Nov. 3, 2008 – Panchakarma – Day 11 – JUST SOME INTERESTING STUFF TO WRITE ABOUT
Today was an easy day…massage and sirodhara (forehead dripping), but because there was a death in Laxshmi’s family, she wasn’t there today and so everything was backed up. I didn’t mind at all as I had time to sit and talk to Dr. Arora who is always fascinating. You will read today’s discussion later on in this post. I finished later than usual, came back to my room, spoke to Dyanne for awhile, had my fruit salad , did some reading and now would just like to write some by the way stuff – different things which are not connected in any way, but are interesting, at least for me.
First of all: I got my first bituach Leumi payment a couple of days ago. That’s Israeli
Social Security. It is a good amount of money as supplementary income, but certainly far from what a person could even remotely live on if it is all he has. But for me it is wonderful. And this first month’s payment actually covers the entire cost of my Panchakarma treatments! So that was a lovely thing to see at the internet today. And, miracle of miracles – will wonders never cease!?!. For the very first time in my life, even though there have been periods of time where I was a monthly subscriber for many years and never won anything…I won a Mifal Hapais (Lottery) this month. A whole entire 120 shekel!! First time ever. Things are definitely looking up!
I decided a couple of days ago to do a calculation for the money I spent my first month in India, as I thought I had gone WAY over my budget of
$500-600 TOPS per month. I had spent a lot above my regular expenses, without paying attention to how much I was spending. But in the end, to my great surprise and delight, I am still within my budget. And if this is the case, than I can live much more cheaply than that amount in a regular month with no extra expenses. This month, aside from my regular expenses for food, rent, rickshaws and internet, I spent money on the following:
Clothes in delhi – Over 2000 rupees
Shopping in pahar ganj – also a couple of thousand rupees
Travel to Rishikesh – 2300 rupees
Books – about 1500 rupees (now I will be getting credit for books I return, so will be spending almost nothing on new books)
New earphones – 300 rupees
Twice purchasing sim card and long term expiration and talk time – 1400 rupees
Supplies for room – so far, without a couple of pots and other kitchen items: about 500 rupees
Initial supply of toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, laundry detergent, floor cleaning liquid, ant spray etc., etc. about 1000 rupees
Gas balloon – 400 rupees for 5 KG plus cooking unit
Doctor’s visit and meds for eyes – 700 rupees
And of course my regular monthly expenses of:
Paying for 3 weeks at guesthouse
And of course regular living expenses…still only spent $600 and this was an extremely expensive month. So I am doing OK. I will not have extra expenses in the coming few months, except some pots and bowls etc my “kitchen”. I am not including Dr. Arora in my expenses. He will cost 14000 rupees which is less than $300 and as mentioned my first month’s payment of bituach leumi will easily pay for that with money left over! So I imagine the coming months will be easy and of course if I begin doing some work, I will be in an extremely good situation.
And now for the talk I had with Dr. Arora, or rather his talking to me. Yesterday I knew that Laxshmi’s uncle had died so I asked today about the Hindu mourning customs, and that lead us to an entire 45 minutes of talking. It was fascinating hearing everything in the doc’s Hindi English style, but to make for an easier narrative flow, I will just paraphrase everything to give you an idea.
First of all, the mourning customs include the whole family sitting together for 13 days after the funeral (cremation). Those who are immediate family must stay in the house the whole time, but others, not children or spouse, can go to work during the day but must be present morning and evening, so that people can come to make condolence calls. Starting to sound like shiva in the Jewish tradition. The people are considered “unclean” after the cremation and so for the 13 days the can only eat food cooked in their own house. But if they go out to work, they are allowed to eat fruit as it is natural food does not have to be prepared for them in any way. The first day of mourning the men shave their heads, and beards if they have them, but then they cannot shave for the duration of the mourning period. Sounding more and more like shiva. Every morning and evening there is a puja in the house of the mourners where others are expected to come and participate (minyan), and either the oldest or youngest son (either the father requests this before he passes away, or they decide between them if there is no specific request from the father) do a special prayer at the puja. (Kaddish). I forgot to ask what happens if there are no sons. After hearing all this, and more which I don’t rmember at the moment, I mentioned that many things are similar to the Jewish customs. And his reply was, well of course, we are the two oldest religions and we come from the exact same source…just each group of people dispersed to different parts of the world and cultures and adapted the original source to suit their own social and cultural needs. This is something I’ve always believed as well and it was interesting to hear him say the same thing. Islam, Buddhism, Christianity all came later and sprung from these two original belief systems. So says Dr. Arora.
Then he began to tell me the story of Laxshmi…you may remember I told you about her drug addict husband and her two children…well he filled in the rest. He’s known her since she is 6 or 7 years old. She comes from a local Galwar family, consisting of 5 daughters, no sons. From the first time he met her, she was an energetic, precocious and very different sort of girl. He says that the village girls are extremely inhibited and not only won’t say Namaste to you, they will hide their face if you look at them and won’t even tell you their names. He said that from the beginning, she “namasted” him and was always “active” and outgoing. He says that God sent her to a family of only girls to take the role of the missing son! Her father had a stroke when she was young, around 12, and was paralyzed on one whole side of his body. Even before that she would bring him into the clinic and speak for him, describe his symptoms, get his meds and take care of him. After the stroke he was bedridden for 4 years until he died and she took over everything that needed to be done including the farming etc. Dr. Arora said he had his eye on her for a long time and when she was 17 he brought her to be trained and work in his clinic (which he has run here for 26 years). And she has been working for him for 13 years now. At one point, she fell in love with an Bengali boy, and even though Dr. Arora told her he was not only not good for her, but not good at all (although he comes from an extremely good family in this area), she still decided she loved him and wanted to get married, which they did. He said in the beginning it was very difficult for her as the Garwali and Bengali cultures and customs are very different. But she had wonderful support from her mother-in-law and her brother (the “uncle” who just passed away and was the one who took care of the entire family of 5 siblings) and eventually adjusted and had her two kids (who he says are both brilliant and he is keeping an eye them as well). But then her husband got into drugs and as you know they are living apart. Laxshmi however, gets full support from his family (remember, India girls come to live with the husbands family when they get married – and both her parents are dead by now anyway), particularly her mother-in-law, who now takes care of her kids during the day so that she can work full time at the clinic.
And that’s what I did today while waiting for my turn at the clinic. Lovely morning.
I’ve forgotten to mention the butterflies: This seems to be the season for butterflies, but what butterflies. They are enormous, the size of very large moths and even bigger, and the diversity of colors and designs is rivaled only by the clothing of the Indian women! Or perhaps the Indian women have been inspired but the diverse beauty of the butterflies! Wish I was clever enough to photograph them.
That’s it for today.