Ayurveda in Kerala

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Published by Edge of Humanity Magazine 

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“2…3 hours”. LL’s average sleep each night – the founder and head doctor at Kattakkada Thaluk private hospital. He’s rubbing MegaGel on a burn. An auto-rickshaw driver had just bought the cream from a nearby pharmacy. We’re sitting in a small room for dressings and injections. Patients are sedated. They wander around in their boxers or sit staring at walls in vacant rooms. Lizards and ants filter across the walls.

On average 60% of an individual’s average wage is spent to gain entry into a hospital like Kattakkada. But a public health care system exists in India? “The quality is very poor, it exists but most people will go to private”, Shabi explains, a local from Mumbai. Although healthcare is free for Indians with the lowest income, the quality of doctors and lack of resources in rural areas lead many to private alternatives. With government spending on public healthcare having fallen over the last few years, the Catastrophic Health Expenditure (CHE) has risen. The CHE is triggered if an individual’s health-costs threaten a family’s ability to live above the poverty line.

A universal health-care system is being formulated under Narendra Modi, which would provide financial coverage across India. However, following the country’s budgetary strains, its implementation was halted last year. Many query how these plans will materialise following fiscal shortages, partly caused by Modi’s increasing liberalisation of the economy and the country’s high-rate of tax evasion.

Polystyrene plates are pushed into the red soil. Remnants of mung beans and rice speak of the long journey many undertook to arrive on time at Sivananda’s health camp, a 10 minute drive from Kattakkada hospital. “Its quiet today”, one of the volunteers say. We’re part of a crowd of 800 people. Usually there are over 1,000.

The men in the shade sit and talk, the woman are in the queue fighting to get their medicine following examinations by an Ayurvedic doctor. And then they switch. The climate in the queue oscillates between laughter and urgency. When the man in charge of ushering in  the patients to the medical room permits 10 more people, the white prescriptions become flags waved to assert the individual’s right to entry.

These white sheets of paper will have prescriptions tailored to whether you have a vatta, pisha or katta dosha – the three types of body constitution in the Ayurvedic worldview. The term Ayurveda stems from the classical language Sanskrit, and the medicine promotes a herbal based form of healthcare.

The health camp is funded through Sivananda Ashram, built in the 70’s by Swami Vishnu Devananda. The building is an old Ayurvedic hospital, the conditions for repurposing the disused space was to set up a health-care charity. The ashram receives 1000’s of tourists a year, while its fees for Indian guests are half-price. The ashram donates all of its profits to the health camp, while also employing over 100 locals to work on its grounds. With India’s ever-growing tourism industry, this is a way to benefit the local community through the influx of foreign money, as opposed to exploiting the lack of local job choices through low wages.

This form of tourism is embedded in Kerala’s co-operative ethos. Driving through the Communist leaning country’s urban centres, walking in the forests, DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India) will be painted on tree-trunks, homes, shop-fronts. Crumbled hammer and sickle signs endure through the Monsoon rains. Che’s eyes watch passerbys from lamp-posts.

The state is known for its population’s high levels of political engagement. In the 1970s, ‘The Kerala Model’ became international regarded for instigating reforms that provided a high-level quality of life for all demographics. Land reforms and public welfare were given precedent over a high GDP, with many distribution of wealth programmes lessening structural inequality. The state’s local community care units, fuelled through government funds and micro-donations, puts the quality of palliative care far above any other state in India. Palliative care, a therapeutic way to treat sufferers of serious illnesses, is fuelled through Kerala’s co-operative foundations. With only 3% of Indian’s population, the Southern state provides two-thirds of this mode of care in India.

However, following a deficit in government spending in the mid-80’s, Kerala’s health care system has become progressively privatised, leading many to hope for revitalisation schemes from the government echoing those of the 70s. The growing privatisation of India’s economy, coupled with the delays in Modi’s welfare system, highlight the importance of community run health camps such as Sivananda Medical Camp, driven through volunteers and re-directing the potentially harmful influx of foreign money to beneficial ends.

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Aisha, 20

Janmashtami (Hare Krishna’s Birthday)

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Breaking earthen pots filled with curd to celebrate the legend of Krishna, the child-god, from stealing butter. Locals hang their butter in pots from the ceiling to ward against the deities theft. 

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Varkala beach .

 

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Held every month at Sivananda Ashram, thousands of locals travel from the surrounding area to this health camp – gaining a free consultation and meal and leaving with a bag of Ayurvedic medicine. The Ashram is volunteer run and not profit driven, all of its proceeds go towards funding the registered medical charity.

 

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Elephant Rehabilitation Center,

Neyyar Dam 

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Chamudeswery Temple,

Nedumangad

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A Hindu archaka who conducts ritual worship and the elephant he is sculpting 

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Brainchild Festival Performers

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The Performers of  BrainChild Festival 2016

(official festival photographer – 8th-10th July)

Click here to see the Brainchildren and here to see my Utopias series

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Steeze Cafe

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Space Jam

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The Audioters

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Brain Stage

Nerija

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Huw Bennett Quintet 

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Alfa Mist & Barney Artist

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King Nommo

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Jelani Blackman Music

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Junk Son 

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United Vibrations

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United Vibrations - Brain Stage (10th) 2

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The Shack

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Contours 

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The Dead of Night in the Middle of Nowhere 

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The Cinema

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The Beanfield by Breech Theatre

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The Beanfield by Breech Theatre - the Cinema (8th) 1

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Creamer Mag – Zine Making Workshop

