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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Connotation of Hippies

For the past couple of weeks I've been struggling with a cold. It eventually morphed into a sinus infection and I went looking for a doctor. I am terrible about seeing doctors regularly and I never pick a new primary care doctor until I actually really need something. As usual,I had changed insurance companies about a year ago and never updated any doctor information.

Long story short, I went on the insurance website and picked a new doctor based on the fact that she was close to me. I also noticed that her name was Indian and her profile said she spoke Hindi. Not that there's any shortage of potential Indian doctors to visit.

It was a tiny practice and I sat for a long time in the waiting room while the nurses tried to sort out my insurance information. A Christian rock station was playing in the background, and most of you know how much that grates on me. But I remained peaceful and didn't let it get to me.

The doctor herself was a delightful little middle aged woman. She was sharp and fun to talk to. When she asked me about what medical care I had recently, I told her that I went to see a doctor and got everything up to date in February 2010 for my trip to India (Can you believe my trip to India was more than a year ago now? I can't!)

She was very excited to hear that I'd been to India and wanted to know more about where I went and what I did. She was not as familiar with the South, but of course she knew the Chankaracharya. She was pleased with me for being a spiritual individual (and also heaped praise on me for not being a smoker!).

She asked how I came to be in India and I gave my pat response that I give most of the time. I have this one quick sentence because most people do not expect or want me to launch into a whole long explanation about my background.So I just say, "Because my parents are hippies."

Usually that causes people to nod knowingly, but this time the doctor was very upset when I said that. "No," she said, "Don't call them hippies. They are spiritual people, the highest aim in life. Do they sit around without jobs?"

"Well, no."

"Do they move around all the time never taking responsibility?"


"Then they are not hippies.You should never call them that."

It was interesting because I could see how her idea of what hippies are and my idea of what they are seem to be quite different. Her idea is, admittedly, more valid than mine. I was born in 1982 and had no direct experience of the 70s.

And she's right that I should not be so dismissive of the long, hard work my parents have done to improve their souls. For nearly 40 years they have been dedicated to meditation, mindfulness practice, and studying ancient wisdom.

In the future I will find a new way to explain my Indian connections.


  1. People should remember that one of the world's most successful companies, Apple, was founded by hippies.

  2. Yes. I can't be too quick to take her perspective as the right one. I know many hippies and I'm quite fond of them :) I do think it was valuable for me to realize that I don't need to do this "slick" answer for that question, though.

  3. I think it's hysterical that we use the same answer "my parents were/are hippies" (I also use "new age-ers" depending on the person) to explain ourselves. I use it as an answer to questions about my real name (which is Hindi and therefor almost always gets comments about my parents or my nationality) and also my religious choices but I see how your doctor could have a different connotation of "hippies". My childhood doctor was an Indian woman and one of my favorite people! I still miss her!

  4. My new doctor is awesome! She was hilarious and I really liked her.