How Do Children of Twenty-first Century Spend Summer?

After having finished reading the chapter “Heat and Rain” from Vasant Moon’s autobiography Growing Up Untouchables in India, I started to think about how children of twenty-first century are spending their summer. Thinking about it for an hour, I realized that today’s children are not so close to nature and they are unable to find happiness from nature. Hence, I decided to share my thoughts with my friends from the perspective of Bangladesh.

Since children in urban area live in concrete jungle, they are far away from the true beauty of nature. Thus, during their summer vacation, they are usually confined to play video games and to watch satellite channels. However, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to get closure to nature. They want, but their parents can’t take them to a long trip due to several reasons such as may be their parents are busy with their professions. Or maybe they don’t want to sacrifice their comfortable life and go to their villages in the summer as it is difficult to live there because of load shedding. I can give an example. My mother doesn’t take my younger sister to our village during her summer vacations because of two reasons. Firstly, my sister is so naughty that it is hard for my mother to keep my sister in her sight. As a result, my mother is always worried about her. In addition, my sister can’t swim. Consequently, my mother thinks that while playing with friends, my sister will unconsciously go near the pond and will fall in the water. Another reason is that because of the frequent failure of electricity in villages, it becomes hard to stay inside the house during summer. That’s why my mother doesn’t prefer to go to the village during the summer vacation. Hence, my sister spends her vacation in watching satellite channels and playing video game.

On the other hand, it is a matter of great regret that children who live in village are unable to find joy from nature, even though they are the one who live closely to nature. It is because nowadays children have become lazy and like to watch satellite channels such as Cartoon Network, so they don’t like to go out and perform thrilling activities like stealing fruits from the neighbors’ trees which our ancestors used to do. Let me share one of my experiences. Nowadays, whenever I go to my village, I don’t often see children playing outside. There is no noise of children outside; it seems that I have come to a ghost village. Thus, one day I asked one of my aunts why it’s so quiet there. She told me in reply, “It is because of satellite channel. There is at least one television in every house, so why should children go out and play when they can find pleasure in watching TV?”

Now I think, what would our ancestors do if televisions were available to them? Would they find enjoyment from nature or watch TV like the children of this era?

The Anthropology of Manners- Edward T. Hall

We follow different culture and therefore we have different manners. The way we behave, is different, few maybe alike. Some might consider eating with fingers as barbarous, while some considers it as their manner or culture. It is diverse indeed. I never realized manners would be of great importance. Now, I see why it matters. I was surprised when one of friends told me that eating with hands/fingers is considered clean. I was a bit shocked to hear this. No disrespect to my friend, but I kept thinking how can your hands and fingers be clean if they are all messed up with food. I always believe that no matter how many times you wash your hands, it is never perfectly clean. I refrained myself from making that “disgusted look” on my face. She would have got offended if I had made that terrible expression. The lesson that I learned was it may look “not good” to me, but it is important to them. Therefore, we must understand others manners and actions in order to have flourishing relationship.

Furthermore, whenever my Nepali friends accidently touch my feet with theirs, they do something (I am not exactly sure what to call that). They said they do it out of respect and I found it very interesting. It seemed weird at first, but later I got used to it. It is really exciting, yet scary to see different manners. Exciting because you learn new things, scary because you might offend someone unintentionally.

The article “The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall was very helpful. I never knew Indian women felt indignant when a baby is bathed in stagnant water (Hall 248). Now I am aware of that, and as whole the article was very useful to learn about new cultures and their manners.

We now know different culture has different manners, but I think there are different manners within the culture itself as well. For example, at a party hosted by your mother, there will be many guests and each guest might have different manners. My mother always makes us finish our dinner and even though we have already finished it, she does not let us go. She would say it is very rude to leave the table while others are still eating. I am used to this and whenever we go to eat, I always wait for my friends to finish even if I have already finished eating. However, my few of my friends are not like that. As soon as they are done, they just leave. Some does not even excuse themselves, they just leave, which, i think, is very rude.

