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Bookstore Surprise

                                                                By Diana McLeod                                       

        Kathmandu, Nepal: One afternoon, I was shopping in a little local English language bookstore with the hijacked name of "Waldenbooks." I was looking at information about Buddhist art when I heard rustling sounds under the shelves.

       As I browsed, I noticed it again. Eventually, the rat emerged, darting past my feet as he crossed the aisle.

       I thought that this was a matter that the management of the store might want to do something about, to keep customers from screaming and running away, so I approached the bookstore owner. "Do you know that there is a large rodent in here?" I asked.

       The man smiled happily. "Oh yes!" he nodded. "He is Ganesh's little friend. We are honored to have him in our store. He is our good luck. We feed him every day."

       It would never have occurred to me to have a rat as a mascot. But, in a bookstore owned by Hindus, the rat is the honored companion of the Hindu God Ganesh, who brings good luck and removes obstacles - the most auspicious of all the gods.

       I nodded, trying to look at it from a brand new perspective. This was one classic culture clash! I suppose I could respect their feelings, as long as their "friend" didn't try climbing up my skirt! I'm not sure that most English language shoppers would feel the same way...


        Thanks for reading, Diana McLeod

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