Hey, all! It’s my last few hours here, & I’m just about all packed & ready to go. I stayed around the house today (1.may- happy May Day!), hanging w/my cousin’s 2 kids, writing a few more postcards, & packing my bags. And I just got some last vocab words from my family & had my aunt write me the Kannada alphabet. I also showed a ton of photos from my trip, which my grandmother & aunt really liked.
Here’s a few last photos for you:
Last night, out on the porch swing @ 1am (it WAS cool & almost breezy!):
The room where I’ve been staying (pre-packing my bags):
The upstairs door/living room:
The porch swing upstairs:
There are so many little things I still want to mention- like, for example, how a little lizard lives in the plants downstairs out front, & sometimes in the evenings you can see it scuttling about, or hanging out on the doorframe. My mom told me that when I was here when I was little (probably 6?), there was a lizard who lived in the kitchen & “we” named it Lizzie. Lizzie the Lizard. I told my mom that really it was probably _she_ who named it. . . (she named one of my guinea pigs, too. just trust me.) Or how everytime I come here, as soon as I get off the plane, I start subconsciously doing the side-to-side Indian head nod. Which is funny, b/c my dad has never done it- he still can’t. Nor does he have the same accent as most Indians, for the record. (when we got here, he told me something I’ve never known- that he was 4′ 6″ until he was 17! Now I can’t stop making short jokes- apparently they used to call him “short Sridhar”! 30 years, & he’s never told me!) So I do the head nod all the time, & it means all kinds of things- “yes”, “okay”, “whatever”, “I understand”, etc. I reminded my folks how when I was here (again, when I was 6) we had a car w/a driver who didn’t speak English, & I remember that I had a balloon. I was the last one to get out of the car, & he took it from me & tied it to something on the dashboard so it wouldn’t fly away. He head-nodded @ me, as it to say, “is it okay there?” & apparently I head-nodded back- my whole family thought this was HILARIOUS, & used to tease me about it all the time.
Other observations: the shows/soaps here have gotten really violent- graphic violence, usually against women, & lots of accidents & fights & blood. Disturbing. (and my grandmother watches them all day!) In the fluff media, there’s been lots of uproar about women doing things “against” Hindu & Muslim culture- Richard Gere was in India for a benefit & kissed an Indian movie star (she didn’t know he was going to do it) onstage, & she got a LOT of flack for it- people were saying she should be killed, etc. (?!) Another woman (who has a governmental position, I think) was on film giving her parachuting instructor a hug after a successful jump, & the same criticisms were given to her. So the conservative public seems to still be the majority, & vocal. My dad spent at least an hour a day, every day, complaining about “how things are done” here & my parents both would try to solve what they thought were problems (ex: traffic jams, driving laws, etc.). I mean, the way I see it, there are over a BILLION people in this country- the ratio of who’s going to “follow rules” is different, & you’ve got centuries of cultural norms to fight, not to mention gender biases, different mentalities, etc. Even just in public space things are different- people walk how they drive, w/o “order” or lanes or personal space. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, but that’s just me, for now.
I also want to describe a typical day for me here- waking up to lots of sounds outside, sometimes starting 7am: vendors walking by, shouting what they’re selling as they walk by, the CONSTANT, repetetive squeaking of the chipmunks in the trees, stray dogs barking, motorcycles & scooters & auto ricksha(w)s going by, the coconut trees in the wind (when there is some, which isn’t often!), people working on the house next door, the constant (CONSTANT) whir of the ceiling fan, the cleaning lady banging around in the kitchen or sweeping, neighbors getting ready for a marriage ceremony. . . a well-populated place means lots of goings-on! (actually, someone wrote a song about the noise pollution in Bangalore, called noise pollution- “Horn Not OK” (all the ricksha(w)s say “Horn OK Please”- which is funny to me; like anyone needs to be told to honk more!) I lie around on the futon & doze for a few hours, getting up around 9ish. I go to take a “shower”- I don’t even bother heating up the water tank, as even first thing in the morning I’m too hot! I make my way downstairs (and the mosquito feast begins, lasting on & off all day) & have my mango Corn Flakes, sometimes even chasing them w/mango juice. Then either I hang out downstairs while my grandmother watches her Tamil & Kannada soaps w/her headphones on (b/c she needs the volume up so loudly- only one of her hearing aids work, now.), or if my folks & I have something planned to do we go out, either walking around the corner to the ricksha stand, or getting picked up in a car. If I’m around the house for the day, I spend some time on lappy (my laptop) or reading or whatever. My aunt makes lunch & dinner for everyone in the kitchen- chapathis, dosas, pooris (the breads), usually some kind of vegetable/potato palia (I have no idea how to spell these words in english), homemade (sour) yogurt, etc. And @ night I usually stay up by myself for a few hours, for some real alone time. The porch, when it’s cool enough & not raining, is really peaceful- listening to the breeze in the trees & hearing animals rustling around up there, people & dogs in the distance. (but I have to say- I’m looking forward to falling asleep when I’m not uncomfortably warm!)
So there you go. (Shourav is in the other room, listening to his American pop music & singing along- it’s so cute!)
And now _I_ should go! Time for me to sign off from here. . . I’ll be back in Seattle & reachable by phone Wed. (the 2nd)after 8pm, if you get the inkling to call. (& please do! I’ll have some freetime when I get back, & I don’t want to end up in a jet-lag vortex, so call me!)
Thank you all SO MUCH for reading this & telling me yr thoughts! Y’all are the bestest.
Posted from India:
posted Tuesday May 2007