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Published: July 24th 2010
Bihar in the Evening
Look for the giant Buddha....
About a quarter of Kolkata's population is Bihari. They are usually laborers, tea-stall owners, richshaw pullers and the like. In a way, they are Kolkata's "Mexicans". When I meet one, I usually say Manush Bihari atma thaga acche
. Bihari people have strong souls.
Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in India (less than 50%!)(MISSING).
The land here is gorgeous. It is much dirier than West Bengal. I am suprised to see boulder-graced hills; I had imagined the land is completely flat up to the Himalayas.
After an overnight train, I had some tea and headed into the town of Bodhgaya. There's a lot of new contrsuction to cash in on the growing religious and historical tourism.
After three weeks in the Indian sun, my skin began to turn brown.
After four weeks in Ma Hindustan, all the streets I could just walk down.
With the side-ways head nods I could tell local thoughts, they didin't know from where I'm around.
Before I left Kolkata my friend Anil gave me an henna of my name in Hindi. Very useful!
I met up with my Australian friend at the combined guesthouse/NGO/monastery she has lived in
for a year. I helped to take a group of eight orphaned kids from Delhi on a tour. Unfortunately, I was not allowed in the Vishnu temple (No Non-Hindus Allowed, I should have worn an orange shirt). However, all was well when I met a man who had lived in Kolkata and we chatted for a while!
Who needs Hindi?
We stopped for snacks and a man approached me. First he looked at my beard and eyes, then my lungi, then my very old Punjabi-style shoes. He asked me a question in Hindi, to which I replied Ami Hindi janni na
, at which point he said, Ah, Bangla! Apni Bangla jannen.
We procedded to have my basic chat. Ami Seattle vallah. Ami China thaki. Ami ingej parai. Apnar des kotai?
(I am a Seattle-guy. I live in China. I teach English, where are you from?)
He was amused to no end.
Some of the kids took a shinning to me right away. They are loads of mischevious fun at the age of between 6 and 13. I was honored when one grabbed my hand and played with me. It feels good to be able to show some kids affection- I always try to condition street kids in Kolkata thusly:
Going to foreigners for money= getting harshly reprimanded in Bengali.
I don't know how long I will stay here- its nice and quiet, and I haven't visited the main temples yet. Also, maybe I can get some good karma by aiding overloaded social workers. However, I will have to move out of the place I am staying in, probably the day after tomorrow because I found one of their rules to be too difficult.
No killing (good)
No stealin (fine)
No lying (ahhh, I can do it for a couple days....what about jokes?)
No sexual activity (like I would anyway)
No intoxicants (no problem)
No playing music Nooooooooooooooo!
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