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Carrying On the Head in Tribal India

 

I’ve been in Orissa for the past week, the last of my three-week stay in India. I'm observing village and tribal people in their everyday activities, learning what I can in a short stay, and looking for nuggets of body wisdom to bring home to my students. This visit has been a rich experience indeed! Orissa has more distinct tribes (62) than any other state in India; inland Orissa is off the tourist track and entirely new to me though I was raised and well-travelled in India. 


Sharing bananas with some pottery vendors at the Kakirigumma tribal / village market.


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Baby Massage, Traditional Indian Style

March, 2019

My students sometimes lead me to particularly juicy nuggets that enrich my understanding of posture-related practices in other cultures. Sometimes they simply send me a link to an article; sometimes it is an introduction to a special person. Recently, my private Gokhale Method Foundations Course student Alpana informed me that her friend had a visitor I might be interested in meeting. She was right.

Two days later, my daughter Monisha and I showed up at Nirmala’s host’s home in Saratoga. I was immediately struck by the woman’s presence, regal carriage, slender and strong frame, and sparky energy, especially for a 60-year-old. Nirmala does traditional Indian baby and post-natal massage on newly delivered babies and their mothers in Surat, India. She speaks no English. Thanks to Alpana’s fluent Marathi and my broken Hindi, I was able to communicate very effectively with her.

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