On the day when the lotus bloomed alas, my mind was straying, and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.
Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind.
That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it seemed to me that it was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.
I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.
(Rabrindranath Tagore, Gitimalya 17/ Visva-Bharati, Gitabitan 137 (Puja))
First an explanation.
Just over a year ago, the former Australian government (the conservative Howard government) launched an ‘intervention’ into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory in apparent response to the damning report, Little Children are Sacred. Although the Intervention has so far failed to address the 90-something recommendations in this report, in other aspects it has had some successes and some abysmal failures. For those who aren’t familiar with the NT Intervention, in its early days it was hailed by some as a saviour for Aboriginal people, and by others as a return to the assimilationist and racist policies of the past.
A year on, and we’ve got a new government (a so-called ‘progressive’ government) who’ve not really done anything startling except try (and to this date, fail) to reinstate the permit system. Prompted by a report about white trash on Aboriginal communities in today’s Australian newspaper, I’ve decided to post some of my own firsthand observations of the NT Intervention. Please note that I am someone who lives and works in Aboriginal Central Australia every day. I’m going to tell good and bad, just as I’ve seen it. It might not be what some people want to hear.
Being somewhat pathetic, I keep a list of the books I read every year. I know, I know: this is sad and of no interest to anyone else but myself, however, I just thought I’d share my eccentricity with you.
Applied anthropology is anthropology at the coal face, with all that’s good and bad. For those of you who might have no idea what a typical day in the field is like for an applied anthropologist, or who even might be considering a career in applied anthropology, the following post is a snapshot of life in a typical day’s fieldwork.
Complete two sacred site clearances, requiring consultations with people who live west of Alice Springs.
No, this isn’t a post about the latest tyre puncture* I got whilst doing fieldwork last week.
This is a post about how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks: flat.
I am shortly going on a yoga intensive -which I have been looking forward to all year – and I’m not excited in the slightest. I am not interested in work, I am not interested in going to the gym (although I have dramatically increased the amount of running I’m doing). I’m not really interested in watching TV or reading books. I’m not much interested in anything at all. Apart from wasting time on the internet. Which I suspect has become an addiction.
Most of all I am worried about my lack of interest in going to the gym.
I love podcasts, audiobooks and world music. I could not survive the long drives and bushwork I do without something. Ok, I do frequently drop off into a meditative state whilst I’m driving along, but more often than not, I’ve got something on my MP3, usually an audiobook, as I’m going along. Currently, I’m listening to Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Big Country.
I guess I should state here: I AM NOT AN IPOD FAN. Unless they change those stupid wheels and crappy displays, I will never be converted from my Sony Walkman MP3. (Before you have a go at me, you try changing tracks on an Ipod when you’re bumping along a 4WD track in a Troop Carrier and you’ll understand why I HATE these overrated things!). The Sony has a very bright screen (you need one in sunny Central Australia) and buttons (instead of a stupid wheel) to select songs. Easy peezy when you’re lumbering in low range and trying to negotiate the steep bank of a dry creek, and wondering if you’re going to need a trip to the chiropractor!
Anyway, the limitation of the Sony is that it won’t play stuff from ITunes, because the files are DRM protected. Yes, I know this can be overcome with something like SoundTaxi, but it’s a pain. So last weekend when I was preparing the Sony for the trip, and downloading podcasts, I noticed that one of my fave podcasts (http://www.lifestylechill.com/) has lists of places where you can purchase music online which is not DRM protected.
The drawback is that many of these places are only available to US residents. However, I found one http://www.emusic.com/ that is open to everyone. And it has the most amazing selection of world music, Indian ragas, bhajans, Sufi music, gypsy music etc and also audiobooks – minus the pesky DRM.
The downside is, I have been so enthusiastic about this service that I’ve now downloaded not only my free trial tracks, but also my next month’s allowance (50 tracks) in a few hours.
“One of the best defenses against failing to notice is to surround ourselves with people who think differently than we do, know different things than we do, and therefore notice different things as they travel through life — and to listen to them. And when they don’t speak-up, we need to stop and ask them what they are noticing that is wonderful, beautiful, strange, seems out of place, or is wrong. Unfortunately, too many of us seek to be around people who are just like us in as many ways as possible” (from Bob Sutton’s excellent webite).
I’m steaming along on the thesis again, feeling much better after the last few days spent with the agony of what I thought was a middle-ear infection. It turned out to be a gum/jaw infection related to a tooth on which I’d had root canal therapy a few years ago.