When I begin a post and stare at the screen and fail to think of anything to write about – I know that I’m in a blogging black hole; I don’t see any unique bits of Indian space and time since my last post. The gravitational pull of “been there, written about that” is greater than my imagination…
So, for this post, we revisit a few of the reliable planets in the little galaxy that is my life. (I promise new and exciting news on India next week – I have several interesting events planned this week.)
Ritika: Ah – I cried when she and her classmates sang me carols on Christmas Eve. I took Lala and Eddie with me to her school and we shared homemade cookies. When we arrived, the students were making holiday decorations and Christmas cards. They were eager to share with us board games and electrical circuits and maps that they had made. The boys enjoyed quizzing me on geography. I learned that there are 31 (?) states in India? (I might be wrong – there are also Union territories, a designation where the Fed runs a locality.)
It’s easy for me to pay for Ritika’s schooling but my desire to keep her learning may not be enough to keep her in school. Next year she will be 13 and her value to her family may be defined by how much money she can make doing domestic work. This is a sad reality for many families and young girls in India.
Christmas week, in the middle of cooking madness in my kitchen, I noticed that we didn’t have onions. My housekeeper, who usually keeps the staples well supplied decided not to buy them. She said that they were outrageously, insultingly expensive. And to her, at a buck a pound, they were. In fact, lots of Indians were crying over the cost of onions last week. The onion is a staple in Indian cuisine, vegge or non-vegge and the injustice of having to pay an exorbitant price for the condiment bannered the papers and led TV news for days. People and pundits blamed poor supply, hording and mistrust in the layers of middlemen who move the onion from farm to market. I didn’t want my beautiful helper-fairy to feel that I was nonplussed by the price hike, but I had just paid 200-bucks for twelve kilos of turkey, so two bucks on onions didn’t rock my boat much.
But a tsunami slammed into it when I put that bird on the balcony to defrost. Critters helped themselves to my Christmas day meal and gnawed a beautiful hole right through both breasts. I learned that in moments like this you have to LET GO… breathe… and thank God that you have a ham in the freezer.
Reliable Filth: Not much changes in a year in India. We returned to the same stretch of the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu this new year holiday. You may remember that last year I ran through the poo-ing fields of beach-front fishing villages. The fields are still there but my tolerance has faded this year for the fetid mess. And, as if to rub my nose in this second dance with doo-doo, several fishermen defecated in real-time along my running path. Many south Indian men wear bits of cloth wrapped around them like skirts so it’s easy to squat and do your business – and with the sea for a bidet and the horizon, a view – it’s a constitutional made in heaven for the poo-er and a dirty game of hopscotch for anyone crazy enough to run along the coast.
Overheard in my car:
Eddie: Where do babies come from?
George: The bagina.
Eddie: What’s a bagina?
George: A different kind of weenis.
(Clearly, we need a vocabulary tutorial in my house… or speech therapy!)
After all of my bitching about the heat this year, here I am whining about the cold. It’s damp and foggy in Delhi in January and the night-time temps are frigid. The days warm a bit into the 50’s beneath the sun. In the house, I walk around wrapped in layers and topped with a final swath of warm scarf. Sometimes I sleep in a hat. The marble floors are like blocks of ice beneath my feet – they’re blissfully cool in the warm months but frigid torture in the winter. We don’t have heat, except for a few space heaters that, like everything in India, don’t work very well. And it is here that I leave you with “the sigh”… it’s a well-known gesture in the female line of my family.
Happy, Awesome Outrageous Incredible 2011… May this year be a good friend to all of you!
One day, not long from now, George will actually turn his head when this wave of femininity crosses his path:
What happened to the sweet days of Star Wars?
Do you remember the Rajasthan door frame from last year? This year Jim got a Raj grain mini-silo:
Some days you just gotta go upside down to see the world straight:
This ear didn’t fall off from that third-world-like piercing, but the other one is still infected… I’m now too far into the suffering to let it close. (And Dr. Van, can you help my chin? These are the scars from three enormous pimples, nicknamed by my girlfriend: William, Robert and Richard at their height, now Bill, Bob and Dick. The joking goes way down hill from here… )
The dog should be India’s mascot. This guy is one of four who live on this stretch of beach:
Belly-up to the pharmacy. You can get many many drugs this way without a prescription. Retin A anyone? Ambien? Antibiotics? Painkillers? Here you can see the local skirts the guys wear:
Just before returning to Delhi after a week of living in a “nature-cooled” grass hut: