Days 29-33

Thursday, 29 January, 2009

As you can guess, this entry will be a bit of a mash-up because it’s so many days and in those few days, I did quite a bit!

So on one of those days, I was actually watching television and I saw an ad and the catch phrase was "bell bajao". I saw the ad two times in an hour, but each one was different…I was a bit intrigued because it was all in Hindi, but the phrase "bell bajao" meant (from what I could gather from the the commercial) "ring the bell". I went to the site (www.bellbajao.org) and discovered it was their campaign to end domestic violence.

I found the ‘english’ version on You Tube, well, English at the end…

I liked this commercial because milk is such an integral part of Indian life. I knew that was true from my Indian friends growing up…and I’m living in their whole milk culture. The whole point of the commercial was ring the bell and ask for a cup of milk if you hear any type of domestic abuse behind the door – you may save a life. Indians, in general are so warm hearted and kind, they will rarely deny you a cup of milk if you ask. The commercial, to me, is a bit mixed. I think interrupting something like that could only make it worse when the door closes again. But maybe that’s me. I felt that the commercial was also aimed at a certain class of people…the less educated. It’s a whole other part of the population that really is…amazing. They do the worst of the work and are literally, the main arteries for Indian life. Domestic help is usually made up of the less educated and I’ve often wondered what their homelife is like once they leave at the end of the night. While I know not every woman is beaten when their husbands return home, I know that it’s enough of the population to spur this campaign.

Speaking of women…what I find absolutely baffling is the lack of women in the work force. I go to the department stores and just the grocery stores and every single person working there is male. Frankly, I don’t think the man would understand the whole moisturize thing. :p Also, it’s hard to discuss tampons and pads with a male clerk…unless he’s experienced the monthly joy, he really has no business talking tampons with me…I kid you not on that. Anyway, the lack of women in the work force astounds me and it seems that women are more fitted to working in homes — cooking and cleaning. The Indian government has taken great steps (kudos to them, btw) in enticing women to go into a more diverse workforce outside of domestic help. Women are given a substantial tax break and are frequently encouraged to work in an office setting. I can see that traditions are very hard to break in India, but the traditions are one of the things I really like about this country.

As I said before, the poverty astounds me…but the generosity of the people really shines through. They share what little they have with you. It’s amazing.

On the downside, as you will see in my other post about the bureaucracy, it’s an intensely rigid nation when it comes to their systems of forms and filling them out. I was doubly horrified to see how my paperwork would be "filed" after it was all done — tied up with blue twine (I kid you not on this), then tossed into a pile. I should have taken a picture of the place. Really, it was astounding…nevermind the fact that the police station looked like an abandoned building where people went to bury the proof of their evil deeds. Oprah talked about "no second location" and I have to tell you, for a red hot moment when colin and I first pulled up to that building, my mind was screaming, "NO SECOND LOCATION". Then I saw people coming in and out of the building and I was fine. :p

Where they fail in bureaucracy and overall WTF moments, I have to say…they truly excel in customer service. I am SPOILED…well, cleaning issues aside. 😉

On Sunday, Colin’s boss and his wife took us out to show us around for jewelry…the day before colin took me to Gold Souk, a shoping mall about 20 mins from here completely dedicated to jewelry. I nearly fainted. I didn’t know what to say. I was floored…flabbergasted. I couldn’t say anything more than a few swear words because I was so astounded. It was like a wet dream…a beautiful mall housing spectacular jewelry. I never really appreciated Indian jewelry before because I deemed the gold too yellow and gaudy (it still is) but that was because I had seen it in cheaply made ways. The craftsmen they had here that produced the work was just…it really blew me out of the water. In going to the jewelry mall near the house and jewelry shops in South Delhi, I can fully appreciate Indian Jewelry.

Now, I always see the huge necklaces and everything so big and bold…I was always like, "who would seriously wear this, let alone buy it?" Well, I have my answer — the big showy pieces are bridal jewelry. Tanvee, Colin’s boss’s wife, told me that the very rich will just wear bridal jewelry like regular jewelry…and man, they are carrying around some serious stuff!

On that particular day (Sunday) I also got to experience street food — oh my! It was awesome…Tanvee was kind enough to show me where there was a yarn store — been dying to keep my hands busy during the day and frankly, walking and checking email just doesn’t quite cut it. I had brought along my crochet hooks and I had been hunting down yarn (aka wool thread here)…I found a couple of places that carry what I want. Right next door to the yarn store was street food. Earlier in the day we found people roasting something like sweet potatoes, sprinking them with some kind of masala then topping it off with lemon juice. I was dubious about tasting it, but they were so kind, I would feel absolutely rude in saying no….I am so glad I didn’t. It was so YUMMY! I can’t even begin to describe how happy it made my mouth. LOL It was better than any sweet and tangy type of candy you could ever find…and I have never been a big fan of sweet potatoes, but I sure am now. Anyway, after all that, it was a whole day of eating small snacks and wandering around vendors…so imagine my surprise at the end of the night with the yarn…and Colin and Manwen (his boss) disappearing only to be standing at a vendor for food.

I have a great appreciation for street food now and when I go back to the US I know I will miss it dreadfully.

Before I end this post, here are some random things I have to share with you all because I find it absurdly funny and I hope you might, too…

– Men just stopping wherever on the side of the road or in the city, whipping it out and just peeing wherever. It baffles me, yet disturbs me
– Families of 4 riding home on a motorcycle. Yes, all 4 of them, sans helmet, puttering away on their Hero Honda motorcycle.
– Crossing freeways…people who cross freeways and the people who STOP for them on the freeways. It really troubles me.
– The little watering holes where the water buffalos stop and rest…one day I saw a little boy emerge naked from the water…and his mother handed him a towel.
– The cows! they’re everywhere…even in front of the malls. It cracks me up.
– While it’s funny during the day, at night it’s a whole other story — the GODDAMN BRAYING DONKEYS

Ok, that’s it. I think I’ve exhausted my little pea brain.



Day 34
The Wish List

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