photo by ellen reitman.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

the luncheon.

an indian lady, introduced by a mutual friend over lunch, was fascinated when she heard i lived so many years in india. but, i deftly sidestepped the inevitable tedious questions, rather turned the conversation around to her. ironically, i asked pretty much the very same questions: when did you come, how, why and from where(?) and i was struck by one answer in particular. since she came from the punjab, it was reasonable for me to wonder if she was sikh or hindu. she not only proclaimed herself to be a hindu, the lady proudly specified that she was a brahman.

i coulda left it there, shoulda left it there. but, me being me, i sardonically added: "so you're in favour of the caste system." it was a silly provocative remark, of course, as my comment apparently offended the lady deeply. she emphatically insisted that she certainly was not in favour of the caste system. i left it there, belatedly of course, did not point out the obvious disconnect, only offered insincere apologies, but our nice luncheon was effectively soured.

what has always amazed me is how the social ills of today actually began thousands of years ago or much longer than that. That the human race, in spite of remarkable advancements in so many fields of endeavour, has actually progressed so little boggles ones mind.

The caste system originated at a time, arguably around 1500 b.c. when the lighter-skinned indo-aryans, travelling from the northern caspian sea-russian steps area, wanted the land occupied by the indigenous people, the dravidians, in the indian deccan. the dravidians, for their part, didn't actually feel like moving on down south and, as well, they became rather enamoured of the cows they were seeing for the very first time, apparently pilfering one or three from time to time. and so, still all these centuries later, you have the caste system, the tamil tigers and a suicide bomber killing rajiv gandhi.

over dessert my lunch companion tried to explain the difference between valuing ones innate brahmanic characteristics and condoning the subjugation of any marginalized groups. not being a total imbecile, i realized it was a weak argument at best, but one i was quite willing to accept in the moment. because, strangely, i was more interested in putting the bumble-berry pie in my mouth rather than any more of my foot. it tasted better.

the undeniable truth, in any event, is that largely the issues we face today around the world originated with a simple basic problem: we see the differences easier than the similarities, and that's as old as dirt.

"i will build a great wall, -and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me,- and i'll build them very inexpensively. i will build a great great wall on our southern border, and i will make those people pay for it. mark my words." donald trump.

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