I’ve got the necessity for playing “the game of association” in my blood.
I’ve always been trying to assign some shape, colour, taste, etc. to abstract words, i.e. words that don’t have a physical equivalent.
Lately I’ve learnt that according to the recent research in the field of psycholinguistics for efficient acquisition of a foreign language it is strongly recommended to do such exercises aimed at involving into the memorizing process as many organs of perception as possible in order to sense, so to say, “inner life of a word”.
I remember my English teacher who used to tell me when I was a fresh: “Vera, we translate concepts rather than just words. That’s why for every word, please, try to remember not one but two-three translations-meanings”.
Of course, it’s referred to the words that cannot be expressed in a material form. But this is in brackets.
The main object of my “game of association” is not words but rather countries. Today on the agenda we have India for which I still can’t select either word, colour or ordour… So, China is, first of all, contrast and spontaneity. Malaysia is integration, toleration, and rainbow. And for India I've still got nothing after a month of pursuit. I can’t help remembering the phrase by David Lynch from his book “Catching the Big Fish”: “The most interesting thing is that we understand much more than we think. Giving to our thought the shape of words, we gradually understand it. And so, step by step, the picture is getting clearer.”
Hopefully, sharing with you the impressions of my last tour, I’ll be able to lift slightly the veil of mystery over this amazing country – India.
When you try to understand morals and manners of a country it makes sense to stop perceiving the surrounding reality through the lenses of your experience and habitual world of values in which you spent the most part of your conscious life. I would suggest all the wanderers doing so especially those who is traveling to the East. To the far East. To the very far East – to India. If you see the half-full glass of water as the half-empty one regarding the possibility for its future usage of capacity, then my congratulations! It will be even better if this glass is not half- but completely empty. Yes, let it be absolutely empty, your “glass” for gathering ideas, expectations, and estimations. In India you don't need its old contents. Free yourself. And it would be better to get rid of that stuff not as per the rules of balloon ascension but rather at one swoop. Be ready simply to attend and observe without being judgemental. Keep the analyses for later… If despite all the stories and warnings of your friends you made up your mind to set experiment on yourself and left for India, the method of observation and witnessing while sticking to the policy of non-interference will facilitate the experimental procedure. And, by the way, will increase its informative efficiency. Do you not believe me? Well, it’s your right. But there’s one thing I can guarantee: this approach will help you get less irritated at the inexpressible gamut of odours and sounds that attack you round-the-clock in Indian towns literally from every quarter. “Pratyahara is abstraction and deliverance of the mind from the power of feelings and external objects”. Reality of India urges willy-nilly a western person on taking up the practice of this important stage of the Yoga system.
Many travel agencies and sightseeing buses are decorated with the bright inscription “Incredible India”. The word “incredible” has several meanings and I find difficulty in selecting the most appropriate in regards to India. I've come across the usage of “incredible” in the meaning reflecting either absolute admiration or utmost indignation and rejection. Concerning India it’s practically impossible to choose one of these poles… I like the explanation given by the Collins Dictionary: “Beyond belief or understanding”. On my opinion, for India it fits the bill.
Observe. Feel. Realize. It’s with such a mood that I got off the plane landed in Delhi. And I was kind of purring like a cat, probably, as a result of what I’ve been through.
I took the transit flight “Moscow-Doha-Dehli”. My flight, as many others on December 26-27 departing from Domodedovo airport, was delayed. The ice rain caused the power-supply system outage and the airport operations were suspended. According to media reports 8,000 passengers have spent the whole night without light waiting for their flights to depart.
The atmosphere was depressing. At one point the airport check-in was resumed. Finally, having received the boarding pass, people became very happy because it seemed they just had to pass the control and there would follow a “duty-free” zone and forthcoming departure. But, in fact, the situation at that cherished place was not by a long way better, if anything: continuous inflow of passengers, closed space, lack of fresh air. When about once every hour or even every two hours there was announced a boarding (most often on the previous date) the audience broke into applause just like at the stadium when the favourite team scored a goal.
Meanwhile, prices remained “magical” indeed, i.e. unreal, unattainable… According to those who spent the whole night under such terrible conditions only towards morning have they been provided with free water…
Every hour from public address system passengers could hear the speech to the following effect: “Distinguished passengers, the director of the airport is speaking. We apologize for the caused inconveniences and ask you to stay calm. The airport works in the mode of energy saving and we do our best to arrange the quickest receipt and departure of planes.” Maybe, I don’t understand something but the “energy saving mode” doesn’t accord with the work of all the shops inside the airport and illuminations of advertising banners…
People had different moods.
"Thinker": "and what conclusion can be made from this?"
I was lucky enough. Buying the cheapest ticket I managed somehow to get the flight performed by Quatari airlines.
