Monday, August 31, 2009

The Kumbh Mela Phenomenon

As in lfe, things just seem to fall into place of their own accord
sometimes. Like a Karmic sequence, like the convergence
of rivers, my previous post about the
River Ganges led to
my unplanned viewing of
'Short Cut to Nirvana', a LINK TV
Documentary film. This phenomenal award-winning film

somehow got linked thereafter to my receipt of an evite
to Glenn Losack's upcoming show Sept 2009 at Salon Ciel
in New York featuring his Kumbh Mela picture.
(Unfortunately this show will be yet another chapter in the
days of my vicarious* lifestyle. )

The Bathing Ghats of Dr. Glenn Losack's fabulous capture above
depict one of those unimaginable moments that for centuries
have left so many in a stupor of disbelief. No less a person than
1894 attendee and famous writer Mark Twain wrote,...
No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond
imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.

Based on attendance alone, there just isn't any event in the world
that comes close to the Kumbh Mela, the World's largest, oldest,
longest-running Fair of its kind. While it is still primarily a Hindu
it is now a world-renowned Travel Event that follows
the revolving path of the different venues at
Allahabad (Prayag)
at the confluence
of the Ganga and Yamuna and mythical
Saraswati river, Haridwar
along the Ganga river, Ujjain along
the Kshipra river and Nashik
along the Godavari river.

Burning Man, Woodstock, Altamont, Carnival, Rave and
all rolled into one. But don't think in hundreds of
like they do : The 2007
Kumbh Mela attracted
70 million folks, and even more are expected for the 2010 Fair.
There's music food, drink and Pot. Lots of Pot being freely shared.
There are Spiritual seekers from far continents with no knowledge
of what they will find here, who intermingle with those who do
nothing but meditate, surviving on receiving alms, which they
never ask for. Hordes of naked Sadhus ** run through the chilly
river in a bathing scene that mildly evokes the Polar Bear Club's
annual icy dips. Yogis display amazing feats of strength even as
Massages, mind-expanding discourses and lectures are being given.
Even the Dalai Lama beamed all the way as he joined
the superstars
of Spiritual Thinking
in the colorful parade of floats. It's all just too
much to share with you here. Go visit the wiki page if you can.
Or go buy the movie at the Official site.

Enjoy the official trailer of 'Shortcut to Nirvana' below
: link

How to Celebrate Kumbh Mela from

* experienced or realized through imaginative or
sympathetic participation in the experience of another

** In Hinduism, sadhu is a common term for a mystic,
ascetic, practitioner of yoga (yogi) and/or wandering
monks. The sadhu is solely dedicated to achieving the fourth
and final Hindu goal of life,
moksha (liberation), through
meditation and contemplation of

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Your Final Act on Earth: Texting ?

Could Texting be the last thing you ever do in your final moments
here on Earth ?
Wouldn't you rather be doing something else ?

Just because you now have your new Cellphone enabled with all the
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or Friendster
apps is no reason to
endanger the lives of your kids in the back
seat, your friends riding
next to you and multiple other drivers
who will be involved in head-on,
rear-end and side-impact
collisions. All thanks to your irresponsible,
stupid act of Texting while driving.

''research clearly shows that a motorist who is texting is significantly
more impaired than a motorist at the legal limit for alcohol.
No responsible motorist would drink and drive,"

Below is a Public Service Announcement from Wales that I really
hope you will take to heart. Be warned, it gets bloody gory, not as in
a Slasher flick, but more like in real-life, when fatal crashes occur.

Don't Text and Drive. Please !

Friday, August 14, 2009

Snehayatra : India's Woodstock

Atomic Forest Malavli  
Atomic Forest at Snehayatra Youth Festival in Malavli, India

Celebrating the Indian version of
Woodstock at 40....

As far away as India, the after-effects of Woodstock were evident,
thanks mainly
to the later film of the concert, and while it was an
eye-opener for its Widescreen, Split-screen, Psychedelic
for most viewers, for many Indians stuck in the Bollywood
mindset it came off as a paean to the Drug Culture that they felt was
invading their youth. Even as Indians acknowledged their
place in the
world as the 'Gurus' to the less-enlightened in
Western societies.
The brief but memorable onscreen moments
of Swami Satchidananda
who called music ''the celestial sound
that controls the whole
" gave the whole event a sort
of blessing and validation to
many Indians who were thenceforth
more benign in their gaze at all
the crazy Hippie-types

Well, it all affected my friends and myself as well, since I was a budding
playing Blues-Rock around Pune. I also ran a screen-
printing business on the side at the time the Woodstock film came
and it was in the studio pictured below that we conjured up
the various schemes to raise money for our party lifestyle.
Gasper Visits VC 897 Synagogue Street  
Fueled by the vibes from the whole Woodstock thing, we obtained
the blessing and approval of
a local Catholic Priest, Father De Leury,
a Belgian by origin. He was the only one who shared our vision of

Woodstock in India, calling it 'Snehayatra' ( translated
from Hindi, Sneh=Love, Yatra=Journey ). Volunteers and Bands from
all over the country put their heads and hands and hearts
together and
organized Food supplies, dug sanitation ditches, ran
fund drives, smoked,
pleaded with sponsors, drank, partied and acquired generous donations
Weeks of careful planning to make sure the omissions of the original
Woodstock would not occur
resulted in a memorable event that we were
all plain crazy about. With good reason, we were making history in India !