I feel that if we want to have a good relationship, let it be a friendly one or a business one, we must understand one another’s manners, so we don’t end up doing the wrong thing.

Self Deception:True or False?

Reading the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, I discern the obsession of self deception
covers the whole life of the main characters, particularly Biff and Willy. In
the work, Willy and his son Biff often think that they have a good position in their
life, and everything around them is going to flow smoothly. Then, after
realizing the painful reality that he is not an officer but an ordinary worker,
Biff becomes so desperate and indignant (Miller 38). Self deception seems to be
a bad thing for the characters, but I think that it also has good affects
besides the negative attribute. In fact, it is only bad when we blindly abuse
it in our lives without consideration or limitation.

Indeed, we can exploit it when we face obstacles and hope something special happens. It
is just like a prompt to endorse us to persevere and move forward in our lives.
There is more than once when we have to trick ourselves to make our lives more
beautiful. For example, when we are in a bad mood, and we find everything appear
to be in a wrong path. I think in these cases, “Everything will be ok,” “I can
do this,” or “I will have a better choice tomorrow” are really useful. It seems
that the spiritual medicine is going to be so effective. Different from Biff,
we shouldn’t go far away from real life. However, it does not mean that we are completely
sure about what is going to happen. Besides filling our minds with such
optimistic ideas, we need to work hard and

Other people may disagree with me because they may think that thinking about the good side will
be prone to overwhelm us when the result is contradictory to what we
anticipate. Yet knowing that we have tried our best to do it, we will not feel
any regret because it is our effort. Certainly, we will not lose our will just
because of that; conversely, it is like an incentive to help us try more the following
times.

Nonetheless, I am a little skeptical about the idea that we can do everything we wish if we make
efforts. In fact, to accomplish what we expect to do, diligence is one of the
most indispensable factors including luckiness, knowledge, and chances. Yet I
prefer to believe that I will inevitably get betterment if I endeavor to
accomplish what I want.

Thu

Willy and his Extra-Marital Affair

In Arthur Miller’s play, “The Death of a Salesman”, Willy Loman was engaged in extra marital affair with another woman despite having a supporting wife. As he used to feel lonely outside his home in his workplace, he was in search for a company so that he can get relief from his stress. Even though he didn’t have heavy salary, he was squandering his money in such diversion. If we look this situation in the perspective of his wife, she did not know what he had been doing beside her back. If she had found him involving in something so wicked, she would have not forgiven him or she might have given divorced to him. On the other hand, if we look this situation on the perspective of Willy, he didn’t commit any crime. He was just fulfilling his desire of sex. What if he was not in relationship with that woman? May be his life in the work place would be bland with only work and no recreation.

Similarly, Willy was a man with infinite desires and hopes. He wished if he had been rich as his brother, and also wished to be paid much more than he deserves. Due to his never ending desires, he was suffering with mental torture with turned to be an illness. Without the intake of any psychoactive substances, he used to hallucinate. In his hallucination too, he used to meet his brother and talk about his economic problems. Similarly, if he hadn’t mention about his extra marital affair during hallucination, his son Biff would not have known about it. Therefore, as long as his wife was unknown about his relationship with another woman, nothing had changed; for example, neither his dreams of thinking about his family changed, nor his relation with his wife changed. However, he was once devastated when he saw his wife was mending her old torn stockings. It really made him mad as he reminisced about gifting stockings to his girlfriend. In this situation we can see an effect of his extra marital affair in his marital life.

According to me, we can blame neither Willy nor his wife for his extra marital affair.Additionally, he was not in long term relation with his girlfriend and it was not mentioned that he was not satisfied with his marital life. Similarly, he was not in love with his girlfriend; she was only there to entertain him while he was alone. If he had desires of sex and if he had not been involved in affair, he might have committed crime, something like rape. In addition, he would never be free from his mental stress in his work place as well. Furthermore, he might have thought that his short term relationship would not hamper his marital life, but through his conversation with the woman while hallucinating we can see that he had a feeling of guilt hidden inside.

