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Day 11

Wednesday, 7 January, 2009

It was inevitable that I would fall prey to Delhi poop – when? Who knows, but it happened a lot sooner than I expected, that’s for sure. Once in my entire life have I ever felt this shitty (no pun intended), this surpasses the times I’ve had bronchitis or strep. At least with those it was just coughing and chills. This is by far much, much worse. It’s hot cold sweats, stomach cramps and the fear that anything I consume will come shooting out of my ass as soon as it passes my lips. Not pretty. TMI? Meh. If you’ve ever had food poisoning before, you know that what I say isn’t too far off from the truth. 😀 Normally my stomach rarely gets upset at anything, but here…good lord.

Oh yea…I won’t be eating fruits here – it all tastes like dirt. Colin took me to a wonderful Chinese buffet for lunch and as a dessert I had some watermelon. I’m sure Karen will relate with me on this – when our old friend Dolly would eat fruits she’d sprinkle sugar on top of it. We would look at her and shake our heads, wondering what was wrong with her – the fruits were naturally sweet, why add sugar? Well, now I know. It’s to take that nasty ass taste of dirt/earth off. I almost just spit it out because that was just … I feel like I should’ve just gone out by the roadside and eaten some dirt, it was that awful.

I am unusually cranky and pissy this morning. I think it’s due to the dogs that bark non-stop at night. It’s not like it’s intermittent, it’s constant, like the air being hazy and smoke filled. I am venturing out on my own little by little each day, taking my time in getting accustomed to the whole way of life.

People can say whatever they want about women’s rights in America, but I really don’t want to hear any woman bitch until they come here. No man looks me directly in the eye and if they do I have to avert mine lest they think I’m hitting on them…a lovely thing that was told to me by a native here. If any of you had ever read or seen Jewel in the Crown, it was told then, but to think that decades later it still holds true? Absolutely insane. Colin has told me about a new programmer he’s hired – she is massively talented and can go far, but she’s newly married…and her in-laws as well as her husband want her home, being the dutiful wife…so he will probably lose a talented coder because of tradition. Really, women of Europe and America, seriously shut up till you’ve lived in another country where it’s a male dominated society.

Part of the reason I am hesitant and reluctant to step out on my own is the fact that I am an American woman who knows nothing of the language here. I’m curious and I want to see, don’t get me wrong. I want to experience it all, but I’m also cautious as well. I’m absolutely useless when they speak English to me – it is so heavily accented that I’m sure they think I’m the one who has problems understanding English. I know I’ll adapt, it’s all a matter of training my ear to the accent. A bit like Scotland…I’m so used to hearing a Scottish accent from living there and the fact Colin has that same accent. I’m worried that once I am attuned to the way English is spoken here, I’ll be going back home and still stare at my family like, “what the hell are you all saying?”

I think I’ve mostly kicked the jet lag. It also helps to get here super late at night like I did and sleep like it’s a normal schedule. I still do get tired at about 10pm/11pm as opposed to back in AZ where I’d be staying up until 5am. I’m up at 7 or 8 am here and I have breakfast with Colin before sending him off for work. Then I lock myself in the computer room in an effort to stay warm because it’s cold in the apartment…and from experience I’ve learned that the coldest rooms will inevitably be the warmest when the heat hits…so this apartment will be like an oven. Urgh. To keep warm, I am working on a blanket. What’s great about that is that while working on the blanket it sits across my lap, keeping me nice and toasty! 🙂

Oh, to stop the Delhi poops I have taken some of the travel meds I received – Ciproflaxacin (Cipro). It works wonders – I think I’m doing all right now. I am not too sure where I got the loosie pewps from, though. I’m in a fairly controlled environment, but I think I got it from some water that wasn’t as “pure” as it claimed to be.

Lucky me…haha.

-Carinae-

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Day 9

Monday, 5 January, 2009

Wait, that’s not how the song goes! It’s purple rain, purple rain…but here in India, it certainly feels like a purple haze.

I know the sky is blue, but I’ve yet to really see it. I miss blue skies, not grey smog.

Air quality is massively shitty. I have zero desire to pick up a cigarette thanks to trash burning and the construction dust – there enough pollution in my lungs without adding that. It’s even a bit hazy in the apartment, but it’s nothing like outdoors. I hate the black boogers that come out of my nose…TMI? Well, like that’s ever stopped me before! I actually have coughing fits that won’t stop until an hour or two later. It certainly makes my walks around the apartment building a bit hard. I hate coughing…so I sometimes stay indoors and forego the walks, but I love seeing the little stray dogs.

There is one stray dog whose picture I try to take but he somehow eludes me each time…He/she is probably about 4-5 months old and is so damn adorable. The dog loves people and is such a clown by nature – right down to it just walking or running. I can’t describe it, but saying the dog has clown antics is not too far off from the truth. I swear, that dog is just so uncoordinated when it walks and runs it cracks me up. It’s also the puppy/dog that has the little Hindu marking between his eyes, on his forehead. I wonder what deity he worships? Haha. The dog is so friendly, it comes running and is truly a sight to behold, legs flying in all directions complete with head flopping about and tongue hanging out. I swear, that dog smiles. Sadly it’s a stray and I’ve already been told by the guards to not play or pet the dogs.

