Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Dissent of Man: The Downward Spiral of Censorship

       The decision last week by Penguin (India) to recall and pulp existing copies of Wendy Doniger’s  ‘The Hindus - An Alternative History,’ is another sign that India is heading towards the Dark Ages. Liberal writers and commentators denounced Penguin’s decision as a cowardly step that will further fuel the narrow-minded sentiments of the Hindu Right Wing. This action by Penguin (India) was not forced upon them by a court of law or any state sanctioned decree. Rather, it is a voluntary step taken in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (Campaign to Save Education). The SBAS, an outcrop of the powerful, right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is spearheaded by one Dinanath Batra who objects to Doniger’s book because it “has hurt the religious feelings of millions of Hindus,” thereby violating section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

       That Penguin (India) chose to settle the case rather than fight it out in court is telling, and perplexing. Calling for censorship and giving in to censorship have aspects that are clearly counter-productive and counter-intuitive. Imposing restrictions on access to books or banning them only increases their visibility, which often leads to increased sales! Penguin (India) was certainly aware, and must have taken some comfort in knowing that no matter how irresponsible their action is to their writers and their readers, their bottom line would see some benefit. 

       Censorship in India is common practice. Even though Article 19 (A) of the Indian Constitution states that “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression,” this right has been eroded down to the bone by amendments: Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes “promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.” IPC 153 (B) prohibits actions that are “prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquility.” The law evoked to silence Doniger is IPC 295 (A), which identifies as criminal, those “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” Between sections 153 and 295 (A), there is no room for any opinion whatsoever. Given India’s diversity in religion, culture and language, anything you say has a potential to insult someone. Here are a few fragments from that iceberg of Indian censorship:

The most infamous act of censorship in recent years was the banning of The Satanic Verses in 1988. Despite being the birthplace of Salman Rushdie, India was the first entity, worldwide, to ban the book – and it did so well before the fatwa was issued on Rushdie’s life. It was banned, not by a right-leaning government, but by the centrist Congress Party, led by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The circumstances surrounding the ban were not entirely transparent. Here is an open letter by Rushdie to Rajiv Gandhi following news of the ban. 

In 2003, Paul B. Courtright’s ‘Ganesha: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings’ was banned because it offended Hindus for suggesting an additional interpretation of the story of Ganesha. Courtright views the Parvati-Ganesha-Shiva relationships through the lens of Oedipal conflict. Courtright’s  bigger “crime” was to make overt phallic associations between the physical forms of Ganesha and Shiva as a part of that oedipal reading. 

In 2004, James W. Laine’s ‘Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India’ (Oxford University Press) was banned after activists affiliated with the Maratha Seva Sangh ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune, whose archives provided Laine with much of his research. The book allegedly portrayed Shivaji in a negative light.

Cultural vigilantism is no stranger to India. Maqbool Fida Hussein, India’s most eminent painter (he was called the Picasso of India), spent the last years of his life in self-imposed exile. Some of his paintings depicting semi-nude goddesses in sexually suggestive poses triggered a barrage of lawsuits as well as an attack on his home by the Hindu fundamentalist Bajrang Dal, which led Hussein to ultimately leave India. Hussein was also a film director and producer. His film ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities’ angered Muslim groups for allegedly being blasphemous, causing Hussein to withdraw it from cinemas. 

In January, 2013, actor/director Kamala Hassan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’ was banned in the state of Tamil Nadu following protests that the film portrayed Muslims in a derogatory way. 

Censorship has extended its reach inside the hallowed halls of education as well. In October, 2011, an essay by A.K. Ramanajum, a preeminent scholar on Indian literature and linguistics, was removed from the B.A. syllabus of Delhi University. This was the upshot of pressure put on the Academic Council of the University by right-wing groups to remove the essay. The essay, called ‘300 Ramayanas,’ brought to light the many variations and “tellings” (as Ramanujam liked to call them) of the epic that exist in addition to the Valmiki-Ramayana, the default version in India. 

