Pride and strife of Lucknow embroiders ,Part One and Two

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Source : Google photo of the Lucknow embroidery known as chikan karhi

These two power points presented here represent the hard struggle of the female Lucknow embroiders in India who faced daunting challenges and abuse in the hands of middle men who exploited them, paid poorly and kept them in slavery to profit from their exquisite hand embroideries . A kind hearted lady took up their cause, organized them to cut out the middle men, built  well lit and decent workshops that were clean and modern where the women worked under vastly improved conditions.

Their beautiful embroidered products were then sold at auctions at very good prices and the benefits were given directly to the embroiders that greatly improved their well beings and income. For this, the lady was threatened with death by the middle men who did not want to give up their very lucrative business through dire exploitation so finally the Government of India provided the security she need to continue her laudable work.

The women who worked under dim lights in appalling conditions lost their eye sights the middle men did not care about but now they are given eye check ups and provided with prescription glasses so they work better and train young girls in the art of embroidery that they learned from their ancestors since the Mughal period.

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Source : Google photo of female embroiders of Lucknow working under better conditions and helped by the NGO

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Source : Google photos of Lucknow embroidery known as chikan karhi

So watch these power points in two parts to see the wonderful work created by the women of Lucknow who carry on the centuries old traditions of  embriodery learned during the Mughal period in India known as chikan Karhi art. Chikan means shiny and karhi means art or craft.

Pride and strife of Lucknow embroiders  Part One 

Link : Pride and strife of Lucknow embroiders  ( Part one ) 

Pride and strife of Lucknow embroiders  Part Two

Link : https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhzQ3gp48q3KQJacI  ( Part two )

 

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The miniature paintings of the Moghul era – Part One and two

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Miniature paintings of the Mughal era  Power point  Part One 

https://1drv.ms/f/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhyufbkb_8USW7VBve 

Miniature paintings of Mughal era Power point Part two

Link : https://1drv.ms/f/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhyTbMzF0a-bLwlaf ( Part two)

 

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The desert city of Jaisalmer,Rajasthan

Jaisalmer is a wonderful city in the western part of Rajasthan located at the gateway to the Thar desert and served as an ancient trading post that enriched the city. The magnificent havelis and palaces of the royals and the noble men are the testament to the richness that has endures over the centuries. The typical buff colored sand stones were used in the construction of its palaces and forts and are uniquely Rajasthani in style.

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Source : Google photo of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India

 

This powerpoint is on the  Desert city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India

Link:  https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhwfUoqGZ8gLQnmYh

 

 

Fabulous treasures of Maharajas of India-Part one

Fabulous treasures of Maharajas of India is presented here in this power point . India is known for its riches and extraordinary treasures, jewels and ornaments of the Maharajas that are presented in this power point Part one.

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https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhx8VIRxylLa9BSEV

The  Fabulous treasures of the Maharajas of India is presented here in a power point

Link : https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhx8VIRxylLa9BSEV( Part one)

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Stairwells of Rajasthan, India

The stairwells of Rajasthan were built by the Kings and Queens of Rajasthan centuries ago to bring water to the dry regions of the Kingdom. They were built in a particular fashion and style not to be found anywhere else in India. Very elaborate stairs built on all sides leading to the water reservoir below facilitated the people to draw water easily without the rope and pulley system found elsewhere. The wells are still in use.

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Source : Google photo of the stairwell in Rajasthan, India

The powerpoint on The stairwells of Rajasthan, India highlights the unique nature of these wells built by the kings a long time ago and still in use. They are not found anywhere else in India or other countries.

Link : https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmoX9W4gHulzhxygdFdXwM1y46-y

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

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My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

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Anil’s biography in English.

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Food and its evolution

Synopsis :  Food is what people eat so what they do not eat is not food even if it may be food to others. We see a tremendous variety of food in every country that shows the special way they prepare it with exotic herbs and spices but some simpler food are also delicious. People often borrow recipes from other places ,modify them and call it their own .We look at this evolution in food and its wider popularity.

Food and its evolution

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Source : Google photo 

When it comes to food, almost everyone has an opinion. This opinion is very strongly culturally biased so it should not be taken as the gospel truth. We all know that our taste buds develop experiencing a certain type of food we are fed since the childhood and this food has a strong cultural orientation.

If your parents are vegetarians, you will grow up a vegetarian although not always because there will always be a few exceptions. If your parents are non vegetarians, you will grow up eating meat but only the kind your parents eat. How your food is prepared also depends on the culture you grow up in and the availability of certain condiments in your area.