Concepts of time in Nepal

The essay “The Anthropology of Manners” written by Edward T. Hall associates the ideas of time and proximity as cultural aspects and shows how these ideas vary with respect to different cultures and societies. While reading the essay, I came to know about the perceptions of time and space according to people of different cultures and countries, which engrossed me to share some of the concepts particularly about time in Nepal.

Whenever we talk about being punctual or present on the required time, we relate this idea with one’s culture. However, it is not always about culture; it is also about the current situations and advancements of a particular place. This idea explicitly relates with the perception of time in Nepal. Since Nepal is not well-developed in infrastructures and lacks political stability, it is difficult for people to be on time everywhere. Therefore, time is flexible in Nepal in comparison to other developed and rich nations, where every single minute is taken seriously and being five minutes late becomes a crucial matter. In Nepal, if a person fails to come within five to fifteen minutes, she or he is not considered strictly late, and their excuses of heavy traffics and strikes will be taken into consideration. People travel by local motors or walk on foot to reach their destinations, and strikes and problems of load shedding (blackouts) are becoming common, so being fifteen minutes late is not a big issue in Nepal.

Moreover, being late or early depends upon the position you are in. Similar to what Hall describes in the essay, in Nepal also, one should not keep his or her boss or a celebrity waiting because this becomes a matter of disrespect and insincerity. On the other hand, it is normal to wait for a boss or leader for long hours to meet them.

According to religious point of view, time is taken very seriously in Nepal. Since most of the Nepalese are religious-minded, they are strict on performing the religious rituals on required time. In most of the ceremonies such as marriage, puja, and other rituals, priests assign a specific time period to commence the rituals, which is believed to be lucky and fruitful for the individuals and families. If they fail to perform the ceremony on time, it would be a bad luck for them. Hence, time is a valuable aspect in terms of religion.

Moreover, time is also taken strictly in schools and private offices. Students are required to attend their schools and colleges on time. If they are late, they are likely to be punished or detained for their classes. In addition, important business deals and meetings are supposed to be done on time, so business personnel should be punctual.

Thus, these were some ideas about time in Nepal.

The Moment of Farewell

Linda is sitting in front of Willy’s grave, she cries and repeats Willy’s name bitterly. Willy, who is about to leaving the world, is staring at Linda, sadly, from the depth of this heart, saying:

                Linda, don’t cry. Even though I know that you can’t see me now, I still have a terrible feeling when I see your tears. You know what? I’m not the man who is worthy of your tears. I’m really sorry, Linda, really. I married you without the guarantee of a peaceful life. I exploited your patience, your kindness, and even the loyalty of our marriage. I don’t know what made me do so, but I did feel very bad when I gave your stockings to that woman. The more you treated me well, the stronger feeling of guilty I had; then, I used to shout at you and be angry with you to drive the guilty of betrayal away. I can’t think anyone else who is fool like me in the world, Linda. However, please trust me that you are the only woman I love in my whole life. I’m sorry that I have to leave you, but it is the only way I can think to make you free from suffering. I want to thank you for your company and understanding, and I want to let you remember that I will do whatever you want me to do if we have the chance to meet again in the other life. I swear I will never let any sad tears come from your eyes anymore, ever.

Noticing Biff and Happy are disappearing from his sight, Willy wipes his face, continuing:

                Linda, please tell Biff that I’m sorry for all the things I have done to him. I cared too much about success and pride. I always wanted to make him prodigy since I was stuck in the dream of being a successful salesman like the 84-year-old man I met, which was terribly wrong. I was proud of Biff when he was a great football player; now, I am still proud of him because he is a great son who lit the light to show me the dark side of my expectation and hopes. As for Happy, I don’t know what I should say to him. He should be angry with me since I have already abandoned him somewhere. But believe me, I didn’t intentionally ignore him, I just…I just expected Biff to be a good model and then Happy would follow him. I felt hurt when I saw Happy crying for my leaving; I’m really sorry for the things I did. Linda, tell them, even though I was not a good father, they are great boys, my great boys…Farewell, darling. Farewell, my sons.

