Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Learning the Old Wives' Tales

As we continue to settle into life, I'm discovering things aren't as mysterious as I sometimes assume they are. Take these pictures for example:


They are all about an hour away from each other but I started noticing that they are popping up more frequently. I assumed "beanbag" was a code name for someone and wanted to know what it was since there really isn't any graffiti here. I finally asked my driver who this "beanbag" person was. He said, "Ma'am, it's just that if you want a bean bag chair this person will bring it to you." Oh. It's an ad.

Disappointed as I was to discover beanbag wasn't a person, other Indian habits have more than made up for it.

This cute little baby is the newest addition to our branch. The mother (and baby) showed up at the General Women's Broadcast with cotton stuffed into each ear. Assuming she had ear problems or even surgery, I asked  what was the matter with her poor ears. All the Indian women informed me (very passionately) that the cotton was for her recent delivery. "The ear is an opening into the body, no?, and the body cannot have anything coming into it after pregnancy. It's very bad for the mother and for the baby. They are very fragile at this time." A lot of head wagging confirmed this feeling. So for 8 more months, this new mother will stuff cotton into the opening her ears have caused in an effort to prevent poor healing from delivery. She will also tie a bandage tightly around her stomach or it will stay looking pregnant, she will block her baby's ears with mufflers so his body opening doesn't do him harm, and avoid putting herself into any water. That last one made perfect sense to me so I wagged my head with the best of them. The water here is very polluted.

As the ladies continued to chat and share birthing myths, one asked a young mom if she was going to shave her baby's head next month when her daughter turned one. Shocked because her daughter has such beautiful black hair, I discovered that they believe a girl's birth hair needs to be removed in order for her hair to grow in properly - not a boy's. Sure enough, when I peeked in at the migrant school daycare, the one-year-old girls have their heads shaved and the older ones were growing theirs out. 

Someone with a bad cough and fever told me they only lacked vitamins when I suggested they should see a doctor. In general Indians don't drink anything while they eat (the food cannot digest properly if you drink and eat) and will only drink warm water (room temperature). They find chilled water to be nasty and tell us that it makes our blood coagulate. They worry over us expats and our neglectful behavior in drinking cold water throughout the meal. "This is very bad for you, sister!" 

No amount of reasoning or explaining will change their mind. You just have to master the perfect head wag to convey that you don't agree but will stop arguing anyway while you wait for the next Big Reveal you never suspected.

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