Near-empty waiting room in the airport of Doha. People settle on the floor just because it’s more comfortable…
Owing to such a great delay of departures from Moscow all passengers flying en route were late for change of plane to a destination point. I had to wait about 24 hours for the next flight to Delhi. In Doha the representative office of the air company immediately began to help: they exchange the ticket, provided the hotel and food
and the permit to leave the territory of the airport and check into hotel.
Yeah, ticks in the document didn’t lie: there were provided four meals a day.
To say the truth, I didn’t mind to keep waiting in such conditions… Though, scarcely had I entered the room when I tumbled into bed and flaked out. Awaking from sleep, I found out there was only one hour left and it was time to leave this oasis. Of course, I couldn’t afford to spend time for having lunch and hurried up to go for a walk and see the surroundings.
The hotel is the place of my extra “halt”.
And here is, as a matter of fact, the surroundings and very topical sign in the foreground.
When I saw this signboard the first thing came into my mind was: “I must take a picture of it!” But the meaning of all those pictures and inscriptions didn't sink in until some time later...
Delhi. Indira Gandhi International Airport. Mudras placed over the booths of passport control greet guests and immediately make think about their meaning and application, about the heritage of the ancient culture…
The first item in my Indian schedule was conducting lessons at Cyber Chess Academy in Hyderabad. The training program comprised lectures, multy-board chess plays, post-mortems.
Lessons took place from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and from 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. To buck up the children and take a rest for myself I tried to use the so-called tea breaks for warm-up exercises. Coming across the “minute of physical training” for the first time, everybody stiffened in astonishment then felt shy but gradually got involved in it.
Journalists and guests came up several times.
I used to think that wearing of turban had something to do with a social status. No such thing. Turbans are worn by men who profess Sikhism. Little boys cover their heads too but it looks not so beautiful compared to adults. You can see the examples at the following picture.
I wondered why if it’s necessary to wear a turban they fail to put it on a child's head in a beautiful manner. It turns out that this religion prohibits its professionists to have their hair cut from cradle to grave. The length of children’s hair is just not enough to make a turban which has such an imposing appearance like that on the man’s head at the previous photo. In addition I’d like to mention that intact hair (kesh) is one of five sacred “K” that the Sikhs must always carry. The other four are: kangsha (a comb supporting the hair), kara (a steel bracelet), kachla (underwear), kirpan (a sword or dagger hidden under the clothes). This rule is mandatory. A sword must not be used for power assertion, threats or violence against other people. According to Wikipedia, being aware of the fact that other Sikhs carry swords too, every Sikh respects others.
Usually my daily meal took place here.
And here is my favourite dish – rice cookies on a banana leaf. Out of the whole varied assortment I also chose freshly baked bread which served together with a bowl filled with something made of beans. This dish together is referred to as Roti Dal.
December 31st and January 1st were not a reason for breaking from work. We studied according to the ordinary schedule and only in the evening on 31st there was held a New Year Party. There came up children’s parents, we had a festive dinner and took part in different games.
“Welcome to our festive occasion!”
Some children took advantage of general bustle to have a good time playing blitz. I didn’t expect that Indian children loved blitz so much. Even after lessons as sure as they hear “break” they strive to “wind” the clock.
meanwhile the festive dinner was starting…
and throughout the evening the different contests were held:
Time for music.
during the competitions there were kept records of scores
Towards the midnight we calculated the points and started presenting the prizes
When the clock struck twelve and there came the most magical night of the year I cut the cake, completely forgetting, by the way, to make a wish. Then people began to come to each other, shake hands, and say: “Wish you a happy New Year!”
In about five minutes I began to realize that the new year had kind of come since there sounded such wishes… But I didn’t feel it at all. Then, specially for me I guess, they strew artificial snow, gave me the bunch of roses and sprigs resembling a fir… Hail to 2011!
The next day we all again embarked on a struggle – a struggle against laziness, ignorance, and other “stumbling blocks”.
All in all, out training session took place until January 5th. Hearty welcome, work in Cyber Chess Academy, meeting people – all this has left a good impression and induced the desire to come again. The founder and director of the Academy Lanka Ravi, the first International Master in his state (Andhra Pradesh), says that he owes his improvement, in a great measure, to the lessons given by Gufeld who visited India within the frames of the treaty of cooperation between the USSR and India in the sphere of culture and sport. And now Ravi intends to provide a new generation of young chess players with the possibility for studying under the representatives of the Soviet chess school. He seeks to create conditions for constructive cooperation and bilateral exchange of experience. I think we’ll return to this subject and not once.
I left Hyderabad on January 6th. I had open championships in Delhi and Chennai ahead of me where I obtained new unique sport experience and got to know the different India...
To be continued.