Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Confessions of a Fair Trade Shade Grown Vegan Hipster.


I'm not actually vegan. I'm not a plant so I cant actually be shade grown. And I'm not a product so I cant be fair trade. But this phrase was coined by a friend to describe my weird, personal brand of granola crunching hippie activist.

I used the sephia photo setting to give the illusion of me being a hipster, though in truth I'm really not that either. Apart from the glasses... which I still love despite their hipster-ness.

India has had a few already clear effects on me. I've learned to haggle much more effectively, complete with are you kidding me?? expressions when cab drivers try to rip me off... by adding an extra 20 cents to a 30 cent going rate on my morning commute (Ok so I hate myself for that, but just accepting that they are charging me more than a local means I am not getting into the full experience, right? Or at least I got in trouble with local students when I told them that I usually gave in. So I'm making them proud.).

I think I have been accidentally vegan for a few days... just because Indian food is very easily to be accidentally vegan with for a few days. I didnt really even notice until today when I realized it had been a few days without dairy products. Interesting. Not as bad as we all thought. It has been SUPER easy to be vegetarian and happy here (much easier than at home in a Mexican household with beautifully prepared traditional things that I die trying to avoid). It's weird though. My brand of vegetarianism is also linked to my politics... which dont really apply here... so there is this limbo: I could eat meat. My reasons for not eating meat dont exist in the same way here (long story short, I have a problem with the way that the mass meat industry handles it's undocumented laborers, aka it treats them as slaves and doesnt pay them on COUNTLESS occasions, and its exporting services, which are horrifying and I can send you a documentary if you want to see what I'm talking about [I KNOW I KNOW #hipster #GRANOLAGRANOLAGRANOLA I just cant in good conscious buy into that]). There are numerous other things I could do for both of these situations and SHOULD cut out of my life, I know that, but this was an easy first step.

So the political limbo is there, but I'm having a grand old time not eating meat here. Because EVERYTHING (except Dhal which I hate... it's watered down and crushed lentils. It pretty much looks like... well I wont say it. You know) tastes delicious.

It's been pretty interesting -- these last few days. We've been reading a lot about the terrorist attacks in this city, as I mentioned before, and in some ways its impossible to imagine them taking place at the sites ACTUALLY down the block from where I am sitting right now. But there are photos on flickr to prove it. I guess you ultimately realize that no matter what happens, people find a way to survive and live because they have to. Because we're wired this way. Because giving up means letting them win.

How does this apply to real life? In a lot of ways actually. I keep sitting here and thinking about Mexico. It's actually one of those moments where you hear your heart crunch a little bit. Yes, I love my imagined community (credit, Benedict Anderson. I never stop quoting your theories, it's really nerdy and weird. Hipster??) but how much do I really understand about the violence, from within my beautifully crafted guilded cage?

I think media in all countries causes us to fear the lower classes. What I mean by that, is since media blew up the discussion surrounding crime and people flock to news articles about CRAZY things (like the woman in new haven who tried to steal a wig near campus, ran, and then bit off the arm of the guy chasing her down the street... definitely not the first thing I think of when it comes to New Haven, but for some people this WILL BE the first thing they think of). We have these images in our minds of the extremes. We fear crowded, dark and less controlled spaces because we are told to.

And then I walk into Dharavi which is a knot of a community, and there is peace. Everything looks a little run down, some things are held together with string and magic, but it works. And it's not super hyperly dangerous like we assume slums are.

So... it comes back to my theory. People will do what it takes to survive and create a sense of normalcy for themselves. If this means dodging cows on the highway while you are driving, then so be it.

End of Confession.


  1. I'm glad you're not actually a vegan, I was about to start crying because that would mean no more sobby chilaquila fests next year. Ps did the arm bite off thing really happen?

    1. hahaha me too!

      And yes, it did: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-06-06/news/32084511_1_bites-wig-thief