Monday, November 15, 2004

The Old Dominion Hunt Ball and reflections it evoked

What to write about this morning?
· The Hunt Ball and Sunday morning services at Leeds Church – how we play multiple roles and what about that
· Recreational activities and the Zen of ironing trousers and shirts and trousers
· Transformations – reflections walking to church on a country road
· A great Sunday night dinner

The Hunt Ball et al
· The Hunt Ball was fun. About 100 middle to later middle aged people gathered into the auditorium of a private day school in Flint Hill Virginia which had been transformed into an elegant dinner venue. We were all dressed in evening clothes, the women in beautiful gowns and the men in tuxedos or cutaways including many in the red cutaway coats signaling that they had been awarded their ‘colors’ . Colors are awarded for active participation in the hunt and congeniality with the political powers that be, the “Master,” “Joint Master” and hunt committee. Women, too, can now be awarded colors, but are not permitted to wear red coats. Perhaps in another generation or two that will change. The price of admission was $250 per couple, but the food was better, the crowding less, drinks and wine included in the price and the music better than were available at recent political gatherings in support of John Kerry and George Bush, where the price of admission could have been much higher. Virtually all of the crowd, were unusually fit and above average in looks – country living and horseback riding may contributed to this. All, as far as I could tell were Caucasian – no diversity here. I don’t think there is overt discrimination, but Virginia Foxhunting, with unbroken traditions dating back to anti bellum South, may not be viewed as an embracing culture by Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and South Asians.
· I wonder about recreational activities, which are seen to be such an important part of people’s lives who have the surplus wealth to afford them. Foxhunting is a costly avocation for the Hunt members, but a “job” for the paid huntsman who manages and leads the hounds. Tennis is my recreation, but a job for Serena and Venus Williams as well as the young Russian pheonoms who have supplanted them in the rankings.

A break
· My writing was interrupted by a doctoral student who just returned from Sri Lanka and stopped by. He is now about 30 and I have known him – and his parents – since he was 14. We played tennis together at Sri Lanka’s Queen’s Club. Maintaining this sort of continuity with at least a few students as they mature and make a life for themselves is one of most rewarding facets of a professor’s life – and of maintaining ties with a single country as research site and second home.

I need to move on to other items on my ‘to do list… more about work, leisure and recreation, at some future date.


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