The puppy’s mother likes to sleep on the mat outside of our apartment door. I suspect it’s slightly warm and she loves the garbage we leave outside for the men to pick up every morning. The men don’t get here on time and the dog usually tears through the food that we throw out…I hate how food is disrespected here, I guess. So there is a huge mess outside the door and I freak out, thinking of roaches and ants. I just hate that there is no trash place for me to dump things. I suspect that the men who take the trash away just toss it out onto the lot behind the houses here…and that is the shanty town. I am fairly sure that once that happens, the people of that town grab the bags and look for food…after that, it’s everything that can be burned.

As I said earlier, I have issues with how food is treated here. I guess I am more like my mother than I really wanted to ever be. I’ve accepted I am like her in some ways, but I can’t believe I’m like this when it comes to food now.  For breakfast and dinner we’re given a lot of food…I mean enough to feed 4 people, not 2. Dinner has proven to be the most difficult because Gaury, the cook, loves to give us so much that Colin and I eat as much as we can…I desperately try to save the leftovers, thinking I’ll eat it for lunch, but it’s not the case. I’m usually so full from breakfast that I don’t get hungry until dinnertime, which is about 8 hours later. We have had leftovers I’ve been trying to tackle for the past week and Gaury noticed, telling me that she’s going to throw it away. Of course, my mom screaming, “Don’t throw food away – that is grace!” always goes running through my mind. Gaury’s completely right in throwing it away – it is going to spoil. What’s the point in hanging on to that?

I want to take what is left over and give it to the people in the shanty town, but I’m often told to not do that…because they will show up on my doorstep, wanting more. Simple acts of kindness are rarely done here. One day while getting gas for the car, Colin stepped out and got himself and the driver a Diet Pepsi and a samosa. The driver was surprised – things like that aren’t done here. That said, I’m truly surprised at how kind the people have been to myself and Colin. Is it a double standard? Be nice to the guests/tourists but not the natives? I am just amazed at how well Colin and I are treated, but to see regular everyday people get treated like dirt pains me. I know I’m no saint when it comes to being kind to others, but I do have some modicum of decency.

It’s strange, but I never thought I’d have to harden my heart in a strange land…

-Carinae-

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Day 4

Thursday, 1 January, 2009

I can’t believe it’s 2009 – Happy New Year! J I hope everyone had a safe time. I was just happy to be with Colin.

I miss my little puppy Rex so much, but am extremely happy I didn’t bring him with me. On my first day here, I went for a walk around the building. Not the actual apartment complex itself, but just the building. For those of you who know me in real life, you know my notoriously bad sense of direction – I can’t find my way out of a paper bag if my life depended on it. I am not kidding about that.

Anyway, on my first day here, in an effort to stave off the jet lag that was threatening me at 2 in the afternoon, I decided to go for a walk around the building…and encountered the wild dogs. I was a bit put out, but thought nothing of it…until one of them started growling at me, alerting the other dogs that came running. At this point, I knew I was outnumbered and wondered what was going to happen to me. Before I could do anything, an apartment guard came and literally beat the dogs to keep them off me. I heard them whimpering as they ran away. Then I noticed the sign that was a few feet away – DO NOT FEED STRAY DOGS.

I came back from my walk a bit shaken and a little confused. I’m a huge dog fan. I miss my little Rex-Rex so much, but I keep thinking that if he had been with me, those dogs would’ve gone right for him and who knows what would have happened, or what I would’ve had to do after. A few hours later, I took a pic of one of the stray dog that got beaten…it had dug itself a small place in the dirt keep warm while napping, which happened to be right outside my window. It’s such a cute little dog. Who would’ve ever thought that thing could be so menacing?

I’m still in awe over the cows out here. One had wandered past the gate and made it into the apartment complex. It was standing under my window, just hangin’. We had brief eye contact because I had opened the window and squealed in delight. It was like, “Sup? Got milk?” I was going to take a picture, but the guards came by and herded it out the way it had come in, which was past the guards. Oh yea…the guards here salute Colin and myself whenever we are driving in or out of the apartment complex! Very odd to me, but yet I find it utterly charming.

Cows and cars rule the road here. Colin keeps threatening that he will make me cross the street to get to the little café. While we’ve been driving, I’ve been so grateful for the driver…really, this is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Horns are always used, lines and lanes are arbitrary – it’s merely decoration. I just am so overwhelmed whenever we are in traffic or just going somewhere that involves getting in the car. I feel like I’m in my own little personal game of Frogger – we’re leaping across lanes of traffic and crazy people and if we make it to our destination safely, we’ve won! I wish I had my video camera because one has to see it to believe it. I will not be driving around here. I flat out refuse to. It’s downright scary.

