mardi 24 février 2009

Three things the Blind Astrologer wanted me to do in India


Dear Friends:

I was in India for six days, but in three states, three cities and three nights spent on trains!

 

The Blind Astrologer had wanted me to do three things

A ceremony or a ritual in which prayers would be said for me and Morgan.

 

For to find my Birthmother and ask her for blessings.

 

To go pray in my ancestral temple..

 

All are metaphorical in that, the language is Indian, so I decided to translate it to my lifestyle.

 

I had five days... I was in Paris... 8000 km away...

 

Saw Slum Dog Millionaire. Have written a long review and emotional response to it. I don’t remember being affected by an Indian movie like this.

 

So I left for India the next day. Last of Breton crepes for a while, flew from Paris to Chennai/Madras.

Two in the morning, and friends are waiting for you at the Airport... they have full time jobs but they feel happy to welcome you to their country and their town.

 

 Met again with the Blind Astrologer; he did a ceremony for Morgan and Me.

How can he know so much about me?

The mother who brought you up is in Malaysia, I request that you go and see her between April 15th and may 5th. Can you do that? he asked

 

Then took the train to Bangalore and made an effort to find my birthmother, which I did.

Don’t wish to hold any grudges or resentments. But it is not a relationship, but a physiological tie... She did a syncretic religious ceremony for me, invoking every single pantheon of gods known to man...

When she was chanting, I closed my eyes, and I felt I was back with American Indians and that my friends were chanting for me. Some tears came to my eyes. My Hocank Indian sister Georgia would be very happy to know that I am with one of my mothers; like American Indians I do have more than one mother, they have the same respect and love for all their mothers; I wish I could say that.

She also did a ceremony to drive away evil eye, and I did the ceremonies much more for her, since she felt very happy doing it. Ritual and satisfaction.

 

On to Cochin. Saw all the people I needed to see. Lit the Shabbat candles at the home of Sarah Cohen. One of the last Jews alive there. Morgan had asked me to pray at the tomb of Nehemiah Motta, a learned man from 16th century whose tomb has become a prayer spot for all religions.

 

While I was standing in front of the tomb, praying, for MM, two Israeli one sefardi and another Ashkenazi came over and wanted to interview me for a university project they are doing on Cochin Jews... I talked about the necessity of rituals...

Alon the sefardi of Moroccan origin asked me: if you don’t mind can I ask you what you were praying for.. I told him, I am praying to fulfill the requests of a blind astrologer.

 

What do you think about praying at this tomb? He asked.. I gave him a shpiel about symbols and rituals etc.. Then he said: I want to ask you one final thing, since you are an anthropologist...

 

How does the body react when you come home for the weekend?

I knew immediately what he wanted to know.., coming home for an Israeli soldier for a weekend...

 

Depending upon the country, I continued... In Israel, you come home for the weekend; the body will incorporate much of what has happened in the society and also the comforts of the society within that home...

 

When I go home to Tiberius, as I enter my house, my body becomes completely relaxed, I am another person, thank you for explaining... about Israel to me… said this sabra whose ancestors ,  like many of yours who would be reading this, were wanderers in Asia, Europe and the Middle East…

 

After getting back to Sarah’s house, I attended to some patients who had come to see me, Sarah insisting that everything must finish by 6 10 pm as the Shabbat started and she has a woman who after that for the next 24 hours would switch on and off her lights. The last act she does before psychologically retiring from the noise and commotion and activities of the week before and week ahead... is to light the candle, say silently her prayers…

 

I had examined a 62 year old lady, who is the mother in law of a person who looks after Sarah Cohen, our mischpochah, yours and mine, in Cochin in India... She has a dense cataract and I promised her that I would pay the expenses for that cataract... (Removal of cataract and lens implantation can be done in Cochin for a mere 80 usd…something many of us spend on a dinner)...

 

Today is Sunday 22 February 2009... Slum Dog may win the Oscar... I saw it last Sunday in Paris at a metroplex near Montmartre... the reaction in India towards the film is quite different from the adulation it has received in the west... many people are secretly ashamed that the westerners would see the reality of India.. Rather than the glossy Incredible India posters of the Tourist Office...Indians in India are so easily offended by anything negative about their country, it is a deeply ingrained inferiority complex...

 

I hope SlumDog...succeeds which is an exciting movie and the book which I have finished reading in the train and bus journeys of this week, is even more exciting by Vikas Swarup…who is a diplomat for the Government of India.   Hope Slumdog wins… it would do more good to India than all the glossy  Incredible India! And the insipid God’s Own Country slogans and posters have done for it... Be Humble, I say to my Hindou friends, be humble and accept the reality... there is talent in this country much more than the crappy movies of glitter and glamour with no sense of reality that they churn out... like the literature that is coming out of India...hopefully SlumDog would also be a turning point in the movie making in India..

 

I especially thought of three good friends of mine in Kuala Lumpur: MunChing, Abid Hussain and his lovely wife Sharmistha Banerjee... I remember Abid saying to me... when ARRahman who is nominated for Oscar for Music, if and when he wins, I would be proud, said Abid, as an Indian, I would be proud that an Indian could reach some honourable heights..  Congratulations to you Abid and Sharmistha…

 

At the tomb of Nehemiah Motta, I prayed for my mischpochah… which is all of you…

May the Spirits bring us all together... Bring contentment and take away any misery...

 

I am flying Air France tonight from Bangalore to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris.

My dear friends, I am going home to my wau, like the UmonHon Indians would say.

 

Yehuda Kovesh

 

(Dr Shaheb, Brother to two Indians: Georgia Gomez of Hocank and Sylvia Lopez of Kickapoo)(One British Jamaican)(One Ashkenazi and many sefardim… and lots of Cubans)

My Israeli Brother, Shimon, husband of Avital wrote to me recently:

 

My dear Sudah!

….Did you know that Kovesh in Hebrew could also be interpreted as: enchanting, captivating, and wonderful. And if you add "Kovesh Levavot" (hearts) it literally translates to a captor of hearts, or lady's man, Don Juan!!!....Now try to put that on your business card.

 

See you in Miami, UmonHon and HoCank countries in March. In La Habana in April.