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kosmopolis institute
world citizenship
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Kosmopolis Institute Publications Day 12: Weekend

Day 12: Weekend

After two weeks of being in the campus, studying, living, following classes, sporting and eating within a reach of 400 meters, we left today in the morning for a weekend out. All excited but kind of sleepy as well, we had an extra-early breakfast at 7 am. Around 8.30 am we left with all participants of the Monsoon School for our little adventure. Unfortunately I cannot tell any nice stories about the bus ride because I felt asleep straight away, and slept all the way to Belur!


At Belur, the bus stopped close to a temple which was built in the 13th century. It is the most beautiful ancient building I have ever seen. The temple was built to worship the Hindu ‘Operator’ God, Vishnu. The beauty of this temple lay in its many details. A friendly guide showed us around. The outside wall of the main temple consisted of around 7 layers of intricately carved statues from top to bottom. The bottom-most layer was decorated with elephants (in total 644 unique elephants), as they had the task to 'carry' the temple. Very impressive, especially if you think of how much work and patience it would take to make such a beautiful and detailed bottom-most layer.


Every other statue which was part of the outside of the temple had a meaning or story to it. For example there was a statue of a boy kissing a girl who had the face of a donkey. The explanation for this was that 16 year old boys are attracted to any girl, even if they have a donkey’s face!


Inside the temple was another interesting statue of a woman with ‘perfect’ features. The guide explained that the ideal face of a woman was proportionate: 1/3 forehead, 1/3 nose and 1/3 mouth and chin. Another such ‘ideal’ proportion he told us of was quite shocking -  that the ideal waist size of a woman is equal to the width of her face!



After seeing the beauty of the main temple, we stood outside it for a while. It started to pour, so Jette and I went to look for shelter. We found shelter under a small covered ancient stage. While we were enjoying the dryness and the beauty which surrounded us, we suddenly realized that the rest of the group was laughing at us! Upon inquiry, we found out that the same place which was our ‘shelter’ used to be an ancient holy sacrifice spot.


We ended our day at a coffee plantation. Because of the rain we could only have a small tour, though. The plantation was impressive big and green, and the natural beauty surrounding us was breathtaking. After our tour we were invited inside the grand heritage home of the owner, where coffee and nice snacks were served. That the house was big  was something we had seen from the outside. The inside further portrayed, in my opinion, that the family were wealthy. We were allowed to view the whole house, full of beautiful art and photographs of the owner with important people. On our way back, we saw the small houses where the people who work on the fields live. We were not invited to see those from closer. It reminded me again how big the differences in this world can be, even within a few square meters. It was, for me, another example of how some stories are heard, while some groups don’t have a 'voice'. I wanted to ask how much the workers got paid per month and whether their children were able to go to school. However, the warm coffee and the friendliness of the host in inviting us over withheld me from asking that question.

Karlijn Bunnig is a student at the University for Humanistic Studies. and is interested in connecting with different cultures. She has been living in a township in South Africa but grew up in the Netherlands this experience has made her aware of the different circumstances people grow up and live in around the world.