My band which went by the name of 'Invention of Mothers' was the
opening act on the first night since we had to go play a contract
later that night....a 4-hour journey by train from beautiful Malavli,
a dream site with lush greenery, ancient historic caves, waterfalls and
hills. Not to mention area Guest Houses which the organizers booked
way in advance. So us Bands and our fans were all well-accommodated,
acclimated, fed and bathed and secure to smooze with countless Groupies.

The music was varied and wild
and a mind-boggling time was had by all.
Just one sad
note to it all- IMHO- no visible documentation of it all except
for a few B/W
pics that I saved on Flickr. as hazy memories of something
that took place about 38 years ago.

But....... nothing will ever come close to what happened 40 years ago
that weekend in August in Upstate New York. Nothing.......

Woodstock's three days of Peace, Love and (mostly) free Music
left an indelible mark on generations of Music lovers and thinkers from
all walks of life. Though there was massive alcohol and
drug usage,
the overall effects of the festival
left a sense of harmony and fellowship
that many agree marked
the beginning for all the 'We Are The World',
Band-Aid' 'Farm-Aid' and 'Jazz Yatra' sensibilities. To bring together
as one without
prejudice, hatred and selfishness, for the greater good
of the masses - even if for a few moments
- is now the standard that all
Concert and Charity Events
promoters should aspire to. Only some do.

So.....enjoy these two clips from CNN as they get into Woodstock
weekend mode.....spread some love, and please share this piece
of Indian history
wherever you can.

Dedicated to the late Hugh Furtado a.k.a. Jax Carlos,
and his cohorts without whose incessant
ramblings and
ravings this would never have happened.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hippie Masala : A Documentary

Celebrating Woodstock week !

Snag films' Description :
' In the 1960s and 1970s thousands of hippies journeyed East
in the search for enlightenment, free drugs or a ‘pure’ life.
Indian peasants assumed that a severe drought in the West
was the reason for their migration. India’s holy men saw it, more
accurately, as a search for spirituality. Most moved back to their
home countries after a few months or years. Some stayed for
good. HIPPIE MASALA shows aging flower children who, after
fleeing Western civilization, found a new home in India.'

German Trailer below, followed by

full Documentary by
Ulrich Grossenbacher and Damaris Luthi

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Justice Prevails in Pyongyang. Really.

Not Breaking News but good news anyway......

Back in April I was curiously awaiting the verdict on
Roxana Saberi,

the American reporter who was on Hunger Strike while imprisoned in
an Iranian jail cell.
The talented former N. Dakota Beauty Queen had
been held in
Tehran since late January, when she was arrested for
buying wine, and later on more serious charges
of working as a
journalist without a press card, and spying for the US.
It seemed to
me back then that there just wasn't any hope for any U.S.
diplomats to
bring about her release, given the increasingly strained
relations under
the new Obama administration which had a plate
full of post-election
nightmares to deal with. Even Rev. Jesse Jackson's
track record didn't seem to move the White House to ask for his
intervention. Fortunately, Ms. Saberi
was released from that ordeal
when the Iranian courts suspended
her eight-year sentence.

Yesterday I learned of the startling news that former U.S. President
Bill Clinton had met with N. Korea's leader Kim Jong-il in
and negotiated the pardon and release of
Euna Lee

and Laura Ling

who were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in prison. I was simply
jubilant as I looked
at the progress of World Humanitarian efforts
with renewed hope. Somehow, Justice had prevailed in Pyongyang.
Now, with the reporters back home

there will surely be controversy to follow, as shown by reporter
Jaime Sommers of the who weighs in on the
related issues such as Publicity ops,
Mothering, the Female Factor,
future hostage negotiations under the Obama administration.

My only hope is that reporters everywhere will re-examine their
values and the impact of their actions on their families, their countries
and their own lives. Martyrdom comes at a heavy price.

BBC Article with Slideshow

Monday, August 03, 2009

Preet Mandir Pune In the Spotlight

UPDATED 10/21/09 to include link to photos on Flickr
submitted by Raisa Sheikh from Pune
Raisa Preet Mandir

' I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease
and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for,
to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody (to no one).'
~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta

The last time I visited my sister Jennifer Naidu in Pune, India
she asked my opinion about a large Sign board

that she was making for one of her neighbors, Preet Mandir.
They are a Charitable
Home for Orphans, and account for over
7 percent of Adoptions
in India. Most of these tiny unfortunates
are malnourished and
sickly and so I was really impressed that
my sister was in her own
usual, small way helping out. Then I
realized that she too, lived
with the same memories I have of
being a near-orphan if not for
three Aunts who took us in
( after my Mother passed away,
when I was barely five years old )
since my Father was unable to
cope with the loss both mentally
and financially.

The reason I brought up those sad fragments of my past is
tonight LINK TV is repeating 'A Baby Business',
a program that I
watched a few weeks ago.

In the program, they mentioned Preet Mandir had been part
of an investigation into
charges of 'wrongdoing'
related to the Adoption process. They had been blacklisted by
some adoption agencies in Sweden and the U.S. because the
were not looked after properly and the fees exorbitant.
complaints had been filed against it by parents and
agencies. But that's just one side of the story.

Here's a Quote from the Link TV page:
' Poor families are tricked into giving their children up for adoption.
One of them is an Indian father whose children were taken from
against his will. When his wife died he temporarily admitted the
children to an orphanage. What he didn’t know was that soon after
his children were adopted by a European family. '

If you are a DISH or DirectTV Network user in the USA, you're in
luck. Others
, watch the trailer and follow some of the useful related

Preet Mandir cleared :

Goanet June 2006

How YOU can help Orphans