Inspired by Mark Rosenfelder's website, here are versions adapted for Cindu. This is the Kash version; for the Gwr version, go here. For more cultural material, see the links at the bottom of this page..
You know you're a (Holunda Velu) Kash if....
- You have ever been in the forest and "spoken" to a Cousin (and most of you have done so)... even if it was just a silly little kusimi at your uncle's farm, when you were a child. It was the most exciting experience of your life, and showed you that you are part of a vast and amazing circle of life.
What do you do?
- On a more mundane level, you are a fan of several singers and musical groups. In a city or large town, you may even be a member of such a group, made up from your neighborhood or perhaps your fellow-workers. On radio and TV you hear groups from other parts of Yanatros or the Continents, some of whom are quite strange.
- You may take part in your neighborhood kick-ball or bat-ball team, and if your city or region supports a professional team, you follow that with interest. You also enjoy the beach and swimmng, even though it's difficult to get clean afterwards; fresh-water pools are better than the ocean. On the Continents, they play slightly different versions of kick- and bat-ball, which you've seen on TV, but they are only occasionally interesting. You become quite absorbed in the quinquennial World Games-- about the only time most of you ever see Gwr people in action (and they can do the most amazing things with those tiny little bodies).
- Unfortunately, there isn't much time for leisure activities. From the time you finished high-school or college, you have probably been employed full-time. Even in in the City, there is usually a shortage of labor, and lots of women work, too, though mostly in shops, offices or light industry. Unless you really screw up, you're not likely to be fired.
- The workday consists of 4 hours up to Noon, then 2 hours at least for lunch and rest, then things resume for another 2-1/2 to 3 hours or so, till near sunset. In small towns and even in Holunda City, it's usual to go home for the lunch hours. Only a few jobs-- construction, for example-- may require you to work through the hottest part of the day. You work 6 days a week, with one free day per week-- two at mid-month-- plus occasional holidays, and longer breaks at the equinoxes and solstices. Everyone is entitled to at least 2 weeks of vacation; senior employees get 3 or 4. The wealthy-- well, their whole life is a vacation, isn't it?
- Unless you live in the City or work for an international corporation, are in university, or in government, it's unlikely you've ever had any dealings with a Gwr or an Alien. Those who have, find it difficult to form a relationship with a Gwr-- they afraid of the hot weather, they're frail and rather stand-offish. And needless to say, having sex with one is inconceivable, even if they weren't such prigs. You don't particularly dislike them, but you don't trust them one bit, either. They're too clever by half-- you never know if they mean what they say, and since they're not telepaths, it's bad form to probe their minds. Everyone tries all the same, though it's difficult-- they don't seem to be wired the same as we are. The Aliens on the other hand can be quite interesting (and seem to find us interesting too)--if a little scary (especially those big blue guys), since they're usually much better telepaths than we are.
Can we talk?
- Speaking of telepathy: you most likely have at least average ability, and are getting better at it as you get older, and have learned all the do's and don't's. You wonder about those few who can't or won't speak. You're comfortable with friends, family, potential mates and co-workers, but the boss, and lord knows the upper crust don't seem to want to open up. Another thing about the Aliens-- you remember when they came to your highschool to test your abilities; if you were any good, they tried to interest you in the Service. If you're in university, you probably know someone who was a candidate, but if they were actually selected, they've left Cindu and most likely won't return in your lifetime. Or if they do, you'll be 70 and they'll only look 35 or something. Space travel is weird.
- You aren't particularly religious, though you attend temple ceremonies if only for the spectacle, and the chance to speak and maybe touch one of the Cousins that wander around. If you're a craftsman/artisan or in a trade, you do honor the Spirit of whatever material you work with-- but not as much as your father or grandfather probably did. The only people who are still really serious about the Spirits are sailors and farmers.
- But the priests and religious orders have important functions, aside from ceremonies and their contact with with the Cousins and the Spirit World. Because they tend to be skilled telepaths, they manage the civil and criminal courts, arbitrate disputes, and serve as psychotherapists. They are among the most honored members of society.
- You believe that the Universe, and this beautiful world you live in, were created by a great Mind, or Soul (apparently for reasons of its own); but the Creator no longer takes any interest in this world. We are here to make the best of the time allotted to us, to lead an honorable life, and to be of benefit to the community. You do not believe in an after-life, except insofar as you will be remembered by those who knew and loved you-- you know that such memories survive a long time, because even the Cousins remember strange things from ages past. Perhaps your soul enters the Spirit World; perhaps it will linger in some object that you used or valued during your life...Some people believe in reincarnation, but most are skeptical of that.