When we come to Asia, we are assailed by the aroma of food specially the street food that is so abundant and fresh. However, the aroma is also cultural. When I prepared Biriyani one day for a Filipino guest, she was non committal at first because she had never tasted it before and did not know what exactly is biriyani. But later she admitted it was not something she could get used to because in her culture they had nothing comparable. The biriyani spices are not available anywhere except in a small shop in Manila and the price is high. So people in the provinces have never heard of biriyani.

They only cook and eat what is locally available just like in Africa and elsewhere. You cannot find spices everywhere and even if you could, it takes many years of experience to use them properly to emulate a certain taste. If people could easily learn by watching endless food shows on TV or try the recipes in the internet, everybody would become master chefs but that is not the case. Did you ever wonder why they always say the food is heavenly on TV even if it is something very ordinary? They are supposed to say it.

Our Filipino maid had never seen cardamom, cloves or cinnamon sticks in her life so did not know the usage. Similarly the guest who took some biriyani spice to try at home reported that her relatives made faces at the biriyani and its aroma because it was so strange to them.

So food is the most visible expression of one’s own culture and how you eat it also depends on your culture. You will notice that in most eateries in the Philippines they do not provide a knife because no one uses a knife. They cut their meat with spoon or the meat is chopped up finely so there is no need for a knife. This got a Filipino child in Canada in trouble when he tried to cut the meat with his spoon as he was used to at home.

In South India people use their entire palm to scoop up food and literally shove it into their mouth which makes north Indians squirm because to them it seems so gross and uncouth. Also smacking the lips, licking the fingers and burping loudly if they like the food is considered vulgar and uncivilized by some but these are all cultural issues that vary from country to country.

So I will write about food and not go into cultural issues that no two people can agree upon. I mentioned in one of my blogs that food is what people eat. It is not food if they do not eat it. To the vegetarians, meat is not food and to Hindus, eating beef is taboo while the Moslems will not eat pork.

But humans are omnivorous. There is nothing on this planet that humans have not eaten or have tried. Our daughter who lives in Phnom Penh told us that her black pepper soup turned out to be ant soup and the peppers had tiny legs. We saw how they crunched fried spiders and smacked their lips saying it was so good when we were going to Siem Reap. So I told our daughter that she should always ask what the food actually contains before deciding to eat it or not so there are no surprises. The Thais are notorious in passing on dog meat to unsuspecting foreigners who are told it is rabbit. In many countries there are very few food inspectors who check regularly what the vendors sell, the quality and the freshness of the food while in other countries like Japan, there are rigorous inspections and fines if the vendor is selling something that will not pass inspection. Also the culture of honesty in Japan prevails.

I lived in Vietnam where they eat frogs, rats, dogs, snakes among many other things but the Vietnamese are excellent cooks and make something savory out of it using herbs and spices. They also eat their traditional food that is rice, noodles and fish. Who has not heard of the Hu tieu and Pho noodles with aromatic herbs and not relished it?

I also found that the simplest food often is the most delicious in any country. I used to drive to many villages in TayNinh province where I worked as an agronomist during the wartime in the 1960s so there were security concerns and life in general was miserable for the average Vietnamese but they excelled in preparing simple food that tasted like gourmet food.

I will give just one example. They caught some fish in the rice paddies after the rice harvest using a bamboo contraption that they designed beautifully. It was like a cage with a hole on top and they put it on top of the fish and pulled it out through the hole. Then they put a thin bamboo stick through the cleaned fish and roasted six or seven at a time over a charcoal fire they made by the road side and put this roasted fish on rice paper, put some sliced cucumber, tomatoes and herbs and rolled the rice paper like a burrito, dipping it in nouc mam which is a fish sauce no one can do without. I had never tasted anything so delicious. The farmers knew me and always invited me to join them.

Their wives also taught me or at least tried to in making the rice paper.

It all looked so simple. They have a big pot of water boiling over charcoal fire. This pot is covered with white cheese cloth tightly letting out the steam through it. On it they spread a thin paste of cooked rice they expertly spread with a spatula. The spread is perfectly round. The steam cooks it in a few seconds and then this thin rice paper is peeled off to be dried in the sun. The rice eating countries could learn a lot from these Vietnamese people.

Once the wife of the agricultural chief in TayNinh prepared a duck with mushrooms for us that was extraordinarily tasty and melted in our mouth. So if you think that good food can only be prepared with lots of aromatic spices then think again. Our Filipino maid prepares crabs with coconut milk and some vegetables that is really very good and healthy food. Just salt, a few chilies and black pepper will do.

As I mentioned earlier, food is the most overt face of any culture because it shows what people like to eat and how they prepare it. Now a days you can find different kinds of food from other countries because of massive immigration so these immigrants open up eateries. This however happens only in big cities like London, Sydney, New York etc. where the immigrants tend to concentrate. But in other countries where such immigration is minimal or nonexistent, people stick to their own food.

