Sunday, January 23, 2011

Of MICE (actually rats) and MEN (naked) (stoned) (angry)

The rats I've seen here are the size of small dogs. If I was a small dog, I would not want to meet one of these in a dark alley.

The men I've seen here are not the size of small dogs. They live in a world of social graces far different to my own. A visit to a Jain temple in Kolkata yielded some interesting results. Sometimes cool unique stuff happens and I'm really happy to be in the right place at the right time. This was NOT one of those times. Too much nakedness and nowhere to hide. Other people taking their shoes off and bowing low on the ground before the NAKED man with the very large stomach. I was wearing hiking shoes. These babies don't just come off at a moment's notice. And so I stand there awkwardly. Bowing doesn't show off my best features anyway.

STONED foreign man sat next to me that evening doing the best he could to hammer his hash flat (to save 20 rupees on the postage) so that he could post it home. I could have done a much better job, however I wish to stay out of jail for the next 20 years.

ANGRY man was our taxi driver. We managed to haggle a good price for our trip home , however I feared for my life many times during that journey. So much anger. It seemed like a good idea at the time - to save 10 rupees (20 cents) but imagine if I died because of scrimping on 20 cents?!

India English makes me laugh all the time.

Favourite advertisement of the week?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kolkata: Seeti of Joy

The letters and numbers of the keyboard are painted on. I'm paying 10 cents for an hour of internet usage (the sign on the wall says 'not negotiable - no bargaining plz.'
I'm not sure about the chicken Jasmin ate for lunch, however the naans I had were so good I had two.
I don't think I'm quite as shocked as I was a few days ago. I can now walk the streets with less fear of being hit by any passing taxi, bus, rickshaw, bicycle, motorbike, auto rickshaw or cow.
My ears will never be the same after all constant ringing of horns, but I'm enjoying the 4am prayers that are sang across the city.
My nose and throat may take weeks to recover from the smog that hangs in the air, and I'm thus inhaling but the food is too good to even relate.
A motorbike tour around the city yesterday was the funnest thing yet. My rear is a little sore today. I'm sure we nearly died many times, thankfully all I had to do was close my eyes and hold on.
There is such a beautiful grace to be found amongst the sisters at the Motherhouse. I can't even put it into words. They let us join in with their prayers and mass and welcome us into their space. They are kind enough to include us in their tasks and to patiently show us how things are to be done in Shishu Bhaven, the home for children we have spent a couple of days in.
I was humbled by a visit to the Missionaries of Charity Leprosy Mission this morning - they keep such a pride in their center and home and it seems to be run self-sufficiently and they also make items that are needed and used at the other homes of the Missionaries of Charity.
I feel so blessed to be here - also not to have not fallen prey to the India stomach bug yet. May it stay that way.
2 more days in Kolkata - the Seeti (this means horn in Hindi - and it there are more than enough here!) of Joy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dear Sasha

Dear Sasha.

I know you remember my name. You asked me at least 10 times and we only sat together for 20 minutes at the most. It's just a little awkward for me and everyone in the vicinity to hear me repeat my name so much.

I know you're only 3 or so, but that's no excuse for telling me repeatedly about your broken truck (it only does one broooooom), all your holiday plans and giving away all your family secrets. Your parents were right there! It was just a little bit awkwardly strange.
(At what stage was I supposed to hush you and steer you away from private family details?)

And really, I think it's great that you're "going on an airplane yewwww!". Really, I do. However, it's not cool to hit the front of vending machines and throw a tantrum when your mother says no to the treats behind the glass.

If you're not careful, your parents might accidentally leave you behind at the airport next time. I didn't know how to politely refuse when they tried to give you away to me today. Please stop "being ever so trying *sigh*" as your mother put it.

Before I go, I'd like to give you a final piece of wisdom for life. It stretches before you like an open road and the world is your oyster.
However, life will not be kind to you if you ever, ever put the family flight boarding passes inside a vending machine again. This is neither good for a vending machine (surgical procedures do not do it kindly) nor for your parent's nerves.

Good luck, Sasha. Please pass my regards on to your parents.