- So you do try to lead an honorable life. In a society of telepaths, it's hard to lie and cheat-- you never know when someone is probing around behind your actions and spoken words. Most people, except maybe your lover, will overlook little white lies. Still, you're careful, respectful and for the most part honest in all your dealings. You try to think through the consequences of your actions.
- On the other hand, if you commit a crime, you will almost certainly be found out, and sent before a panel of priest-judges who'll probe your mind like it's never been probed before. Then it's off to a penal colony in the jungle, the mountains, or some miserable island, for a length of time that depends on the crime. Serious crimes against persons will get you a stretch in the lock-up. There is no death penalty, but life is a possibility. In either case, you'll be subjected to even more mental poking and prodding by priest-therapists, who are actually quite successful at reforming most behavior.
Life at home...
- Most street food is good, and cheap-- kebabs, stuffed buns, noodle soup, fruit drinks and ices. Bars and sidewalk cafés?abound. Restaurants range from plain and cheap/moderate for ordinary people to very fancy-- for special occasions, and the wealthy. You eat out quite a lot, especially if your partner works too.
- Most areas of Yanatros don't require heat; people in the mountains have fireplaces or stoves. On the other hand, air-conditioning would be nice (it's the tropics, doncha know) but is rare because electricity is expensive. (Another good reason to spend the evening at a restaurant or movie with AC.) You do your laundry in a machine, or send it out. You don't kill your own food, unless you live in the country. But there's little preserved food, so someone has to do marketing almost every day, visiting the butcher, the fish shop, the fruit/vegetable stands in the public markets.
- Most of the time, you wear an ankle-length sarong (with a sort of loincloth or underwear) that is simply gathered around the waist and folded over to keep it in place. A man's will usually be a dark color, a woman's, bright, and there are always designs woven in or printed. Grey is for mourning, white for religious weddings. Certain colors/designs are reserved for the noble families, the priests (who wear green), and the cops (black) and it's presumptuous for ordinary people to wear those. In town, you wear sandals, either thong-type or strap-on; in the country, you're barefoot most of the time. Neither men nor women cover their chests-- though pregnant/lactating women may wear a loose smock. In rainy weather, you use a waterproof cape or umbrella. If you're involved in excercise, or heavy labor, or just lounging around at home, you wear a short sarong, or shorts with separate legs. At construction sites, especially if it's hot or rainy, most workers put their clothes in a dry place and work nude. And at the beach, nobody wears anything. For formal occasions, you have a fancy sarong, possibly hand-woven with a pattern in gold or silver threads, and an ornate vest or short cape. A man will have one or more ear-rings; women also wear chokers and pendants, men usually don't-- except for the small gold chain that indicates a religious marriage.
Needless to say, you aren't tattooed. Some men cut little patterns into their fur, but it's considered rather outré. And it's unthinkable to shave any part of your body, unless you're having surgery-- and then you hope the fur grows back quickly.
In colder climates, you wear heavier materials, or more layers; but nobody likes tight or restrictive clothing since it tends to rub the fur the wrong way and creates static electricity.
- You have indoor plumbing, and bathe at least once a day, in a shower-- in the country you may bathe outdoors, dipping water out of a big tub and pouring it over yourself and the others, or maybe in a river-- it's a social occasion. Tubs are for hydrotherapy. You dry off with one of those Gwr blow-driers. Nobody has a dirt floor. You eat at a table, using a spoon, sitting on chairs.
- Unless you're very poor, you have a telephone, a radio, a cold-box, a sound-player, maybe a TV and a computer. But most neighborhoods have a social center with TVs and computers (and AC!), so lots of people do their TV-watching there. The shows usually aren't all that interesting anyway...maybe if there were more channels? But a while back, the Aliens brought us some real winners from another planet (despite the obviously primitive recording technology)-- a musical drama about a guy named Fikaro that poked fun at the aristocrats-- how can the human voice go so high?-- and some Rushan religious music, where the basses go almost as low as we can.
- It is entirely natural to you that the telephone system, electricity, water and sewer, trains, city buses, petroleum industry, and a lot of other things, are run by the govenment. True, the privately-owned inter-city buses are a little fancier and a little faster, but then they cost more.
- Most likely, you've never been up in an airship or an airplane. To travel on Yanatros, you go by train or bus, maybe by ship if time isn't important. Overseas travel is by ship (mostly sail, some motor) but is rare. In the City, you probably don't own a car and don't need one. They're not all that expensive, and at least one of your friends probably has one, and that's very convenient. In the country, your family more likely owns a cargo-car, but maybe an inexpensive regular car too. Almost all cars and small trucks, as well as the trains, by the way, are electric. Even the karun's big coach. Long-distance buses and trucks are diesel, and the very wealthy may own a diesel car, if they don't mind being sneered at. (Maybe there are ten, altogether, in the City. It's said that in Bau Da, Gwr tycoons drive around in gasoline-powered cars, just like in the old days. How incredibly wasteful.)