There is no denying that immigrants enrich the variety of food they bring with them to any country but by and large, most people do not get to taste the immigrant foods and do not learn from them. When it comes to food, people always stick to what they know and eat. Just go to any McDonalds in Paris and you will find a crowd of Americans.

They are not willing or afraid to try authentic French cooking that may be expensive so they will stick to what they know.

From the time of antiquity, people have always experimented with food and tried to cook in new ways that they picked up from travelers or from ancient recipes passed on through generations. The cooked food as we know today is a quantum leap from the days of the Neanderthals who could only broil their meat but they slowly learned to make potteries and that in itself helped usher in a new era of cooking that included a new sophistication of culinary abilities.

They learned to domesticate animals so that they could always have meat, milk and the hide. Slowly they settled down into agricultural communities to raise crops because it guaranteed them a food supply during lean months. Thus the wild potatoes, rice, wheat, corn and many such crops were planted from which developed the modern cultivars. This process still continues through research. May be Robinson Crusoe was a Neanderthal.

The domestication of animals did not stop at just raising the offspring of wild animals but breeding them to make them bigger, fatter and more resistant to certain diseases. Now the cows and pigs look very different from their wild ancestors.

With more abundant supplies of food came new ways to prepare them and that in itself brought in new ideas, new usage of herbs as spices in their food. Just imagine how many varieties of sausages are prepared in Europe. This was a learned experience for the Europeans.

When they started growing grapes, no one knew where it will lead from there but now there are hundreds of wine varieties that delight the humankind. So there has been a steady evolution of food over a long period of time .This process still continues.

I have traveled to many countries and eaten the local food there. The unadon which is eel curry on rice in Kyoto to pad thai in Bangkok to Ethiopian mutton curry wrapped in soft sponge like teff  paper in Washington D.C., Mexican food of chili beans in San Luis Obispo ,California, the French food so deliciously prepared by Mme Gautier in Compiegne, the Australian kangaroo meat strips, the Italian lasagna that my Italian  friend in Karuzi ,Burundi prepared, the Egyptian food that I ate daily in El Obaid  in Sudan , I could go on and on . I found good food in every country I stayed in so what makes the food so good is the great variety that is found everywhere that makes the choices so numerous, it is often hard to decide what to eat.

One Indian writer found himself in Basra one day and had a hard time ordering food because the menu was in Arabic. He then noticed that some people at the next table had ordered what looked like steamed cucumber so in desperation he too ordered the same.

He was so surprised when he ate it because it was so delicious. He did not know that the cucumber was stuffed with finely minced meat cooked to perfection with herbs and spices. I know it because Ma used to make a similar dish with small cucumbers called parwal stuffed with minced mutton and spices and cooking the parwal in charcoal fire very slowly .It was heavenly food but alas Ma is no more and no one makes such food anymore.

I like Italian food especially lasagna and pizzas but draw a line when it comes to their spaghetti a la dente and spinach stuffed ravioli. I never learned to appreciate it. But in Rome there are delightful restaurants hidden in narrow alleyways away from the main roads. You just have to wander around and find them as there are no signboards to guide you. These places are run by just a family that cooks for you and usually has a courtyard with some tables with umbrellas shading them.

There I learned to appreciate the sole fish and salad and a glass of red wine that they call vino  de casa and is of poor quality but the sol is out of this world. There is a place just near the Trevi’s fountain in Rome where they sell 27 kinds of pizzas that I counted. There could be more. It is mind boggling what they manage to put on a pizza and still call it pizza. The chef in Sapri delighted me by bringing out a fresh pizza from his oven every time I visited the place.

But we come back again to food tinged by culture. In India most people eat at home so it is not a fast food culture unless one is travelling. Even then there are numerous eateries called dhabas that are a collection of ramshackle place covered with bamboo mats and bamboo wall, a few plastic chairs and pock marked tables not covered in linen where the food is heavenly. You have to eat in these dhabas to taste what great vegetarian food is all about never mind the plastic chairs and the waiter in dirty clothes. You just have to select a dhaba that has many cars parked in front. The habitual travelers know which one is the best.

When I used to work in Mali, I often had to stay in isolated villages for days so the food became an issue because I really could not tolerate even the stink of dry fish let alone eat it so my food choice was rather limited. There I learned to eat to which is a gruel made of pounded sorghum .To is a Malian word for a staple food that all Malians eat. They make a kind of sauce with okra and chili paste that is slimy and you dip a handful of to in it to eat. One Malian who went to Hyderabad in India for training said that he was really homesick and was missing his to and could not tolerate the spicy food of India. Hyderabad is world famous for its mutton biriyani but that made no impression on the Malian. So food is heavily influenced by the culture one comes from.