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Creamer Mag - Zine Making Workshop - The Cinema (10th) 1

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Brainchild(ren)

Details & Portraits of 2016 BrainChild Festival 2016

(official festival photographer – 8th-10th July)

Click here to see the Performers and here to see Utopia series

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Brain Child Utopias

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Portraits of 2016 BrainChild festival goers 

(official festival photographer – 8th-10th July)

Click here to see the BrainChildren and here to see the Performers

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Black Lives Matter

Power

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The difference between poetry and rhetoric

is being ready to kill
yourself
instead of your children.
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I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles
and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses
only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.
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A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
this policeman said in his own defense
“I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else
only the color”. And
there are tapes to prove that, too.
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Today that 37 year old white man
with 13 years of police forcing
was set free
by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one Black Woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman’s frame
over the hot coals
of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go
the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.
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I have not been able to touch the destruction
within me.
But unless I learn to use
the difference between poetry and rhetoric
my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
and one day I will take my teenaged plug
and connect it to the nearest socket
raping an 85 year old white woman
who is somebody’s mother
and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”
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By Audre Lorde
(also known as Gamba Adisa – “Warrior-She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.”)
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The Difference Between Poetry and Rhetoric

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Rhetoric is violent action far before it is a dialectical tool. These actions are guided through narratives written long before you, and yet are about you. Poetry is something that originates from the speaker, rhetoric is something imposed on the speaker from the outside. Rhetoric is always political, poetry is granted the right to be non-partisan. Rhetoric trawls, obdurate through the shifting attitudes of time, feeding on the detritus of the past.

A Racist mentality understands the other through rhetoric that subjugates individuality to narratives written from the colour of skin, the way you dress, where you live. Rhetoric is the ally to defining one’s identity through their social demographic, the ally to simply causality. Subject x was born in y and therefore equals z. White privilege is being allowed to manipulate, play with, dodge expectation – x was born in y but maybe that doesn’t equal z ?

Rhetoric pulled the trigger that shot Philando Castile in Minnesota – the cop had read the sign of him pulling out his ID as him pulling out a gun because Castile had already lost his right to individuality, he had become a collection of visual associations leading  to the cop predicting the next action according to a narrative that provided a simple causality. Castile (x) is an African American (y) = he is about to attack me with his gun (z).

White privilege would have added 10 seconds of delay. The situation would have been ambiguous for the policeman, through the more complex cause and effect – relaxing the agitated arm and the twitching finger on the trigger of his gun. “They took a good man, a hard-working man” Castile’s mother tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Castile’s mother was granted the platform to define her son through her knowledge of his individual character too late: rhetoric is the fastest form of meaning. The pulling of the trigger is the signified of hateful jargon.

“I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else

only the colour”

The cop from Audre Lord’s poem explains. ‘Only the colour’ –  this is the meaning of being colour blind in America.

The judges do not remove the filters over the eyes of racist cops, their acquittal darkens their vision. The allowance for this colour blindness accepts a system that makes black skin and violence synonymous. The system that ignores the correlation between (racist, socialised) ‘instinct’ and (pre-meditated) ’self defense’.

The primacy of meaning is placed on the need to protect the self, on the 2nd amendment – not socialising the ‘self’ through viewing it within the context of the larger social reality, and seeing an isolated moment as symptomatic of a larger problem. To view the ‘self’ as a sacred entity in isolation permits the dissipated morality, the anachronistic engagement of self-defence. All acts of self-preservation are permitted in the battle between life and death that has always fuelled the myth of American Exceptionalism. Is the perpetuation and advocation of these battles between different social demographics surprising in a country that carved its identity through the genocide of the Native Americans? No, it’s America’s Manifest Destiny.

‘I have not touched the destruction within me’. The speaker of ‘Power’ has to learn not to respond to the shooting of the 10 year old boy with more violence, as this will not mean justice, this will mean further death to black children. White privilege is being able to fight violence with violence, but for the causality of the provoked violence to be taken into account as a cause. The privilege for the situation to be rarefied through contextualisation. A Racist mentality is seeing the response of violence as a dialogue in continuum with other acts of unrelated violence that cumulate to form the mentality that the law will use to denounce the offender. Rhetoric always lift an act and an individual out of their specific context.

The white cop, acquitted, will have the freedom to wield their destruction again in the name of the law. In Lorde’s ‘Power’, poetry paradoxically becomes an effacement of self, a mode of metaphorical self-murder. Why ? Within the violence of the society the poem springs from, the desire to use language removed from the social realm becomes tainted by the deficit of action this entails against those that impose rhetoric on the verbally and physically oppressed. It is using a foam sword against the metal baton of a policemen. It is rhetoric, action, that supersedes poetry in an environment that will read someone’s skin tone over listening to their words.

“Let me tell you first about what it was like being a Black woman poet in the ‘60s, from jump. It meant being invisible. It meant being really invisible. It meant being doubly invisible as a Black feminist woman and it meant being triply invisible as a Black lesbian and feminist”.

Lorde, In A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde, battled with her poetry against the system that imposed rhetoric over her, that tried and failed to efface her individuality. In the Black Lives Matter protest on the 11th of July, thousands of protesters listened to the poetry of ‘Power’, thousands saw her words and responded with more words, shouting out the rhetoric.

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,A reading of ‘Power’ 

Black Lives Matter Protest

12/07/2016

A(enable HD viewing >)

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Sharene

(from Tennessee)

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#IBIM

(I’m Black I Matter)

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