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Christian Nuns in Buddhist Monastery

The more I understand other religions, the more I discover my own. Whatever differences there are between us, we are all, at the very center, the same: we love, we laugh, we hug, we kiss, we cry, and we bleed. We all worship and want to go back to the same Almighty.

7 August 2012. Visited the Golden Temple (Bailkuppe) in Coorg (near Kushalnagar). This is one of the largest Tibetan settlements in south India. I was awe inspired by the intricate art, the hues of saffron, the serenity and the solemnity; and for a moment I thought I was in Tibet. Just as I was listening to the prayer bells, I saw this group of Christian nuns enter the temple. The two thoughts that came to my mind were ‘Tolerance’ and ‘Similarity in our differences’.

Patric Rozario
25 August 2012

Christian Nuns at the Tibetan Bailkuppe Golden Temple in Coorg, India.

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Moonar

With the naughty assistance of the clouds and fog, it seems that the hills of Munnar are playing hide and seek with the rest of the nature. You will unknowingly become a part of this game when you visit this picturesque destination that is situated in the Indian state of Kerala. Whether you focus your eyes on the background or the foreground, there is beauty still. Is it not surprising that most of Kerala’s great literature is about what the eye sees and not what the mind sees.

One limb less

23 August 2012. Goa. It was not the ‘sun, sea, sand & sex’ that I remember of my much enjoyed holiday. Among many other recollections of Goa are the images of two living beings that still remain fresh in my mind. I went for a walk early one morning, as soon as I saw that the rain had stopped since the previous night. With camera in hand and a half-liter vodka still lodged in my head, I went for a long stroll along Varca Beach.

Many groups of dogs were out very early to enjoy their playing time while venturing into other dog group’s territories. This one particular happy band of dogs caught my attention. Among the band members was this one dog that had one leg less. Must have been a horrible accident, where a 4WD tire must have dismembered this dog. Watching them for quite some time, I could not help but notice how the 3-legged canine had a faithful ‘buddy’ who was always in the lead guiding his decapitated friend, always waiting for his friend to catch up, while the others uncaringly moved on ahead.

Just a day before this we had gone to Panjim, the capital city of Goa. There while we were enjoying the sights and sounds (after a luxurious meal), was this man who had one leg, which was unserviceable. Polio. “Hello Buddy” I called him. He spoke to me in English and gave me directions to places I wanted to visit in Panjim.

The first half of the 20th century was plagued by the poliomyelitis epidemic. I remember that Franklin Roosevelt was the highest-profile victim and did much to publicize the plight of polio victims, most of whom were children. The effects of polio have been known since prehistory; Egyptian paintings and carvings depict otherwise healthy people with withered limbs, and children walking with canes at a young age.
Are we not the blessed ones with all intact?

Patric Rozario

No Pamela Anderson here

I stayed at the Mahindra Varca Beach Resort in Goa from 3rd till 5th August 2012. Though I have visited Goa twice before, the big difference I saw this time was the presence of organized lifeguards. Not just the lifeguards and their beach patrol jeeps, but a good system was in place.

I saw red flags hoisted up throughout different locations along the beach. I went for a long beach walk one early morning and met up with a lifeguard and his faithful dog, while they were busy planting a red flag. Curious to know about the significance of the flag, I made several attempts to build conversations, and finally I broke ice and managed to learn more about the red flag, their organization and the life of these ‘knights in red’.

Surf Life Saving Goa (SLSG) is the largest and premier water safety and rescue service in India. Operated and managed by Drishti Special Response Services Pvt Ltd. They operate throughout the beach in Goa, and there are no similar successful organizations anywhere else in India.

The lifeguards deployed are mostly local youths from the State of Goa, almost 99 % have Goa as their domicile. At the time of writing, SLSG has selected and trained over 600 lifeguards. These lifeguards were selected and trained by Lifeguard Instructors of the group training company Special Rescue Training Academy Pvt Ltd (SRTA). This company ensures that the lifeguards receive the appropriate skill sets by calling upon Instructors from Red Cross Hawaii and IRIA (International Rescue Instructors Authority) Canada. Currently SLSG deploys 429 beach lifeguards at Goa beaches every day (7.30 am till sunset), covering 105 km of beach. They cover a total of 39 beaches (15 Beaches in North Goa & 24 Beaches in South Goa).

Work and responsibility is very tough work, said my ‘red knight’. It entails being on the alert all the time whilst on duty. The work is strenuous and stressful. Vacationers come to the beach for fun, and to be disciplined is the last thing in the mind of these fun seekers. Lifeguards need to be very strict, and have to use force sometimes to contain unruly lot. Their task gets most difficult when handling drunken youth, who have no clue about the dangers of the sea, especially during the rough monsoon season.