Willy turns around without hesitation. “We’re free… We’re free…” Linda’s crying is gone with the wind. Willy gives a hug to Ben, who is smiling to him, saying, “Yes, we’re free. All of us are free…” 

Willy’s Last Note for Linda

Dear Linda,

In my childhood I have learned hope is the oil of life.
Without hope life does not move. Though I have already known that nothing good
will come, every morning when I wake up from my bed, I fill my heart with hope and
expect that something better will be happen. In some way, I deceive myself
every day because I want to live and bring happiness for our family.

When I think what I have gained in my whole life, I find nothing, nothing. No fame, no respect, and
no money. I tricked you, Linda. I am a liar. Linda, I just want you to say
sorry to you. I am really sorry. You don’t know that I had an extra marital
affair. I am not a good husband. I am not eligible for your faith. . I should
have not done this to you. Even I am not a good father also. I destroyed Biff’s
faith on me. He came to hate me because I cheated his mother. I demolished his
future.

I want to let you know another thing that I can see those
people who do not exist at present. I know Ben isn’t alive, but he always comes
and talks to me. I think something wrong is happening to me.

Tell Biff and Happy that I love them more than I love myself.
I want them to succeed in their lives, but they need money to start their own
business, Loman Brothers business. How can I arrange money for them? I have no
savings. I am feeling guilty, so I don’t want to show my face to you and them anymore.

Lastly, please don’t misunderstand my rationale of demise. I
am not escaping from my duties, but I choose the best way to accomplish it. I
know suicide isn’t a good idea to solve our problems. Actually, I am also
confused whether my decision to commit suicide is good or bad, but when I think
about what I’ll receive by doing so, I find completion of my unfinished duties.
I don’t want to create any other problem for you; therefore, I choose a car
accident to commit suicide. After my death, take the insurance money and tell Biff
and Happy to start their new business with that money and fulfill my dream. My
soul I’ll be satisfied while I see them succeed in their life.

Forgive me if you can……………………….

Your Willy

Classification: Not Fair !

The autobiography Growing up as an Untouchable in India by Vasant Moon, shares his experience of
living as an untouchable in India. Moons book talks about the caste system in
India, where he mentions that the people are classified according to their
caste, as people of upper caste (Brahmins) and people of lower caste (Dalits)
also called as the untouchables. The lifestyle is completely different in these
two caste system. Brahmins have, comparatively, significant advantage compared
to the Dalits. Brahmins are honored and respected by the society where as Dalits
aren’t. Brahmins are considered as ‘pure’ and the Dalits, ‘impure’.

Personally, I don’t like this
system of categorizing and considering some among us as pure and some impure. The
low castes are not respected much in the society and are not accepted / allowed
to do certain things freely. They are looked down and are not appreciated. The new
born child, so innocent, born in the family of the lower caste has already lost
his/her freedom of living the way he/she likes to. As the child grows, he/she
has to follow the rules and make sure not to do anything that the society dosn’t
accepts. While the child of the upper class would have all the privilege and is
liable do anything without objection from the society. For example, individuals
from the low cast are not allowed to enter into the temple nor are they supposed
to enter the residence of the higher cast family. Since they are considered
impure, the things that they touch are also considered impure and whatever they
touch are not accepted by others. This system is practiced in every generation
and will carry on and on. The low cast families are the unprivileged while the
upper cast take the privilege and have more advantage comparatively.

