At the age of 22, I travelled to those regions of the world that I had read about, and heard about since childhood; how strange and novel their ways of life were! That included the people of Pacific Islands, extreme north and extreme south of India, the inhabitants of thick African jungles and gypsies from Alaska to Siberia.

I had been reading that somewhere women fought the wars. Not with their mouth, but with arms, legs and weapons. I used to fantasise about their men sitting at home and waiting for their women’s return in the evenings.

Margaret Mead and her team, after devoting a lifetime in those islands, discovered that where women were the warriors, men took care of the children; to what extent? That was not clear.

In some places, the families consumed the body of their dead, in others vultures and jackals did. The head of the family among Eskimos transferred near-death loved ones to a custom-made igloo at a distance, constructed with large ice blocks replicating the original house of the dying. A furry animal skin served as the deathbed. The entrance to the igloo would then be sealed and everyone returned to his or her home. They would come back on a particular day, when they were confident that the dying was dead. Just to make sure.

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