I think my worst experience was in Nairobi where I got stuck for three days and had to stay at a place near the slums. There they brought me a plate of mashed potato shaped like a cone and stuck with boiled dent corn all around and a few hard peas, lots of sliced raw onion and a few red chilies. This was my dinner. I could almost cry.

So I wandered off to the main street where I found a restaurant that served samosas so I ordered a plateful of samosas and some French fries. When the samosas came along with the fries dripping in blackish oil, I knew I made another mistake. The samosas were filled with beef which I still do not eat after fifty years abroad and the limp fries probably fried in recycled oil was disgusting so I got up leaving the food untouched. There are a lot of poor people in Nairobi so one of them asked me if he could have my plate. At least I was able to make one person happy.

Once in Lompoc, California I was asked by a few American women what they should prepare for me since I did not eat meat. By meat the Americans mean only beef and pork so they were wondering what they should prepare for me. My mistake was that I said I do eat meat if it is mutton or chicken but mutton is not widely available anywhere and it does not form a part of the American meal. These women somehow found some lamb cutlets and prepared it for me but I could not eat it because it was tough like India rubber.  The women were disappointed because they really made an effort but they did not know how to prepare lamb.

Now we will go to Japan where the food is not only good and healthy, it is very clean and hygienic so you will not have to worry about picking up a few bugs that can make trouble in your stomach later.

What I really liked about Japan is their culture of decency. Their restaurants are well furnished with thick carpets, elegant and tasteful interior decorations, soft spoken waitresses who come and go silently and the fellow eaters who eat without making noise. They even have small speakers near each table for soft piped in music that does not disturb the next diner. This is in sharp contrast to the Filipinos who bring their kids who scream, throw tantrums and kick chairs and everyone talks loudly not caring about others who want a quiet meal.

This is purely cultural. They also take photos of their food with their cell phone and post them instantly in facebook so that others know what they are eating. I will never understand why they do it and why it is so important to post photos of their ordinary food in a fast food eatery but I understand it is the part of their culture. The noise level in a Philipino eatery is enough to make you deaf for a while. The blasting music of the eatery itself adds to the discomfort so that you want to gulp your food as fast as you can and leave. May be that is the reason they make so much noise.

So the culture of Japan is a very polished and civilized culture that has evolved over thousands of years. They are always mindful of others.

The restaurants have menus but they all display in a glass case all the food they serve there with the name and the price tag so that it is easier for the foreigners to order food by just pointing to the display. Now these displays are not real food. They are made of wax but look so real that you will never know the difference.

In other countries they do not have such displays so how do you order food if you do not know the language and the menu is not understandable? One woman asked me if I wanted my pizza caldo or fredo in Italy so I thought why should I eat a caldo pizza ? It sounds like cold pizza. I did not know the language so that can be a problem anywhere.

So one cannot separate the culture from food or vice versa. What is really needed today is for greater sensitivity to others while eating, a greater understanding of why some people are offended by loud noise and noisier kids who misbehave in public places, a less narcissistic culture where people have a” I don’t give a damn attitude”, a congenial atmosphere provided by the eateries so that one can have his meal in peace. May be I will move to Japan in my next life.

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

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My blogs at Wix site

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Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

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Clothes, food and religious taboo

Synopsis : When it comes to clothes, food and religion, there are numerous taboos that people may break at their own peril. Muslims will not touch pork, Hindus will not eat beef  and pork while the Jews will not eat any shellfish. Similarly the religious cultures that are influenced by the tribal culture will determine how people should or should not dress. We look at these taboos clinically.

Clothes, food and religious taboo

Source : Google photo

It is quite interesting to study the evolution of clothes, food and religion in different parts of the world over a long period of time and it is still ongoing.

The humankind descended from our ancestor called Lucy whose skeleton or parts of it was found in the rift valley in Africa purely by chance and established the fact that we all are Africans no matter where we live today in this planet called earth.

The humans migrated from their place of origin to many parts of Europe and Asia a very long time ago and adapted to the climate and food they found. The marker chromosome is still found in various people living in different parts of the world and proves that eventually they migrated to coastal areas where they could find food from the ocean and stayed but others moved on to other parts.

Some crossed the Bering straight where the water level was lower than what it is today and exposed a land bridge that brought them to Americas from where they spread to all parts. Wherever they went and settled, they felt the need to adapt to the climate and the source of food so over a period of time they formed their unique identity and called themselves Europeans or Asians. The genetics was working overtime during all this time so people shed their pigments in harsh cold climates of Europe and kept most of it where the climate was very hot and people were exposed to the sun all the time.

