“They’re all bastards.”
Yassir provided both extreme statements, which framed our lunch on the “beach” near Sarbjeet’s today. While I did shots of Portuguese green wine, we discussed the alarming rise of religious identification in Syria and India as a “response” to US foreign policy (a.k.a. GWBush).
Did you know that there is a small Jewish population in Syria? And 10-12% Christians? And it used to be that people could be friends for years without knowing each other’s religious affiliation? Not anymore.
Apparently it is similar in India too, where claims of religious identity might precede the possibility of pursuing a friendship. What ethical conflicts for good people (who I’m simplistically contrasting to fundamentalists, not that they’re necessarily bad), such as Swati, who’s deeply devoted to Hinduism but doesn’t want to play into public symbols of her belief because of the way it would feed into the drawing of lines between who can know whom. ;-(
As Jose (?) pointed out, the Islamic world was NEVER unified, until now. US monomania is producing the enemy – constructing “Muslims” in our image (I can’t really dismiss myself from accountability, can I?) In addition to this grim topic, we took in this beautiful day, sitting on sheets with good food (including Beth’s lemony hummus), beer, wine, and fascinating company. (Who could turn down Sarbjeet’s invitation to have “snacks and beers” on the shore of the Connecticutt?)
There was quite an internal debate about the caste system in India and the extent to which it’s similar to racial mixing in the US. (“Internal” because us non-Indians stayed out of the crossfire, including Tapas, who certainly has enough proximity to have an opinion. wink) And a lesson in differences between Sunni’s and Shi’a, which are also complicated by nationality. For instance, the start of Ramadan is not universal but contingent upon one’s nationality so that it purposely doesn’t begin /end at the same time….I guess I’m not clear if this is purely political or an outcome of following the lunar cycle?
Harvinder told me about his arranged marriage process…I said he was “the good son” (he said, “Shhhh, don’t tell….” as if older brother doesn’t KNOW! 😉 I have to say, an arranged marriage sounds pretty dang good to me these days! At least, the structural support that goes into it because of its implications for both families. (sigh)
A most pleasant way to spend the afternoon, there is no doubt. Now we’ll have to see who really sneaks back to catch up on reading in the meditative zone of calm water and tall trees.