Friday, December 21, 2007

Do all roads lead to my destination?

I arrived at the Children's Peace Palace yesterday about noon after about 40 hours travel, including all night at the Mumbai airport waiting for the 5:55 AM flight to Udaipur. There was a beautiful sunrise to view while flying and eating breakfast on the! After landing, the fun began. I had expected Dr. Gandhi to send someone to pick me up as he said he would. So, after picking up my back pack, I saw a sharp young man in a trim long blue coat holding a sign for the Peace Palace, but with a different person's name than mine. I said, "You must be here for me?" He called someone to check it out, but made no indication. After some conversation between him and his crew, he said that they would send me in a car. I assumed I was with the right people. My car was new with leather seats and a pert driver with white gloves and beaked cap. They gave me a wet towel to wash my hands and face before setting off. When we arrived at Udaipur and at the on shore greeting station, the red carpet treatment began with a ritual reminiscent of the raj: Indians in all varieties of "uniforms".
Before setting off in a boat, I received juice and another wet towel to wash with. The boat took me to a hotel in the middle of the lake. I thought, "I heard that the Jains were wealthy, but never expected anything like this to attend a peace conference concerned about poverty, food, and violence! Udaipur is compared with Venice, the Venice of Asia. At the island, I was escorted up the red carpeted stairs by several greeters into a reception room where I received a bindy, flowers, and a drink. My receptionist gave me her card with the direction to ask her for any needs to be met. After a comment about my coming room assignment, I told her that I thought I might be in the wrong place. Then, it came together that I was indeed in the wrong place. This was a hotel training a new crew who was weloming American looking visitors. After they checked with Dr. Gandhi's Peace Palace, they continued the good treatment by giving me a five star breakfast and arranging a ride to the Conference (for 1000 rupees). I was able to observe the whole ritual set up. What a show! Americans dressed mostly in shorts with thongs or jeans and running shoes being greeted by dressed to the hilt Indians, greeting visiters with namaste, bindys, and bows. Not one American looked me in the eye, but every Indian did! While observing the show while eating breakfast, I could also observe the Indians bathing and washing clothes across the lake in the beautiful warm sun.

I wondered who was setting up whom for what. The Times of India reported that Prime Minister Singh expects India to make a ten percent growth goal in 2008.

My ride to Rajasmand was also eventful, driving for over two hour through old rural villages, as most likely can only be experienced in India. Wild. Trouble was, I was very tired and the ride forced me to stay awake. Dr. Gandhi made sure I napped long and went to bed early.

I'll tell you what it is like hear later, after more naps.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Off to India

Today I leave for India to return on February 12Th. The itinerary is established for several events and contacts with room in the middle for development. I have the opportunity to get a good overview of key developments: nuclear weapons, poverty, agriculture, violence and nonviolence, international relationships for justice and peace, natural resources, destructive forces and constructive work, etc. I appreciate all the contributions enabling me to make the trip. People have given me a sense of mission, rooted in bringing Gandhi to India! I feel well prepared and well stocked with insight and understanding and expect to receive much from the Indian experiences.

At a recent Gandhi presentation someone recommended that I read Freedom At Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. I will complete the reading today. This covered the period from April 1947 to January 1948, the pre and post August 15th 1947 Independence of India and Pakistan from the English Empire. It is an emotional read because of the violence during the period. It is emotional because of Gandhi's "defeat" at the independence (opposed to dividing India, the rejection of his constructive program, and the horrendous slaughter and uprooting). To see how Gandhi responded and was successful in Calcutta and Delhi in stopping killing with two "fasts to the death" is to see how in defeat he found victory, to see how one man could intervene in stopping social violence. For me this is a study in human violence and in human potential.

The Walk in the UK last summer showed the violence of global climate change in its incipience and the violence of nuclear radiation. The flooding last week in western Washington and the continued efforts of the United States to maintain dominance with nuclear weapons and nuclear power show the same realities in the United States and make all the connections. The effects of these on people, most prominently the poor of the world, intensify my motivation for this journey. I hope to share experiences and insights along the way with this blog.