Moon shares his experience
mentioning that he had joined a school where only the children of Brahmins were
studying. The lower class children were not to be seen there. This clearly
shows that the lower caste people are underprivileged and they are not allowed
or they don’t have the access even to education as the upper class individuals
have.

But on the other hand, I see that
this kind of caste system of categorizing some in upper class and others in lower
class makes the daily life to run smoothly. For instance, the low class people
are considered impure and they are assigned to do jobs like toilet cleaners,
sweepers and maintain drainage system and similar other activities. Whereas,
the upper class individuals are mostly preachers, tutors or handling religious functions.
So, considering and practicing this system in every generation will make it easy
to assign who will do what. Conversely, it doesn’t sound fair, as individuals
have their wish and desires to live life as they like to and their dreams are bounded
and limited by the caste system.

Autobiography (part 1)

In the chapter “Heat and Rain,” Moon Vasant describes his beautiful boyhood during hot days in summer. Reading one page after another, I am ecstatic to live in Moon’s colorful life and observe the appearance of strange fruits and ceremonies. Through the lines, I smell the flavors and taste the sweetness of different kinds of fruit. I hear the shouts and laughter of the kids when it begins to rain. I also feel their fears when they steal food. All of the imageries remind me to my own childhood when I used to share the same experiences with my friends. We would steal fruit from our neighbors due to having fun rather than suffering hunger. We would endeavor to jump over high fences to “harvest” ripe fruits; we would shout out when we were tightly holding these fruits in hands, and we would run as fast as we could whenever we noticed a slight sound. Being so innocent, we would even take showers in rain without wearing clothes. We would run houses after houses in order to invite our friends to join us. After that, all of us would race to a big damp in another village and even dived ourselves into it. After savoring enough the influx of water from the mouth of a huge dragon in the sky (our childish beliefs), we would go back home with enough zeal and energy. Sometimes, I wonder why our parents were so lenient in those days. Indeed, they didn’t say a word or forbid us to expose to the dirty water in the damp.

 

Usually, I wonder why people’s attributes change as time elapses because those beautiful days seem to disappear when we grow older. Maybe, today, we are mature birds with solid wings, so we can find our own directions and ways to our nests. Maybe, we are now independent enough to find food and establish new relationships ourselves. Maybe, those hobbies seem to be absurd for us, adults in the contemporary society. I don’t know the exact answer. However, I exactly know a truth that I have never felt remorseful for those beautiful days.

Manners

“The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall, a renowned anthropologist, is an interesting and meaningful article. He has clearly explained the variations of manners in different cultures and how it plays an important role in creating misunderstanding between the people from different cultural background.

In the article, Hall describes about the different way of serving food in different cultures. For instance, in Arab the person being served has to refuse the offered food many times while the serving person has prompt to take more again and again. Similarly, in American culture the person being served is only asked once and if he or she says no, they are not asked again and again. Due to this, according to the Hill, American people end up eating more in Arabian community and Arabian people end up starving in
American community (252). Furthermore, sometimes it can also be a serious issue of disrespect.

While reading the article, I remembered about the discussion I had with my family when one of my best friend was invited to have lunch in my house. My parents have always taught me to stay quite while eating. Furthermore, we are not supposed to get up early after finishing our meal, if any other person is eating with us. They say that it is the matter of respecting the person who is having meal with you. Once, one of my friends was invited to have dinner in my house. She did not know about this and she got up early after finishing her meal while my grandfather and my brother had not finished their meal. She was not aware of how offensive it was.  After she left, my grandfather criticized her saying that she did not have good manners, so do not spend time with her. At that time, I had a serious argument with my grandfather. From that day, whenever any of my friends come to my house, I say them earlier to wait until everyone finishes their meal.

Thus, the way of practicing things varies from one culture to another culture. Not being aware of these things can sometimes have bad effect on people. However, it is not always possible to know everyone’s way of practicing things until we spend time in their environment. Thus, sometimes we should be lenient in this matter.

Digya Shrestha