Edward Reib's "Travels" Part 6
Premiered: 6th April 2021
Filmed: Mar/Apr 2018
Part 6 opens with an image that actually belongs in the second half of Part 7. It is an original Pillar of Ashoka, just outside an ancient rock hewn Buddhist cave monastery. Ashoka was the almost mythological, but most certainly historical, king who first united much of India, converted to Buddhism, and ordered the first Buddhist Temples and Monasteries to be built all over the ancient land we now call India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even into present-day China, in the 3rd century BCE. In 1950, the same symbol, three lions atop a pillar, was adopted as the official Emblem of India.
Along with that image, is the first beats of the song which will carry us from being a stranger in a strange land all the way to Taj Mahal with a beautiful Indian woman who would later become my wife. That song is Sankashtanashanam Ganesha Stotram, from the album Holy Chants on Lord Ganesha. Why, you might ask? Because it, along with all of the other songs in this video, was among the songs I began listening to in 2002 to try to imagine what India must be like. Actually, I had set up my first Ganesha shrine at the time, so I was playing whatever I could find on LimeWire at the time related to Ganesha.
Anyway, after the lions we see the bridge across a river, the border between Nepal and India. Then, the art on the wall at HOG Hostel in New Delhi where I stayed that first night, and some images from the Metro. An auto (it’s what they call the little motorized cabs) advises that we “Just Chill”, so we trip out for a while on the statue of Durga riding a (non-flying) tiger house shrine at the Vermas’, where I stayed the second night in India, and the three weeks which followed.
I had met Yash Verma the first day, through a chain of mutual friends, and while he was in college one day, 4th of April, I went to a mall nearby. In it, I found the Kiran Nadar Museum, and spent some time admiring the works of featured artist Vivan Sundaram.
A few hours later, I met a FaceBook friend named Priyal for a cup of coffee, at Café Coffee Day, but she had other plans: She took me to ISKCON, the internationally popular Hare Krishna cult, and we were already shyly taking selfies together in front of the murals of Radha and Krishna there. It’s there in the video, if you don’t believe me.
Then, we see some of the local Bovine population of Faridabad, as well as 3 of the 6 resident Vermas who were so kind as to allow me to stay with them.
We’ve arrived at Taj Mahal, with Priyal and her sister Navi. If you’re watching this video in an a/c room or nice weather, remember to be grateful that you weren’t experiencing the heat that we were that day. Yet, despite this, it remains among the very best of memories that I have.
After the Taj, the song finally changes, to Namo Sharada as sung by Bhanumathi Narasimhan. We visit some of the ISKCON, as well as the more old-fashioned Indy Mom & Pop type Krishna Temples of Vrindavan, where he is said to have grown up, romping around with Radha (instead of his wife).
Then, thank god, we are treated to more of the local cows of Faridabad. Also, Remington Steele has a beard apparently, and is the face of an Indian brand of… something.
With the coming of the Maha Ganapati Mool Mantra, Ganesh Gayatri, as sung by Uma Mohan we see some of the protesting that was going all throughout India at the time. (the Kathua rape case)
This fades into a montage of Amandeep and I visiting Shri Lakshmi Narayan Divya Duam Mandir Temple, near Faridabad.
Finally, to the tune of Sa Ta Na Ma sung by Paramjeet Singh, with Priyal and Navi we visit the great and beautiful Sikh Temple, Gurudwara Shri Bangla Sahib.
Part 6, in my opinion, is where this Travels series starts getting good. Part of the reason for this is it's the moment when I decided to start adding music to the videos, and thus the footage tends to move along with the music.
Click to Watch Part 6 "To India!" on Youtube