Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 284: Sindhi Topi

OYLPA Day 284: Sindhi Topi by klodhie
OYLPA Day 284: Sindhi Topi, a photo by klodhie on Flickr.
Pulled out the old Sindhi topi that was lying in my closet (along with my Sindhi vests, pillow covers, and parandaas), and tossed it in my teacher bucket for Tuesday ("authentic texts" in class).

Seeing the topi again reminded me of its origin. No, not the part of its origin where a talented, hard-working person sitting somewhere in Sindh, Pakistan completed the delicate and colorful embroidery and mirror work so iconic of the desert region.

I thought of the other part of its origin in my hands: it was one of many like it, in different colors and patterns, that I had once gotten for the new friends I had made back in college. I remember having written out a whole shopping list of souvenirs I had wanted to get for all the new people I had met and that I assumed I would be good friends with for years to come. So the list included these Sindhi topis, among the pillow covers and purses, etc.

Back then (early 2000s), during my trip to Pakistan, I was anxious to retrieve the items on my list, because I wholeheartedly enjoyed seeing people smile upon receiving gifts* and I wanted my new friends to have something special from the land I loved so much. So I retrieved the souvenirs and delivered them (with a couple extra topis left over). College and life went on.

What I got to thinking about as I took out one of the leftover topis again today, was this: out of all the people I had gotten those souvenirs for, how many did I end up becoming good friends with? Which of those people do I still, after 7 years, keep in touch with - or rather, which of those people thought it worth it to keep in touch with me? Is it strange that I no longer remember all the people I had gotten souvenirs for? Stranger still: none of it really even matters any more.

I compare that older souvenir list to the one I just recently had in February when I again got to visit Pakistan (goodness I miss being there with family). The list, it's true, is quite dramatically shorter. But the people on it stand out all the more because of that fact. How time changes circumstances and people and desires! How much less we care about trivial matters the farther we get away from our teenage and college years!

What remains constant, though, is the sense we have that the person we are as we are at this very moment is the most knowledgeable one of all. And how foolish we are to think so.

My, where an old Sindhi topi can lead you.

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*Patty asked me a question while she was here a few weeks ago that I found to be one of the most interesting I had been asked in a very, very long time. She asked me how I thought I expressed my love, whether it was through gift-giving, time spent, physical, etc. The question, she told me, arose from a book titled The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and although I believe the book is aimed at couples, I think the concept of five love languages is an interesting one to apply to friends, family, etc.

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