Growing up in India and My Kolhapuri Chappal

Today would have been the 144th birthday of Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi. His principled stand for nonviolent solutions to injustice continue to inspire and instruct. I hope all of you can spend some time reading and pondering Gandhi’s words and actions. In addition to celebrating the life of the Great Soul, I am again sharing some of the work of Naga R Dhoopati, whom you may remember from her article Femicide published here in March. In addition to two of her poems, Naga has put together some educational videos and a petition you can sign to show your support for free speech in animal rights issues (below).

Poems by Naga R Dhoopati

Growing up in India

I am a Hindu by birth,

grew up among Muslims and Christians in my village

“Allah hu-akbar” woke me up in the morning,

the church bell would ring, Hindu bhajan would start early in the morning with

“Kousalya Supraja Rama”

The morning radio my father played had a Hindu song, Christian song and songs of Allah

My untouchable servant would open up the gates and start working the morning duties in my family home,

she would also serve me a fresh raw milk from the cow, in a glass she washed.

Peer Fakir would bless me with health,

My mother would push me into Eid Parade to get blessings

Enjoyed fine meals at Eid Mubarak party’s with my father,

adored the savories from Ganesha festival,

     paraded up to the river for a Nimajjana (Immersion of Lord Ganesha in the river)

I spent Christmas days at my Christian friends and got blessings at a church

I Played on the fields, watched drama with my touchable and untouchable friends

     growing up in India…..

is learning a bigger religion of humanity than any one religion can teach.

My Kolhapuri Chappal

On a starry night, shining moon moves through clouds

Playing hide and seek with me!

Just as my thoughts swing by

The moon jumps through, cloud to cloud

I pace myself with the speed of the moon,

my thoughts trying to race with me,

Sometimes they are ahead of me

The creek of old kolhapuri chappal I am wearing is all I hear,

I see the man still trying to sew a few more shoes in the street light

His family is all asleep, next to him

In ripped blankets, and some covered in torn-out sarees

One child close to the mother’s breast

Silver coins, still shining on the cloth in front of him

The day’s collection, for the hot bun that is going to come in the morning

Maybe few pennies will be left for a  glass of milk for the young one

He notices the baby trying to suck few more sips of milk from the dried out breast

He moves closer, covers the baby some more, with a back rub

Closing his tools slowly, he lies next to the family, thinking how many shoe pairs he has to make for tomorrow….

I slowly pass on, through the rickshaw stand, see dozing rickshaw men, no one to ride now!

Kolkata rickshaw driver

About the author, Naga R Dhoopati
Naga was born and brought up in south India in a small village and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina. She is in school for Nutrition and health coaching and also studies different styles of movement. She writes, “The most fascinating thing for me is LIFE, and the way it unfolds. I enjoy being with my kids and their friends. Most of my time is spent studying to pass tests which is quiet boring, but a necessity to move forward in life. In my breaks I read blogs, do yoga, and move for the music, and cook in between.”

Kolhapuri chappal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The demand for leather in the world: An APLF event for leather exhibitors:

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What are your stepping on: You make your choice:

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If you prefer snakeskin goods, this is where they come from: Viewers discretion advised

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What’s a happening in Ganges:

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What goes on in Dhaka:

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How activists fighting against this can be supported:  http://links.causes.com/s/clMesy?r=75jc
(note: the goal has been met, but the more the better!)

Photos above by Justin Whitaker: Supermoon, Bristol, UK 2013, Rickshaw Driver, Kolkata 2010.
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