The fundamentalists hate Darwin and his book on evolution because they can’t imagine Lucy to be the mother of the humankind but leave them aside for a moment and focus on what we do know about us.

It tells us that the Africans did not feel the need of clothes due to the hot climate where most live and wore only muchas to cover their genitals that some even today  use no matter how much the pressure from the white missionaries.

Women were bare breasted because the breast was and still is not considered something to be ashamed of and do not feel the need to cover up. If you go to Mali and other parts in Africa, women still go about bare breasted and cover only their legs with a sarong and girls in villages still go about wearing only a mucha which is to cover the genitals and nothing else. Some wear grass skirts but only during festivals. The definition of modesty in African villages has a very different meaning than in other countries.

When the African slaves were transported to the Caribbean islands like Haiti, they brought with them their culture, their clothes and their habits that continue even today. Haitian girls think nothing of stripping nude in public and bathing in streams. No one gawks and looks with disapproval except the missionaries but what do they know? They have been gawking and disapproving everywhere and have forced women to cover up from Hawaii to Africa and even in the jungles of Amazon. Only they can’t gawk at nude women in Bondi Beach or in Copacabana because they will ignore the missionaries to their utter frustration.

The clothes are definitely a function of the climate. The colder the climate more the need to cover up,  warmer the climate more the desire to shed clothes. This is quite natural and has nothing to do with modesty which is an invention of westerners who take it upon themselves to decide how a woman should dress.

Now if you go back several thousands of years, you will find Neanderthals living in caves in France and elsewhere who hunted whatever animals they could find and used the skins to makes their clothes. At first it was a crude attempt to fashion clothes out of animal skins but it protected them from harsh winter weather. Later they developed great skills in making very attractive and fashionable clothes out of leather when they learned how to tan the skins and made beautiful moccasins to protect their feet. The Native Americans were and still are masters in this craft.

Today the climate still decides how much one must cover up so North Europe that has long harsh winter makes people shiver even when they are completely covered up. But if you go down south to the Mediterranean where the climate is mild in winter and lovely during summer, all the beach resorts are booked solid in summer. There you will see the north Europeans, Russians and others happily shedding their clothes often leaving nothing to imagination.

Now let us move on to Asia where you will find a wide variety of clothes people wear that are very colorful as a well as practical. Within India women have a great variety of clothes and styles to choose from.  Some wear lovely 6 yards of material called sari   that come in myriad of colors, material and design over a petticoat and short blouse while others in Rajasthan wear a colorful lehanga which is a skirt of ankle length   and a blouse. They have a scarf to cover their heads.

In Punjab women wear shalwar , kurta and a dupatta which is gaining widespread popularity in India and overseas because it looks very nice and is practical. The shalwar and kurta has many variants so each region has its own style and design. The Kashmiri women wear very decorated and embroidered Shalwar and Kurta and jewelries like in Rajasthan.

The clothing has evolved in India over long period of time judging from the sculptures of Khajuraho when women wore practically nothing except jewelries to what it is today. The sari wrapped over the head in some parts came as a protection from lookers who at a certain period made it their business to kidnap and sell beautiful women so women hid their faces this way.

Men still wear clothes that are plain but comfortable. Dhoti as a garment is just a plain white piece of cloth worn over under clothing and is very practical. You can wear dhoti and squat without any problem but try to do it with tight pants on and you will want to wear dhoti too. Later the British brought their style of clothes to their colonies all over the world so people started wearing western clothes that are unsuitable to the climate in most parts and uncomfortable to boot.

People still wonder why they have to strangle themselves with a tie and why women have to wear tight bras that constrict. There was a time in Europe when women wore what can be construed as scandalous clothes that exposed most of their breasts like in the courts of Tsar or in England, Germany and Spain making Alexandra very uncomfortable in the Russian court. She came from a more orthodox and puritan background in Germany.

The Puritanism that followed the early white immigrants to the United States still pervades in their society so a woman who breast feeds in public is still shown disapproval but these puritans have been steadily losing ground in their fight to keep women modest. You only have to go to any beach in southern California where women wander around wearing next to nothing and ignore the puritans just like the Bondi girls. There is less social pressure to conform.

Now we will examine the evolution of clothes in the Middle East where there was a time may be several thousand years ago when women wore gorgeous clothes and jewelries especially in Afghanistan that was a part of Maurya Empire. They say that Gandhari was a princess from Kandahar which proves that they were Hindus. She played a major role in the battle of Mahabharata but that is another story may be I will write someday.

