Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

22 Aug 2001, 11:25 a.m.

Indian Matroshki, Lenin, Ask the Rabbi

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

At my aunt's house the other day, I saw various artifacts of various cultures and countries. The matroshka doll sort of disconcerted me. I'm not used to looking at that nested metaphor while hearing women chattering around me in Kannada, in a house where I can drink the water and speak English and ... and be my Indian or American self.

Uncollected thoughts from the past week or so follow.

Ask the Rabbi! There's a fellow, who claims to be an actual rabbi, who sits on Sproul with a sign that invites you to ask him a question. The Daily Californian, the Berkeley campus newspaper, interviewed him. Funny. The last Q&A is the best, as usual.

I'm imagining a New Yorker cartoon in which a preening rich type pulls up to the "Self-Serving" pump.

In Sproul Hall the other day, I saw a bust and immediately assumed that it was a bust of Lenin. It wasn't. It was Sproul. Later, I told my sister that I wished there were more statues of Lenin in Berkeley, to make me feel more at home. She disputed that I could have any claim on Russia as "home." Hmmm.

I think Lenin busts and statues would be perfectly appropriate in Berkeley.

"Words are the map; they are not the territory." So said John Chapman to us. He was a substitute and then a teacher at my high school. Maybe he still is. I hope so. He was one of the first libertarians I ever met, and arranged the Literary Outlaws Friday reading/discussion group.

It's really scary that I might be making all sorts of errors by using the wrong words for ideas and feelings! Muddled words might reflect and create muddled logic. And I wrote this down the day before I went to Seth's place and read half of "Existence and Uniqueness" -- a poem which addresses this issue, among others, in the realm of love.

Social life. So busy! Yesterday I had a very enjoyable lunch and bookstore wander with Steve. He pointed out a title of a discussion on problems in publicizing campus groups: "Dude, where's my flyer?" Note that this is an actual discussion that the Cal Alumni Association will hold on October 22.

Then I went and visited Seth in San Francisco. He helped me read his poetry, played "Are You Out There" by Dar Williams for me, and gave me his extra copy of "End of the Summer" by same. Not to mention that he surreptitiously paid for my cheap Mexican dinner ("I just got a job!") and discussed copyright law and Latin and relationships with me. A most enjoyable and satisfactory trip.

Later today, I'll eat lunch with my sister and hang out with Leonard. Later this week, a party. (I sort of wish my sister had a web page, for completeness's sake, at least within this diary entry.)

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at