A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

E is for Earthquake

The infinite importance of hair: shiny and not oily; hair oils and pills and doctor treatment to combat thinning; traditionally long or at least thoughtfully styled; in lieu of plain hair elastics, a myriad of metal and plastic hair baubles and flowers and jewelry; ideally falls with a slight bounce; eyebrows perfectly threaded; legs and arms meticulously waxed in a hair-here-not-there mentality. India is the number one exporter of human hair in the world. The English word shampoo comes from a Hindi word for kneading. “Whether you are male or female, young or old, your hair is a reflection of who you are. Everyone envies long beautiful hair. Caring for your long locks is essential Healthy hair isn't only about looking good. It also can make you feel good.” This, cutting your hair is considered a way to overcome ego. There are even documentaries about this (check out the guy’s face in the screenshot), about how hair is given as an offering in a temple and then sold for profit unbeknownst to the offerer. In two minutes I could easily walk to at least four salons and even in an expensive one a full leg wax would only set me back $5. Also, for less than it would cost in quarters to do my own laundry in Colorado, I can have my clothes so thoroughly washed the shirts are impeccably pressed around newspaper, delivered next day in a lovely bundle like this. However, the relative cheapness of labor and such services as the $3 in-home massage make it easy to raise very spoiled children like the college girls I live with who sprawl their daily delivered dinners all over the kitchen.

Bombay shut down on Wednesday for a supposed cyclone that resulted in brief but welcome off-season rain, and then a few days later rocked from a 4.6 earthquake instead (which was centered at a fault line south of here on which India’s tallest dam is built). I felt the rolling from my bed while my wardrobe danced tentatively from side to side like a shy concertgoer afraid to truly move to the music. Alas, I have decided to temporarily hang up my salsa shoes. Opposite sexes don’t really touch here, and certainly not in partner dance. I’ll leave the dancing to Lord Vishnu. I took myself on a tour of a couple art galleries instead, and met a friend for tea who had another friend in town, and this other friend just so happened to have attended my elementary school, while the first friend’s husband just so happened to be from the same small German city my dad is from. Earthquakes née cyclones, neighbors in Georgia and Germany, twice passing out due to low blood pressure and inadvertent gluten poisoning due to massive msg intake (don't worry, I'm fine), my first ever intentionally after midnight supper—it was an interesting weekend to say the least!

On a more thoughtful note, I find it beautiful that despite how heavily-Hindu India is people really respect different religions. Muslims can have multiple wives (which is a debate in Islam way outside the scope of this post). Jains, who profess a nonviolent ideology extending to no digging up of root vegetables like potatoes and whose monks and nuns walk barefoot and sweep a broom in their path to prevent stepping on insects, prevent the moss on the steps of my friend’s apartment from being removed. Parsi have a Tower of Silence on a hilltop of my neighborhood where they place bodies of the deceased to be disposed of by the elements of nature and to feed birds of prey, because cut hair, nails and dead bodies are believed unclean. Although my friend and I did binocular-spy albino owls, wild parrots and bats from her seventh-floor terrace yesterday, birds of prey are not exactly flocking around Bombay.

Someone asked why there are no pictures of me on the blog, why I put up pictures of artifacts like ancient Indian board games instead. So I took a typical getting-out-of-the-house-in-daylight-hours picture of myself. Notice all the covering in an attempt to block that darn sun in stifling yet refreshingly humid ninety-degree weather (another sign of my Americaness, thinking in Fahrenheit).

Only in India do I get asked to take photographs with people like a celebrity; are the snacks already stale when you pop the plastic seal; do the rechargeable batteries last just 2 hours; do dogs obey traffic police when told to stop and go before crossing the street; am I always eating yet always hungry; do people actually believe me when I tell them my name is Priya because I’ve tired of repeating V for Violet, A for Apple, L for Love, E for Elephant, R for Rome, I for India, E for Elephant over the phone. India: aap ka javal be nahi! (I hope that transliterates sensibly to India, you are cool!)

Posted byValerie at 12:00 AM  


Malina said... November 17, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
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Valerie said... November 19, 2009 at 11:05 AM  
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