(13) "Gentile eyes" make the trip interesting. I tried to be thoroughly gentile in India...

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Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (13)
The "gentile's eye" makes the trip interesting. I tried to be thoroughly gentile in India...

Late October 2023. I set off again for India.

I was determined to be thoroughly "Gentile" on this trip.


Speaking of Gentiles, Camus'The Gentiles.You may be thinking of the

If you read the word "gentile" in the dictionary sense, it means "foreigner" or "stranger," but I would still like to see some additional flavor to it. I would like to add a literary flavor to the word.

In Camus' "The Gentiles," too, the Gentile has a meaning beyond simply "stranger."

The novel tells the story of a man named Meursault.

He is the very Gentile.

He appears to be a normal human being, but there is something cold about him. That is not to say that he is devoid of emotion.

I have the sensitivity to be sad as much as anyone else, and to love people as much as anyone else.

He is living his own "normal" life. However, that "normal" is somehow out of sync with other people.

Meursault does not think or act differently from others because of a strong will or conviction. He lives his life in his own way, just like everyone else. But something is different. There is something that others do not understand.

These are the very people who live their lives feeling that something is different from the people around them. People who want to assimilate but are forced to live in a world different from theirs. That is the "gentile. This kind of characterization is Haruki Murakami's specialty. I also loveDance Dance Dance.The protagonist of the "The Last Time I Saw You" is exactly the same type of person. This protagonist is also Japanese, but he is a "gentile" in Japan.

And, moreover, writing a novel using such a Gentile point of view is called "iatrogenesis. And one of the masters of this is the great philosopher Tolstoy.

Lev Tolstoy (1828-1910)Wikipedia.

Tolstoy, whose debut novelChildhood."The film makes full use of this technique in The protagonist of the story is set as a 10-year-old boy, and the world is depicted through his eyes.

The description of the world through the main character "me". This is truly wonderful. We adults recognize the world in front of us as a matter of course, but the world seen from a child's point of view is different from ours.

The world is one, but the way we see it and what it means are completely different depending on the circumstances.

Tolstoy depicted the world as we "normally" see it, but from the "different from our usual" perspective of a child.

In other words, Tolstoy looked into the adult world through the eyes of a "Gentile," a child. This is where Tolstoy's skill lay.

Now, it may seem that I have gone off on quite a tangent, but this is a big problem for me.

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to "thoroughly be a gentile" on this trip. You might think that this would be a normal thing for a Japanese person to do when visiting India or Sri Lanka. But that is not the case. Let me tell you a story.

I have read many books. In the past few months, I have been immersed and drowned in a sea of books more than ever before, especially about Sri Lanka.

But even so, I am only a desk reader.

Most researchers in Sri Lanka are cultural anthropologists and are based on fieldwork. They go to the field and stay in the village for a long period of time to investigate the actual life in the village. They speak the local language, eat the local food, and try to immerse themselves in the local customs.

But what about me?

I don't understand the local language, refuse food, and have no intention of fitting in with the local customs.

In other words, it is impossible for me to integrate into local life at all. Of course, time constraints and lack of academic background are also major factors. But even so, my refusal to integrate at all into the local community makes me clearly a "gentile" in the region. Even ordinary travelers try to fit in, at least a little.

Thus, I have come to strongly recognize myself as an outsider in India and Sri Lanka. In fact, in India in August, I was so shocked by the chaos and culture shock that I collapsed after only four days. (I was so shocked by the chaos in India in August that I collapsed after only four days.(8) Indian baptism finally arrived. Down with severe vomiting and diarrhea. So much for the trip..."(See article in)

But at the same time, I thought to myself, "What is this?

We are essentially "Gentiles" wherever we are.

If you think about it, even if you live in your hometown, you know almost nothing about your neighbors. Even in Japan, there are always unexplainable events happening, and we are always struggling with complicated human relationships.

After all, all we know is "my life". Everything else is "foreign" to us. It is difficult to know if we even really know our family. No, do we even know ourselves in the first place?

We are more or less "gentiles" to this world, no matter how we try to be.

If so, I shall thoroughly visit India and Sri Lanka as a "Gentile".

There is no need to be dyed by the locals. Let's be the overwhelming others, and let's burn the image into our eyes.

