Moni Basu has written this magical narrative about the process of dying in India. Her writing is thoroughly engaging and wonderfully informative. She weaves in a personal narrative that few reporters know how to do so well:
"I’d thought about losing my parents throughout the week as I listened to Shukla talk about dying. Human relationships, he told me, mean little at the end of one’s life. Part of gaining moksha and joining God, he said, is to let go of all earthly desires, including the attachments we have to loved ones.
The concept is difficult for me to grasp, and even more so as I watch Upadhyay and his brothers. The oldest lights a fire inside his father’s mouth for the last time, then the workers on the ghat set the entire pyre alight. It can take four or more hours for the flames to consume the body of an adult man.
I’d never thought much about rebirth or the possibility of moksha when my own father died. But I do now.”
My only beef is the title, "Hotel Death," which I’m certain the writer had nothing to do with since it doesn’t even come close to evoking the depth of this article. Despite that, an absolute must-read for us Westerners.