So on Colin’s lunch hour today (he decided to take an extra long one), we had lunch at a mall near the house. Gurgaon is the mall capital of India it seems.
We also went grocery shopping since the cupboards were bare and I wanted some type of sustenance instead of relying on the cook. I still can’t get used to the maids or the cook. All of them were horrified when they saw me trying to figure out how to wash the dishes, shooing me out of the kitchen. Incidentally, I don’t think I could ever get rid of our cook – she makes the most delicious meals. I love her breakfasts (Karen would die, though – almost every dish our cook prepares has peanuts in them!) and her dinners are FANTASTIC. She always gives us tons of food. I’ve gone into psycho hording mommy mode – “Don’t throw that food away! That’s grace! Wrap it up and eat it later.” I used to laugh at her, but seriously…Gowri (sp?), the cook, has made me fall in love with vegetarian dishes. Everything is hearty and sits heavy for a while. I do love her vegetable dishes, though.
At the mall I saw a McDonald’s and ate there. Yes, I had to! It’s nice to see their fries are just as salty here as it is back in the USA. I had a choice between a chicken sandwich, filet o fish and vegetarian burger. I chose a filet of fish because I wanted fish. Big mistake. I will not ever eat at McDonald’s here ever again – I don’t care that they deliver! In case you missed my Facebook update, the number to call for McDonald’s delivery here is 66-000666. It’s no joke…it’s truly the number of the beast! I can’t believe McDonald’s delivers…I still giggle over that.
Anyway, I am in this sense of disbelief and awe…and sadness. As we drove to and from the apartment to the mall, I noticed all these shanty towns sandwiched in between these megamalls. I saw children running around in between cardboard buildings, playing amongst garbage and burning trash that kept the adults warm as they held watch over their children.
There I was, safely ensconced in our luxury car, replete with driver, complaining about new car smell while burning up from wearing too much clothing. Not more than 50 yards from me were barefooted children playing in the dirt. I mentioned it to Colin who looked me dead in the eye and said, “This is nothing. Wait till we get to Delhi.”
Later I arrived home with a full and happy tummy, putting groceries away and feeling incredibly guilty for my good luck. I drank hot tea while sitting at the desk in the computer room. I looked out the window and realized that the view I had naїvely believed to be a trash/dump was a shanty town; I believed the empty lot was a dumping ground that the kids from the apartment complex use as a playground. It hit me – they live and play there. Whole families. Again, feelings of guilt smote me. I will never complain of being cold and hungry ever again – especially while living here. I know I am lucky – I live in a heated apartment with 2 maids, I have a driver and car at my disposal. I don’t have to lift a finger to cook, clean or drive – it is all done for me every day. They don’t get a day off, but my whole stay here is one long day off.
Before I arrived in India, I had mentioned to Colin that we get rid of the maids and the cook. I may not be the world’s best cook or housecleaner but I think I am all right. All Colin said was, “You do realize you will be putting people out of work by doing so.” Work is hard to come by and we have people relying on us to feed their families and keep the roof over their heads. I guess I’m having a hard time trying to reconcile myself with the fact that people are depending on us for their livelihood when all our lives we have relied on others…I don’t even know if I’m making sense. This is a feeling I can’t really quite articulate adequately and I feel like I’m messing it up horribly by trying to explain it, so I’ll just stop now and hope you understand what I am getting at.
At the mall, Colin told the driver to park in the parking structure. Before entering the structure, we had to stop and this female guard was banging on the window. My first instinct was to check if the door was locked and tell the driver to get us the hell out of here! Haha. But Colin told me to open the door, so I did. Seems they wanted to know if I was carrying a purse or handbag because if I was, they were going to search it for bombs or a gun! It happened to me the other night when Colin and I went to the mall – I got patted down and had a metal detector run over me to make sure I wasn’t carrying anything explosive. It was an odd feeling…I guess this is how it feels to be in high school in America?
I know it’s a precautionary measure…one I’ve never had to really think of, to be honest. I grew up in America never having to worry about things like this, 9/11 aside. The Indians have had to worry about Pakistan and other conflicts so it’s just another one of their preventative measures.
I still can’t believe I’m here!!!