- Since you don't travel much off-island, there isn't much need to learn other languages, some of which are close enough anyway to your own that you could get by, and there's always telepathy... True, two states on Yanatros-- Andoli and Oroson-- speak really different languages, but nobody goes there unless they have to. Andoli has some kind of weird communitarian system, and Oroson is way too regimented, and both are clearly rather unhappy places. Keyandoli emigrate alot; Keyoroson don't because it's not allowed.
What color are you?
- Every Kash's fur is either deep, deep black, dark brownish black, or barely-visibly striped black/lighter black. The Aliens joke that we all look alike. You can't tell a foreigner except possibly by dress, and of course speech. The only foreigners you don't much like are the Keyandoli-- if Andoli is such a communal paradise, why are they all coming to the City? And you can't understand a word they say. (Actually, once you get to know them, they're quite normal.) Kekavatu are mush-mouthed, Keçombala run wild when they come here, but at least you can talk to them... You've never seen a live Lañ-Lañ-- just pictures on TV and in old Geographical Society magazines. Tan fur, stripes and spots-- strange language, poor telepathy-- how'd they get that way?
- You're also quite big-- the average male ("famboli") is 1.8 li tall [79 in., or about 2m.], the average female ("kemboli") is 1.6 [70 in., 1.8m]; and because you walk a lot, eat sensibly and (generally) work hard, your're in good shape and healthy. Overweight and obesity are problems mainly of the wealthy. You live a long time, too-- few die before 60 [80, Terran] and 75-year-olds [almost 100] are not uncommon.
Let's get personal...
- Your behavior is an odd mix of the very formal and the very intimate. With strangers, whatever their social status, you are polite and keep your distance (arm's length, almost 3ft.). If the conversation turns friendly and there are mutual interests, you may move in a little closer and perhaps put your hand on their shoulder or arm, and if there seems to be more compatibility or sexual interest, one or the other of you might start sending little telepathic hints. With good friends, you stand much closer, and it's perfectly acceptable to walk around arm-in-arm or holding hands.
- You can't imagine anything worse than living in some isolated outpost. Even in the countryside, farmers live in a village or town even if it means a long drive out to their fields.
- Once you've been introduced, you use first names, i.e., Sir/Ma'am+first name until you're asked to drop the honorific; same with doctors, priests and others with professional titles. Members of the nobility are addressed by their title or numerical-- mesa, rona, sina, prana.
- There are a few areas of the City that are somewhat unsafe, unless you're accompanied by a resident. Otherwise, people may think you're slumming and will be insulted.
- If you have an appointment, you try to show up on time, but 5 mins. late is OK; beyond that you need to make apologies. Business meetings tend to take a while; lots of preliminary chit-chat, drinks etc. before you get to the point. Most serious negotiation takes place over lunch or dinner.
- You routinely bargain for houses, cars, art and craft works, major household goods, and foodstuffs at the markets. Large stores, and most small shops and street-food vendors have fixed prices, though it never hurts to ask for a little break, free delivery, or a bit extra. Tradesmen will usually be flexible, but you'll get what you pay for, and you don't want an unhappy plumber fixing your pipes...
- You may drop in on friends and neighbors unannounced on free days, otherwise only in the late afternoon, after work; you'll probably be asked to stay for cocktails, but you don't stay for dinner unless your hosts insist and you know they mean it. If your visit is inconvenient, you'll be made aware of it in short order, and will leave. If people visit each other regularly, they're expected to bring a bottle of something every now and again. You don't drop in on social superiors or inferiors without asking beforehand, or by invitation, and it's customary to bring a little gift of some sort-- flowers, fruits or cookies, perhaps some wine or sodas.
- Outside of Holunda City (pop. around 500,000), most of you live in towns of twenty- to fifty-thousand, usually with several factories and lots of small industries and shops, or in farming communities of one- to five-thousand. Then there are the quite small villages of a few hundred, devoted to the farming and maintenance of some noble's large estate, and many of these have been in existence since before The Destruction. They are often well-endowed, and the residents have considerable status-by-association.
- You start school at age 4 and may stop at 14 [multiply by 1.34 for the equivalent in Earth years]. At age 12 you may also shift into apprenticeship programs sponsored by the various trades and arts. There are three school terms of four months each, with a month off between, two months off at the end.
