mask mask mask mask no shortage of them at Mysore Bed and Breakfast
This annual Hindu event known in Mexico as the ‘day of the dead’ but of course, quite different, is known as Mahalaya Amavasya. We remember our loved ones and provide help and support for their journey to the next place. In our case to Manjula’s reincarnation.
Thank you to Sowbaghya, Satish and Vasanth for your loving kindness to Manjula. You made it very special.
An ever changing small group from siddarthanagar cycles around and sometimes up Chamundi Hill setting off most mornings at 6.30 am from Mysore Bed and Breakfast.
Each year we’d buy a terracotta Ganesh, place him in our Pooja room with the appropriate rituals with lots of food (he’s a hungry god).
After the stipulated number of days he’d be taken and immersed in the Kaveri river near Srirangaptnam.
Nothing ever seems to go to plan in India……
to help commemorate Manjulasness on her birthday we’d invited a few friends to celebrate in the park opposite where we’ve placed three benches.
But two days before, this happened…..
There’s now the beginnings of a new path. We’ll just about manage if it doesn’t rain and create a river of mud.
When we dogs meet each other for the first time, with a sniff in the air (or if daring, up the bum) a wave of the tail a look in the eye we quickly decide: is the newcomer above, below or equal to me?
We signal by the tail. If they are lower in status the tail tucks in between the legs and they physically cower.
People often, psychologically and socially do the same.
After an initial look, a few questions, key words they evaluate the other.
Are they on the same level? If so, they’ll behave adult to adult,
Or are they so different in terms of age, caste, colour, race or religion? If they perceive one above the other they’ll behave like parent and child. If they’re uncertain there maybe a tussle to work out their relative positions.
People do this, often and everywhere.
It may help them feel superior or inferior uncomfortable or comfortable, accepted, rejected. It helps define who we think we are and how we relate to others. It’s common and often involves games to clarify, communicate and impose. I’ve adapted this from transactional analysis as featured in the book: “Games People Play’.
Yes, some dogs can read, but don’t tell anyone.
All societies do it, to varying degrees but ultimately in my view can often reinforce status, encourage elitism and highlight difference. It leads to unacceptable behaviours, social distance and it’s not very nice.
Sowbhagyhya has done Pooja here for Mahalakshmi and one or two other goddesses.
Other and wise
There’s so many examples of the negativeness of the ‘other’ in society and politics.
Before the time of virus, people would cross the road to avoid walking by my black dog Lucie. It’s a cross-cultural fear.
Now in the time of virus they’re as likely to walk across the road because of me.
Recently, I was cycling on a local road busy with people doing their early morning exercise walk. A woman on the opposite side of the wide road lifts her Sari to cover her mouth on seeing me, a white foreigner. The Indians walking next to her had not been seen as a risk.
She didn’t know better but at the very least, it’s annoying.
The negative other.
Later that day three young children, sitting astride a wall laughing, smiling giggling, waving to me, a wonderful hello.
Shortly afterwards a man pushing a cycle gave a smile and wave.
The positive other
This took me back fifteen years to my first visit.
I came to India and christened it the land of a billion smiles and then I fell in love with and married Manjula, a woman with a billion smiles.
We find what we look for….
Now Manjula is my guru
I spread her smile with a friendly wave.
We might however at this ‘time of virus’ need to look a little closer to spot the smiling eyes shining above the face mask .
This was my story at today’s meeting of the Mysore Storytelling Network. A great new group for me of mostly young things. 🙂🙃😉