Thursday, August 19, 2010

Impressions 3

My friend asked me what I missed most when I was away. I said without any hesitation,’ my morning newspaper’! Don’t be under the impression that our newspapers carry some earth shatteringly important news that we cannot do without. It is not that. It is just a question of habit. It reminds me of an elderly patient of mine who was admitted to the hospital and became constipated. Moving the bowels daily for many is the most important ritual of the day and if unperformed will ruin their day. He made such a big issue of this that the girl who was in charge, made preparations to give him an enema. He would have none of this and he made her call me and he spoke to me. He said,’ please tell this stupid girl to get me Hindu [a popular daily of South India], it will act better than this enema business.’ Why did not you ask her’ I said. ‘I did and she laughs at me’ he said. I made him give the phone to the nurse and asked her to get him the paper even if it is against the hospital rules. She did and my patient took the paper and sat on the commode. Lo and behold, the job was done!

Though I had no such dependence the habit took some time to get over. Americans unlike us don’t miss their daily that is if they have one. Most are virtual rags giving bizarre local news like some ones dog missing or someone having a social evening or what the local school boys did when they took a trip to another state or the local Rugby team did against a visiting team. Ask them what is happening in the next state unless it is a major shooting spree they wouldn’t know! Even the TV coverage is I believe very sketchy [I did not have the opportunity to watch TV as my hosts fortunately or otherwise did not have the connection! To get the news of the world I had to go the internet but it is not the same like getting it from a newspaper.

Even small towns in the US now have centers that teach Yoga and meditation. The teachers are generally trained locals but have a generous sprinkling of Indians. It is common to see advertisements especially in the media [ specially meant for Indian readers] announcing visit of that this or that Swami or Guru who teaches yoga/meditation/ makes astrological predictions/performs rituals for ones’ wellbeing in the true traditional Indian style. The consulting hours and the fee charged are also given in the true American style!

I visited a fair on a week end that was held in the town’s main street which was closed for traffic for the day. In the nearly kilometer stretch, the road had at least 200 tents displaying all sorts of goods and crafts. The road and the footpath were chockfull of people with their families out to have fun. The area has a sizeable Indian population and I found very few of them. When asked the reason why I was told they tend to use holidays to visit each other or spend time goading their children to study! There were many Chinese and compared to my last I found many more of them. At this rate of Chinese immigration soon California will be renamed Chinafornia.

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