Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ear Piercing

Writing again from the apartment in Madras. Today Krishnammal is in Madurai, taking a flying trip there to attend the ear-piercing and hair-cutting ceremony of Gandhi’s daughter, traditionally performed at a temple on a child’s first birthday. Why does it have to be done in Madurai, when there are some very nice temples in Tiruvarur, where Gandhi lives? Because the family deity is in Madurai, of course. I wonder if this would be Krishnammal’s family deity as well. (And it is where my middle name, provided by Jagannathan, comes from.) As I remember, Gandhi is her nephew or grand-nephew, but I can never keep the siblings straight. On Friday, I met another of Krishnammal’s sisters, the twelfth and last child of the family, when I thought I had already met the only still-living sister in Gandhigram.

Yesterday, I bought my train tickets, and now I feel much better. I’m going second class instead of AC (“air conditioned"), because I would have to get on a waiting list for AC, and even though I would probably get on, it would still worry me. I spent much of the rest of the day listening to a four-hour meeting of which I didn’t understand a word. It was about government-sponsored alcohol-selling, I believe, a subject about which I know very little. Jagannathan decided to hold it; this is an old struggle of his. As a Gandhian, he is in favor of complete prohibition. While I understand the great problem of alcohol abuse, this is not an attitude that I share. I’m glad I brought a book to the meeting. Bhoomi has a fairly extensive collection here, of which I have been making use.

Two pigeons are having a serious fight on my windowsill. I keep banging on the window, trying to break it up, but they keep coming back. I slept like a log last night, despite the traffic noise. Sathya should be arriving this morning.



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