The important thing is not to know others completely. That is impossible in the first place.

Even if I do fieldwork, it is ultimately a matter of degree. (Of course, it is that research that has allowed me to gain local knowledge, for which I am deeply grateful and respectful. I deeply appreciate and respect the efforts of these researchers.)

However, for me, the emphasis is not on "knowing the other," but on "how I, a Gentile, saw the other and its world.

Even if the world as I, a Gentile, see it, is different from the true picture, that is fine with me. Of course, that does not mean that I will refrain from telling lies or exaggerating and distorting the true picture.

I do not intend to be a dyed-in-the-wool India or Sri Lanka. I am a "Gentile" to the fullest.

And I intend to see India and Sri Lanka thoroughly through the eyes of a gentile. I believe that this is the reason why I can sensitively perceive the "naturalness" of India and Sri Lanka.

Thus, I am sure I will say some harsh things about India and Sri Lanka in the future. I am sorry to say, "India is great, Sri Lanka is great! Sri Lanka is great!" I can't end with "India is great! I am afraid that people in India and Sri Lanka may be offended by my frankness. But unfortunately, I can't help it. I want to value what I feel. This is mutual. Japan as seen by Indians and Sri Lankans cannot help but be more or less the same. The important thing is to recognize our differences. Nothing will come out of a "no-split" situation.

I think of it this way.

Gentile eyes make the journey more exciting."

Travel forces us to disconnect from our daily lives and transforms us into Gentiles.

Everything in the world seen through Gentile eyes looks strange. We are complete strangers at that moment. But there is a world that only a stranger can see. There are sensations that only a stranger can feel. That is what stimulates us and makes our thoughts active. That is why travel is interesting. We are able to sensitively perceive the world in a way that we are usually unaware of.

It is difficult to have Gentile eyes in everyday life. It is because of this that Tolstoy and Camus are great.

However, when we travel, we are forced to be in this state. If this is the case, we must recognize it and make the most of it. Let us be Gentiles to the fullest. This will sharpen our senses and make our journey more exciting.

I arrived in India with great enthusiasm, but upon arrival I had a different impression from the last time I had been there.

First of all, I felt the smell of India. The last time I visited India for the first time, I was surprised by the odorlessness of the airport, but this time I felt the smell of "I have come back". I guess my sensitivity to India has increased the second time I have been here.

Now it's time to begin in earnest! I was in a strange state of elation.

We are well prepared. I brought a lot of food. If they're going to come at me, come at me. I won't lose this time, India.

Delhi's familiar chaotic roads.(10) India was India to the end. The driver of the car accident that happened right in front of me took me by surprise on the last day."As I told you in the article "The Road Conditions," I was quite mentally shocked the last time I visited this road condition as well.

But what do you think? This time, I was not at all disturbed by the horns. I have become accustomed to the constant blaring of horns.

I'm going to go for it!" This will work! We've progressed through the last shock!"

I was pleased, but at the same time, I had a hiccup.

This is no longer a gentile...! No longer in India.I've gotten used to it.I was so excited to be a Gentile, but this ruined my plan! I had been eagerly and enthusiastically planning to "be thoroughly Gentile," but this ruined my plan! It was not a fresh surprise.

I used to be surprised by every reckless interruption and every horn honking, but now I wonder. I can almost say that I am indifferent. I feel nothing for the people on the road, for the dirtiness of India, for the beggars and peddlers who appear when I stop. I just say to myself, "Well, this is India. I no longer question anything.


I had to laugh at the fact that I was already in the opposite of thoroughly gentile eyes.

But this is the best trick to stay in good shape for a long time in India. I soon came to realize this. If I had to take a hard look at each and every event, I would not be able to keep my spirit up. This is fine.

Resourcefulness is essential to the journey. Within the first few hours, I decided to stop being a "thorough gentile. Rather, my body began to adapt to India on its own. Indifference is not something you can do consciously. I found myself becoming indifferent. I was trying to protect myself in this way.

It seems that my article is full of contradictions. But this is what traveling in India is like. You are always thinking, always forced to change your plans. It is truly up to God's will.

Now, let's finally talk about our first destination, Khajuraho, in the next article.

Next Article.

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