Thursday, January 29, 2009

Right Hand Rule and Middle-Aged Acts of Defiance.

Whatever you have heard about the right hand rule of India is probably true. As far as the private business with the left hand goes, I finally broke down and asked one of my trusted Chennai-born sources to explain how they manage without toilet paper. There is always a low spigot aimed at the tiled floor or into a bucket. There is one or two buckets, usually one has water in it and there is a small measuring 2 cup thing floating in one of them. I suppose each person develops their own water-splash-the-privates-with-the-left-hand technique. And I have never seen a sign that commands people to wash their hands with soap and hot water before returning to work. There would be no way to dry them, anyways. Some things I don't want to think too much about. And I didn't have the courage to inquire about what sorts of undergarments are beneath the elaborately wound saris. Perhaps the air drying applies to other things as well.

So, I comply. In public, eating, I use my hand. My right hand. Only. Sometimes I break cultural tradition and use a fork, but usually, I find clever contortions with my right hand fingers to tear pieces of the naan or chipoti for scooping up the vegetables and sauce. It's tricky, especially with the clawed up paw I have. But, I make it fun. My friend did let me know that if it tastes good, lick your fingers (folks don't use napkins...) And, it is perfectly fine to pick up your glassware with the left hand.

But tonight, I was cranky. After the third Sanskrit lesson with the Nazi Sanskrit teacher, who found her patience in the middle of a bed of nails and her handwriting in a can of silly string, I decided to buck tradition and have an omelet and buttered toast which I unceremoniously ate with BOTH hands, all 10 fingers, in plain view of anyone in that public place who wanted to notice and feel disgusted. If I wore t-shirts, I'd get one that says "I take my TP with me."

My acts of defiance certainly have changed over the years.... Tomorrow, I think I will fire my tutor. She definitely doesn't make learning fun. And for any student I ever remotely made feel frustrated in the same way, I extend whichever hand you want in apology. Om shantih shantih shantih....

PS I am waving the sign of peace everywhere I go and teaching the children I meet what it means. I think it means the same thing with either hand. -PEACE


  1. Oh you rowdy rebel you - rage, rage against the day! I'm not sure I could negotiate without my "terlet" paper - we are such old and dear friends.
    It's probably best not to consider the hygiene laws, or lack of them.

    Mmmm, just to tease you - I made portabello mushroom risotto the other night, rich with butter, onions, garlic, white wine, and chicken broth. The guys loved it (they hated it the last time I made it), so it was quite the coup. Since you're in the land of sacred cows I won't tell you what I roasted to go with it, but it was GOOD chile!

    It was great to hear from you - I'm going to look into the Skype (like the Google, right, or the internets?)so we can keep in touch better. Nighty night! Don't let Mr. King bite!

  2. Okay, I just tried to leave a comment and blogger ate it. Damn blogger. Anyhoo HI! Sorry it's taken me so long to drag my butt over here to catch up on all your adventures. It's amazing to me how openly you embrace each one with zest and vigor. I too would have to travel with my own supply of TP - the splash and dash would just not do!

  3. Peace Baby,

    Way to celebrate the joy and humor in anything and everything!

    'struggling to find my "equanimity" and work through a huge block of fear, and to get back to sleep. 'will be planting many vegetables soon, for fun and profit, but mostly for fun!
    My journey feels slow and heavy and dark, but Sunday morning friends and I will go to "hot yoga" for the first time and I have a new therapist...wise, gentle, beautiful older woman who lets me release the tears and tell her quite honestly "I'm NOT ok". She also emphasizes that I need the "alone creative time" that is so healing and probably more essential than a paying job.

    So good to see you on your adventure. It's all ONE!