Friday, February 19, 2010

Latest Reads

These books are written by Indian authors. They both gave me some insight into Indian culture, which I think is complex and fascinating. Climbing the Stairs is set during WW II. I never thought about this before but because so many of the people believed strongly in Gandhi's teachings that nonviolence is the weapon of the brave, they weren't able to fight in the war and if they wanted to or did, they were often ostracized by their families. The second book was set more in our times but both books included lots of protesting against the government and in the first book, against British rule. When parts of India were under British rule, the Indian people had to put up with a lot of discrimination from white people that lived on their lands because of the color of their skin. They became an independent country officially in 1950. Hurray.

I think there is so much inequality created because of the caste system. I don't want to criticize the culture but I can't imagine being stuck in one of the lower castes. It's sad to think what some of those groups do and are only allowed to do because of their caste. I'm specifically thinking of the people who clean up the feces from homes, known as Sweepers who are part of the group of Untouchables. They are not allowed to interact with other people of higher caste because they are considered dirty. Imagine having that label upon you, your whole life. I guess if you don't know any better, it wouldn't be as bad but I can't imagine not wishing for a better life. Here's a video if you are interested.

I also think that Indian people are some of the most beautiful people in the world. They have beautiful features and so many of them are striking to me. Chris showed me a picture of one of his co workers who is Indian and who Chris speaks highly of. He was really good looking and I sort of joked that someone's not telling him the truth about who his dad is because he was so light. Chris joked with him about it and the guy said that in Indian culture, the lighter skin is favored and often in arranged marriages the lighter skin is preferred. Interesting stuff.

A while ago I heard on the news that India has a low incidence of colon cancer and that researchers think it may be due to the high consumption of turmeric spice. They were testing that theory. The next time I went to the store I made sure to pick up the spice and started using it here and there. Because it does change the flavor of my usual dishes I started using it less and less. However, turmeric is a main ingredient in curry and I use curry powder a couple times a month.

While a missionary in Japan, I got to try Indian curry. Indian restaurant owners who opened shop in Japan, made a variety of curry and you could choose how hot you wanted your dish. They served all curry with Nam pan and you could choose to have a tasty yogurt drink with your meal. Seriously, some of the best food I've ever had and I miss it. If I ever go back to Japan, eating at an Indian curry shop will be on my list of things to do. Both books mention food quite a bit. I kept wondering what this or that looked like and what it might taste like. Made me really curious about the food. It all sounded really healthy and delicious. I wonder if I'll ever get a chance to get to know some other dishes besides curry.

In the Marriage Bureau for Rich People, arranged marriages were a main topic. I've always been curious about this topic. One of my neighbor friends that I played with growing up had her marriage arranged. I was shocked when I first heard of her marriage and couldn't imagine a modern girl putting up with that. However, the book mentioned that romantic love/marriage doesn't last and that most couples whose marriages are based on that initial romantic love will in a couple years have to find other things in their marriage to keep it strong. Arranged marriages are supposedly arranged by people with more experience and wisdom, keeping in mind the compatibility between two people based on several factors including marrying within the same caste. Love develops later as these two people come together, have a family and experiences together. It doesn't take much to convince me, so I must say that I'm convinced that it can work.

All in all the books were pretty good. It took me a while to get into them since I felt both had slow starts. They both gave me some really good insight into the culture and also ended with a love story, which I'm a sucker for, even if it is arranged.

1 comment:

  1. that was interesting. people say the caste system is dead - b/c it was outlawed by the british. even though it might technically be illegal, how could it not still be part of society when discrimination and social hierarchies are what give people power. But the caste system was important to India b/c it was worked into the religion - into Hinduism. So if you did your duty right in your current caste, then when you were reborn you would be elevated. That same philosophy was important to early christianity. god has an order, don't rock the boat, suffer with dignity, in the next life you will have mansions. makes me not like religion to much when i see it working to maintain social inequality. By the way, Loyd's paper today is on that very subject. You should read it.