- After finishing high-school at 14 perhaps half of you go on for 2-3 years of specialized training at colleges-- engineering, teaching, business and commercial law, the humanities-- at the end of which you have the equivalent (or a little better) of a Terran Master's degree. Medical college involves 5 years or so; law and psychology are taught by the priests, which means you have to join one of the Orders (and be a better-than-average telepath)-- but that's no big deal, as most of them allow quite normal lives, and if nothing else, you'll always have a place to live and 2 meals a day.
- If you're really bright, you may compete for a place at one of the research universities (there are just four on Yanatros, more on the continents), which will lead to the equivalent of a Doctorate, and should put you on track for college/university teaching, or something good in private industry, govenment, or the Galactic Union.
- All schooling is free; though at college and university you pay for room and board. There are just a few private schools and colleges, which have some social cachet but are no more rigorous academically than many free schools.
Your place or mine?
- Almost everyone is bisexual to some degree. Exclusive homosexuals and exclusive heterosexuals each constitute about10% of the population. (Homosexuals are sometimes kidded for being a waste of good genes, while heteros are considered rather odd-- why don't they want to have more fun? Well, it's their business...) Thus, whether male or female, the other 80% of you most likely have a very close and probably sexual relationship with at least one of your (same-sex) friends. (The sexual part applies more to men than to women, who don't view sex in quite the same way...) When you marry someone of the opposite sex (and you probably will), your Special Friend(s) will likely still be involved (not at all unusual), and may even live with you. This last is somewhat unusual; the arrangement is usually informal, and often doesn't work out, but it is even possible legally-- say you declared a Civil Union with your Friend, then later decided to marry a woman (or vice versa). The third party may be included (legally) in such a civil union, provided everyone agrees.... It is even possible that both men may father children with the woman (but it's her decision). A three-way union could also consist of two women and a man, but in that case the likelihood of the man fathering children with both women would be slim-- women's Special Relationships tend to be more exclusive than men's. Four-way unions aren't legally permitted, but nothing prevents two couples from deciding to join forces and move in together. You probably know people who've done this (and even in larger groups!).
But most Civil Unions (the equivalent of marriage, to all intents) involve only a man and a woman, or two men, or two women. Faithfulness is a desideratum, but by no means required, not particularly expected, certainly not demanded.... Since they are little more than a legal contract formalized by the town clerk (and a good party afterwards!), they are fairly easy to dissolve, provided that child care/support is assured, and some kind of agreeable property settlement is made between the adults.
- Religious marriage-- now, that's another matter. Many people never even consider it, and the priests won't entertain the idea unless the relationship has lasted at least 5 years. Then there's a lot of psychological probing and legal rigmarole to make sure it's really going to be a life-long bond. Religious binding of trios is usually discouraged, unless to honor, in old age, a union that has endured a really long time, and children, if any, are grown. Religious unions are all but impossible to dissolve; divorce can happen, but it's shameful, a personal failure for both parties, and a sign that something went terribly wrong. The partners may separate, formally or not, but may not legally form a subsequent Civil Union. If you do gain a divorce, you can have a new Civil Union, but will have a hard time ever again convincing the priests to perform another Religious Binding.
- Aside from fruits and some veggies, everything you eat is cooked. A meal consists mostly of boiled grains or pastas, with lots of vegetables and a little meat or fish on the side. The meat will most likely be lopa [= sheep, goat] or popo [a commercially raised "lizard" = fowl]; kawu [= beef] on special occasions; or fish, usually the cheapest of all. In the country, people hunt some of the other lizards, which are said to be tasty, and a few mammal species, but these hardly ever make it to the average table in the City. Some foreigners, it's said, eat raw fish, but that hasn't caught on in Holunda, and you're not likely to try it. Nobody eats insects; country people don't hunt the little Gwr relatives unless they're desparate-- but the Cousins keep their numbers down anyway.
- The biggest meal of the day is in the evening. Breakfast can be big, too, especially if you're doing heavy labor. Lunch is usually light-- you'd much rather spend those hours resting in the shade.
- With your meal you drink either water, a fruit drink or soda, herbal teas of one sort or another, or wine. Hard liquor is not popular, unless it's diluted with lots of ice, or mixed with water or fruit juice. Still, people like to get together at sundown for a glass or two of _something_ before dinner....
The State of the Nation....
- You are essentially free to do as you wish, and to speak as you wish, provided you don't step on your neighbors' toes too often or too deliberately. Disputes are expected to be resolved by the individuals involved, with the help of family or priest-arbiters if necessary. New Year's Day is the traditional time for making amends. If you are persistently obnoxious, you will feel the mental scorn of your neighbors, and if that doesn't persuade you to mend your ways, you may be ostracized until you do. Only serious or incorrigible criminal behavior will warrant a summons to court, and if it gets to that point, you're in bad shape.
