Mark Ulyseas – A country I left behind…

Mark Ulyseas LE Mag March 2024

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Live Encounters Magazine March 2024.

A Country I Left behind… by Mark Ulyseas.

Sambar photograph by Mark Ulyseas

(General elections are expected to be held in India between April and May 2024 to elect 543 members of the Lok Sabha.)

The aroma of hot shingaras served in a tarpari leaf with green chutney and tamarind sauce, the warm jaggery sweetened tea served in kulhars and the charcoal grilled delicately rolled kathi kebabs is what spices the reminiscences of a childhood in West Bengal.

The further one moves away from this land the greater is the pull to reclaim the romance of the olden days. But is it really that what one perceives as sacred memories or has the grinding wheels of progress ground the hard life of yore into a fine dust of romanticism?

Existing in no man’s land between the remnants of the Raj and the rightful heirs of the land, brought with it a garbled version of cultural values. Values that were, in a manner of speaking, alien to others around. And it was this that created a lifelong schism between the me, myself and I. A man marooned in a sea of tongues. Born of the land but an outsider to it in many ways.

From travelling by steam train, cycling to far off rural areas, playing cricket in villages, aping western sixties’ attire, seeking refuge in mud huts from the monsoon, to breaking bread with the homeless, whilst speaking the language of the Raj, never learning to hear the voices of the land. Shrugging off the calls of ancestors to pay heed to the spirits.

That was then. This is now.

The native returned sometime ago to vainly grasp the strings of wayward kites floating gracefully in the early evening sky. The attempt to envision a lost world somewhere in the menagerie of bustling markets, glittering airports, fast electric trains, manic traffic and the surging human masses that wound through the brightly lit streets around massive buildings. Never a moment to think. Perhaps this is the AI that spooks many of us?

The good old days were never good, and neither are the days of today. Both are impostors that feign a sense of belonging, nothing more. For one is born in time, and it is this time that one continues to exist in, the outsider looking outside in to other times. Parallels of existence have become different streams of thought, each provoking the other, each attempting to subdue the other with imagined understanding of the purpose of life, the purpose of the existence of a nation, too.

Meanwhile, the juggernaut of progress rolls on through the land flattening individuality and silencing the voices of dissent. Progress means new constructions, elevation of social backwardness to one of roti, kapada, makaan, aur gadi (food, clothing, house and car).

Religion is not the opium of the masses, it an aphrodisiac that makes many of us like rutting apes.

My home has changed from conceivable to irreconcilable. Many have become disposable humans living from day to day like rats in a laboratory. The ruling class, politicians, ever so often offer the rats a chance to change their life with their voting power. This is like a release valve, nothing more. After the ballots are countered the rats obediently return to their rat wheel of life, back to the grind of survival.

In the olden days only one political party ruled so really there was not much to do during elections. And not many benefits, like freebies.

The continuity of madness prevails.

What is the force that propels a people to strive towards development, development that is a wedge between sense and insensibility. The creation not just of wealth but of disparities between people’s living standards, between human rights and animal rights, between spirituality and commercialism of the soul.

We talk of Space as if this in itself will lift us out of our parochial lives hemmed in by cultural aberrations. The legacy of our past teachers is slowly being replaced with the purchase of ‘sell by date’ products. The ape is mesmerised by the colour and sound of the likes of tiktok and not the chime of a clock marking Time.

Can one truly turn one’s back on this ancient land of the Sanatan Dharma? The sound of temple bells in the cool morning air. The songs of the faithful whose belief in Fate is humbling. A celebration of faith – vermillion and saffron dust hanging hesitantly in the air and then settling like dew on everything around.

From the hallowed halls of government to the vibrant local markets, faith and truth jostle for space in the minds of the people.

The ancient land I once knew has changed for me, but the spirit of its people lies safely nestled in the Sanatan Dharma.

And the country I left behind flourishes beneath the veneer of progress, a mantra away from the birth of another generation of Time.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

© Mark Ulyseas

Mark Ulyseas has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photo-grapher. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. It is a not for profit (adfree) free online magazine featuring leading academics, writers, poets, activists of all hues etc. from around the world. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry, which was relaunched as Live Encounters Poetry & Writing in March 2017.  In February 2019 the third publication was launched, LE Children Poetry & Writing (now renamed Live Encounters Young Poets & Writers).

In August 2020 the fourth publication, Live Encounters Books, was launched. He has edited, designed and produced all of Live Encounters’ 292 publications (till March 2024). Mark’s philosophy is that knowledge must be free and shared freely to empower all towards enlightenment. He is the author of three books: RAINY – My friend & Philosopher, Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives and In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey.



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