Greece and India

When I was writing many articles about the history of Lefkás last year someone commented about the fact they thought there was some link between the two. At the time I couldn’t find anything on the web about this so I couldn’t help them. It is only through listening to the excellent Eva Palmer Sikelianos- Her life in ruins by Artemis Leontis that I have been able to find out any information about this. Even Google comes up blank!

Now in order to fill in a lot of gaps of generally unreported or unknown history I’m going to have to give out a couple of history recaps and this will make this article long and quite possibly unwieldy. Bear with me while I set the scene.

When I was in India just before Covid caused the world to shutdown I went to the Gandhi memorial gardens. It’s a peaceful paradise in the middle of a busy, hot, dirty city. It’s quite simple but it’s effective just like Gandhi would have wanted it to be. It is however part of the tourist trail which is not what he would have wanted but you don’t have control after you die. As we were on quite a whistle stop tour we just passed by it since you can see everything from your window and Covid was starting to bite. It might have been nice to go around the place but instead I have a postcard memory. By that I mean the memory of an image rather than the actual place.

As India is so big it’s good to have a plan in place so that you make the most of your time there. Checking out Gandhi’s history only became part of the schedule as we had time to spare. It would take a whole other holiday to properly research this.

As I’m clearly digressing from the point I’m wanting to make I will try to get there promptly. The reason I mention Gandhi is because he was a major influence in the revolution in India against British colonial rule and included in that was wearing Parisian fashion. These were often made using Indian cotton and cloth. This was to become known as the khadi or homespun cloth movement. He wished women to go back to the loom and weave their own clothes similar to Eva Palmer Sikelianos.

Eva had also met the first Indian Nobel literature prize winner poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore; along with the granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji who was known as the Grand Old Man of India. Now Khorshed Naoroji is a person who has completely disappeared into history apart from her time spent with Eva, Gandhi and the knighted Tagore.

Khorshed possibly had a brief intense relationship with Eva where she was converted into wearing traditional Indian saris instead of the more fashionable Parisian styles she was more accustomed to wearing. She was trying to develop a Byzantine style school to teach those in India about Greek music, dance, language and culture and would have succeeded but Eva choose to help her husband with the development of the Delphic festivals. It was this that led to Eva’s life in ruins as well as her study of archeology 😉

Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Choker Bali is available on Netflix to watch if you want to find out more about his work for yourself. I found it a very enjoyable watch. It’s subtitled as far as I recall.

The Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji, was the first British Indian MP who is commentated in many street names in India but also in Finsbury Park London. If I had continued to read the William Dalrymple book that was in a hotel in India I would know more as would you all.

Clothing as a social and economic battleground

Many different people have used clothes over the years to showcase their point in a way that there words and action have not quite been able to capture people’s attention.

Catharine the Great had done so to emphaise both her feminity but also that she was empress of Russia. With that she was leader of the armed forces so was entiled to have military elements added to her dresses to show solidarity but ultimately that she was in charge.

Eva Palmer Sikelianos rallied against the influence that the Parisian fashion houses had on the bourgeois in the 20th century. She was so committed to presenting herself as an original that she wove all her own clothes from her adulthood onwards. She also influenced many of her Indian compatriots including Khorsed Naoroji and Gandhi to adopt their nationalist dress.

Freddie Mercury or Farrokh Bulsara who was of Parsi Indian origin, wore outrageous clothing on stage to make the point that you can be an outsider in terms of culture, religion, language and sexuality but if you have an undeniable talent and showmanship the people will flock to you. You can change the world bringing light, awareness and recognition to sensitive issues like AIDS.

In the case of Elton John ie Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he showed that while flamboyant costumes make a good character, so does a more subtle look as it doesn’t change your innate talent. In addition he decided to fight back against the drug and alcohol abuse that is so prevalent in the music business by going sober many years ago and still be hugely successful.

Lady Gaga Or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is known for her stage outfits being on a par with Elton John with how otherworldly they can be. Her meat dress springs to mind as a protest against treating gay people as pieces of meat. They have rights too.

