I had a disturbing dream.
It was Saturday morning. I got up early and as usual reached for my favourite pair of stretchy pants. Yet, there was only a big void where the pants should have been. Baggy pants it was then. I started to do some stretching, but drew a blank. Instead I went for a run.
Back home, I took a shower and washed my hair. However, where the shampoo should have been, there was only a void. Things were not going well.
With Spring in the air the day called for a light pair of cotton pants with a sweater. The sweater was there. The pants were not.
Sharing in the British belief that there is nothing that a good cup of tea can’t fix, I reached for the tea, just to find – by now to be expected – a void.
The carpenter stopped by to do measurements for a small kitchen table. He was struggling though – no measuring tape.
I settled in to catch up on e-mails. Except that there was no computer. No iPad or iPhone either. Just a void.
My world started to look like Swiss cheese.
I walked round to my neighbor to see if she needed anything. Poor thing had cataracts and couldn’t see a thing anymore. I headed to the store to pick up a few things for her. No sugar on the shelves.
Workmen were laying paving outside the store but it wasn’t going so well with their day either it seemed. They couldn’t get the hard tiles cut.
The day was drawing to an end and I got ready for a birthday party at a restaurant. I planned to wear my cashmere sweater with pearl buttons and blue pants. Void. Not even the chess set that I had carefully wrapped as a gift existed.
Thankfully, I woke up.
What was this all about? Simple. I had experienced a life devoid of India. Literally. That is what our lives would look like if there had never been an India.
Let’s fill the voids.
First – no stretchy pants? If there is no yoga, then there is no need to supply pants in which to do yoga. But, more so, India introduced the jodhpur to the world – polos pants – which, with the invention of stretch material, turned into leggings as we know it.
Without yoga, morning exercise routines the world over would look a lot different. So would morning showers, because India introduced us to shampoo. They also ensured that we have cotton pants because it was in India where cotton was cultivated and processed the first time.
No tea in the cupboard? A wild plant growing in India, tea turned into an industry, with India leading the way.
A carpenter without a measuring tape? India brought the ruler to the world. No computer? It was India who brought the concept of a zero to us. In addition, a large portion of mathematics can be attributed to India, including algorithms which were developed based on Indian techniques. Without India, there would be no Google.
No mobile phone? It was India who introduced the world to radio receivers and microwave transmission technology, the basis for all mobile phones and WiFi.
My neighbor would have been fine since an Indian surgeon already described a cataract procedure in 800 BC. The store would have stocked sugar since India discovered a way to create crystalized sugar from sugar cane.
The tilers would have been more productive because they would have had a diamond cutter – diamonds were first recognized and mined in India.
And lastly, I would have gone to the birthday party, dressed as intended, with a brand new chess set – an Indian invention – in hand. Cashmere, buttons and blue indigo dye all originated in India. And as for the restaurant, it was Indian, of course!
This is not to say that in the absence of these Indian contributions, no one else would have invented / created / discovered /developed something similar. What is indisputable though is that life as we know it owes a lot to India’s ingenuity - back then as it does today.
As Voltaire once said, “I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges.”
And by the way, the word “that” has its roots in Sankrit.
Culturama, June 2016 edition
Photo credit Yoga 4 Health