Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Yesterday in the early hours of morning, as I rode my bike to work on the bikepaths along Riverside Drive I passed a woman standing poised on the grassy bank, singing - to what sounded to my ear sounded like - Chinese Opera to the Detroit River.

Well she was singing - I don't really know if she was singing to The Detroit River.

Earlier in the morning I had been reading about Deepa Mehta's upcoming film (Globe and Mail link - will expire in a week) that will complete her triology, River Moon. I was facinated by what I had read - especially this passage:

"In the early part of the century, about half the widows [in Benares] ended up as prostitutes, about a quarter were concubines for wealthy Brahmins [the highest Hindu caste], and a quarter remained pure for God," Sanskrit scholar Amitabh Bhattacharya was quoted as saying. In Benares, there's a continuing tradition of destitute Varanasi widows finding shelter in ashrams, chanting verses to Lord Krishna and eking out a living.

I've been to Benares/Varanasi as I have family there and I have been to the holy river of Ganges. So I think I can be forgiven for first thinking that this woman was singing to the Detroit River.

Now - to the general populace - the Detroit River is not even looked at as a living thing. It's more like a blue, wet, inconvient transportation zone that requires overpasses and tunnels to traverse. It's something calming to look at when eating french fries whilst sitting in the car. Even to those environmentally minded, the Detroit River seems like a dead or poisoned thing. Many friends of mine visibly cringe when they see people fishing from its banks.

This is going to sound really really corny, but I really believe it - the only the way to save the Detroit River is to believe that it is something worth singing to.

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