Little daily Tamilian practices, signs and symbols that ring my heart-strings have long popped up to entice me to make my resonances public. Here is one sounding-out of that voice of an Outsider on the Inside:
LOVING THE LOCALS
During the first years of being honoured as a guest in India, one of the most outstanding objects of my admiration was the homeliness of the vast majority of Tamil women. This admiration spread across the entire society that values family life above everything else, a society which succeeds in fostering and nourishing that psychological security so very apprehensible in this ancient land of TamilNad. Children are freer here than anywhere else and this is a very good thing. Best thing for our species. Best for all species. Even for grass-hoppers.
The Joint Family was one of the greatest treasures India in particular so generously offered to our extended global human family. But in recent decades while the rest of us weren’t listening – being far too selfish, what you mob here in TamilNad were up to was slip-sliding out of the family home into the nuclear nest like all the well-developed birdies to whom you were taught to aspire to emulate.
Now it is forty years since my first encounter and gradually since that time capitalism has slowly inched its callous tentacles to capture alive – squirming with delight, our captive Tamil audience. In these frantic days now that the middle-classes can be said to have arisen, the bread-winner of almost every nuclear family on the fringe has doubled: both husbands and wives feel the need to bring in the money. There is a univocal pinch felt despite the investment of widespread confidence in the leaders and principal manipulators of our economy.
Consequently, overwhelmingly among the lower middle-classes, nuclear families now pine in the absence of the traditional presence cum constant companionship of motherhood in the home. Any foreign visitor who is awake and aware will empathise deeply with this predicament because we all know the detrimental effects of the nuclear family even without both parents working . . . children are the losers in our own societies as they are here.
With this nuclear move came the necessity for a washing machine.
Salutations to The Washing Machine brought to our global attention by Hans Rosling in a brilliant TED talk: The Washing Machine was the primary element that freed women from the burden of womanhood. Sneaking in the door behind came a TV (necessary to absorb attention in the painful absence of interaction with family members to which we humans had always been accustomed within an extended family), and other amenities like Loans . . . . absolutely necessary, as the bankers rubbed their palms in glee.
There were so many amenities that either the satisfaction of the erupting personal desires (so piercingly agitated by the goggle-box) kept up with the market price or . . . . this is the rub: it became impossible to remain focussed on the goals amid the formidable pressures of just managing to pilot oneself and ones family through one day at a time, taking one task at a time and hoping for the best.
The nuclear family is not a good idea, is it . . . not with the present criminal inflation coupled with the prevalent conditioned ever-present nasty sense of the rungs of the ladder beneath our feet, the narrowness of envisaged future rungs for our children’s feet, the pressure exerted by advertising constantly intruding on existential consciousness: capitalising on the discomfort we share in each-our-own emptiness – so easily masked as it is by the glossy, glassy, brittle tinsel of our rampant desires and the breath of our fears on the backs of our necks. All gratuitous it is, nevertheless it is up to us to relieve the suffering thus caused. Up to us.
My Australian perspective enables me to assist you Indians perhaps in engendering even more feminine Indian courage than you have for centuries displayed – you will need much – by pointing to your own truly stupendous qualities that you may easily take for granted or not even notice since these qualities are nearer than your noses. Also I can encourage you to appreciate the vitality that is so astonishing to a touristic invader of your privacy like myself.
Perhaps these images and dribbles of foreign correspondence will enable you better to appreciate yourselves as sound, fully capable, efficient and very dignified specimens of the species Homo-SapiensSapiens – yes, yes, even with forty-eight male youths hanging off the side of one battered bus – there is dignity here even in that: you who know much better than most other such specimens how to co-operate with natural processes.
Apart from the capacity to recognise the oneness of all that is, which is innate in us all although also unnoticed by most, co-operation with natural processes happens to be the single most valuable capacity across the universe, throughout all galaxies. Did you know that? You didn’t, did you. Well it is true. Given time you will know how to transcend the present distortion of balanced family life because you have more equipment than the rest of us to solve problems with wisdom . . . even if bio-phobic, omnipotent Highways Department does seem to out-nazi the nazis most of the time.
Now while you maintain that global perspective inserted back there . . . hang on to it, don’t let it go . . . . . now see some loveable images of yourselves, are you ready . . . the first one might come as a bit of a shock:
. . . . . the pervasive feminine influence is what enabled me to bother taking this photo and putting it here first: it is a very significant matter, never doubt it: some big burly bloke put that branch there for good luck.
You see, even if you’ve never noticed before: police or other somewhat masculine uniforms in the Indian public arena cannot escape the feminine mould. Everything for women here is strong and this influences everything despite appearances – despite the notoriety of your nation for female subjugation and your corresponding submissiveness. There are obvious exceptions of very masculine hegemony but even here in this image below – in an arena where seldom is feminine charm felt less . . . . .
. . . . a few feet around the corner beyond the immediate scope of my lens, glistening gold necklaces with matched glories for hair, ears, toes and noses, stand luringly displayed to entice male customers to hanker after loans that will provide the satisfaction of feminine desires. The blurriness of the image above was caused by the shock of a uniformed security officer with whistle and gun pointing across the space towards my guilty camera while loudly pronouncing that photographing is Not Allowed Here; consequently, unfortunately, my camera was not in a position to shoot the glass boxes of gaudy gold geegaws.
There are colossal statistics regarding the stashing away of gold-per-Tamil-capita, but we won’t worry about that.
At least in some corners of this machoistic (hu)man-world of ours we can effortlessly flick all that odious submissiveness and subjugation right out the hole in the roof to rollick up a sparkling celebration of femininity even though perhaps our feet waffle about in garlic skins and unwashed vessels and our daughters are expected to be far more obedient far more often than ever our sons.
In the long run all feminine beings know for sure that Mother Nature has bestowed her innate confidence in herself in us, irrespective of chest-thumping and wolf-whistles coming from the boys hanging off the sides of buses. . . . . we are the ocean and we know it.
We provide and we clean up the mess too. We don’t mind.
We have something up our sleeve, you see:
Men eat first. We serve them.
Nevertheless, the primary relationship here in India is between sons and Mothers, very healthy. The Indians are on to a very fundamental fact of Nature, ubiquitously un-noticed elsewhere behind the camouflage of rampant power.
Being endowed with confidence in natural processes, you sit on gold my little darling.
This is time last year perhaps you know that Highways Department rampaged through here knocking down all the humble little TeaShops as well as spectacularilly as ever hacking and bashing to death the priceless shade trees. In the blog Welcome to Kali Yuga (http://welcometokaliyuga.com), the section on Social Insecurity covered this, and thankfully I was not at home to witness the 2016 exhibition of male hubris and stupidity; i only heard about it from Arun Tree, may he live forever. Here you see one manifestation of the painful annual event, recorded especially on behalf of the violence inflicted on the quality of life for the family belonging to these small sprouts of future well-being under shade of a humble tea shop, waiting until after Highways bashes it all down again, whereupon their home-holes can begin to be dug ready for their permanent place to grow the shade we so badly need.
While many are the signs that long ago our species had more soundly ranked their priorities in value, our present has been conquered by the hoards of unwise choices ubiquitously surrounding us:
Nevertheless the seeds of the future are being nurtured in the womb of the present, never fear:
These gorgeous green mothers await their maturity to contribute to our common future, holding within the cells of their bodies information stored about how to achieve their own individual form within the shape expressed by their own particular family – information collected by their ancestors since the beginning of time. (As in fact all us mothers do.) The seedlings you see here are being fostered at the Annamalai Reforestation Society Farm nearby (see: http://www.arunachalagreening.com).