Social media, too, has not been spared. In November 2012, two college students aged 20 and 21 were arrested for “hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.” One girl’s crime was posting a comment on her Facebook page questioning the total shut-down of Mumbai following the death of Bal Thackeray, Mumbai’s political kingpin and Hindu hard-liner of many decades. The girl wrote: "With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on...... Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.” The other girl’s crime was “liking” her friend’s post.

       Penguin (India) is not the first publisher to set a precedent to capitulating without a fight. In January of this year, Jitendar Bhargava’s ‘The Descent of Air India’ was voluntarily withdrawn by Bloomsbury (India) in response to a lawsuit filed by Praful Patel, India’s former Aviation Minister widely implicated in bringing the airline to ruin. Bloomsbury even apologized to Patel in a public notice: "If the contents of the book have caused any embarrassment to Mr. Patel, we sincerely regret the same and it was never our intention to discredit him in any manner."

       These and a multitude of other instances of curbing free speech have made taking offence a de rigueur occurrence in India today. Taking care to not offend is looked upon as the strategy to maintain peace. And so the law is exploited, where feelings of being offended are disingenuous, or they are pandered to in order to gain votes or some political leverage. 

       Dinanath Batra’s claim that ‘The Hindus’ has offended a million Hindus may not be a false statement. However, the offence taken to Doniger’s textual analysis, (or should I say sexual analysis) of Hindu literature has no bearing on the right to publish these alternative interpretations of them. No matter the alleged depravity and errors in Doniger’s interpretation, translations or method, suppressing her viewpoint is not the answer. The healthy way to counteract dissent is to engage in the conversation and add to the discourse as some people who are equally offended as Mr. Batra is, have done. Indian-American philanthropist and businessman Rajiv Malhotra spearheads one such effort to bring attention to the claim that western indologists are altering perceptions on Hinduism by their psychosexual analyses of Hindu texts. Several academics, too, have compiled a critique of Doniger’s perspectives and methods. Their criticisms of Doniger and other scholars of Indology with a similar bent to interpreting Hindu texts have converged in a book called ‘Invading the Sacred.’ I have not yet read Doniger’s comprehensive (almost 800 pages) ‘The Hindus,’ nor have I read ‘Invading the Sacred.’ But reading excerpts and related correspondence available on the web gives a sense that no matter whose viewpoint one ultimately sympathizes with, the academics connected with ‘Invading the Sacred’ have done well to engage in civil discourse with the Indologists whose scholarship they find questionable. For example, S.N. Balagangadhara (who wrote the forward to ‘Invading the Sacred’) offers, in his own writings, much insight into the nature of offence taken by the religious right. In his letter to Jeffrey Kripal (who interprets the words and actions of Sri Ramakrishna as having sexual overtones) Prof. Balagangadhara objects to a Freudian interpretation of Hindu texts. He says:
These interpretations “deny access to our own experiences…. Who or what is denying access to our own experience? It is not a theory, but a theorizing of someone else’s experience.” 
He views Freudian analyses (based on a western culture) as being incapable of understanding the culture of India. He says of Freud: 
“What did he ‘theorize’ then? He theorized upon the European experience of other cultures and upon a theological elaboration of these experiences. Consequently, who or what is denying the access to our experience? The experience of another culture. This lies at the root of the feeling of wrongness: our experiences are being trivialized, denied, distorted and made inaccessible by someone else’s experience of the world. Hence the feeling of moral or ethical wrongness, because such a situation is neither justified nor justifiable. One is made to think that, apparently, there is only one way of experiencing the world: the ‘western way’.”

  The rationale for free speech rests on the tenet of ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ (similar to a free market in economics), which assumes that when all kinds of ideas are freely expressed and are accessible to all, the better ideas will eventually prevail. Therefore, silencing ideas that are unappealing is an ineffective and short-term solution to the “problem” of human progress. Here’s an example from libel law:

       Libel laws are meant to protect those whose reputations come under attack by false statements, leading to negative repercussions for the one who is slandered. While it may seem like a good idea to have libel laws, they can be and are abused leading to far reaching negative effects. When frivolous or opportunistic lawsuits take advantage of laws that curb freedom of expression, the fallout is not just a matter of inconvenience and money. Such lawsuits result in strongly negative repercussions on public discourse, with the message: Don’t engage in any form of criticism - even if it is for the public good - or you too will be sued! A case in point is the Food Disparagement laws in the US, also called the “veggie libel laws.”  Remember when Oprah Winfrey was sued by Big Beef in the wake of the Mad Cow Disease outbreak in the UK? The Texas Beef Group sued Oprah for saying, on her show, something as ordinary as “Cows are herbivores. They shouldn’t be eating other cows…It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger.” 

