing he let me go too because if not, I might have chased him down and bitten his head off with my bare teeth.






Next entry: Playing The Game

Previous entry: Worldwide Pants




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Comments for “Gandhi Park”

  • GREETINGS FROM JAIPUR!  With Delhi and Agra, it is the southwest point of India’s tourism “Golden Triangle”... and the best point of the three so far.  (The McDonald’s here cranked up the radio when Bon Jovi came on.)

    Get this, I used my press credentials and set up a one-on-one with the current Maharaja himself.  Anything you want me to ask him?

    MARKYT:  Thanks for the Pangkot tip; I’ll try and make it there tomorrow—via elephant!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  02:57 PM


  • Good history lesson smile  For some reason I didn’t think he died that long ago. 
    Movie idea cracked me up

    Posted by Liz  on  10/31  at  03:14 PM


  • sick people could really “use me” that trash can the wrong way (gross…)

    hahaha…

    put gandhi’s head on a raptor and there you got it…

    “you come with me to america, we join circus, you my best friend”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  03:22 PM


  • Great lesson!  Liz, I thought the same thing….I thought he lived later than 1948.

    I laughed at the movie idea too….

    markyt:  I can hear your quote vividly!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  03:46 PM


  • Erik:  Will you be visiting the temples of Khajuraho (central India) famous for their sexually explicit sculptures? (Kama Sutra)  It would make for some interesting pics. (And comments for sure!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  03:47 PM


  • My recommendation: Two great books by Rohinton Mistry - A Fine Balance & Family Matters.  Award winning author from India. 
    (A Fine Balance is one of the best books I have read in the past 5 years!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  04:12 PM


  • Erik…interesting history and facts but seems so anti climatic after Nepal/Everest!  Of course, no repeat of drastic events needed to keep our attention. LOL Hope your leg heals well! Interesting question Jance…You have got my interest in seeing pic’s. Erik do you know where this is??

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  04:50 PM


  • Actually Janice, I must correct you, Rohinton Mistry is Canadian, born in India but working in living in Canada most of his life.  His stories are all set in India….

    Must confess Mistry’s novels are in my top ten all time favs too…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  07:29 PM


  • Erik: I love the way you liven up a history lesson with a bit of humor.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  07:34 PM


  • why do canadians ALWAYS have to announce their nationality? just curious.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  07:35 PM


  • Because the Beer commercials tell us to. And there is another Lisa that posts here…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  07:50 PM


  • Tdot…you are right about the other Canadian Lisa…..she is busy getting ready to get married next weekend so we haven’t seen her comments lately.  Congratulations to Lisa on your upcoming marriage!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  02:02 AM


  • Hey everyone just wanted to let you know that “Canadian” Lisa is off to the Dominican Republic to get married this weekend!  Congratulations Lisa & Rob!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  02:06 AM


  • Hey Rose!  Great minds think alike.  Our messages were posted 4 minutes apart!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  02:08 AM


  • I think Dr. Gupta should play the role of the mad-man medic-scientist in Gandhi Park. Who knows what for he’s actually uding the ‘materials’ he extracted from the infected bite…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  02:18 AM


  • The beer commercials made me do it - I like that excuse…

    Thanks for the history lesson, Erik - I appreciate it. Gandhi is an example of what all humans should strive for… we’ll see if I can strive for that after tomorrow.

    Any more pics of your healing leg? Maybe I’m just gross and not easily grossed out.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  02:51 AM


  • Wait.. I don’t remember Gandhi ever biting anybody’s head off with his bare teeth? smile j/k

    I totally saw a Simpsons moment there!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/02  at  03:10 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


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