Friday, October 2, 2009


(Written last night)

Taking a study break to type up some quotes, since it'll be a couple days yet before I'll be able to write up my thoughts on Shekhawati and Varanasi--

"Language is the vehicle of culture, and culture encompasses everything." -Rishi-ji (I had Hindi with him the first day of classes, before being moved to private lessons)
"Identify them, kill them and replace them" -ibid on the process of 'purifying' Hindi of Urdu words post-Independence
Prose entered Indian literature in the late 19th century.
Newspaper words are "completely divorced from the real people's language"--written language in India is distanced from what real people speak as it took 500 years to develop script
"The idea of nation--it's not an Indian idea."
"Before that [British rule] it was a very different place...multinational in character." -Rishi-ji

"You are real American." -taxi driver/tour guide in Agra, to my friend Stephanie (making a distinction between me and her) (More on this in a later entry.)

"What she do?
Full power, twenty-four hour
No shower"
-taxi driver/tour guide, randomly (no one knew how to react, so it went ignored. I wonder what he was thinking?!)

"Still in India there are many people who are totally honest." -guest lecturer Prof. Ramesh Arora
"Corruption is a British legacy." ibid.
Having asked our class how many of us were interested in civil service, Ramesh-ji said that 50% of Indian students would say they'd like to work in civil service; 20 years ago it would have been 100%.
"A civil servant should be really civil. He may not behave like a servant, but he should not behave like a master." -Ramesh-ji

Ramesh-ji's 10 Rules on Praise and Criticism

1. When in doubt, praise; when in doubt don't criticize.
2. Praise right away, but wait for the right time to criticize
3. Whether praising or criticizing, give a reason for what you are doing.
4. Praise as often as you can; criticize as infrequently as you can.
5. Praise from the heart; criticize diplomatically.
6. Praise with facts, criticize with tact.
7. Praise loudly, criticize softly.
8. Praise in the presence of others; criticize when someone is alone.
9. Praise purely; criticize in sandwich form. (E.g. "Your work was well researched. It could have been better organized, though. I know you will do better next time.")
10. Don't exaggerate. Don't praise for more than one minute, and criticize for less than half a minute.
11. Use the right word; the right word for the right person.
12. Finally, don't discriminate. Praise and criticize people for the same behavior.
Follow these and you will be "a great president, a great man, a great mom, a great dad, a great anything!"

(Yes, that was more than 10 rules...Ramesh-ji was just so exuberant and full o' wisdom to share =)

According to Ramesh-ji 20% of people are honest, 60% are sitting on the fence, and 20% are dishonest. As long as the 20% of honest people exist, the 60% on the fence will follow them.

"When you go to that area you will see that there is a lot of Muslim influence, and everyone is very happy, even today." -Ranbir Sinh, Rajasthani aristocrat and actor who traces his lineage back to Rama (!!!!!!!!). His name was originally spelled "Singh" but he changed it on an astrologer's advice to be more auspicious.

"One should be like a lotus. The lotus grows in mud. The mud is like this worldly world. We have to grow on a thin stem away from this to be a pure person." -Rekha-ji, giving background on the importance of lotuses upon pointing out lotus-inspired architectural features of the Shekhawati haveli we were looking at

"Don't get near the hind or biting ends of things." -Rima-ji, when we reached the livestock area of an organic farm in Shekhawati (there were cows, a really sweet calf, a camel, and some incredibly frightening German shepherds)

"Definatly Male" - decal on a motor scooter

"Here is twenty-four-hours dead-body-fire." -Ram-ji, our boatsman on the Ganga as we floated near Manikarnika Ghat

Food Expectations vs Reality:
Why can't I find "Rajasthani style chilli" flavored Kurkure here??? =( that was my favorite that I'm in Rajasthan I can't find it?! I haven't seen it in Uttar Pradesh either. Boooo. Just keep finding "Tamatar" and "Masala."
The chicken biryani I had in Agra was sadly very much inferior to any I've had in America. Hardly any flavor! But maybe that's what we get for going to a guidebook-recommended place..maybe it was selected for its blandness/suitability to the Australians who wrote the book's palates. I also had a lassi there, which was quite thin and disappointing...I suspect that of being what got me sick, it was kind of warm and had an odd consistency.
Speaking of lassi, some places have "special" lassi on the menu. One girl in our group had the banana flavored one at our hotel in Agra, and reviewed it positively. It was only 10 cents more than the regular banana lassi!
So far I think I've only had one cup of chai that had any spices in it. Mostly what we get is just very milky and very sweet.

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