Then came a harsh religion born in the desert of Arabia called Islam. They say that the desert people cover up completely because of heat and sand storms. Their loose garments are cooler and very comfortable prompting Lawrence of Arabia to wear it. But they also say that the desert people are horny most of the time so they get very excited if they see any woman who shows any part of her body.

So their religion made a few strict rules regarding female clothing. They must cover up and wear hijab that has only two holes to peep out of. This must have been tough on women who before the advent of Islam were so free to wear what they liked. Were men less horny before Islam? I don’t know but the fact is that these edicts of Islam have a profound effect on how women dress.

I have seen Malian women in Sikasso wearing black hijab of synthetic material in the sweltering heat while other women go bare breasted. A particular branch of Islam is harsh on women while women in other Moslem countries like Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia wear what they like. They cover their heads with a scarf which looks very nice. In Algeria where I used to work, women wear a cream colored or white silky veil with only one eye uncovered.

But the evolution of clothes continues. Now the Hollywood movies are shown in many countries with traditional values like in India where young women have started to wear blue jeans and tee shirts. In the Philippines where women always have a head start on fashion, they wear shorts that are so short that it redefines the word. Low cut blouses showing a good deal of breast is also worn. They have discarded the more prudish Filipiniana dresses they inherited from the Spaniards in favor of skimpier clothes and only wear traditional clothes on special occasions.

The import of second hand clothes that sell for a fraction of the cost of new clothes has also an impact all over Asia. Poor people can’t afford highly priced clothes so they prefer cheaper second hand clothes.

Food  and its evolution :

Now let us talk about food that is just as important as clothes perhaps more so. The evolution of food from the days of Neanderthals and even before has taken a very long time to come about and has not stopped. Many tribes in Africa still do not like to do agricultural work and prefer to hunt for food although hunting in many parts is severely restricted. The Zulus were cattle herders just like the Masai and Matabeles and used the cattle for meat milk and hide as they still do. But gone are the millions of cattle and immense grazing lands so they live with just a few heads of cattle, goat or sheep and try to supplement their food with what their women grow near their villages. The food growers are mostly women who use hand hoes but men help in plowing and harvesting.

They eat only what they grow so the choice is rather limited. They do raise few self supporting chickens in their villages if they can keep the foxes out but in general their food is mostly what they grow. The smoked dried cat fish is popular because it keeps but stinks to high heaven. It is not for the sensitive nose but the Africans don’t mind because it is a source of protein. They do not have spices and aromatic herbs that the Asians are spoiled with.

In Asia people are really spoiled when it comes to food. They have been experimenting over thousands of years with new recipes and new herbs and spices that they grow in abundance. Remember that the Europeans learned about spices when they came to Asia and started sending shiploads of it back home where they sold it for the price of gold.

The Asian immigrants who settled in England and elsewhere brought with them the food and the spices so now you can find Asian food in many countries. The Vietnamese and Chinese are masters in their own right and prepare delightful food although they also eat rats, spiders, snakes and dogs that may make you squirm. Man is truly omnivorous and will eat anything.

In India the import of Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine recipes during the Mogul period enriched the food so now it is widely used. The biriyani was once a royal food but now even I can cook it in the Philippines although I am no cook.

The coastal people are fish eaters because that is what they catch. Inland people eat meat because fish is not available everywhere although that is changing now because frozen fish and meat is being shipped by air and land to all parts. You just have to pay the price. The Africans did not invent dry fish or smoked fish. Just visit any market in the Philippines and you will know which section sells it by the stink of it.

One can write a great deal about food in many countries but I am no expert on food so I will limit myself by saying that the food is still evolving. People in Bengal now like to eat chow mien albeit the local version although it was not known a few years ago. The internet has zillions of recipes for those who like to cook.

The religion :

This topic is really not about religion but the role religion plays in what people eat and what they do not. I have mentioned earlier that religion like Islam has a profound effect on food but many other religions dictate what people should eat and what they should avoid.

Most Indians are vegetarians which is a carryover from the Buddhist period so they will not eat anything other than vegetables although I know a few vegetarians who eat eggs. Moslems will not touch pork and Hindus will never eat beef. Jews also ban certain food I am not sure which and Moslems will not eat any meat that is not halal.

Christians will eat practically anything or will try anything because there is no taboo although Americans prefer certain food and the Europeans have their own tastes which some may say peculiar like horse meat in Germany and cheese with fungus in it in France.

In Japan the whale meat is sold in the market where they will fry it for you to take home while in other countries like Cambodia they munch on fried crickets and spiders and say it is delicious.

So in conclusion I can say that the climate and religion both strongly affect what people wear and what people eat. If you want to be a deviant, you can only do so at your own risk.

