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Bodily fluids, posted en route to Beijing

[From O’Hare Airport, a post I meant to publish yesterday]

Ours is an informal office. No slick corporate space, no dress code (we talk about having dress UP days), and a lot of laughter. I realized the other day that within a space of a few hours I’d heard conversations about doing sports and yoga during menstruation and about Viagra. The former is a serious topic in women’s sport (we had several articles about it in the International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports) but it came up because of talk about yogic rules about taking “ladies’ days.” And Viagra is being discussed because a court case about it is the subject of an article on intellectual property rights that Scott’s writing for the next issue of Guanxi. His last job was as a journalist at Inside China Trade in Washington DC, so this is all in a day’s work, but there does seem to be a lot of banter about it. As far as I’m concerned, both conversations bodes well for contributions to the encyclopedia of bodily fluids we have planned as our first popular, coffee-table anthropology publication! Our working title is Blood, Sweat, and Tears: An A-Z Guide to Bodily Fluids.

I’m planning to read about concepts related to bodily fluids in Chinese Traditional Medicine, naturally. In general, I’m growing more curious about TCM and the idea of treating a person as a whole, rather than just dealing with specific systems, oddly enough inspired by an Indian system of physical and mental, and spiritual, development—yoga. (Chinese people know about yoga and it’s growing in popularity there, but every Chinese person I’ve ever talked to about it began by saying, “It comes from India, isn’t it?” I wonder if there’s a little jealousy that an Indian and not a Chinese system has become so widely known across the globe.) I might just even find time for a consultation, though I’d have to get some ready-prepared medicine and not the bags of herbs and bark that usually get sent home with patients (we visited a TCM hospital in 2001 and saw the pharmacy where these were being prepared). Incidentally, a Chinese friend just emailed that she’d been out of touch because of “acute inflammation,” an ailment I imagine TCM has a treatment for but that might perplex a Western MD.

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