The Dog And The Vacuum Cleaner

I’m sure you are wondering the meaning behind the odd title – it comes from something I have noticed while doing house work here in Rochester Hills. Whenever the vacuum cleaner is turned on, my dog Murphy becomes agitated and moves away from the odd looking beast that makes a loud noise. This is the source of some mirth when we look at it from our human eyes – the dog is silly for being scared of an inanimate cleaning device! However, we must look at it from the perspective of the dog – a relatively large, fierce looking black object is placed in your surroundings and is turned on – it makes a magnificent racket and moves around menacingly across the carpet. You don’t know what a vacuum cleaner is – it isn’t part of the schemata (Thanks Professor Qing!) that live inside your head, so you instinctively move away to prevent a possible encounter with this unknown intruder. Going back to a human perspective, this can be seen when people encounter radically different cultural norms or technology.

What does this story have to do with anything? Well, I will be “the dog” come July 18th and Indian culture will be “the vacuum cleaner”. I can research and read a library worth of books on Indian culture and what to expect – but all of that will probably end up going out the window when I touch down in Bangalore and start training in Mysore. I will be entering a culture that is drastically different than my own, despite the best efforts of colonialism and globalization. Different food, different economic realities, different social structures – all of these things may lead me to retreat into my Western mindset, much like the dog retreats from the vacuum cleaner. In order to get beyond this point, I will be forced to take these experiences and integrate them into the schemata that make up my perception of how things are, in order to deepen my understanding of the world. I feel that this will ultimately serve as a compliment to the liberal education I received in JMC. This may seem obvious to some, but it is something that came to my mind as a potential stumbling block for myself and others.

Hopefully that pile of words makes some sense to others out there – my mind tends to work in odd ways.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Dog And The Vacuum Cleaner

  1. Pingback: india » Blog Archive » CSULB Festival Showcases American Indian Culture

  2. Hey, I’m Kate’s friend, and I came across your blog & noted that you’re going to India! That’s where I’m from! Don’t worry…it won’t bite…too hard. πŸ™‚

    No seriously, you’re probably fair-skinned, so any chance Indians get, esp. transportation people, they will take advantage of you and your pre-assumed ‘unlack’ of money. You have to be fierce and constantly alert, keep your belongings close. Once you’re there, watchout for all the smell cause MAN there’s a bunch of it (esp. air pollution when out in the city, and people sweat). Bangalore’s a pretty advanced city, granted a few parts as in any city, so you should have no troubles getting what you need. Eat sparsely on the street, and if you don’t want something and someone is really insistive and in your face about it (Indians are world-reknown for this) just say no, then ignore them, and walk away. This happens a lot w/ beggars. They WILL play the pity card. Rephrase that, OVERPLAY.

    I know, this sounds pretty negative. But these are just a few hurdles you might have to overcome to appreciate Indian culture. And it is beautiful. It’s incredibly powerful, respectful, and kind. I hope you have a great time! If you have any Q’s lemme know k? πŸ™‚

    Good luck!!!

  3. KJS

    Wow, thanks for all of the advice! Much appreciated.

    Unfortunately, I am Anglo as they come, plus I’m like 6’6”, so I will stick waaay out and will have to be extra vigilant.

  4. haha…atleast it’d take a BAND of indians to take you down..you can spot bands of indians from a mile away. So you should be pretty safe. πŸ™‚

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