Diwali festival a good time to ask: Are we all Hindus now?

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun November 4, 2010 12:04 AM

                       'We are all Hindus now."

That was the headline of a noted essay that appeared in 2009 in Time
magazine, and it's well worth reflecting on as Canadians of all
backgrounds are increasingly drawn to the annual South Asian festival
of Diwali.

North Americans have not, we know, openly converted en masse to
Hinduism -- even if Elizabeth Gilbert's book about exploring Indian
mysticism, Eat, Pray, Love, has become a hugely popular movie, and the
lead actress, Julia Roberts, declared this fall she is Hindu.

But it is remarkable how Hindu beliefs, metaphysics and practices have
quietly and thoroughly become integrated into North American culture
in the past couple of decades, almost as if by stealth. Or osmosis.

For instance, Canada, especially the West Coast, has witnessed the
rise of hundreds, if not thousands, of yoga studios, meditation
centres, vegetarian restaurants and Ayurvedic health spas, all of
which could be said to have roots in Hinduism.

The key Hindu teaching about reincarnation, as well, is accepted now
by 30 per cent of all Canadians, including 37 per cent of Canadian
women, according to a recent Leger poll.

Hindu meditation philosophy has also gone mainstream through
best-selling spiritual teachers like Deepak Chopra and Vancouver's
Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now.

In addition, a Pew Forum poll found that two out of three Americans
now reject the theologically conservative Christian teaching that
there is only one way to heaven, or salvation.

Most North Americans, even while declaring themselves "Christian" or
"Jewish" or "secular," are signing onto the long-held Hindu attitude
there are many authentic roads to spiritual truth.

It can't be claimed that Diwali, the autumn "festival of lights" that
officially kicks off Friday at temples, is the main vehicle by which
Hindu ideas and practices are becoming assimilated across North

Still, Diwali's growing acceptance among non-South Asian Canadians,
especially among schoolchildren in urban centres such as Toronto and
Vancouver, may have contributed to the quiet trend.

As most Canadians know, Diwali is celebrated not only by Hindus, but
in different ways by Sikhs and Jains of South Asian heritage.

One of the many reasons Hinduism tends to be overshadowed in B.C. is
that the province has four times more Sikhs than Hindus. Yet, across
Canada, there are slightly more Hindus (roughly 360,000) than Sikhs
(about 340,000).

Hinduism's unusually low profile in Canada is furthered by the fact
Sikhs share many teachings with Hindus: Both promote reincarnation,
karma, cremation and the belief that time is cyclical rather than

Both teach the soul is continually reborn in different bodies.

Yet, compared to Sikhism, Hinduism is a much older, much larger and
much more geographically and philosophically diverse religion.
Compared to Sikhism, Hinduism has had a much wider impact on the
planet (including by indirectly giving birth to Buddhism).

What is the biggest reason most North Americans fail to recognize
there is truth in the provocative statement: "We're all Hindus now"?

It's simple: The religion is often not given credit where it is due.
To put it another way, Hinduism is being plagiarized.

The co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, Suhag Shukla, is
among those miffed that many promoters of yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic
health and Indian philosophy often go out of their way to avoid using
the word "Hindu."

Shukla charges that most North Americans stereotype Hinduism as being
about "caste, cows and curry." As a result, he maintains everyone from
Eckhart Tolle to fitness teachers routinely act as if things like yoga
and reincarnation have next to nothing to do with Hinduism.

How exactly does this intellectual theft occur? Many North Americans
who market or teach what are in essence Hindu beliefs or practices
often call them something else, such as "ancient Indian," "Vedic,"
"yogic" or even "universal."

Shukla says none of these euphemistic labels for describing
Hindu-based practices are exactly wrong, but they're still misleading.

"Without a nod to their Hindu origins, this de-linking disenfranchises
admitted Hindus of recognition and appreciation for the breadth and
depth of their faith," Shukla writes.

He has a point. It's time to give proper credit as South Asian Hindus
continue to take

a larger role in everyday Canadian life, as Diwali becomes mainstream
in Metro Vancouver, as yoga and meditation become firmly established
and as more North Americans begin to concur with the foundational
teaching of Hinduism's Rig Veda:

"Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names."

dtodd@vancouversun.com Read Douglas Todd's blog at

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World taxi Charges: What a 3-kilometer ride costs in 72 big cities

Here at Price of Travel we are now tracking travel prices in over 100 different cities around the world, hoping to help travelers make an accurate budget as well as pick places where their money goes furthest. Not surprisingly, transportation prices can vary drastically, so we are tracking the cost of getting to and from the airport and getting around town, using taxis as well as public transportation.

In general, taxi prices can be very confusing in any given city, so trying to compare all the cities together was complicated. To do this we decided to track a typical price range of a 3-kilometer (about 2 mile) trip in each destination. We use price ranges instead of "average" prices because many cities have different prices with each company, or different price structures at night or on weekends.

