Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
 
She's Baaack (from India)

Actually, I've been back for a few days, but very busy and just a little sick still. (I'll write about air pollution and The Challenge of the 21st Century later, but let us say that it's a topic very much on my mind even as it slowly fades from my lungs and sinuses.)

Vignette: I spent a morning in a monastery, waiting for a ceremony to be completed in an inner sanctum. A monk very busily circled through the room, out one door, and around, behind it, on the veranda and its kitchen, and back again through another door, checking up on all the vegetables being cut and pots being washed and work being done, too busy to sit down as he munched on his breakfast of puffed rice and salad. A young man lay on a sleeping pad on the floor, his eyes closed. A little girl in a skirt sat on a pile of cushions near him, long hair in her face, armed with a knife and a cucumber, ponderously taking off thin slices and dropping them upon his lids. When did this monastery, so dear to my family, start dabbling in matters of the spa? The puffed-rice eating monk paces around on his dutiful rounds to check the cucumbers-on-the-eyes. "Feel better?" "Yes!" "Good! Just lie there! You! Change the slice!" Another man, quite elderly, comes in and laughingly accuses the girl of playing a trick on the supine youth by throwing cucumber on his sleeping face, to which she angrily responds by explaining that it's medicine and the shush-eyed one is not asleep. The elderly man does not believe her, and he then so carefully slips the green rounds off the "sleeping" youth that the youth does not stir. Around again comes the monk, finishing his breakfast, barely able to put the plate down and wash his mouth before he notices the lack of salady eyes and asks the girl why she decuked the youth. She makes the universal pout of "wasn't me!" and points at the dubious elder, who is still laughing at her silliness. The busy monk gives what I can only describe as a very, very modulated roar. "It's medicine!" and then he lets out a small scolding, light and hard and quick, like a boxing teacher to a child. The elderly man sees the folly of his way, the girl gherkins up the burning eyes, and the pacing monk picks up work and has finished three jobs before he makes it around the other side."Everywhere it is like this," my mother whispers to me, and I am baffled until she continues. "One person does the work of twenty."

I'm not sure what it was about this scene--the morning light streaming through the bars of the glassless windows, the scent of sliced cucumber, the busyness of the leader who always ends up carrying much of the yoke--but it has rather stuck with me. I have not really mused out its lesson, still just observing.

One lesson, always relearned harder, is to not carry what you don't need to carry. On the Air India flight back, one elderly Sikh gentlemen demonstrated this principle with a new panache. Well, he had to have his elegant rose-tinged white turban, wrapped straight around his head, no lissajous twisted twirling. And he had to have his foot long white two-pointed, effortlessly curled beard. The heavy bangle, of course, was not going to be checked in. One needs a shirt to be allowed on a plane, and he had quite a shirt---an elegant knee length tunic, slightly off-white, perhaps a tussar silk and cotton blend, so shiny and smooth. Similarly one needs shoes, and everyone knows shoes work best with socks---elegant khaki argyles, pulled all the way up to the knee.

And with all that, really--even if the kurta-tunic has side slits that go up past the knees---with all that, a man does not need pants.

Thanks to my guest bloggers for doing such a wonderful job. I have some further plans for sharing their musings with you, but for now, I'll give them a big round of applause.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


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