Thursday, June 11, 2009

Daily Routine

Alarm goes off.
I realize it's 5:30 in the morning.
Hit snooze.
Wake up for real, against all desire to sleep until the sun is fully above the horizon...
"Aman, wake up"
Wash face.
Brush teeth.
Tie up hair.
No make up.
T-shirt, weird pants (made by our India seamstress and deemed appropriate exercise wear by cultural standards...)
Walk with Chandrika 2 blocks.... we're both still asleep.
Simon, the stray dog that escorts us about town, spots us and climbs the fence to greet us...
Pretend to meditate.
"Once more.... once more... once more..."
I don't think my guru really knows the meaning of "once more..."
Pretend to meditate... again...
Walk home.
Peanut butter.
"You don't eat enough" (in Malayalam)
"Sorry Thankamma"
Catch an auto.
We get stared at... a lot...
So we stare back.
Feel no more fear in India traffic... almost...
"Turn left.... no wait... the next street.... I think...."
"20 rupees!"
"No. 15."
"Bend your knees... slap your feet... you don't make sound! You're supposed to make sound!"
Te-ah-te... Te-ah-te...
Catch an auto.
"Kamleshveram Street...I think..."
"20 rupees!"
"No. 15."
Shower Shower Shower Shower
Peanut butter.
"You don't eat enough!"
"Sorry Thankamma..."
Malayalam with Professor Nayar
"Malayalam malayalam malayalam..."
Tea with Professor Nayar.
He's a cute old man, and he knows it.
He could talk for a million years on any topic in the world... true story.
"Information information information..."
Coffee coffee coffee
Walk walk walk to the corner store
We get stared at some more....
So we stare back.
Walk walk walk back
"This movie's bad"
"This movie's funny"
"Irrelevant chat chat chat..."
Peanut butter.
"You don't eat enough!"
"Sorry Thankamma..."
"I'd eat grilled cheese" (To myself).
Routine power outage at 9:30.
Bed time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I've been in Kerala for little more than a week now, and thankfully, my body finally seems to be adjusting. I am gladly acclimating to the combination of the ridiculous heat and the constant exertion... exertion from yoga, from bharatnatyam, from walking to and fro... exertion from eating, from talking, from sleeping, you would think from the way we sweat through all of these activities... The heat is not the only variable that I've needed to adjust to... the people (even the Americans I live with)... my lack of knowledge of Trivandrum, and my need for accompanyment to prevent getting lost... my inability to fully communicate with most people I encounter...even the food...(it has become a mission of ours to seek out good, authentic American food... and it is a mission we are dedicated to... Tip: Indian pizza does not taste like American pizza)...Thank God for peanut butter... I don't think I would have eaten at all today if I hadn't had peanut butter... My stomach is homesick... my stomach misses barbecue potato chips, and Coldstone ice cream, and Ramean noodles and cinnamon rolls, and lasagna... my stomach misses pineapple turns out I am allergic to the citric acid of the pineapple core... Isn't it ironic that I have to wait to go back to America to eat pineapple? But I am not about to break out into blisters again, not if I can help it... And while the trip to the hospital was not in a fury of emergency, and in no way traumatizing, it does not need to be repeated... If people stare at the pale American girl on the street too much, imagine how they look when she is in their hospital! Not that I was at all discreet when I realized that down the hall, and beyond the open stairwell, it was raining... Rain! I was eager for a break in the heat, and of course had to release my enthusiasm in an exclamation of "Rain!"... for that, I couldn't blame those who stared... But on the street, no no no, look straight ahead, you're with your wife, stop staring at strange girls... My housemates and I have sat around a number of times, cooking up strategies for embarassing an offender... from defensive stares, to yells of "Naya!" (Dog!)... but it's amusing at least and flattering at most, so it's the least of our problems... At the top of my list would be spending too much money... Everything here seems so cheap: 47 rupees to 1 $... a ride in an auto for about 5 miles is around 15 rs... a glass of musambi juice at a stand is 25 rupees... a ready-made outfit that includes top, pants, and shawl (or in Malayalam: shawl-uh), and tailoring can be as little as 450 rs... these prices can be hard to pass up.... but don't worry, I'm cutting back... certain things, however, are neccessities which must not be foresaken... at least that's what I tell myself... clothes are important because we must dress modestly in respect for the culture and our Program... we must pay the washwoman to do our laundry, because we certainly can't do it... and by "can't" I mean "we would ruin our clothing"... not to mention if Thankamma saw us attempting to do anything for ourselves, she would throw a hairy fit and demand that we hand the task over to her... Lord knows, she has enough to do... after all, she cooks enough for 10 (there are 5 of us), she keeps the chai or tea piping hot, she sweeps and wipes all the floors, she cleans our bathrooms, and basically, she hovers, in hopes of meeting our every want or need... and we love her for it... we love her despite the fact that we cannot understand a word she says, unless Chandrika is blessedly available to translate... and we love her despite the fact that we have to wait until weekend to make the food to our tastes, or do our own chores, lest she take over... speaking of which, it is time for a dinner I will probably not eat... unless it is something I can put peanut butter on :)