Saturday, November 21, 2009

"The whole life starts with broom actually"

-Kuldeepji. I don't know what he meant by that.

So I have a lot of things to update you about, especially how crazy the post office experience was yesterday, but I have this rambly disorganized thing written up that I guess I may as well post now..

Written 2 nights ago:

First of all, a big digital bear hug to Auntie Violy and Auntie Pat, for sending me such an amazing package!!! I can't believe how much ma pa and ma hu you sent. I am definitely not going to lack for protein for the rest of my time here! ^_^ It's great to have green tea again too, it came just in time--I was on my last bag of genmai cha that my parents sent me. And the Tim Tams!!! Ahhhh! Pure deliciousness. Thank youuu! Oh and also the cheese you sent is pretty cool, I've never had anything like it before, and it's a great supplement to my otherwise calcium-lacking diet.

& thanks to my parents for the two kinds of tea you sent (the ginger was especially nice when my throat was freaking out in the transition to dusty Jodhpur). The spearmint gum was exactly what I needed, and the rice candy and my favorite fruity Japanese gum were wonderful surprises. That was an extremely well-packed box! Oh, and all my classmates were very happy to receive the SPF social security chapstick, Thanks also for the birthday card.

& thank you to my confirmation sponsor Mrs. Shraiberg for the beautiful card you sent me, and the article about Frankfurt! =) they were delightful.

Physical changes -
* nails - they've been polish-less this entire trip, which has been an adjustment. For the past year for whatever reason it was my weekly ritual to repaint my nails; it was something calming I would do to force myself to concentrate on my studies as both reading and typing can be performed without affecting one's nails, but pretty much any other activity will result in one accidentally damaging one's work. I keep my nails pretty short here too, as despite perhaps being stronger for not having been painted for a while, they get a lot more beat up here in my day to day life.
* hair - longer obviously, and sun-bleached (even where my hair has grown out and there should be no highlights I have noticeable natural ones now). Also I have a deeper appreciation for the hair genes my parents have given me--Thanks Mom & Dad!--unlike most of the girls on the trip I don't have to deal with mad frizziness. Whenever I take a rickshaw I do have to put my hair up though, or else it'll get really wind-whipped and tangled.
* skin - Jodhpur was a big adjustment; it is even drier and dustier here than in Jaipur, with random humid days, so my skin was very very angry. But with a lot of cleansing and moisturizing it's about back to normal finally. Thank you Caudalie and Queen Helene. I've definitely never lost my tan from the summer, it just keeps going and going... A week ago I got attacked by spiders in the night, so my limbs are dotted with little scabs right now :( At least the itching has mostly subsided.
* ankles - I've been wearing a pair of anklets constantly since my host family gave me them over breakfast one day, so a little tinkling sound accompanies my every leg movement. Sometimes I have to adjust the way I sit because of the anklets; the beads can really hurt if I don't pay attention
* ears - I have become much more conscientious about wearing earrings, whereas back home more than half the time I go out without any, whether by choice or through forgetfulness. Here if a girl isn't wearing earrings people will notice right away and demand to know why, so wearing them all the time saves time and awkwardness

Circumstance changes in Jodhpur:

We are being oppressed by spoiled little boys. They get into our yard (even though it's clearly private property; there's a big metal gate with two types of bars to keep it shut) and run around being as loud as possible, hitting things around with their cricket bat (when they are using a ball this makes an intense booming sound against whatever part of our building they're hitting it to), and sometimes even taking a wall hanging on our porch off its hook and carrying it around, or tearing apart plants in our garden. The walls are so thin/the window closest to my bed has a hole in it, so it sounds like they are right in the room with us. And our room is on a corner, so when they run around it's like they're all around us. It's so claustrophobic/alarming. The first time this happened, it was around noon on Sunday. (We had been sleeping in and were awoken by them.) We called Anitaji, who told us not to go outside, and that she would call neighbors to make them leave. Soon the children were yelled at and they left. However the second time it happened was early in the morning during the week, when children would usualllllly be at school. We called Anitaji, she said "oh, they're just playing" but still said she would tell the neighbors to get them away. It took much, much longer for that process to take place this time. Then another morning they were in our yard, and since Anitaji had been so dismissive last time we decided not to bother her with it. Having never contronted the children before and hoping that us coming out would scare them away, we left the house while we still heard them out there. We did some glaring and made as much noise as possible locking up the house but they didn't make a move to leave. I was the first out the gate and I just held it wide open, indicating that they ought to leave, but they didn't, and Basanti ended up closing the gate with them inside. (One of the bars is on top of the gate so it can be easily undone from either side; she didn't do the one that would have been harder for them to get undone.) It was especially bad because there was clearly an adult right across the street (these are narrow streets, so no more than 10 feet away) watching the kids and not caring that they were invading our space. This morning the children were out there again. We are pretty sure we heard them talking about us. They started doing stupid things like shouting nursery rhymes at the top of their lungs, clearly hoping to get a reaction out of us/see us again. We heard someone tell them to leave, and they did for a while, but then they came back. This happened twice. It was so infuriating. It's hard knowing they have no fear of authority. Once we heard a female neighbor talking to them and they just shouted back at her and didn't leave. And the thing is other people live in the back of this guesthouse, so we can't set up booby traps or do things to make it more difficult to get in and out through the gate. It's so frustrating that the one place where we're supposed to feel safe and able to breathe in this city is being infringed upon, and there's nothing we can do about it.

A couple days ago we were walking home from our internship and these two little boys (they didn't look like they were from the neighborhood, their clothes were dirty) ran up to us and asked us to give them five. I thought they seemed harmless enough and I was in a decent mood so I replied "nahi..." instead of just walking past silently. But the fact that I responded to them at all seemed to set off a trigger or something and they just started really getting all up in my business, tugging at my bag and (as I told them to leave, and B & I started walking faster) hitting me in a particularly inappropriate place. >: Basanti raised her voice a lot more and they finally scampered off. RRR.

Speaking of which, one of the most unexpected forms of harrassment I've experienced:
whenever other students and I try to get rickshaws near all the temples by where my host family lives, we get asked for money a lot, and as we are stuck in traffic or before our rickshaw pulls away they will sometimes touch your feet (a sign of respect, so they're trying to be humble to guilt you into giving them sth) or nudge you in the arm repeatedly. That is fairly standard and makes sense on some level. But this one girl literally touched me in the most awkward, inappropriate part of my torso. Not once, but twice!! so that was clearly what she was aiming for. Shudder. I was so taken aback. That's the closest I've gotten to physically retaliating; after the second time it happened I raised my hand abruptly in anger/warning and finally the rickshaw pulled away.

Also the thing about children here is it seems like they tend to find really unfortunate things hilarious. Once when we were at the juice stand we saw a man who looked truly insane; he was standing in the street and was shaking his head around and around in this really intense way as he stumbled back and forth. A group of children kept running up to throw rocks at him, and laughing as he chased them away in fury. Then he would go back to his head spinning, and they would come back and throw more rocks...
There's a couple other things I have to say on this topic but I think I may have posted about them before, will check and get back to you if I haven't.

It was funny, the other day when we went to the train ticket booking office, Basanti and I both noticed an Indian man wearing a hiking backpack, something we'd never seen before. Then he spoke to us when we were in line and it turned out he was visiting from Britain; he'd worked in Jodhpur 29 years before and was coming back to see how it was doing. Anyway it was refreshing because we'd thought he was about to creep on us/try and cut us in line, but really he was just as confused as we were about what window was for what, and asked us for help. Not to say we weren't creeped on; this man came up behind me and reached his arm around to try and like, get the attention of the lady behind the window (even though I was clearly right up at the window)/physically intimidate me into stepping back, but instead I just did this little casual body adjustment as if I hadn't seen him, effectively hitting him lightly in the chest with my bag 0:). He backed off and went to a different line.

1 comment:

  1. oh zen! :O i always have so much to respond to in your entries i forget to write half of it down... but first of all - your tan - IM SO JEALOUS. im soooo pale right now, its nooot funny... and then, spiders?!!! eek, that sounds so scary, i've never been bitten by a spider before :( :( i think I'D freak out...! then - anklets! wow, you're like my mom now :) and earrings - whoa, is it that strange not to be wearing earrings? you'll have to explain that one to me when you get back...
    and the boys....!!!! no. comment.... >:\\\\!