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

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My blogs at Wix site

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Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

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Good and bad habits and manners

Synopsis: There are some universal good habits and manners while there are also universal bad habits and manners that become a part of the culture where they are practiced. I look at some of these habits and manners critically here.

Good and bad habits. Good and bad manners

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Source : Google photo

I have been told that habits and manners vary from country to country so there cannot be any universal rule for good or bad habits and manners because they are closely related to the culture of each country.

Try to criticize the culture of any country and you will be immediately branded as biased, prejudiced or worse. It reminds me of a cartoon drawn by Sempe who is famous in France.

It shows a man throws a banana peel on the road on which steps a hapless unsuspecting man and falls that makes the thrower laugh. Then he goes to a movie and cries when someone gets beaten.

Now here is something to ponder on. Someone laughs at the real life misery of another person but cries at the movies that are fake. It really happens so Sempe did not make it up.

It is true that people behave according to their culture because the behavior is usually a learned experience that people learn by watching others from their childhood so later it becomes a habit and is very hard to quit. The manners good or bad are also learned this way. The manners are an expression of one’s behavior.

Once I was in a hospital in India that is run by the religious people. It is a very big hospital where the doctors and other staff are professionals and take great care of their patients. But in one side of the hospital I saw a whole wall from the second floor down covered with spits and was shocked because it was inside the hospital.

People in India have bad habits and chew pan and then spit the saliva out anywhere even inside a hospital so I told the head administrator to do something about it because it was so unhygienic and utterly unbelievably dirty. He promised to do something about it but the point is that people have bad habits and are not going to change unless they are compelled to.

How does anyone compel to change the bad habits of people? You have to visit Singapore to believe how strict the government is on people who litter, spit anywhere and throw wrappers or bubble gums on the road. They are given a hefty fine and a stern warning that they should leave their bad habits behind and keep Singapore clean.

The prime minister of India recently started a program to clean the country and took a broom himself to clean the garbage. May be it was for the TV and the press because people do not change their dirty habits so easily  and keep on throwing banana peels on the road not caring if someone falls and breaks his legs.

Indians call Ganga their mother and venerate it but Ganga is polluted and people keep throwing garbage in it, the chemical companies and tanneries throw their effluents in it and often one can see dead bodies floating by not too far from the ghats where people bathe.

These people adamantly believe that Ganga water is pure so nothing can pollute it but the river is polluted. The government then tried another tactic by saying that if Ganga is your mother, do you keep her clean or make her dirty? Can you tolerate that your holy mother is dirty and do nothing about it ? I don’t know if it worked.

Now I will tell you about Japan. I stayed in Kyoto once and was amazed to see that every morning women and men came out of their houses with buckets of soapy water and brushes with long handles and scrubbed the side-walk in front of their houses and shops. In no time the whole lane was scrubbed clean by the people who live there.

No one throws anything on the road and they keep things in their pockets until they find a garbage bin somewhere. In Europe you see clean cities and picturesque clean villages.

In Paris the dog owners who walk their dogs in parks or other public places pick up dog poop wearing plastic gloves and put it in a bin strategically placed everywhere. Switzerland is known for its pristine lakes, parks, villages and cities and very rightfully the Swiss take great pride in their clean habits.

But in Asia the story is very different. In India the pigs and dogs scavenge through the piles of garbage dumped on the roadside that the municipal workers fail to collect regularly. The gutters overflow with sewage because the drains are clogged with garbage. Some manholes have no cover that is dangerous for anyone.

In Manila more than two million poor people squat near the river banks and live in temporary shelters made of cardboard, plastic or whatever material they can scavenge and you can guess where they do their toilet. All the garbage and offal floats on the river and stinks up to high heaven eventually ending up in the ocean but the ocean sends it back to the shore relentlessly.

There have been many attempts made by the government to clean up the river and take all the garbage away but the squatters keep the abundant supply up because they have nowhere to throw their garbage since no one collects their garbage so the problem remains. They do not have toilets so where they will go?

The politicians always make promises to resettle the squatters away from the city but do not have the money to build millions of homes.

One politician’s wife collected millions of pesos that she promised to use for making the river clean and make parks on both sides but no one knows where the money went because no parks were ever built and the river is as full of garbage as ever.

Once my wife and I went to see the famous park in south India called Vrindavan Gardens. It is truly a magnificent park with flowers, fountains and lights but we were shocked to see how people were constantly throwing their garbage on the flower beds that they also trampled while the gardeners looked helplessly. It is because they allow the vendors inside the park so people buy what they sell and throw the garbage right there. This bad habit is tacitly supported by the vendors but I suppose people throw garbage elsewhere as well. There are garbage bins everywhere but people ignore them and trash the place that is so beautiful.