       Even when libel laws have stringent standards of burden of proof, and frivolous lawsuits are successfully dismissed (as in Oprah’s case) there are detrimental effects on the atmosphere of public discourse. That is why proponents of free speech prefer to err on the side of freedom to communicate rather than on the side of suppressing information. After the Big Beef lawsuit was dismissed, Oprah declined to speak about the matter any further. If that is the effect an attempt at curbing free speech had on Oprah Winfrey, you can imagine the silencing effect it might have on the ordinary citizen. You can read about the Oprah case and Food Disparagement Laws in the US here
       Having laws that protect one’s sense of outrage will breed outrage, just like having laws that protect free speech will breed free speech, even the kind that may be inappropriate and offensive to some. So why is having free speech better than having laws that protect taking offence? Let’s take a look at the two conditions of free speech and no free speech in good times and bad times to determine which one is better for a society in the long run:

The Best of Times:
During the best of times, both free speech states and non-free speech states will do well. If the people in power are good and fair, everybody is mostly happy. In non free speech states, there may be low conflict because people are afraid to offend and get sued. But this is not necessarily a good thing in the long run. 

In prosperous times in free-speech states, potentially offending expressions may be tolerated better than during hard times. Eventually people learn to accept differences and learn some tolerance because any amount of tolerance breeds more tolerance. This is better for society in the long run. 

The Worst of Times:
It is during the worst of times that the difference between free speech and non-free speech states is most apparent. Life has abundant quantities of bad times so this is an important consideration. Let’s assume that during hard times, the people in power are unfair to some groups, and are good only to a select few. They want to promote their worldview only. They oppress and suppress minority groups.
In a non free speech state, you cannot protest this unfairness. There is no free press, and people are afraid to complain lest they be sued for being offensive to those in power. Change is very difficult.

In a free speech state, peaceful protesting is allowed and grievances can be aired without fear of reprisal. It is possible to critique unfair practices and suggest better alternatives. Unfairness can be exposed by the press as well as by individuals. Change is possible. In addition, the free-speech state discourages unfair practices because there is recourse for the ones who are aggrieved. However, a non-free speech state implicitly encourages unfairness because injustice can be sustained through suppression of those who might complain. 

       While India is well past its expiration date, the date of post-independence predictions of fragmentation into it’s multi-ethnic components, and still stands as one nation, the largest democracy no less, it is dangerously veering towards the designation of Highly Insecure Nation that’s Doomed–isthan. Its sense of identity is so precarious that any viewpoint that comes in contrast to the favored view is squashed, often even before this viewpoint has a chance to be heard. For India to regain her confidence, freedom of expression must be dissociated with reactionary terms like outrage, insult and offence. The health of the state should be judged, not by the absence of dissent, but by the nature of it. It is only when healthy dissent is used as a yardstick of measuring peace, that we will have a true tolerance for differences. 

       The premise that the absence of offence lies at the core of maintaining peace among a diverse population such as in India, is a faulty assumption. It is, in fact, the opposite. An environment that does not challenge one’s own views, and does not encourage polite dissent, is an environment that will eventually lead to intolerance. Tolerance is not learned in a void, nor is it fostered in a milieu of agreement and forced acquiescence. It is inculcated and refined only through the practice of accepting ideas novel to one’s own. 

To end with a quote attributed to Aristotle: 

It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

When Art Finds You

Three weeks ago, on December 18th, I entered a bead store with the purpose of finding out what the store was all about. I had been driving past the store for over a year, and had made a mental note several times to visit. On that particular day, I was at a restaurant that was just a few doors away. And so the opportunity came to explore this year-old curiosity.