Many lifeguards do not last very long in their job. They come with the image of ‘Baywatch’ and ‘Pamela Anderson’ in their mind, but reality hit them hard and fast.  The work of surf lifeguarding is not for the weak and meek. As most of the beach lifeguards are in the tender age between 18 – 24 years, the distractions are many. Many trained lifeguards have left for easier career opportunities, leaving SLSG to train more and more to ensure the deployment of the minimum number of lifeguards required to attain the objective of the work.

Patric Rozario

Beedi

An estimated 100 million people – mostly the poor and illiterate – smoke Beedi in India and 200,000 tuberculosis deaths are due to these hand-rolled cigarettes. Beedi cigarettes consist of tobacco wrapped in tendu or temburni leaf, a plant native to Asia. Typically Beedis are tied on one or both ends with a red string.

About 85 per cent of the world’s Beedi is produced in India. West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are centres of Beedi rolling due to the availability of cheap labour, and there are 290,000 Beedi-making units in India. In India, rolling Beedis is an industry that employs more than 5 million workers, most of them women. Prolonged exposure to the kind of tobacco that is required to make Beedis and long hours in unhygienic working conditions are known to cause asthma, bronchitis and TB.

Beedi cigarettes contain more than three times the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide as traditional cigarettes. In Beedis chemicals are not added to aid combustion, this is the reason why a smoker takes puffs with more force in order to keep it from going out.  Additionally a smoker uses more Beedis in comparison to cigarettes to get the same amount of nicotine with which he is habituated early. In this way a Beedi smoker takes higher concentrations of toxins to his lungs than cigarettes. Smokers puff on a Beedi cigarette is approximately 28 times as opposed to 9 puffs on a regular cigarette. (source: smoking.ygoy.com)

It is estimated that over 1.7 million children are working in India’s Beedi rolling industry. Children are knowingly engaged by manufacturers due to belief that children’s nimble fingers are more adept at rolling cigarettes. Under Indian law, Beedi rolling is defined as hazardous work, but a loophole means children who help their parents in their work fall outside the legal framework.

7 August 2012. Was packing my camera while vacationing in Coorg in India. I saw this man approaching and frantically searching for something he must have dislodged somewhere in his clothes. Without this man knowing, I readied my camera and got several good shots as soon as he found his missing Beedi and Matchbox.

Patric Rozario

 

Beach performers of Goa

Street performers face huge day to day challenges, from bad weather and restrictive laws to unfair stereotypes and unpredictable pay.

But they need to keep on performing. Never know when the upcoming ‘conceptual age’ will bring forth talent scouts in search of performers who can entertain and make everyone have a good time. Consider these two beginners: Benjamin Franklin, the American inventor and statesman, was a street performer. He composed songs, poetry and prose about the current events and went out in public and performed them. Tracy Chapman began her career singing in streets in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Goa, 4th August 2012. The rest of the gang was busy getting temporary tattoos done. I was not prepared to offer my skin for some gypsies to test the toxicity of their chemical dyes.  So I took a stroll along the beach looking for interesting subjects to ‘capture’.  Then I saw this group of 3 performers walking by carrying their performance tools and instruments. Hold on, there was a 4th performer. “No one in Goa that day enjoyed the sun, sea and a rocking good time as much as this kid”, I said to myself. I also wondered if the dog was also a member of the troupe.

Patric Rozario

 

There is still room for more

I remember seeing Ambassador cars arriving at airports to send off relatives or friends – and an unbelievable 10-15 people coming out of the car! No problem. Al Iz vel.

There are two paths a new automobile company can do to test their new vehicles. Either build a multi-million dollar R&D and testing facility, or give a few new vehicles to some rural families in India. The second option would be a wiser one. The Indians will overload, overburden, overuse, overstrain, overstress, overstretch, over everything, and still make it run for the next 50 years.

Initially Mahindra & Mahindra was a trading company, importing post-war Willys Jeeps (American World War 1) as completely built units, and later on started importing semi-knocked-down kits, which were assembled in India. In the early 1960’s they started manufacturing Jeeps. Until 1968 they were left-hand-drive, which changed in the 1970’s as right-hand-drive.
Mahindra’s website rightfully states, “Mahindra builds three things. Products, Services and Possibilities”.

12 August 2012, Moonar, Kerala, India.
Patric Rozario