Now, here are three films which have the text of chapters about fundraising by door-knocking.
These were filmed in situ in North London, in/near Muswell Hill:
"In the convent in Calcutta, Mother Teresa made me eat up all the snot on my plate", Marion said. "Brinjal" was the word of explanation Marion offered; to her as a child, when cooked it was like snot. For myself, I call a purplish vegetable that is not as bitter as it used to be when I was younger, Aubergine. Marion, who has in the last ten minutes in her kitchen taken on much significance for me as a living legacy of an Anglo-Indian past, was leading me back to the front door on Duchess Avenue, Muswell Hill.
"And Mother Teresa, was it really her?", I asked.
"My memory is hazy and this was before she was well known; she was at my convent and, yes, I think it was her."
"I look forward to sharing your story with my fellow fundraisers back at the Buddhist Centre later tonight", smiling at all the stories we bring back just before wolfing down some food to aledgedly help with handling the emotion of all the encounters and frustrations of each night.
Walking the length of the hallway and preparing to turn back to face Marion after I step back out over the threshold, I make sure internally that I'm being clear about the next steps:
"I'll reflect on what your husband asked me about what India will be like 25 years from now. And I'll check with the office, their records of your supporting our work in India. I'll be back another evening."
I walk along the suburban street, noting the air to be a little warmer with the coming of February. I walk past the gap between 108 and 102, where there is a wide path leading up to Alexandra Palace; another crumbling jewel-like chamber of Imperial days, now having to adjust to new circumstances. Ally Pally was the place that emitted the first BBC TV broadcast; 1936 the plaque told me when I came out here last Sunday to take in the daylight panorama of London, and the three most infamous buildings to be seen from there: The Dome, Canary Wharf and The Shard. I think of the three combined in the form of a Stupa, then tell myself off for my stupid daydreaming this evening. Then I tell myself off for telling myself off and from there, slowly I come back to my breath and my heart and allowing some musings as I walk.
Thoughts return to the impending anniversary of the first TV screening; only 25 years to go to the centenary. How much has happened in England in the last 75 years & how much (more?) has happened in India. Has the moving image brought us closer, or further apart? The movie Gandhi, no doubt, has had it's impact. For me, what keeps me closest in relationship to India is the unfolding of my blog and the 16 students in the central city of Nagpur that it aspires to follow as the next 25 years unfold: www.nagaloka-dream-cycle.blogspot.com. Their dreams will be reborn many times within those 25 years and what the students plan and do will face some knocks and restructuring, just as were faced in my life before door-knocking. I have an intuition of a cusp, yet have not the words to explain further. My therapist's words come into my head: "Things change very quickly in your life, Paul, don't they?".
From amidst the Nagaloka students, all Triratna-Ambedkarite-Buddhists, my vision is of the arising of a new Dr Ambedkar. And who will be the new Gandhi who, far from the movie portrayal, resists social justice in India for the downtrodden, the Dalits, Other Scheduled Castes and marginalised tribes people? "Watch your polemic", the internal critic says.
A slight shudder catches me as I turn left into Grave Avenue, remembering my strongest experience of being persona non gratis when knocking on that door that was closed with her "I won't hear another word from you; you frighten pensioners by knocking after dark. You should be ashamed."
What I'm ashamed of is my smart-arse riposte as the door was firmly closed: "I'll come back Sunday afternoon then", I'd said, which I guess was both an attempt to handle the concern about the time of calling and a wish to be manly and save face, and more. I cringe at the memory of such a missed connection and the inability I had then to empathise or hold my tongue. I didn't go back, and yet I go back in my memory time and time again to this antithesis of all I aspire to be on the doors.
And a film about a significant house in Muswell Hill and the move to Hastings:
Two other extracts available here:
- Citizenship Rights for the Chakma People in India (Maitriratna's Story)
- The Chapter from 10, Downing St
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