So the prices below run from cheapest to most expensive, and some of the results are surprising. With the exception of the junker taxis used in India and the Mercedes taxis used in parts of Europe, the cars themselves tend to be very similar. For example, taxis in Bangkok are almost all late-model Toyota Camrys with air-conditioning, and yet the ride costs almost nothing compared to the most expensive cities.

Cost of a 3-kilometer ride in late 2010
*All prices converted into US dollars in November, 2010

The left price reflects little to no waiting in traffic, the right price reflects high-traffic situations.

$0.90 - $1.58 Delhi, India
$0.97 - $1.28 Mumbai, India
$1.04 - $1.73 Cairo, Egypt
$1.14 - $1.71 La Paz, Bolivia
$1.17 - $1.87 Manila, Philippines
$1.22 - $2.03 Mexico City, Mexico
$1.23 - $2.94 Panama City, Panama
$1.23 - $1.68 Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
$1.24 - $1.86 Fez, Morocco
$1.29 - $1.94 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
$1.50 - $2.99 Beijing, China
$1.54 - $2.05 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
$1.64 - $2.05 Hanoi, Vietnam
$1.68 - $2.35 Bangkok, Thailand
$1.69 - $3.38 Kathmandu, Nepal
$1.80 - $2.69 Shanghai, China
$1.86 - $3.10 Marrakech, Morocco
$2.00 - $4.00 Quito, Ecuador
$2.01 - $3.51 Montevideo, Uruguay
$2.14 - $3.21 Lima, Peru
$2.53 - $3.03 Buenos Aires, Argentina
$2.60 - $3.90 St. Petersburg, Russia
$2.72 - $3.27 Dubai, UAE
$2.82 - $4.23 Amman, Jordan
$2.86 - $5.37 Seoul, South Korea
$3.10 - $6.20 Singapore, Singapore
$3.35 - $5.16 Hong Kong, China
$3.53 - $5.88 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
$3.57 - $5.00 Sofia, Bulgaria
$3.68 - $6.25 Athens, Greece
$3.74 - $5.52 Moscow, Russia
$4.05 - $5.68 Santiago, Chile
$4.14 - $8.29 Tel Aviv, Israel
$4.93 - $7.04 Istanbul, Turkey
$5.28 - $8.80 Krakow, Poland
$5.33 - $7.99 Beirut, Lebanon
$5.35 - $8.92 Tallinn, Estonia
$5.45 - $7.92 Vancouver, Canada
$5.56 - $8.33 Lisbon, Portugal
$5.70 - $7.98 Prague, Czech Republic
$5.70 - $8.29 Budapest, Hungary
$5.75 - $7.90 Cape Town, South Africa
$5.91 - $7.88 Taipei, Taiwan
$6.25 - $9.72 Barcelona, Spain
$6.45 - $9.68 Edinburgh, Scotland
$6.94 - $9.72 Madrid, Spain
$7.00 - $12.00 New York City, USA
$7.50 - $10.00 Los Angeles, USA
$8.10 - $13.50 Reykjavik, Iceland
$8.33 - $13.89 Brussels, Belgium
$8.33 - $13.89 Paris, France
$8.91 - $11.88 Toronto, Canada
$8.91 - $11.88 Montreal, Canada
$9.00 - $12.00 Melbourne, Australia
$9.23 - $11.54 Auckland, New Zealand
$9.51 - $15.21 Zagreb, Croatia
$9.72 - $13.89 Vienna, Austria
$10.00 - $13.00 Sydney, Australia
$10.86 - $13.67 Copenhagen, Denmark
$11.11 - $16.67 Munich, Germany
$11.11 - $15.28 Berlin, Germany
$11.11 - $16.67 Dublin, Ireland
$11.11 - $13.89 Rome, Italy
$11.29 - $14.52 London, England
$12.05 - $15.06 Stockholm, Sweden
$12.50 - $16.67 Nice, France
$13.03 - $16.13 Tokyo, Japan
$13.47 - $13.47 Amsterdam, Netherlands
$13.89 - $19.44 Helsinki, Finland
$15.28 - $19.44 Monaco, Monaco
$17.12 - $22.26 Oslo, Norway
$18.18 - $24.24 Zurich, Switzerland

Notes about world taxi prices
 a.. The prices above reflect metered prices, although in some cities each company charges its own rates.
 b.. Generally, if you are obviously a tourist, the cheaper the normal price the greater chance that the meter will be "broken" or unavailable.
 c.. These figures are for in-the-city rides, many airports add an additional surcharge in one or both directions.
 d.. Typical airport-to-city price ranges can be found on each of the main city pages, along with public transportation prices.
 e.. Some cities charge more at night or on weekends, so the overall range tends to be greater in those cases.
 f.. Prices for waiting/standing still and typical traffic conditions vary from city to city, and this also increases the price range.
Being honest, even when all companies in a city use a fixed price scheme it can still be difficult to research them because many taxi drivers make a better living by the public not knowing what they should really expect to pay. On the other hand, we are confident that all of these are at least very close, although if you have new information we'd love to hear from you so we can update our records.

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""Don't be afraid to be amazing."


Face it... Fight it

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