The spitting of pan saliva is more common in North India where chewing pan is a habit with many. There are pan sellers everywhere so it is quite easy to buy it, chew it and spit it out making the road red with saliva. They also talk with pan in their mouth that I find very offensive but is not considered bad manner because everyone does it.

In Delhi the capital, the government office walls are painted red with pan saliva because chewing pan is an Indian habit that is very hard to quit. I will write in a moment about bad manners associated with bad habits in other countries.

In some countries they have zillions of rules and they keep making more rules. There are more rules on what one cannot do than what one can do. The rule breakers are punished with fines which is a good source of income for the police department.

In other countries they announce new rules all the time but fail to implement them. The university here placed a huge signboard on campus saying that now you are entering a smoke belch free campus but the jeepneys continue to use very old smoke belching engines so the sign board finally disappeared.

One can not apply the rules unless the smoke belchers are given an alternative to buy new vehicles financed by the government. One cannot just prohibit the squatters to throw garbage in the river unless they are relocated and given a way to earn some money. People do not want to live as squatters but what choice do they have? So it is easy to make rules but hard to implement unless the rule breakers are given an alternative. If people are fined for urinating in public then there must be free urinals everywhere built by the government.

The poverty does not mean people have to be dirty or have bad habits. We were happy to see how clean the Haitians were even if they were poor. They wore clean clothes and swept their surroundings regularly. They give you a glass of water on a tray with a lace cover on it.

So I come to conclusion that people have bad habits that are linked to their culture so they see nothing wrong with their habits. It has nothing to do with poverty like in India where people throw garbage anywhere and spit anywhere because no one stops them.

The good manners and bad manners:

Now let us examine the reasons why some people develop good manners and others don’t. I think it has a great deal to do with values people hold dear. In the western culture, people are taught to say thank you and please from their childhood. The Christians are taught to be kind and generous to the poor and help find homes for the war refugees and even some furniture because they feel it to be their Christian duty to do so. Germans have accepted millions of refugees and helped them find homes and even jobs. France takes in millions of refugees as immigrants and builds massive tenements to house them.

People are taught to be polite and tolerant of other people who are not like them. They do not have a caste system like in India that discriminates against the untouchables and minorities like the tribals.

But if you grow up believing that you are superior to others then the way you talk to them and treat them will show it. The KKK people in the United States still discriminate against people of color the same way the skinheads in Europe routinely beat up Asians and other immigrants just because they feel superior to them and hate them.

Good and bad manners in other countries

It is a delight to visit Japan. People are so polite and wonderful. I once wandered into a pub for a beer in Kyoto where the Japanese fought over each other to give me beer and paid for it. They always keep their calling cards in their pocket and will give one to you as soon as you meet them and say hello. They have impeccable manners.

But in other countries people fall short of good manners and greet visitors with their feet up on their desks and consider it normal.

This reminds me of a story. Once Pundit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar went to see a British fellow who received him in his office but keeping his feet up on his desk. He did not say anything but when the British fellow one day came to see him in his office, he too put up his feet on his desk. The British was upset and considered it rude so the Pundit said that he learned such good manners from the visitor. He was trying to teach a lesson.

Chewing pan and talking to visitor can be construed as offensive by many but it is condoned because it becomes a part of the culture so it cannot be criticized. People get angry when you point out bad manners.

One woman constantly checks the labels on the clothes of her female visitors to see if she is wearing signature brand or not and then brags about her clothes that are of good brands. This manner is quite offensive to say the least but the woman says it is her force of habit so the habit and manners are closely related.

Now the force of habit can be good or bad. If you develop the habit of saying thank you and please then it is considered good. If you are constantly late for appointment or fail to show up then it is bad. If you greet your visitor by saying welcome and offer him drinks and food then it is good manners but if you do not open your gate and ask what the visitor wants then it is considered bad manners.

If you invite people to your home to have a party and then ask each one to bring his own food then it is considered bad manners. Americans do it all the time and call it potluck party but in other countries it is bad manners. So how people behave is based on the culture they come from. When you repeat a certain behavior, it then becomes the habit. The manners reflect that habit.

Conclusion :

We all develop habits. Some have good habits and others do not. Some have good manners and are liked and others do not who are disliked. It all depends on how and where these good or bad habits that lead to good and bad manners are acquired. Good people always teach their children good habits and manners because they too practice them. Bad people teach their children bad habits and manners.

If we strive to live by giving good example to others then people appreciate it and if we say we don’t care what others say about us then we can live an isolated life because people too don’t care about such people.

A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in other’s shoes and see how your habits and manners good or bad affect others and act accordingly.

Do not do to others what you do not like others to do to you.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe