16 June 2006

dude, where's your aura

matt was with us for a week and i got to relive some of the "virgin india" experiences through him. him being at times indistinguishable from the overwhelming human rush to him, being white and a Meditator and everything.

one thing now clears itself. this notion of "aura" which always confused me and inspired visions of middle-aged new-aged women in bookstores bursting with crystals. aura is real, alive, and well, here in india.

it works like this:

- matt and i are walking down the street (a red clay country lane) to the highway (a barely paved country road) and pass a group of three people (in public, people are male). they, naturally, stare. we walk past them and down the road. matt turns to note they are still, naturally, staring.

- i am receiving dinner on my gandhian pilgrimage from a modest family of gujarati villagers. the sixteen year-old son enters the room and of all the places to sit places himself touching and perhaps on top of his father.

- on the same walk i am received in the mansion of a rich patel family of "farmers" (while their "laborours" coast lavishly through "houses" of blue plastic and other forms of filth), the seven members of which all sleep downstairs in the living room, leaving the rest of the palace empty.

- it is near impossible to pass someone on a country road or in a village without a series of questions: where are you going? your native place? what are you doing? if there is any doubt as to interrogation, the undisguised staring is assured.

this, i think, is all about aura. the extent of our dense phsyical bodies is well-understood. you slip by people or bump into them. the aura goes furthers, extends some meters perhaps, and is insensible. to most westerners at least. in india walking _by_ someone on a road is also walking _through_ that someone's aura. bumping into them. just as it would be natural to say "excuse me" or "watch where youre going asshole" to us, its natural to say something to them.

the villager's aura extends to the domain of his village. if you are anywhere in a village it is not only legitimate but natural for the residents to ask what you're doing. you've walked into their home and bumped right into them.

the other half, the jaggery caring half, you see between friends, parents and children, and other pleasant non-sexual relationships. indians are always sitting as close to each other as possible, always touching each other, holding hands, having their arms around eachother. men and men, women and women, parents and children. not men and women.

my music teacher while have his hand on my knee, or holding my hand, absently during a conversation or while i am practicing. it's all about this aura thing, i'm convinced.

basically, after seven months of being here and two more to go, i have given up any hope of being "socially acceptable" upon my return to amerika. in fact i'm going to have to recreate amerika in a hypercontintal image (plus diversity and minus the fuckedup gender relations, of course). but this is just so you know why im not sitting _over there_ the next time we get together to grate beets or whatever.

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