Grayson Perry is an artist/potter who famously went to collect his award for services to art from the queen wearing a dress and in her Claire persona. It was interesting to see that during lockdown within his own house he was wearing normal clothes for a man. He even joked that since it went on for so long the first time he almost shouldn’t be allowed to do it again or anymore.

Drag and it’s older theatrical cousin pantomime is the ultimate in self expression and non conformity as it is men dressed as women. This is lowering your place in the social hierarchies and they are poking fun as what society says you must do in order to be classified as a man or a woman. This disobedience allows others to bring attitudes, beliefs and desires to light that outside of a comical show would be too heavy to digest otherwise.

“Woke” society is identifying with this recategorization as is the LGBT+ movement. A lot of millennials and Gen Z kids don’t conform to gender stereotypes. They see themselves as gender neutral, non binary or gender fluid. This allows them to combine elements of both traditional female and male clothing to create there own styles. Fashion is about breaking the rules and they are certainly doing so.

Using meditation to supercharge your mind

While in lockdown I’m trying out Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation course. It’s been provided by a friend and it’s like the hen do that we didn’t get to go on due to Covid.

I’m finding it amazing for my clarity of mind and we’re only on day 4. It has simple tasks for you to do but they produce results. The meditation contains a mantra in Sanskrit which helps clear your mind. It’s different every day and a translation is provided. It only lasts about 15 minutes but you do need to be uninterrupted for this time for it to have its full effect.

I definitely felt the loss of it today as I receive them in the evening and I did yesterday’s before I went to sleep. So, by the time it got to siesta time the next day I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed with the rest of my day. The previous day I had experimented with doing it just before siesta time so I haven’t found a good time yet. However those are the easiest times for me to slot in such a routine as phones and technology are not a thing I can do too easily first thing in the morning. It affects my day too much if I do that.

There is also a new phrase to write down and repeat each day to power you up but doing these at night defeats the purpose as you forget by morning. Halfway through the day means your energy is mostly gone so maybe I aught to try breaking it into parts with the audio at night and the rest later on? I could perhaps repeat the audio while doing the task later?

In addition there is also a task (writing, drawing etc) to do that maybe related to previous tasks so you need a notebook to keep all of the work together. It helps in processing things. They bring up surprisingly things which are best written down also lest you forget these important revelations.

There are getting to be questions to be answered too so again a dedicated pad of paper is required to make full use of the techniques you are learning. A sheet for each day is good or one each for the phrases, mantras, tasks and questions. I have a feeling this might get quite lengthy, quite quickly and you will need to refer to previous days to get the full benefit.

My Indian Odyssey by Vincent Ebrahim

This is another Audible book that I listened to recently after my recent holiday to India. It covers places that I went to like MumbaiDelhi and the Taj Mahal at Agra as well as places that I didn’t go to like Darjeeling and Kolkata. He too went in search of his heritage because his grandfather was Indian.There are many parts to this series as India is such a vast place peopled by so many races, religions and languages.

In the first part he goes to Mumbai and stays in the same hotel as I did – The Taj Mahal Hotel. Here he gets the tour which I wasn’t able to but I didn’t hear anything that I didn’t directly observe while I was there. It gives a little background on the reasons for its construction and some facts and figures about its cost.

Next he goes to the laundry which was on our tour but was cancelled due to Covid 19. It was nice to know about it so I don’t feel like I missed out so much. After that he learns about Parsi food culture by visiting various shops and cafes. I didn’t pick this up from the book Parsis and Zoroastrians but maybe if I had more time then I would have. Afterwards he learns about the Tiffin culture of India. This is fascinating how everyone in Mumbai gets fresh homecooked food for lunch no matter where they are. Its cheap, hygienic and a very sensible idea. Maybe if we borrowed this plan we could all eat healthier in the future. If illiterates in India can manage, we certainly should be able to figure out a next level Graze who deliver snacks by post. We do have packed lunches like the Japanese have Bento boxes so its totally possible.

In each place he goes to he meets the staff or has a guide to get inside knowledge on what its really like to live life in the diverse sprawl that is Mumbai. He also needs a translator because he couldn’t get this information without being able to speak to the locals who don’t always speak or understand English.

I’m looking forward to listening to all of the other parts during my isolation I hope you do too if you decide to download and listen to it as well.