Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

Be It Ever So Humble...

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What a week(ish)! About a week ago we moved into our Raj Palace flat (our spacious, three bedroom, three bath flat). It was, to say the least, a total mess when we arrived. The place had been abandoned for about eight months and looked it. The floors were dirty, the dust thick on everything it touched, one of the bathroom doors was literally rotting off the hinges, the front balcony was covered in a layer of bird dookey and the back balcony was inhabited by two baby pigeons in a box layered with about an inch of bird feces. And yet we were ecstatic to move in, roll up our sleeves and start making it into a home.


Flash forward one week--a week of feverish cleaning defined by Cinderella style floor scrubbing (yes, I mean hands and knees, with a scrub brush and a bucket of hot soapy water), furniture moving, and decoration ogling. The basics are in place--couch and two chairs (furnished by the Shah's), television (complete with a zillion channels of cable--three quarters of which are in some dialect or another of Hindi and thus, practically unwatchable, but hey, its cheap at $100 for the entire year), and the piece de resistance: A HINCHKO (aka porch swing). So yeah, its swank (or at least will be) and we're sitting pretty. We'll probably get it just perfect in time to leave for the states.


Other than that, things are settling down into a rhythm. Steve and I are apparently creatures of the night and can't get to sleep prior to 2 a.m., which makes the pre-alarm wake-up (aka pigeons crash landing on the air conditioner) at 8 a.m. a bit rough. I've begun to wage war on the pigeons--those flying sacks of poop and disease--and have managed to aggressively dissuade them from lighting on or in any outside space EXCEPT this air conditioner in our room. Every morning I swear the same two or three pigeons glide in with buckets on their feet and land on this air-conditioner and commence bickering and b*tch slapping each other with their wings, causing me to rocket out of bed and rap the glass. Of course, by the time I blearily fling open the curtains, they're gone, two shadows lifting off and scoffing at the crazy human banging on the window.


However, once Steve and I do drag ourselves out of bed (usually around 9-10 a.m.) we fix breakfast, take a "tubby" (aka bathe out of a bucket as the shower-head is hooked up to the cold water only), and Steve heads out for the day. I putz around--sometimes writing, sometimes reading, mostly working up the courage to step out into the world by myself (I know, I know, grow a pair Tina!)--and wait for Steve to come home. This, I assure you, I plan to change... once I shrug off my shut-in status.


Once Steve returns, we usually catch up on the day, maybe go shopping for groceries, and then fix food. And let me tell you--I love cooking here. Its quick, mostly easy (except for the rice), and delicious. So far we've made Channa Masala (chickpeas in "gravy"), stir fry (our first dinner--see below), Alloo Matar (potatos and peas), Gajar Matar (carrots and peas), Ghobi of my own creation (cauliflower), and Paneer Capiscum (a sort of tofu-like cheese and green pepper stir-fry). Some learning experiences along the way (i.e. prepare everything ahead of time as actual cooking time is roughly 10 minutes, thus one does not have time to prep while cooking), and I am begrudgingly beginning to enjoy the pressure cooker (it makes a bit too much noise for my liking, and it spits at me).


Other than that... not much to report just yet. Most still settling in and gettin' used to the place. I am determined to make friends with the local stray dogs (one I have named Pavarati because he does not bark, rather he yodels and sings--the others do nothing but bark at me because I look and sound strange, which of course makes the neighbors laugh) and the veggie lady who comes by every morning. She seems amiable enough...

1 comments:

Chin up Tina. Get out there and see some India. What're you writing? Keep us up dated.


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The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Alladin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
- Mark Twain

In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.
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If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.
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