I know, I know, it’s been a while. And actually I really regret that.
The truth is, I have felt really fatigued and overwhelmed. The weather is hot and relentlessly sunny (Not that it even rivals last July in Missouri where it was consistently above 100 degrees and 10000% humidity, but the lack of A/C anywhere makes it seem worse that what my spoiled self is used to), I get crawled on all day by children, and I have been battling some allergy issues due to the thick smog in the air, and well, I feel like I have a lot to squeeze into my last but of time here.
The sun can be pretty after 6:30 or so.
Also I will be open in saying that often times I am afraid to say things because I fear they will be offensive, even though they’re my honest thoughts, so I don’t say them at all. So I do sincerely apologize if I have ever typed anything that makes you cringe.
So there you have it, I have been feeling kind of troubled about writing. It is for that reason that I am going to have a free write right here, right now.
Buckle your seat belts! Oh wait, they don’t have those in India…
I have learned some things from working at the shelter. I call it shelter because Ashray means shelter and I think it sounds less demeaning than orphanage and a little more hopeful.
1. No amount of green snot dripping from the nose can stop you from enjoying your morning snack. Try to wipe it and you die. Bananas taste better with a little green goo.
I just made myself gag. I bet Kimmy did, too.
2. No matter how useless something is to you, you want it and you need it, if someone else has it. What’s that? One half of a broken yoyo? A lifeless Angry Birds fan? A shoe for a four year old girl and I’m a ten year old boy? NEED IT.
3. You can never check enough times for lice. I get groomed daily for lice, sometimes by multiple children, always girls. I think it’s kind of endearing that they see my long hair and feel like they need to check to make sure it’s not infested. It’s also a little sad for me when I start thinking that they are checking me for lice because their mothers probably checked them daily for lice before their hair got hacked off, and now they have neither a present mother, nor hair. But at the end of the day, they seem happy, and I am happy, because who doesn’t want a free lice check!?
I have also learned that strange things happen a lot, and that’s okay, they make life interesting.
1. Two days ago I visited a park called the Hanging Garden and I got followed around by a boy named Rafi who was selling peacock feathers and must have felt like I was an easy target. What he didn’t realize is that he was just wasting his time, but I quite enjoyed the conversation.
He said he is 23 and has a 20 year old sister. His grandma makes the peacock fans and he kept fanning me with it saying things like, “You need this for when you go to fancy events at the Royal Palace in England.” This really confused me, but i let it happen.
He followed me for 15 minutes talking my ear off, though I didn’t feel threatened by him, I think he was also maybe bored. He kept trying to convince me that of course I could fit a fan in my suitcase, between my clothes, but I kept telling him I had no interest in buying it because I really didn’t have room or need for it. He also kept calling me Juniper and saying that he thought it was a great name. I agree, Juniper is a fantastic name, though as a five year old it sure ticked me off when Grandpa Bill called me that.
Finally I said, “Rafi, I really have to go now, and I have no intentions of buying a fan, but I wish you the best of luck. I also told him I wasn’t planning to punch him, but that it had happened in the past when another boy wouldn’t leave me alone” And he said, “But Juniper, you are my friend now, please don’t go. I’ll give you one for 200 rupees!” I again declined, and on the way out met another boy selling fans who said, “Madame, fan? 100 rupees!” I said, “Hey, I already talked to Rafi, and no, I don’t want one, but he was trying to sell to me for twice the cost!”
This sparked an argument between the two, and I scooted out. I was then offered to buy Kama Sutra by three, different, creepy, old men. No, no, and no.
Dammit Rafi, you had me fooled.
2. A few days back, while walking up the stairs at Bandra Station in the stampede of people, a boy stepped on my shoe and sent it flying backwards down the stairs. I wasn’t mad at all, those things happen, more flustered really that I had to backtrack and afraid that I would be walking to work barefoot.
Bandra Station from the outside so that you can imagine me here, losing shoes and grabbing butts.
