Walk the final footsteps of Mohandas Gandhi, the highly revered spiritual leader of India’s civil rights movement and independence from the British and feel the weight of history here.
I thought that visiting the Gandhi Memorial would be a good way to begin my new season in Delhi and to start my journey into trying to understand this complicated place. I spent last year learning about India’s ancient history. This year it’s time to delve into the 20th century and to sort through the events that gave rise to modern India.
Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 as he was about to deliver evening prayer on the lawn of a colonial home where he had stayed for six months. He had come to north India to end the violence between Hindus and Muslims after the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.
On the evening of January 30, he walked from his simply furnished room where he slept, worked and received guests to a prayer site 200 yards away. He was weak from a recent hunger strike and he walked slowly with his widely recognized walking sticks and with the help of his niece.
Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse was a Hindu Nationalist who blamed Gandhi for weakening India by supporting reparations to Muslims in Pakistan. As Gandhi faced the crowd with his hands folded in prayer, Godse shot him three times.
Witnesses say that Gandhi cried out twice to God as he died.
Last night Jim’s cousin, Hannah, who is studying here in Delhi came to dinner and we had an interesting conversation about Gandhi and whether he actually denounced the caste system or whether he simply called for equality among castes. From one of his writings, which I found from a document source on the computer (and assuming that what I read was authentic…), Gandhi claimed that caste has no religious foundation and that “it is harmful both to spiritual and national growth”. However, he writes on to defend ancient Hindu institutions that say it is a Hindu’s duty to earn a living in the tradition of his family but that there is no job greater or lesser than any other.
Lots to discuss here…
And honoring the tradition of silliness in the India-Yardley family, here’s the beautiful Hannah doing her duty….
I’m still getting queries about Maya. I haven’t seen her since I’ve been back but I do have this little story to share about the last time I saw her in June. I was flying that night to the U.S. and I spent the day running errands. It was miserably hot (how may times have I written that?) and I saw her at the usual intersection. I wasn’t in the mood, really to give her anything – some days are like that – and she was mad at me. Then she beckoned me to look at her feet and I was shocked to see that she wasn’t wearing shoes. It was at least 115 outside and she was standing barefoot on the searing asphalt. I told her that I would return in a few hours. And so, Lala and I stuffed a bag with big shoes, little shoes, boy shoes, girl shoes – and delivered it to Maya and kids on her corner.
Jet-Lag-From-Hell: I don’t know what the sun and moon and stars and gods and sleep fairies are doing this year, but I think they are in revolt and taking it out on wee-little Theo. I simply CANNOT SLEEP past 1:30 A.M. It’s been a week since my return and I have never experienced such debilitating jet lag.
One nice thing about jet lag is that I’m reading lots and getting oodles of early morning snuggles with my mildly-jet-lagged boys. (Lala has mastered the sleep universe.) Eddie, however, set the parameters for these snuggles on his first early morning: he crawled into bed with me and when he felt my naked legs, declared: “I don’t sleep with girls without pants!”
I saved my one bottle of champagne for this moment: to invite our closest friends here to cheer Jim and The Book. He still has revisions but the worst is behind us…
And this photo is for pals whom I saw this summer… Can you find the wedding gift you gave us 16 years ago?