  A quote by Flora Whittemore reads: “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”  I did not realize it then, but the doors I opened that particular day, greatly influenced how I spent the following month. For when I left the bead store, I was a changed person. Just being in the midst of the tools and trimmings of the bead-trade triggered something in me that sent me exploring a path that I would never have imagined for myself even a few days before. If you had told me on December 17th, that I would be spending the greater part the next several weeks making jewelry, I would have said that you did not know me well. It turns out that I did not know myself.

A confluence of circumstances (winter holidays, and over-scheduled children who were happy to be home and do as they pleased) allowed me to spend the next two weeks staying indoors and doing as I pleased. I jumped headlong into beading. As a longtime dabbler in various arts and crafts, it was no surprise that I’d try beading. In the process of sampling different beads and designs, I made pieces of jewelry without a thought about who or what they were intended for. And before long, I had a small collection.

Walt Disney once said:
“We keep moving forward—opening new doors and doing new things—because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
 And so, spurred on by my interest in photography and design, I took things a step further and began to catalogue my creations. Thus was born a facebook page dedicated to that purpose. So without further ado, here’s introducing you to my new hobby that’s running amuck. It goes by the name:

BEADecked by Nandu

The BEADecked philosophy draws from the fact that bead-making has been a part of human history for over a hundred thousand years. Bead-making and adornment, in other words, jewelry, is practically strung in our DNA.

BEADecked jewelry is meant to be worn –often- and enjoyed.
BEADecked is for everyone: Prices are reasonable.
The exclusiveness of BEADecked jewelry lies in its aesthetics.
The BEADecked vision is to unite seeming contradictions: It aims to be striking, yet subtle. It strives to be affordable, yet exclusive. Come see for yourself!

For those of you in Phoenix:

On Sunday, January 12th, I will be at Cannedy Dance Center in Glendale from 9am to 1pm with the BEADecked Debut Collection. Please stop by. Tell your friends!
(Glendale and 7th Street; Address: 6222 N. 7th Street, Phoenix- AZ 85014)

If you are on facebook, please “like” my page, and feel free to share with friends. If you are not on facebook, you can still view the album and facebook page here:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Good (Indian) Man is Hard to Find (with apologies to Flannery O’Connor)

This weekend’s New York Times features an editorial on Indian men by Lavanya Sankaran, titled ‘The Good Men of India.  Reading this article has left me with an uneasy aftertaste that is hard to qualify, and even harder to ignore. So here I am again, after a relatively long break from writing in Cactus Chronicles.

Sankaran’s article takes on the task of informing the world (that has been recently inundated with news of mistreatment of women in India, by Indian men,) that despite India’s disrepute in the realm of gender parity, there are good Indian men:

“Let me introduce the Common Indian Male, a category that deserves taxonomic recognition: committed, concerned, cautious; intellectually curious, linguistically witty; socially gregarious, endearingly awkward; quick to laugh, slow to anger. Frequently spotted in domestic circles, traveling in a family herd…..”

Sankaran acknowledges the fact that the ordinary woman in India faces a daily threat of violence against her. She writes:

“This is the world of women under siege, the medieval world of the walking undead, the rise of the zombies, targeting females rich and poor. For women, at least, winter is coming.”  

Yet, she states that she feels the need to bring attention to that subsection of Indian masculinity that has kind, nurturing qualities. She herself admits that doing so may seem perplexing, but states that it is a need that must be met immediately:

“In this context, it might appear odd to examine any other variant of the Indian male. But it is important to do so and to do so now. To bear witness to an alternate male reality that also pervades India on a daily basis.”

Sankaran’s article attempts to show that the baseline qualities of this alternate male reality are noteworthy:

“…..being concerned and engaged was their normal mode of social behavior. So, I will say this - Indian men can also be among the kindest in the world.”

I was clearly uncomfortable reading this opinion piece. My first reaction to this discomfort was to look inward, at myself, and wonder if it is my perception that is skewed. Am I so accustomed to sensational news of dangers and scandals that when I come across an article describing the positive attributes of the Indian male, it gives me pause?

