A Walk To Ponder – Taxila, Pakistan

Friday, January 28, 2011

“Where is it? Why don’t you have it framed?”

“I don’t know. It’s rolled up here somewhere.”

I often wonder about life in a classroom and the difference between education inside and out in the streets. Over many years of personal anthropological studies (people watching from cafe windows or park benches), I have observed with complete fascination the human being’s ability to learn: People using branches to lift kites from tree-tops, younger people using lighters as beer-bottle openers, people reading beneath trees soaking up words to ponder over, etc . . . People are very cool.

Sometimes, I found some people within the classroom very theoretical and highly cerebral. In a tutorial setting, they would throw around big theories and bigger names. But, five minutes before the end of the session, some would gather their things because, really, they just wanted to get out of the fluorescent-lit box, to get outside and, well, live.

I think that traveling, whether to foreign countries or within one’s country, gives an opportunity to learn “out there.” Through a series of inter-exchanges (or mis-exchanges), we learn about other ways of doing things as well as a little more about who or why we are. We also get to learn a little history, which gives us some insight.

When looking through the pictures of two people’s walk through Taxila, I was happy to see sub-titled descriptions of each image or idol — something that the photographer learned about. Taxila: a place where people congregated to study. I tried to imagine what discourses would look like. And then, I noticed a comment:

I can’t believe how ingrained are the biases in the institutions like Smithsonian. Taxhashila was an Bharatiya Institution, that had predominantly builders and teachers from Hindu and Buddhist background. And yet the mention of Persia and Greek is expressed dominantly over here and Hindu is not even mentioned. That Greek has to be present every where, since European Euro centrism thinks world world would be a dark place without the light of the Greeks. Clearly the subjects taught in this institutions were also those developed within Indian domains. A predominantly Hindu Nation (including Buddha himself). But that won’t do. I am highly disappointed with Smithsonian. Whose subscription I stopped because of this reason some time ago. Ravindra

. . . and I thought this was exciting. An online debate! But there was no forum, no table to discuss the authors’/photographers’ perspective and why they chose those shots, or how they learned the information they put forth, etc . . .

I guess that is part of the world wide web-room of knowledge. We only see glimpses into a much richer experience of  getting to know a place. Instead, we acquaint ourselves with mini-online-chapters of life’s forever-changing-textbook. Still, I guess we can’t know everything but we learn a few things along the way. And there is no paper for that.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.

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