The farther one travels The less one knows The less one really knows
Well, here we are again. I have just finished binge watching a documentary I missed seeing when it was shown last year on BBC1, the Ganges with Sue Perkins. It is an amazing river and it is dying due to the mistreatment of people for thousands of years. It is also at the heart of Hindu beliefs so this is a double tragedy. It was also an eye opener for other reasons, not least that women in villages have to hold in their bodily functions all day and then go in the fields to relieve themselves at night. Leaving themselves open to being bitten by snakes, stung by scorpions and being raped while relieving themselves. In the 21st century we should be doing more to help the newest developing country to take care of it’s citizens, especially women.
The women are amazing and the river that runs through most of India and Bangladesh is filthy and getting worse all the time. There are 18 women only colleges in India on the banks of the Ganges at Varanasi, a city where life and death co-exist. The Ganges is heavily polluted here and there are people trying to educate the locals and visitors to try and reduce the level of pollution.
It was amazing to watch the way women (and in one case girls) talk to Sue (someone I have admired for a long time). They had no inhibitions about speaking through an interpreter and were open and frank in their conversations with her. She spoke to transsexuals, women waiting to die and girls at colleges and some at school, as well as boys telling her why they worked instead of going to school.
There is a lot of wealth in India, generated by an acceptance of new methods of earning money and gaining an education. The girls at the engineering colleges wanted to make a difference to their lives and inspire other women to dream they could do anything. They trusted their parents to find an ideal match for them to marry as, according to one, marrying for love was fleeting and a lot of the time ended in divorce. None of these “modern” women were superwomen but they were pushing the boundaries for those who would follow them. The journey started in the Himalayas taking in Rishikesh (with a visit to the Ashram, now overgrown, where the Beatles, Donovan and others were taught by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Sexy Sadie) himself).
For all the miles the river traverses there are people with amazing stories and Sue Perkins did her best to uncover them all. From the Hijra of Kolkata to the naked yogis offering blessings to pilgrims in the Bay of Bengal by beating with feathers she uncovered a lot of interesting people and talking to them teaching us so much of the history of the cities and villages along the Indian side of the Ganga.
Music today is courtesy of YouTube again and it is the copy of the Beatles song by George Harrison as performed in the Concert for George after his death in 2001.