Post 20 – Internet Down; Street Astronomy

I am sitting here, listening to John Coltrane’s ‘Love,’ made so long ago yet still beautiful, powerful, poignant, those lush sounds that sometimes jar, sometimes soar, that take you to far away places while you are still sitting in your chair. But now I actually am in a far away place. Kolkata is about 9,000 miles from Chicago, and that’s just the surface distance. In fact, it is much further away, a very different world. A few days ago, another internet problem had me untethered to the wider world, a disconcerting feeling. This is how travel used to be, with little connection to ‘home,’ let alone its daily presence afforded by the internet. We survived just fine, thank you very much, perhaps better, centered more not only in time but in space. On the other hand, when that connection was working, a few days earlier, I took my new Bluetooth speaker into the kitchen and we listened to National Public Radio, a small, welcome and incongruous streaming treat. That’s the issue with India—it is new and old, familiar and strange, broken and fixed, crowded and lonely, rich and poor at the same time. It is that imbalance, that bizarre mixture that makes the country simultaneously appealing and frustrating. But despite occasional blips, such as the unpredictable internet or the seeming impossibility of accomplishing the simplest tasks, it’s been relatively easy to traverse. A smile, a gesture, a few Bangla words and magic happens.

Street astronomer K. C. Paul (AT)

Street astronomer K. C. Paul (AT)

Take K.C. Paul for instance. We were walking back from Seagull Publishing when I saw what seemed to be a hut on the side of a main street, plastered with drawings and writing. Those drawings turned out not to be covering anything—they were the “walls.” They were drawings of the universe, and the beliefs of Mr. K.C. Paul, who proved beyond any possible doubt in his mind that the sun revolves around the earth. While I was photographing, the drawings parted and Mr. Paul looked out. He handed us badly xeroxed papers outlining his experiments and the scientific proof of the validity of his theories. Here was a man literally living his beliefs, surrounded by his words and drawings, out there for everyone to see. He showed us letters from NASA and Columbia University (they basically said “Thank you for writing”) and copies of newspaper accounts of his activities. A true folk-scientist, who proved, once again, that the word is remarkable, and if you take the proper amount of time to look, images can part and another layer can be revealed.

KCPaul-4_web KCPaul-2_webKC-Paul-Theory-of-Planetary-Motion_web

 

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5 thoughts on “Post 20 – Internet Down; Street Astronomy

  1. We are so concerned with 1st amendment issues, yet if CK Paul lived in a city in the USA and literally expressed his beliefs as he has, an authority figure would likely confront him and say “Take it all down and move along, buddy”. It starts with being in a place, literally and internally, where expressing one’s beliefs is not considered to be dangerous or to require a response.

  2. I LIKE YOUR VISION YOUR STORIES

    TRY FORGETTING NPR

    TRY LEAVING,TRULY LEAVING USA BEHIND

    TRY LEAVING YOUR CAMERA BEHIND

    JAN TELLS FRIENDS

    ABOUT HOW WHEN TRAVELING IN EUROPE

    ONE TOLD A FRIEND MEET ME IN TWO WEEKS IN FRONT OF THE MONA LISA

    OR WHATEVER AND THEY MET

    NO CELLS NO INTERNET

    NO PHONES TO CALL

    AND THEY MET

    I KNOW AT

    LONG AGO IN ANOTHER PLACE…………………………

    CARRY MY LOVE WITH YOU

    HUGS AND KISSES TO YOU AND JZ

  3. I never heard of the term “folk scientist” before, but I love it, and find it applies to many people. Your encounter with K.C. Paul sounds and looks fascinating. Thanks so much for sending the words and pictures, yet again.

    Best, and Happy 2014 to you both,

    Luz

  4. Fascinating and so rich. Thank you for sharing so much. The photographs are consistently wonderful. Are these mostly with Jerri’s camera or the wee one? N

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