So it’s Sunday, and my first weekend here. I’m feeling a bit ‘blah’ today, despite having had my first good sleep since arriving. I think now that I’m human again (rather than a jet-lagged robot), the reality is setting in: “Ack – what have I done?!”. It’s quite a thing to be so far from friends and family. Not that there isn’t great people here, who are turning into close friends and companions. But the environment here is a bit jarring, to say the least. And it’s been a year since I was here last, so I don’t have my “sea legs” quite yet. Here is what I have to work on getting used to so I can again find the zen attitude I had when I left Delhi last November:
- Traffic! Bad enough to be in a car, but walking is positively scary. There are really sidewalks to speak of, and cars make no effort to accomodate you to cross or even walk along the road. Instead, they honk. And speed up.
- Smells! This won’t surprise anyone about India. But they might be interested to know that there is a completely open sewage system right near my apartment. Referred to by my roomate as “the disgusting canal”. A useful landmark to help find one’s way around the neighbourhood, but surprising given that this is one of the more swank neighbourhoods in Delhi.
- Groceries… Where the heck do I find the food that they actually eat here? This is surely just a product of living near a market that specializes in imports, so I can find a lot of things I recognize but pay exorbitant amounts of money for them. We currently have a maid who we can pay to cook for us, but she’ll be away for a while so I want to take the chance to become a bit more independent. I’ll have to stumble on some better places to find food before then!
Anyway, had a nice day yesterday. Me and my roomate (a man from the UK also working here as a consultant for about 3 weeks at a time) went shopping. He wanted a blouse for his wife, I just wanted to look around and maybe find some more clothes for work. We had a few interesting happenings, including him getting felt up by a Hijra (a he-she, or member of the third gender – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijra_%28South_Asia%29), and taking the slowest auto rickshaw in Delhi and worrying we wouldn’t make it up any hill we came across. We successfully found some nice shirts for his wife, and a beautiful rust-coloured pashmina for me. Which I wore out to dinner, despite the fact that it was 30 degrees.
Before the shopping trip, I met my landlady and landlord for the first time. They are a couple both in their 80’s and originally from Pakistan. They fled during the partition, because they are Hindu and it was becoming a Moslem country. He was a soldier who fought in a few wars, including 2 years in Italy during World War II. They are a lovely and welcoming couple, and I feel quite lucky to get the chance to meet them and see their home. I am planning to return to their house sometime this week, so I can play guitar and sing for them, and she can play her synthesizer! Should be quite the concert.
I’ve attached some pictures of my apartment – enjoy!