Let’s assume that the impetus to write the article came from the desire to make the world aware, that truly, not all Indian men are beasts.  But this desire, however genuine it may be, has scents of distress trailing close behind. For no matter how cynical or jaded a reader might be, the act of having to spell out information, and the resulting act of having to read about things that ought to be assumptions and beliefs that one can take for granted, is telling.

In the context of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, we did not need to be told that there still are multitudes of healthy people, unaffected by the disease. We took that for granted. The obesity epidemic in America today has not triggered a reassurance campaign from the Health Ministry that there are still healthy kids and adults in our midst. We take that for granted. Why then is there a need to elaborate on the merits of the “Common Indian Male?” Why does Sankaran feel a compulsion to bear witness to the nurturing qualities of this alternate male reality? What does this need to bear witness say about the overarching issue of gender parity? Is this a sign that gender inequality has reached such dangerous proportions that one must resort to tactics of (forced?) optimism to keep the spirit up – to focus on the little blessings to ward off despondency?

The trials and tribulations of women in India are not the result of a handful of bad apples. Rather, it seems like there are a few good apples in a sea of otherwise rotten ones. That is why there is a need to point out to the good ones. It appears as though we can no longer take for granted that men ought to be kind and nurturing; so we laud the men who are. The reputation of the Indian male is so deeply damaged even in the eyes of the Indian woman, that she feels the need to spell out his positive qualities on an international platform. And in so spelling out these attributes, we come to the slow realization that a good Indian man is hard to find.

On a very basic level, Sankaran’s article is perhaps an effort to save the face of the average Indian male whose typology is now strongly linked to misogyny.  And having this typology exposed to the world, I would imagine that the average Indian male has been cringing in the face of recent news from India with regard to the treatment of women. Perhaps there will be a frenzied sharing of Sankaran’s article by Indian men and women alike, with their non-Indian colleagues and friends, to say: “I’m one of the good men of India; I’m not like them.”  Or “I’m married to one of the good ones….”

Share, babus, share! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Photo-Essay and Geo-history: Yellowstone National Park. Part I

Excelsior Geyser

From the time of our earliest stories, mountains have held a prominent place in our collective imaginations. Myths and legends from around the world feature mountains, especially the volcanic kind as the locus of our creation-stories. From the Greeks whose gods lived high on Mount Olympus, to the legends of Pele, the fire-goddess of Hawai’ian volcanoes, these geographical elevations have occupied our attentions in every aspect of our lives – in literature, in art, in our attempts at pushing the boundaries of physical endurance, in explorations -scientific and otherwise, and in our religions. Our affinity for the mountains has not been diminished by their volcanic eruptions. On the contrary, these violent outbursts have only added to their allure by feeding our sense of awe. The following is a photo-essay and geo-history of the volcanic caldera that we call Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone National Park has the singular distinction of being the world’s and America’s first national park. What is it about Yellowstone’s landscape that generated, for the first time in world history, the desire to ‘preserve’ in an official capacity? And what historical events led to president Ulysses Grant declaring, on March 1st, 1872, Yellowstone National Park as a nature preserve? Some answers, verbal and photographic:
Part I explores the geo-history of the Yellowstone Landscape.

Part I: The Yellowstone landscape is the result of three gigantic volcanic eruptions. Each eruption resulted in the collapse of the volcano into itself, leaving cauldron-like depressions in the land. These land depressions following volcanic eruptions are called caldera. The Yellowstone Caldera, also called the Yellowstone super volcano, is therefore composed of three calderas, which together comprise a large part of Yellowstone National Park. The entire caldera area today measures about 44 miles (72km) long and 34 miles (55km) wide. Most of the lodgings and frequented landmarks in Yellowstone are within this caldera.
The landscape, however, does not appear to be an obvious depression. It is not easy to visualize Yellowstone as a caldera because of the size of it, as well as due to the extensive lava flows that followed the eruptions and filled the depressions. The kind of magma that rose from the collapsed walls of the magma chamber flowed out as a type of lava called rhyolite, which hardened to volcanic soils that now yield forests of pine.
This history of volcanic activity, and the innumerable hydrothermal features in the Yellowstone ecosystem indicate that there is a continued heat-source wielding considerable influence on the landscape, and whose presence is not far from the earth’s surface.  This “hotspot” of molten rock or magma is believed to be just 4 miles below the earth’s surface beneath Yellowstone. While hotspots are common below the surface of the ocean (which give rise to islands, such as, most notably, the Hawai’ian chain of islands), continental hotspots like the one below Yellowstone are very rare. Most volcanoes are on the margins of tectonic plates and are triggered by the dynamics of plate boundaries.  Continental hotspots contribute not just to the volatility of the volcano in question that lies above it, but they also have a tremendous influence on the surrounding landscape. The landscape in Yellowstone is therefore truly unique in all senses of the word. While hot springs and other hydrothermal features are found the world over, notably in Iceland and New Zealand, geothermal features of similar grandeur as those of Yellowstone are perhaps found only in Rotoroua, New Zealand.  The onlooker in Yellowstone cannot help feeling that this kind of beauty is surreal. 

