Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

A Quickie

Not much new to report here. 
Steve's colleague Audrey is here visiting for a few days; she's trying to get access to some manuscripts at the LD (the library Steve's been doing work at) and then we're all off to Baroda (Vadodara is an alternate, newer spelling) for a few days. From what I've read, is a pretty enlightened, modern city. 

We continue we wage war on the pigeons; I suspect, on the sheer amount of pigeon turd on the balcony, they are winning. In a similar manner, it appears we are waging a battle against our domestic help, who cannot seem to show up in a timely manner or with some regularity. I know, I know, I know. Hold up a titch, you're saying. Domestic help? 

Here's the short version of the story. We have a girl (some times a pair of girls) who come to our flat four days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) to clean and do laundry. Nothing big, and definitely nothing I wouldn't do myself (and probably should do myself but...). I mean, she does dishes, and if you know me, you know how much I hate doing this particular chore!

So Mrs. Shah arranged for the chokidar's (a chokidar is a watchman of sorts, he monitors who gets in and out of the building) daughter for us. This girl/young lady is supposed to come four days a week. We originally requested that she come, as stated, every other week day and once on the weekend and either at or around 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.  We've repeated this desire a few times, she has acknowledged and even repeated our instruction. However, she continues to show up sometime around 2 p.m. in the afternoon. This wouldn't be a problem if I were okay with being a bored "housewife" chained to my flat and glued to the TV all day. But I am not--I like to get out, I like to go to the LD (Steve's "office"--the library) and work in its cool, mosquito free bowels. So sometimes she comes early, sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes, she doesn't show up at all. 

This past weekend, we had plans to go to Karsan-bhai's (the librarian) house for dinner. The girls didn't show on Friday, so Steve, fed up, called early in the day. She indicated that she would be right up. So we waited... and waited... and waited. So Steve called a second time. And then a third. Finally, our girl showed up--about hour before we needed to leave--and Steve LOST it. He yelled, loudly and with wild gesticulations. While he fumed (and in his defense, rightfully so as we are paying this girl--handsomely I might add--to provide a service and in a timely manner)--she cleaned. She apologized afterward, pulling her ears in contrition, and agreed to show up today (Sunday) to clean prior to our guest getting here. I have never seen our place so spic and span. 

So we wait. And hope that we have reached some kind of detente. 


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Hodgepodge and Miscellany

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.
- Appolonius Tyanaeus

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.
-Romain Rolland