Tea time, CSSGGS style

preparing for our daily obeisance to chai devata

“If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.”

– Japanese Proverb

Indeed. And as acknowledgement of the truthiness in this proverb, I present to you a celebration of tea time at the Center for Studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (CSSGGS). Please click here: ynkXtniKR2Q and watch as my colleagues and I grapple with all things ‘true’ and ‘beautiful’ in life- such as whether the center’s resident cats should be given reverse osmosis treated water and with just how much milk; are the cats now ready for marriage; how will Gurmail retrieve lost files on his computer; do aviators make Harjeet look like Punjab’s erstwhile Chief Minister Beant Singh; what will happen if people find out about the vegetable garden in our backyard, which Pawan lovingly tends to; why are there no planes flying over in the beautiful blue sky above us as we sip on our tea; and lastly, inspired by how I’m always wearing my Ray-Bans, should we ask Dr.Dhillon (director of the center and my supervisor) to sponsor a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses for each research fellow in our department. We all know academic research environments can take their toll and when there is a serious need for respite, I usually find it in the company of my colleagues here at CSSGGS: the way they humor me, keep encouraging me to get back up every time I fall is part of what keeps me going. This post is dedicated to all of them, especially to Sukhpal Singh and Harjeet Singh, the two fellows who accompany me into the field.

I understand that many of you watching the video are not familiar with Punjabi, the working language at CSSGGS. Despite that, I hope you enjoy the visuals and physical comedy. Our department, a mere two years into its inception, is awaiting the completion of the construction of its building. In the meanwhile, it is situated in the erstwhile residence of the university’s vice provost (if I’m not mistaken, this position was abolished sometime ago). It is a beautiful residence, its surroundings landscaped with big lawns and water fountains.  A truly serene environment for engaging in scriptural studies of the nature CSSGGS is spearheading at GNDU.

A special thanks to all CSSGGS research fellows and staff featured in this video: Rupinder Kaur, Harjeet Singh, Jatinder Singh, Rajbir Kaur, Maan Bahadur Singh, Salinder Singh, Rajwinder Singh, Gurmail Singh, Mohabut Singh, Pawan Kumar and Paramjit Singh.

My passion lies in exploring the nature and implications of cross-border cultural connections in South Asia, specifically between India and Pakistan. In my undergraduate college career, the majority of my training in socio-cultural anthropology was centered on critical race theory, postmodernism, semiotics and South Asian historical recollections and popular culture. During that time, I developed an interest in studying religio-political agendas and identity reformulation and reinforcement in postcolonial South Asia, particularly in Indian and Pakistani Punjab. Since 2011, I have freelanced as a regional contributor for The Independent, an English Daily published out of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Additionally, I have worked as an SAT and GRE Prep Tutor and Lead Teacher for a major learning center chain in Virginia for over four years.

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