Midway Geyser Basin

The first of the gigantic volcanic eruptions that shaped the Yellowstone landscape took place about 2.1 million years ago. It is believed to have been 2000 times more powerful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, and produced 250 cubic miles of rock and debris, and whose “ash buried parts of every state west of the Mississippi river.” Hotspots and Mantle Plumes. The second and smallest eruption occurred 1.3 million years ago. The most recent one erupted 640,000 years ago. Yellowstone Lake, the largest alpine lake in North America occupies a part of the caldera that was created by this explosion.
For the reader who thrills in potential real-life apocalypses, a Google search for ‘yellowstone supervolcano’ will yield abundant leads to doomsday scenarios. Each of the three Yellowstone eruptions occurred roughly 640,000 years apart, and the most recent one was 640,000 years ago….. But no matter how skeptical one is of future eruptions, one cannot ignore the fact that the Yellowstone landscape owes its breathtaking panoramas to past volcanic eruptions of enormous magnitude.
Yellowstone National Park contains about half of the world’s geothermal features. Hydrothermal activity is the result of surface water seeping down and meeting the heat of the earth’s molten rock. The proximity of the magma below Yellowstone has resulted in the impressive numbers and diversity of hydrothermal features in the area. Of Yellowstone’s approximately 10,000 hydrothermal features, more than 250 are active geysers, comprising two-thirds of the world’s geysers. Other features are fumaroles (steam vents), mud pots and hot springs. This diversity, along with the fact that they are being preserved intact are notable features of Yellowstone.
Being in the presence of Yellowstone’s geothermal features is an opportunity to be both amazed and over-whelmed. There is a pervading smell of sulfur. The earth is rarely silent. One detects from all the senses that the ground you are standing on is alive and raging through the bubbling mudpots that spew gases, through the gurgling springs and geysers whose waters burst through with uncanny force and  sometimes regularity, and through the hissing fumaroles with freshly released steam that permeates all the air and everyone present with a sense of enchantment. 

Geothermal Features in Upper Geyser Basin:

Hot spring in Upper Geyser Basin (near Old Faithful)

Bubbling hot spring in foreground with steam from other hydrothermal features in background.

The most well known thermal phenomenon in Yellowstone is the geyser Old Faithful, so named because it erupts with predictable regularity. The range in intervals is 35 minutes to 2 hours. The time to the next eruption is predicted using the duration of the current eruption. The longer an eruption lasts, the longer the time to the next surge.
Old Faithful on a cloudy day.

Iron oxide deposits give the edges of some geysers a gold color which they're named for - Aurum Geysers.


Midway Geyser Basin Features:

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser

Edge of Grand Prismatic Spring 

Thermal features in the West Thumb section of Yellowstone Lake:

Fishing Cone Geyser has been a part of the legends of mountain men who spoke of an alpine lake where one could catch a fish and then immediately cook it without even taking it off the line. All one needed to do was to swing the line around and dip it into the boiling Fishing Cone Geyser!
In spring and early summer, Fishing Cone Geyser is submerged due to a rise in the level of the lake following melting snow from the winter.

Colors are created by heat-loving microorganisms (thermophiles). 

Blue Funnel Spring, Central Basin overlooking Yellowstone Lake (West Thumb)

Some short video clips of Yellowstone's geothermal features: