India’s countless fragrances, visual impressions and the chaotic order let go easily when I am back in the ordered world. I go outside for a smoke in the cold of winter when we arrive at Gardermoen. The cold tells me I am home again. The plane trip from Delhi to London was smooth. We got to sleep lying horizontally on three seats, there was much room in the plane. Already on the airport express train I get slide into it, it is almost like travelling into some sort of Pushwagner vision, but I will not let go of Mother India yet. The last nights were spent in Old Delhi, more precisely at Hotel Al-Haram. Clean and affordable rooms with functioning hot water, finally. The hotel is situated next to a mosque and The Red Fort, most of the people living in Old Delhi are muslims. Crowded with people, trade and traffic in the streets. While on the tram from Nationalteateret to Skillebekk I see the street life in Tigerstaden, here many people walk alone and everyone in their own world, in Delhi everything seemed more woven together.
We spent two nights and a day in Old Delhi. During daytime we wandered in the narrow streets surrounding the hotel. People are trading everywhere. We saw living chickens in cages outside dining places, it is hard to find fresher chicken. Outside some of the dining places there were homeless and poor people sitting in groups. I was told that the guests could give something to the poor, and most of them got a meal during the morning. A Muslim tradition that helps. Social security offices and institutions are not available here, so they have old systems which helps.
It is good to meet the people in the reception, friendly and kind Muslims. I ask if I can take a few photos of them, no problem. No sooner said than done. These are Muslims who does not mind being photographed, something Muslims often object to, they say one steal something from their soul if one photograph them. Muslims in India account for about 14 % of the population. I have been told that most of them are Sufis, a mystic and special branch within the Muslim tradition. They are not fundamentalists like the ones in Pakistan and other Muslim nations. It should not be concealed that there have been numerous bloody conflicts between the different religious groups in India, but most of the time this multi-faceted society works well.
Time flies, and it flies fast. I have already been 12 days and nights in Oslo when I write this part of the text. The programme was tight when I arrived to the city. The first thing was an exhibition at the University square in Oslo, during the Human Rights Week 2011. The topic was Persecution and I exhibited Roma photos from Romania.
The thoughts still wander back to India. I miss the warmth, not only the meteorological warmth, but also the human heat. Yeah, because one also experience lots of human warmth during a journey in India. Generations travel together and there are people everywhere, an anthill of pyjamas wearing men and women dressed in colourful saris, and the children follow along. A different rhythm, a different life than here.
I see Rolling Stones sells t-shirts through Dressman in Norway now. Is the world going forward or backwards? I can not find and answer, but it clear that the Stones has become more accepted, or perhaps it is Dressman who have become more rocked? In India I was offered a t-shirt with a print of Adolf Hitler, everything is for sale in India. Money talks, and the t-shirt sale in Norway probably gives Stones more dough in their already filled accounts.
During the last night in Old Delhi I drank tea with the poor people next to the entrance to Hotel Al-Haram. Only men are outside during these hours. They gathered around me and I offered some of them filter cigarettes and tea. More people arrived, and soon my pack of cigarettes was empty, and I got some beedies, these handmade cigarettes people smoke in India. Good vibrations. I took some photos of the men before I went to bed for the last night in India.
Mother India did never let go when I was back in Oslo. Perhaps with good help from Tudor Lakatos, my Gypsy and Roma-friend from Romania. The Roma people originated from India and they have kept much of the Indian energy. He is a troubadour and we are going to Trondheim with a commission for the Kulturelle Skolesekken (The Cultural School Bag). We are going to photo and music lectures about Gypsies, or more correctly the Roma people, for 9th graders. So this is a journey that never ends.
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