Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

The Post in Which I Whine (yeah, I know big surprise...)

Sometimes, India gets me down.

It could be the heat (well over 100°F and on its way to 120°F), from which there is no relief. People, 43 to date in Ahmedabad alone, die in this heat. I've spent entire weeks inside the one (barely) air-conditioned room in our apartment with no desire to leave my cool cocoon for food, TV, or even interaction with other people. Sure, I make the occasional made dash from the bedroom to the kitchen--which is only one room over--for water (gotta stay hydrated!) but aside from that, I barely move from the bed, which is situated in front of the air-conditioner. Seriously, the air a mere foot away from the bed is a hot, steamy, and unpleasant 92°F in comparison to the balmy84.6°F of the area directly in front of the dinosaur of an air-conditioner (this is me attempting to not complain *too* loudly as the air-conditioner was free...)

Or it could be the newspaper, The Times of India (with the Ahmedabad Mirror insert). As of late, I am convinced that one, if not both, of these papers are actually rag mag's in sheep's clothing. That is to say, they report on stories in the most salacious of manners. A typical day's paper includes, among others, stories of rape, stories of murder, stories about planes crash landing. TWO such stories have graced the paper lately. The first is some-what of a scandal as a novice, non-licensed pilot crash landed a plane (the engine when kafutz). It was initially reported that her instructor, per regulations was on board, but the Ahmedabad Mirror sensed something fishy, which it turns out was a good gut feeling as the another novice pilot, not the instructor, was on board. They ran grainy cell phone pictures prove it! In the second story, a plane carrying 120 passengers over-shot the runway and went up in flames killing everyone but eight people who managed to crawl out. Which brings me to another aspect of the paper that creeps me out: showing pictures of dead bodies. I'm not talking covered or in body bags, but broken and bloody. Bird's eye views of suicide jumpers, vehicle crash victims, soldiers shot dead by Moaist rebels. Men, women, children.

Added to the  stories of murder and mayhem, are these odd nationalistic ego-pumping stories. Today, for example, The Ahmedadbad Mirror reported that Gujarat is "among 'best prepared' to counter terror." This is ironic, and not at all funny, considering as far as I can tell some of the worst acts of terror within India originated in Gujarat and may or may not have been encouraged by high-up officials (see here, here, and here). In a similar (and perhaps less frightening manner) India in general is all about the ego-pumping. For example, rather than report on the magic of science in the latest and greatest "discovery" (I"m talking about how scientists created life), the front page article Time of India ran was all about the three "Indian" scientists that were on this team. These scientists, by the way, were as Indian as I am German, which is to say that once upon a time, some where in my illustrious bloodline there is some dude (or dudette) who was for-God's-honest, off the boat German. And lets not forget to mention the newly elected British and Trinidad and Tobago prime ministers (both women) who are "Indian" as well. On the one hand, I get it. I get wanting to not only be proud of your country, but to connect one's self to global communities. But...

While that is the tip of the "How India Annoys Tina" iceberg (don't even get me started on Cricket, and movie theaters), there are still many things I love about this country. I love that Ahmedabad, for example, rushed to the rescue of over-heated and dying bats. That a small group of people were kind enough to provide construction workers (who, apparently, aren't unionized and do not get a break during the day) and street dwellers with water during this seemingly endless heatwave. That this woman believes in the gift of life.

Most of all, I love that it is MANGO SEASON!


(4-5 kilos--that's 8-10 lbs--of Alphonso mango-y goodness for $6.81. Boo-yah!)

And in celebration of all that is mango, I give you THE MANGO SONG!



The Mango Song... (it's 5 minutes long, you really only need to listen to about 2 mintues, or two choruses)

4 comments:

Mangos!!!

Ugh on the heat. It was 85 here yesterday (in Maine, in May, which ought to be a sign of the apocalypse)and I thought that was awful. 100+ would have me whinging endlessly.


Hi Tina! Love your blog, and hoping the heat wave abates soon. I found gin & tonics to be a good remedy...remember that horrible hot train ride out of Goa? Actually I remember it as pretty awful on the way in, too...[charlotte]


Charlott, I remember that train ride being a literal pain in my ass. So glad you like the blog!


Gin and tonics...ah.

Apparently Tina should have mentioned that Gujarat is a dry state...


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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