The way of life a group of people follows.
What exactly is it?
It is not something you can describe in few words. It is the way people are or the customs followed by people from generation to generation. You can not teach Culture as we teach Mathematics or Science.
You have to grow up in a culture to know what actually it is and still you will not know the whole lot of that culture, if you move away from that place. Culture changes from place to place … like village to village, Town to Town, City to City or Country to Country… Even this is a Ball Park assessment. There are always exceptions
Now I am not sure whether I know the Kerala Culture that well in which I grew up, since I left Kerala at the age of 25.
I was born and brought up in an Orthodox family. So the customs I followed were the one in an Orthodox family. I came to know a little bit of Muslim and Hindu Cultures from our neighbors & friends with whom I studied.
Respect for the religions other than their own is an inborn thing among common people in Kerala. Religious Fanatics are exceptions, just like Terrorists or Traitors in any country.
In an Orthodox Christian family the Man is the Head (forget about the exceptions here…LOL) and the position of the wife is that of a Chief Minister, supporting the decisions of the Head.
Till I met Parvathi Kavu, I saw any woman in any household as a second class citizen. Later, I met some Nair girls and it changed my outlook. But I couldn’t make any changes accordingly with respect to my life…
I lived with a Muslim friend who conducted the 5 times’ prayer everyday and my other Muslim friend was a firm believer, but didn’t do the 5 times’ everyday prayer. They both were nice and I didn’t see them differently.
There are many wonderful and interesting customs in some cultures we come across, but some of the customs may be difficult for us to digest. Then we ignore it saying, “Oh that’s their culture, why should we bother!”
I had heard about Old people’s homes (Manors and assisted living homes) in the US even before I came to the US.
Labor is expensive in the US. Baby sitting costs… There is a price-tag for any service.
To maintain a some what good standard of life, here both husband & wife need to work.
Living all their life as a single/nuclear family and being leading an independent life, it is difficult for these old generation to move to their children’s home to have a different life pace with the new generation, so mostly they try to live alone in their old cocoon as much as they can. When they become less healthy and need assistance for everyday routines, they move to Retirement Homes or Manors (Skilled Nursing Homes) or assisted-living homes. There, they wait for their final destination of Heaven or Hell. There are cheap subsidized Manors as well as private ones. There are also expensive private Retirement Homes/ Skilled Nursing Homes. There are good as well as bad Old people’s Homes. You will never know which one is better unless you live there few days.
This is something we can’t digest. Why can’t children take care of their parents in their old age?
Then as I said before:
We should ignore it saying, “Oh that’s their culture, why should we bother!”
As parents, they don’t want their children to be bothered with their aches and pains.
So I was under the impression, in US, when people get old, they move to some kind of old people’s Home. But in this fast paced culture in the US, I found an exception.
Her name is Pat. She is my grandkids’ Piano Teacher. She is in her 40’s. Pat came to my house once a week.
Pat is a quiet lady; her smile is kind of apologetic as if announcing ‘I do not like disturbing anybody even with this smile ’
Her mother Pauline was always with her. Pauline sat on a chair near the Piano patiently, waiting for her daughter to finish the lessons.
Pauline’s age I am not sure, may be in late 60’s. Pauline & I went to the same Church. So I have known her even before she started to come with Pat.
Pauline always has a pleasant smile and a big hug to share with anybody she comes across.
One day when they came, Pauline was in a very pretty blouse. I did compliment her and she said:
“Now-a-days it is Pat who selects my clothes”.
I asked Pat,
“So do you live with your Mom?”
Usually grown up kids do not come back to live with their parents here in the US, unless they are broke or recuperating from some other kind of falls in their life.
“She left her family & came to live with me once my husband passed away last year.”
“She refused to come to my house and I felt she needed company, so I resigned my job and came to live with her.”
I was kind of shocked to hear these facts.
“What about your husband and the kids? How do they manage without you at home?”
“My husband comes home during the weekend.”
“I felt Mom is very lonely, but she is too stubborn to leave her house, so I thought if so I would move with her. My husband will retire soon, and then he is sure to join us.”
I thought I am hearing a fairy tale. I am the one who proudly say that I belong to a Culture where old generation is well taken care of fully in the old age as an extended family. This is new to me. Here is somebody who resigned her job and came from a far away place just to keep company for her own mother. Pat takes her Mom where ever she goes.
Her Mom is her best friend.
Not a dull moment among them…
I can’t believe it. I thought, I loved my Mom so much. But would I ever think of something like this to do for my Mom. I felt like a Mustard seed. I am nothing… just a zero comparing to these great guys I meet in my life once in a while.
Then I saw this passage in face book:
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.
‘And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.
’ ‘Hush, child,’ He said,
‘they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.’
JUDGE NOT!! Remember…Just going to church doesn’t make you a
Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
Every saint has a PAST…
Every sinner has a FUTURE!
Think about it… Are we better than our enemies or anybody else we know?