Two weeks ago, the calendar turned 2012 - and I turned back to work. One of the highlights among last year's many little amusements was a typo in a belated email I received from a very distinguished professor - who excused himself by blaming the delay on his having been "busy with odd thinks [sic]". On second thought: what a superb metaphor for a true scholar's quest! Being involved with thought processes at once eclective, assorted - and slightly weird...

Thus "being busy with odd thinks" soon turned into one of my favourite explanations for what fieldwork might be all about. Many of my own thoughts about Lucknow, Muslims and belonging in 2011, for example, were clearly odd - so much so that even I myself did rarely understand them. At the same time, some of these thoughts brought me seriously at odds with my surroundings and led me to cross horns with established wisdom (a move elegantly demonstrated by the two anthropological goats in today's picture). Last year's concluding post, for instance, in which I insinuated that the famed Tehzeeb of Lucknow might actually denote little more than a singularly hollow nothingness, did not go down well with everybody here...

The oddest among a scholar's "thinks" should however be his or her questions. Rather than answers - which I did not find over the christmas break, despite much introspection -, I thus start this year with a longish list of questions for the months ahead, adding to the original set assembled before. I solemnly promise to post answers as soon as I find them - be they as odd as the case may be. Here comes the list, in no particular order, big and small, odd and ordinary:

a) What happens where little happens (anymore)? (follow-up)

b) Which kinds of Muslims was I missing so far?

c) Is there any empirical evidence for the theoretical model according to which performing acts of reciprocity towards an imagined community leads to embodied attachments?

d) How does socialization work? (yes: in general...)

e) Is the everyday as irrelevant to identity formation as thought earlier?

f) Will a decent publisher finally decide to publish my monograph on Muslim peace activists in Gujarat? (has nothing to do with Lucknow, I know) (follow-up)

g) How does the kite industry of Lucknow work?

h) What does the Muslim aam admi (aur aurat) think about reservations?

i) Why was Tehzeeb no good entry point to start discussions about Muslimness?

j) What's the class and age structure of those mourning Tehzeeb?

k) Which longings underline belonging? And which undermine it?

l) How does the media and faith empire of the Kalbe Family (aka Khandan e Ijtihad) operate? Whom do they address, how and why?

m) How many more mysteries can be connected to the Rifah-e-Aam Club? (follow-up)

n) How come so many Kashmiri Muslims live in Wazirganj? (follow-up)

o) And of course the one question of all: will Mayawati stay on as CM? (follow-up)

I look forward to tackle these and some other questions. I also promise to be more productive, more focused and yet more responsive to my friends' many unanaswered emails. I promise that I will more often excuse myself with "odd thinks". And that I won't be posting all too many more pictures of goats. A happy, prosperous, and successful 2012 to all of you!