Exposures

An Artificial Utopia

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Text by Patty Simon | Image by Dick Simon
India

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Realities come in all shapes and sizes.

The layers of a culture are twisted and tangled.

I include the United States.

Dick and I are traveling on a more expensive level, which means we are sometimes separated from the local culture. Literally by walls and gates at exclusive resort properties but also by differences in cultural moiré. We balance this by ditching our guides and walking the streets talking to the locals and mixing where we stay. Right now most of the guests at our hotel are local Hindus here to see a famous shrine and the bathroom has no shower stall.

One of my favorite things to do is driving in a “protected” car and watching the world go by. It is like watching a movie. Everyone is outside living everyday life so it is so rich visually. Sometimes I just make a list… every living vignette, interaction, business, shrine, clothing, sign, sound and advertisement.

So, I find myself in different utopian situations. This came home to me yesterday in the car. I decide to listen to David Benoit’s song “If I Can Believe”, ironically off his “American Landscape” album. I am listening to music that always triggers an emotional reaction and none larger than today in India. Tears are rolling down my face as I am overwhelmed by my good fortune in witnessing all this. I always feel lucky in finding little pieces of heaven in these beautiful walled resorts but today the utopia is witnessing the people on the streets. Most don’t have much but they have enough to be included in the base reasons for living – work, shelter, food, family and community.

I now know my utopia is found on the streets of every culture we visit.

 

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