No worries. I got the shoe. I walked up the stairs with it and then put it on once the platform cleared a little. I wasn’t honestly thinking much of it when I saw two boys come running at me, speaking loudly.
Again, i didn’t think anything of it because it was in Hindi and I didn’t understand. I was kind of day dreaming in my own world.
Next thing I knew the boy is waving in my face like, hello! Anybody home!? Then he said, “Ah, no Hindi! Tkay.” and walked away, still looking back at me, smiling.
I realized after tuning back in to reality that he was the boy who has pulled my shoe off and he was apologizing. It was really sweet.
3. Yesterday I was walking to the post office to mail a birthday note to Grandpa Frank when I got hit in the head by something kind of sharp. I looked down, feeling concerned, and then jumped backwards in a flash when I realized that there was a chicken foot laying there on the ground in front of me.
YES, YOU READ IT RIGHT. A SINGLE, DETACHED, CHICKEN FOOT. THAT WAS REAL LIFE.
Feeling disturbed I looked up slowly to find a crow looking at me making this noise, as if it were laughing. Can you believe it that a crow dropped a chicken foot on my head?
So many questions. Why did a crow have a chicken foot? Where is the rest of the chicken? Was that drop on my head calculated? Why was the chicken foot gone again on my way back?
I am kicking myself for not taking a photo for proof…
And finally i will wrap this up by relaying some things about India that once confused me. Finally three months later I am starting to figure them out.
1. ONLY. Indians add the word only to the end of a lot of sentences, but they don’t really mean only. “You should go to the market only.” Are you telling me that I should only go to the market it and nowhere else? No, you aren’t. I don’t know why you are saying only. I have spent countless hours in my head trying to figure out if it means something and the simple conclusion: Nope, not at all, only.
So next time you are in India, add “only” to the end of any sentence and they may assume you are a local.
2. Yes ma’am!? Every time I walk down the street every single hawker and their father who sees me and my whiteness says to me, “Yes, ma’am?” The thing is i never make eye contact or act interested in their product, it’s just what they say to foreigners. For the longest time I have been asking myself, self, why are they asking me ‘yes ma’am?’ Yes ma’am, what? I didn’t ask them a question. why are they saying yes? What does this mean? I don’t get it. It really gave me a bother for quite some time because I JUST DID NOT GET IT.
Then one day it occurred to me, why are you letting them have all the fun?
Now I walk down the streets saying, “No, Sir, No Sir, No Sir.” It feels great. They feel confused and I feel at peace.
3. removing photos, coming home, and moving out: I have been asked on multiple occasions by multiple people, “Did you remove some photos?” “When are you going to come home? You should come home soon!” and “Are you going to move out?”
To the first question I found myself thinking, What’s it to you if I deleted photos off my camera or not?
Then I realized that removing photos is the same as taking photos and now I don’t have such affliction over the question.
To the second I found myself answering, “The end of March” and sometimes thinking, Do you really want me gone so badly?
Then I realized that people say coming home to mean coming over and that it’s an invitation for me to stop by their place and that I should stop having hostile feelings and giving a look of terror to the person asking. Whoops!
To the third question I found myself thinking, Well I never really moved in per se…
And then I realized that move out doesn’t mean pack your bags and move to a new place to live. It means, get out of the house and do something. It’s slightly less drastic.
4. For a long time I pondered whether or not Indians had spicy sweat. I really was convinced that I smelled an overall spiciness to their sweat that I don’t notice in America and then found myself guilty for having such feelings.
But then it hit me; If dad can complain that he smells the garlic in my sweat and it’s making him break out in a rash, then why can’t I complain that your chili powder is oozing from your pores and the train smells like masala sweat? Exactly. And besides, it’s perfectly biological. There’s no reason why your bodily excretions should not reflect your diet. And then I felt better. Gosh, I love garlic and dad hates it. It’s so unfortunate.
This is it on my thoughts for the time being, I think that that’s enough for you to mull over for the time being.
Until next time…
Oh, and next time you eat something with a strong flavor, do me a f(l)avor and smell yourself and report back. I think there’s really something to this.