Hampi part 1

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Arriving in Hampi at sunset, through archways and ruins was an experience. So many ancient things tend to give one a sense of history, and one must crawl out of the Hanuman monkey mind and stop being wrapped up in personal strife to appreciate all that has come before.
It has been thought before, felt before, experienced before, by many. Human nature has not changed for at least 40k years, and though we would like to consider ourselves somehow above the past, and more 'evolved' than the ancient peoples, the fact is that the human heart and brain has not changed a whit in all that time.
India is a prime example. These people are very intelligent and bright, super-clever. Most speak three languages: The "mother tongue," depending on the regional language, the "national" language, which is Hindi, and "international" speech, usually english. The children all speak these three, for the most part, which is more than I can say I have seen in the West, where people seem to be lazy when it comes to excercising the brain.
The Indian people make due with what they have, which in many cases is not much at all. They smile while they do it as well, and aspire to more, but do not push so hard as to the exclusion of family and humanity, as is so common in other countries. All in all, it is a culture of acceptance, and family and love is important here. Perhaps this is why I have become so comfortable here, my own country is full of closed-up and tight-assed people, though I have been lucky to have been surrounded by free thinkers for most of my life.
"It is not what you have, it is who you have. . This is one of my own.

Enough perigrinating, and on to the show. . .

The first day in Hampi I basically spent having a lazy morning drinking coffee and reading the Vijay times, then I set to work on Rocinante in the heat of the day. I like to work or trek in the heat of the day, it gets one used to the blistering furnace that is the rocky world of Hampi, and indeed of Karnataka.
At the Gopi, I got to talking to my two new friends, Anil, and Kiran. They gave me the low down on some of the politics of the area. It seems that the Iron mining people, living in Hospet and wealthy, had started to put up a bridge over the river, and were told to take it down, as Hampi is a holy and historical site, and such a bridge would mean trucks all day and night bringing the iron ore that the greedy mining magnates so desparately want.
The second part of the plan was to move the main street, in which poor families and their shops reside to a plaza a couple of kilometers away to a half-finished plaza where they could ply their wares without bothering the high-income tourism they hope to draw by building five-star hotels along the riverside. Of course, the same men want to do this all, and were handed a cease-and-desist order until the government minister of culture and history could have a look.
And look she did. A couple of days later she came into town with much fanfare and parading. Kiran, who is treasurer of the Hampi Colony Association had feared that she might be in the pocket of the big businessman, but after meeting with her, came away with a good impression, and said that she was thinking in "a right way."
So perhaps Hampi will live to see another year, another decade, perhaps.

This kind of development is typical of Indian politics. They want to put up a brand new bridge for trucks to pass over historic ruins, make a huge plaza to tuck away the poor merchants and take away their livlihood, build 5 star hotels on a historic site, yet the electricity does not stay on, the roads are shite, and there is no good water.
I have one word for the Indian government: INFRASTRUCTURE!
First one needs to wire the place, plumb it, have decent roads to get there, phones that work, etc, etc. Only then can one even think build resorts and such. A bit of the old "putting the cart before the horse" thing going on there.

Fortunately it would seem that the culture minister, all the way from Delhi was more sympathetic to the locals and their numerous petitions than to the interests of the big business.
These things work the same almost everywhere. Sometimes, though big business corporations are able to buy whole governments, even making wars, and taking freedoms.
This doesn't seem to have happened here in India, though there is still time.
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