Friday, December 14, 2007

India trip 12/07 to 2/08

This blog began with a trip to Walk from Glasgow Scotland to London England in 2007. My first entry was "why" the Walk. Now, I offer the "why" to India for the next two months.

In late November friends informed me about the 6th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action in Rajsamand near Udaipur India sponsored by the Jain ANUVIBHA PEACE PALACE. The week long process is in three parts: From December 23rd to 25th, International Dialogue on The Challenge of Violence, Hunger and Poverty: Evolving Sustainable Countermeasures. From December 26th to 28th, First International Nonviolence Leadership Training Camp. On December 29th, The Challenge of Inter religious and Intercultural Cooperation for Peace (continuing the High Level Dialogue organized by the UN General Assembly on October 4th and 5th at UN headquarters. These conclude with a Anuvibha Silver Jubilee celebration. I have been given the "mission" to represent the people of the United States to bring my message of peace. I accept with some nervousness, but with deep conviction. Dr. S.L. Gandhi has invited me to make presentations at both of the first segments. I will bring my "The American Gandhi" offerings.

Since I will be in India, I decided to stay for related activities and visits. Most salient is the International Congress on Peace and Non-violence from January 29th to 31st in Wardha India, near Gandhi's last ashram at Sevagram. This Congress has the following themes: Food Sovereignty, Unethical patenting of living organisms, Civil Interventions for Peace, Import of individual and collective action, Education for Peace and Nonviolence, fundamental and civil rights issues, empowerment of women, minorities, and excluded. Before the Congress, four days of visits to Gandhi sights will occur. (I will also visit with my hosts for my 2005 Gandhi portrayals in India.)

I have a number of contacts in Delhi, Chandigarh, and Mumbai with whom I am lining up visits and activities. I will use this blog to journal the experiences. I am particularly excited about the possibility of contacting the organizers of Janadesh 2007, a 320 kilometer walk of the poorest and allies from Gwailor to Delhi with the slogan "Give us land or jail." No doubt, I will meet a large number of activists and folks along the way.

The way I see reality, this India trip has the same urgency as my walk in the UK. Every day I read serious warnings by scientists and others about the growing precariousness of life on earth. Experience backs up the warnings: We had record flooding here in western Washington during the last two weeks, as we had walking through the UK in June and July. The US military/corporate/government cohort continues down the path of nuclear and destructive weaponry. I believe humans can do better.

If you are interested, more information is available: and

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The visible and the invisible

The rains have come and so has the radiation, the visible and the invisible. These are exciting times in many ways. One is sobering exciting times. We have had torrential rains in Western Washington this week. People have lost homes, cars, possessions, lives right here. On the unnoticeable side, we are informed that Tacoma is considering accepting uranium hexafluoride through the port. Seattle has been accepting it for years. Who knows about it? Yet, uranium, if ingested, causes lethal effects. (Check our uranium hexafluoride at

The exiting side is that people are becoming aware, awakened, alive. As I mentioned in the last post, the Port Military Resistance brought the new generation out -- with the old -- saying no to the Iraq war by blocking the roads from the Port to prevent the shipment from traveling to Fort Lewis.

In terms of the rains, they are record breaking. I connect them to the effects of climate change, at least in the sense that climate change will bring increasingly severe storms. (A month ago tremendous winds came through here with harsh effects, even placing large branches from a downed huge tree on my daughter's home.) This storm included 100 mile per hour winds. As I walked through Scotland and England last summer, we walked through record rains in June and July, sometines through flooding. Observers attributed the severity to climate change.

Now, having the rains and news of the uranium hexafluoride shipments in this context, the dots are connecting themselves, at least for those with open eyes.

If you have a life threatening disease, I think it is better to know about it, than to be ignorant. At least you can decide how you want to deal with it. Remember the days when doctors did not tell people about their cancer?