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.