When I first arrived in Chicago, the drivers scared me. I could, and still do, only describe their driving as aggressively polite. They’re riding your ass if you aren’t moving when the other light is changing yellow, so you can charge when it hits green for you…and they’ll take off down a 35mph zone at 50, yet will stop on a dime if someone is crossing the road, regardless of whether they are using the crosswalk or not. I think of my time back in Chicago as a bit surreal – I know I was there, I lived through it…hell, I still have the City of Chicago sticker on my windshield! lol

Colin and I are off to the markets today because I want to check out some yarn. It’s been so f***ing cold that I feel compelled to crochet a blanket to keep us warm. Central heating and AC – how I miss you…

-Carinae-

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Day 3

Tuesday, 30 December, 2008

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!!!

-Carinae-

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Day 2

Monday, 29 December, 2008

The flight had been long and arduous, but not as bad I had expected. They constantly kept feeding me! So much so to the point where I was about to tell them to stop. Yes, it was that much food. Can you believe I actually said that?! Ha, ha. It was a 14 hour flight and to be honest, I thought I could hack it. WRONG! It was a total pain in the ass. However, would I do it again? YES! I hate layovers and I’ll take one layover and 200000+ hour flight over 4 plane changes. I want the most direct flight to a place I can get. I’ll tough out a long ass flight.

I flew American Airlines and let me tell you…I loved their seats – utterly spacious! Plus, the flight attendants were so friendly – I was incredibly surprised. The bitchiest flight attendants I have ever come across was United. Everyone else had been indifferent, but I don’t know what it was about this particular American Airlines flight, but the women who worked it were so friendly and wore GENUINE smiles. It was a shock, to be honest. I guess I’ve encountered so many surly flight attendants (yes, United, I speak of you) that I assumed all flight attendants were the same. These flight attendants excelled in courtesy and professionalism. Also, I think the passengers played a huge part in that, too.

A while back Colin and I flew to the UK via Virgin Airlines. I remember having to go pee so badly. The bathroom on that flight was SO horrific that I vowed I would NEVER use a public toilet ever again – I would sooner explode and die. A big exaggeration, but it was how I felt. Anyway, so there I was, years later, stuck on a 14+ hour flight, DESPERATELY needing to pee thanks to the 2 gallons of water I had consumed so I could stay hydrated. I knew that holding it was no longer an option. Imagine my surprise when I discovered clean bathrooms – all 5 times that I had to go. Colin said that Brits are notoriously inconsiderate in regards to bathroom facilities. So I had been traumatized by the Brits but not the Indians…and the Brits had the nerve to call non-Brits savages when they themselves were the very things. Oh, the irony!

I got in at 10:30 pm, despite the late start from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Thanks for making me walk to 4049058754 gates because of your changes, O’Hare. It’s like Chicago was flipping me off before I left the US because it knew how much I hated that town. Chicago’s only given me 2 things I’m grateful for – my friends Cathy and Julie. Other than that, I hate Chicago. Of course, if Cathy and Julie ever moved back to Chicago, I’d suck it up and go visit. Anyway, we got back to the apartment fairly quickly…I showered and changed and was ready to sleep at 12:30am. I was up at 7:30am, not quite sure where I was.

Oh…and the bed here in the apartment? MASSIVELY UNCOMFORTABLE, even though Colin loves it. I swear I’m sleeping on a stack of wood – it’s that hard and uncomfortable. I’ve always liked a firm mattress, but the bed is a bit ridiculous! I hope I get used to it or I’ll have to get used to sleeping on the couch. Ha, ha. Well, I’m sort of joking, but I’m really not. The bed is very uncomfortable, but it’s spacious. I’m not used to the way beds are made here – in the US it’s fitted sheet, loose sheet then comforter. Here it’s a loose sheet that’s tucked in to simulate a fitted sheet, then it’s just comforter. I’m like, “Something’s amiss…” I thought it was just lazy housekeeping. No, that’s just how it is. Colin took me out to dinner the other night in a different mall and we went to a store that had bed sheets and all that fun stuff…Sure enough, there it was sold in sets – one sheet and 2 pillowcases. Very odd, but I think I can get used to it.

The dinner Colin and I went to was wonderful – it was Indian food (duh). Colin’s gone all vegetarian on me. WTF? Seriously. W.T.F. Anyway, I had butter chicken and he had some potato curry thing…that had to be some of the best Indian food in my whole life. I think when I get back to the US I am going to be massively snobby and fussy about the Indian food I eat.

Anyway, the day is very VERY cold. Cold for India and, in my opinion, considered cold in other parts of the world – high in the day of 70F and at night 30-40F. It’s not much different than Arizona in terms of temperature…except this place has humidity and I don’t have to worry about static electricity shocks! However, my hair is reminding me why I dislike humidity..I need to find a flatiron in the mall or start ironing my hair…the frizziness is freaking me out. L

-Carinae-

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