- The police are armed with stun-guns, which they rarely have to use. They are usually big guys, very strong and well-trained in martial arts.
- Very few criminals, and almost no private citizens, own guns of any sort-- stunners are manufactured by the Natl. Armory and issued only to police and the Defense Force; pistols and rifles are restricted to (and kept by) clubs devoted to marksmanship-- one of the few World Games events where Kash and Gwr compete directly. Shotguns and hunting rifles are only available-- for rent-- in the countryside upon presentation of a hunting license and a clearance from your local police. (Hunting with bow and arrow is considered more challenging anyway.) Only if you live in a really isolated area or in the forest are you allowed to own a firearm, and they're very expensive, so you're very careful with it. Also, you have to present it when you re-new your license every year.
- Most "governing" takes place at the neighborhood, or ward, level; there are several "town meetings" per year, and you are expected to attend. Most decisions are reached by consensus. You will be expected to help with local projects like landscaping, repairing walkways etc., maybe doing small repairs at some elderly person's house, for all of which you're paid a little bit, and there's usually a block-party afterwards to celebrate. Poorer wards might get a request for a "work squad" from one of the wealthy areas, where you'll be paid quite a bit more and get a really good party.
- In the City and larger towns, you also elect a representative to the city council, which takes care of the major problems. And you elect a representative to the national Assembly, whose job is to pass the occasional law but mainly to keep the Karun and the council of Elders from doing anything stupid.
- So what does the National government do? Well, it sees to it that the trains and buses run on time and the phones work, keeps roads and bridges in good repair, provides funds for schooling, provides health care for all who want it, subsidizes all the local police forces, manages natural resources, and fosters trade and industry.
- And where does the govenment get its money? There is a small income tax on wages and business profits; a larger tax on investment and trust income. The State owns a great deal of land, and derives income from leases and mineral rights. The petroleum industry is completely state-owned, and the State is minority-owner of many other major industries. The old noble families also own a great deal of land (for example, most of downtown Holunda City) in perpetual trusts, which are heavily taxed when a new generation takes over-- often forcing sale of some of the land, which is considered a Good Thing nowadays.
- Perpetual trusts are no longer permitted, but the wealthy can endow trusts to cover every generation living at the time of their death-- so you certainly want grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are a plus. The wealthy can avoid many estate taxes by setting up charitable trusts, or by endowing religious orders (which also do charitable work). During their lifetimes, nobles and the wealthy are expected to help out the needy, as do ordinary people as well-- not only out of obligation to the community, but also because you get tax breaks.
- Most food is bought fresh, daily, at the public markets. (Don't forget to take your own containers.) A few specialty items come in cans, or frozen; soft drinks and liquors are bottled.
- You've never seen the necessity of a wide variety of products. One toothbrush is very much like another; the Ci-ca blow-drier dries you off just as well as the Pung-ku or the Waw. It's nice that there is more variety in cars, but some of them simply shout "I'm expensive!", and in any case none of them goes much over 35 ci per hour.
- The decimal point is called kik [and looks like a comma]. In really big numbers, a little dot sets off groups of 3 zeros. The numbers from 1012 to 1018 have Gwr names; beyond that, if you have to, you express them as powers of 10.
- The date comes first: 5-ç12-548 p.v.[new count]-- the date the Aliens arrived. The year 1 p.v. was 753 years ago; the year before that was 2703 p.m.[old count].
- The same families have been ruling Holunda, Kavatu and The Lands ever since we came here some 2000 years ago. By and large, they've done a pretty good job, and no one seriously thinks we ought to have some other form of govenment. In Holunda at least, the Karun still has a little power, and isn't a total figurehead.
- The Destruction in 2701 was just about the stupidest thing the Gwr ever did, even worse than their 250-year attempt at making us part of their colonial "empire". They invented their damn nukes, and just couldn't wait to see how they'd work...well, they found out, didn't they? It's probably a good thing it happened when it did; a few more years, and they would have had enough stuff to blow up the entire world.
- There were some odd benefits-- aside from putting us in control of things. The Kash people became united even more than they had been, and understood that even though we didn't much like the Gwr, the world wouldn't be a better place if they died out, or fell into a Dark Age. (Besides, who else would want to live up there in the frozen north?) The nobles lost a lot of their power, when their idle lands were expropriated for food production; our manufacturing took off; our governments got serious about managing things, instead of spending most of their time on pageants and ceremonies...and bickering with each other. Then, too, we got rid of armies, which saves everyone a lot of money, and ultimately got a decent World Government with real authority.
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