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Chapter 15
His house is a temple. In the entrance hall hangs aframed picture of Ganesha, he of the elephant head. He sitsfacing out – rosy-coloured, pot-bellied, crowned and smiling– three hands holding various objects, the fourth held palmout in blessing and in greeting. He is the lord overcomer ofobstacles, the god of good luck, the god of wisdom, thepatron of learning. Simpatico in the highest. He brings asmile to my lips. At his feet is an attentive rat. His vehicle.
Because when Lord Ganesha travels, he travels atop a rat.
On the wall opposite the picture is a plain wooden Cross.
In the living room, on a table next to the sofa, there isa small framed picture of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe,flowers tumbling from her open mantle. Next to it is aframed photo of the black-robed Kaaba, holiest sanctum ofIslam, surrounded by a ten-thousandfold swirl of thefaithful. On the television set is a brass statue of Shiva asNataraja, the cosmic lord of the dance, who controls themotions of the universe and the flow of time. He dances onthe demon of ignorance, his four arms held out inchoreographic gesture, one foot on the demon's back, theother lifted in the air. When Nataraja brings this footdown, they say time will stop.
There is a shrine in the kitchen. It is set in a cupboardwhose door he has replaced with a fretwork arch. The archpartly hides the yellow light bulb that in the evenings lightsup the shrine. Two pictures rest behind a small altar: tothe side, Ganesha again, and in the centre, in a largerframe, smiling and blue-skinned, Krishna playing the flute.
Both have smears of red and yellow powder on the glassover their foreheads. In a copper dish on the altar arethree silver murtis, representations. He identifies them forme with a pointed finger: Lakshmi; Shakti, the mothergoddess, in the form of Par va ft; and Krishna, this timeas a playful baby crawling on all fours. In between thegoddesses is a stone Shivayoni linga, which looks like halfan avocado with a phallic stump rising from its centre, aHindu symbol representing the male and female energies ofthe universe. To one side of the dish is a small conch shellset on a pedestal; to the other, a small silver handbell.
Grains of rice lie about, as well as a flower just beginningto wilt. Many of these items are anointed with dabs ofyellow and red.
On the shelf below are various articles of devotion: abeaker full of water; a copper spoon; a lamp with a wickcoiled in oil; sticks of incense; and small bowls full of redpowder, yellow powder, grains of rice and lumps of sugar.
There is another Virgin Mary in the dining room.
Upstairs in his office there is a brass Ganesha sittingcross-legged next to the computer, a wooden Christ on theCross from Brazil on a wall, and a green prayer rug in acorner. The Christ is expressive – He suffers. The prayerrug lies in its own clear space. Next to it, on a lowbookstand, is a book covered by a cloth. At the centre ofthe cloth is a single Arabic word, intricately woven, fourletters: an alif, two lams and a ha. The word God in Arabic.
The book on the bedside table is a Bible.


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