A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

Rain and Toilet Paper

My one-month anniversary in India coincides with my first rain. Cyclone warnings not coming to fruition are proving a welcome respite from the regular ninety-degree humidity that shrinks my hair into Shirley Temple ringlets. An evening with my dear friend lounging with a breeze off the Arabian sea is pure bliss.

As I ponder taking some ayurvedic medicine my friends swear will help my digestion since everyone is shocked I can’t eat bread or sugar (they don’t realize how much of an improvement that is for me!), I realize my health has actually improved here. Maybe my immune system just needed more of a challenge. I think the hot weather and spicy food help. And I’ve started eating a smidge of meat, since I have to be more of a carnivore in South Africa, I want get my body used to it. Odd to give up years of veg in a land famous for it.

Despite common perception of Westerners, I like my food mirchi, or spicy, but in some ways I am so Western. I do a double take when I see a date written 15.10.09. I think of light switches facing up as on. I prefer toilet paper. I can do without a disposal, a dishwasher, a washing machine, hot water, a/c…all the things I used to look for in an apartment. And I am lucky enough to have a/c (though I rarely use it, because electricity is quite expensive) and occasional hot water—heck, I’m lucky enough to have water coming from the tap and electricity all day long, which was not true in my first place, and is not true in most of India. Also, Indians sure have strong bladders—even most restaurants don’t have bathrooms. Occasionally in desperation I pretend to “consider” a nice restaurant or hotel, and instead use the restroom and leave. Part of the benefit of being white is I can look a mess and still walk into a five-star hotel. I’ve been told to milk this and use the Four Seasons pool sometime.

“You’re not American. I understand your accent!” I’ve been getting that a lot lately. I try to be understandable: I speak slowly, choose my words deliberately, and use Hinglish (Hindi-English) where helpful. For example, the Mercedes Benz showroom landmark near my house is pronounced Murse-eh-deez Ben-zuh. I never thought of being American as exotic, but rather as generic. Yesterday I was on the phone with my internet provider trying to make a payment, and I texted my address to the worker so he could send someone to my house to collect the cash. India is very into home delivery. The next day I get a text from the guy: ‘How r u today dear?’ (And a follow up call the next day asking why I didn't answer.) After last weekend and some other experiences, I’m wary of meeting anyone (especially men) except through a chain of people I somehow know. It’s just not part of the culture.

I think I'm a split personality sometimes—part of me wants to settle down and part of me wants to be all over the place. Maybe I'll quench the wanderlust over the next few years and the settle down part will slowly take over. I’m enjoying settling in here and not quite wrapping my head around leaving in January. Seems so soon. Maybe someday Bombay can afford to actually pay me living wage for my work. Or as friends half-laughingly suggest, I’ll marry rich, to which I reply, I could win the lotto. But then, I was born a middle class American with loving family and friends: I already have.

Posted byValerie at 12:13 AM  


Annette said... November 12, 2009 at 4:03 AM  
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Niles said... November 25, 2009 at 1:48 PM  
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Valerie said... November 30, 2009 at 12:15 AM  
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