I am fortunate in having my daughters and their American husbands as nature lovers and sharing my love for outdoor life. Americans with rare exceptions love sun and exposing their skin to sunlight, a feature which I don’t share. California is a sun drenched state and when I was there the mercury often touched 35 degrees [c] and more. I with my ankle length trousers with full sleeved shirt and wife with her saree made a striking contrast to the hordes of minimally attired Americans who were out to enjoy their sun. The motto appeared to be less clothing you have on your body the more pleasure you get. This is not only with the young who have well proportioned beautiful bodies to show but also the fat and the elderly with sagging bellies and bottoms. That excess of sunlight exposure positively harms and the publicity given to skin cancer is more than offset by the sales promotion and use of sun screen lotions! Having played golf in the afternoon Indian sun for over ten years and having my forearms burnt to the extent that the skin appears like a thin wrinkled parchment, I have become wise and use only long sleeved shirt whenever I go out in to the sun and during my California sojourn I did the same, but could not help wonder how these people manage to avoid the effects of sun exposure. Indians living in the US especially in places where there is limited months of sunlight seem to suffer more from Vit D deficiency in contrast to the native Americans [I don’t mean American Indians] I have had two young women in the US who had to be given D supplements!
The shopping malls are thriving given the penchant for shopping. I can understand if one were to shop for what is necessary. But buying for pleasure is something I fail to understand. In my country too there is this illness but it appears to be widespread in the US. The whole culture is aimed at consumption needed and not needed. I found large displays of storage houses. Americans move about a lot and it is understandable that they need to store their belongings when they are away. But part of this storage is used to store unwanted purchases made for want of space in their own homes! If I buy a shirt I tend to use it till it frays and then it goes to someone else as a donation or it is used as a mopping cloth. It will last for years and I rarely get bored with it. Not so in the US. Dress trends keep changing and one buys to keep up with the trend not for utility. The economy survives on conspicuous consumption! The Automobile industry is suffering because they no longer change their car every two years. So are the manufacturers of golfing paraphernalia. Americans no longer change their sets every two years!
Sequoia tree and our night out
Sequoia and King canyon national parks are located in the Sierra mountain range, four hours drive from Los Angeles. These trees grow at heights ranging from 5000 to 10,000 ft. The oldest tree [named after Gen Grant] is more than 3000 years. Its height is over 250 feet and the diameter is more than 100 ft. It is still growing. There are hundreds of these matriarchs in that splendidly maintained park where we were privileged to stay. Imagine that they have existed even before the civilization as we know began. The Pheraohs’ of Egypt when they were building the pyramids, these trees were already there! I could not help but give a respectful homage to these ancients who have managed to survive god knows how many natural calamities. They would not have survived humans but for the timely intervention of some naturalists [J. Muir] and others like President Theodore Roosevelt who enacted the natural park laws. This is also the natural habitat of bears and there are frequent encounters between humans and bears without much damage to either. My younger daughter and husband decided to camp in the open to see the star lit sky in this bear infested mountains. I love animals alright, but this outing with lurking danger, that too at night is one I am unlikely forget. With their programmed GPS aids they could locate all the planets and the stars and I had not seen so clear a sky with that kind of display of stars ever before in my life. This and the constant threat of bear invasion made that an eventful night, to say the least!