Thanksgiving, we think?!
|Thanksgiving: Nov. 23rd
|Sues notes to her mom about Thanksgiving:
"Thanksgiving was a little weird. First of all, we couldnt remember what day it
was.... the last Thursday of the month, or the third Thursday, or what. Secondly, the
closest thing to turkey here is chicken. The way you buy a chicken is to go to the chicken
shop, point at one in a cage, and ten minutes later, presto, they bring you back a dead
plucked chicken. Maybe Ill get used to this eventually, but so far I have only
cooked vegetarian meals. After we figured out what day it was and reviewed our food
options, we decided to go out for an Indian vegetarian dinner. About 10% of the population
in Bangalore celebrates Christmas, so that should be a bit more festive."
|E.H. Gombrich, in his book Art & Illusion, talks about
how most artistic skills develop as a result of heightened perception. Poor perceptual
skills - poor art. Its why Eskimos have 30 words for snow, and Bangloreans have one.
Ive learned new things enough times, that I know that Im only now beginning to
perceive the cultural approaches to how men and women interact with one another here. The
fight for equality of the sexes here is tough. India, especially southern India, has a
very strong culture, and like any culture that is several millennia old, it is difficult,
if not impossible, to alter its course.
|The height of the movement is now concerned with a court
case between a Mr. Gill, a Punjabi "super cop", and Ms. Rupan Deol Bajaj, who
used to be a high-ranking officer. At a prestigious, hoi-poloi party seven years ago, Gill
who was a little drunk, and little too boisterous, apparently took advantage of Ms. Bajaj,
and committed an "effrontery on her person" by slapping her on her behind. This
butt-slap, in front of the other highly distinguished guests, embarrassed Ms. Bajaj, who
promptly sued Mr. Gill for embarrassment and distress. Mr. Gill is a very well respected,
very powerful, police commissioner, who has acquired enormous fame for his ability to
arrest and control terrorism. The government immediately took sides and tried to squelch
or delay the court case. It also took petty action against Ms. Bajaj by making her a
low-ranking official, stopping her mail, taking her off of mailing lists, removing her
from government telephone books, etc. Ms. Bajaj did not give up, and after seven years,
the Supreme Court has ordered the government to expedite the bottom-slapping case
"within six months". Since the Supreme Court decision, Gills power has
been substantially reduced; Ms. Bajajs future well, she should meet Anita
Hill. The court case is likely to result in nothing happening. Witnesses are slow in
coming, and recollections are vague after seven years.
|When a man meets a woman in India, he namastes. He does not
shake her hand (I do, but its a habit I have to get over). If a woman is in the
presence of her husband, and another man wishes to speak to the woman, he doesnt; he
speaks to the husband, who then speaks to the women. This is considered the height of
politeness, because the woman "belongs" to her husband, and for you to speak to
the women would be an insult to the husband. Sue has had great trouble adjusting to this.
She gets her "speak to me directly" tone, and the man (in the form of servant,
waiter, shopkeeper, etc.) gets very confused, and talks to me in a more gentle, and
sympathetic tone (you poor sopyou have a real shrew for a wife). On Saturday, our
future cook, Mercy, came for an interview. On Sunday, her husband, also Christian, named
Sampson came by to convince "Madam" that we should hire Mercy, and that we need
not look any further. Sue handled the front porch conversation for a while, and then I
showed up, curious to see what was going on. The entire tenor of the conversation changed.
I became Sampsons sole and unwavering focus. Realizing that this was taking away
from Sues "Im in charge here" role, I walked away. The unintended
result was that Sampson thought that I didnt feel he was worth my time. He forlornly
asked for me, and in vain, he called out at the end of the discussion "Good Bye, sir,
please hire my wife sir". Sue has a stock rhetorical question for these situations,
"Whos going to change, You? Or India?".