Sunday, December 24, 2006

That's the India Way

That's what Chai's aunt said to me today after a somewhat hilarious attempt by half her family to put sugar in my coffee. Her family is great, and generous, and hilarious, and a bit overwhelming on occassion, only because of their sheer numbers and my finally abating jet lag.

We had some productivity finally today. Managed to get a ready-made sari blouse for me (the overnight tailor didn't work out, but I just care that I get to wear a sari on Wednesday). Also bought a fancy salwar kameez for the mindi (spelled wrong, I'm sure) ceremony tomorrow, where Chai get's henna-ed for four hours while we dance around and feed her, I think. Maisnon (who made it in this morning) and I will get our henna tomorrow, just before we head off to the travel agent to plan the rest of my trip. I'm starting to get a little nervous about that. Everyone in the world has an opinion about where I should go and what I should avoid and how I WILL DIE TRAVELING INDIA ALONE, but you know, "I'm not trying to scare you or anything." Anyway, I'll know more tomorrow.

I've been learning some interesting history and perspective on Bangalore and its recent changes from Chai's family, many of whom have lived here their whole lives. The city is growing by leaps and bounds, due mostly to corporate investments, but government um, "incentives" to these business often use eminent domain to wipe out the slums and put in, say, a brand new airport. So where do the poor folks go? Out to government housing they don't want to live in. Many of Chai's family seem to be unhappy with the development in general, saying how even in the past 3-4 years it's changed radically. Bangalore used to be the "Garden City," but now it's growing at what her mom says is a rate of 20 people per hour. That's kind of insane. Even the physical borders of the city get pushed back to accomidate this growth.

So I've been initiated into many of the India experiences. The auto-rickshaw, the shopping (including the "watch your bags going in here"), the eating all the time (so awful!), and oh yeah, I've been drinking aquafilter water and brushing my teeth with the tap since the day I arrived, because I wasn't even thinking when I arrived at 4am and just went to the sink. After three days Chai says: Your stomach isn't bothering you at all yet?? I'm thrilled to say, no!

Okay, hurried ending cause we've gotta jet back to base it seems. Sorry for the misspellings and typos, these keyboards are a bitch.


At 1:25 PM, December 24, 2006, Blogger G. said...

One of my best friends has the good fortune of being independently wealthy (thanks for buying PayPal, eBay!) and she and her husband spent a couple of months travelling all over India, and they said they felt pretty safe the whole time (excluding fear of food-bourne illness). I'm sure you will be fine. What an adventure!

We are leaving tonight for New Zealand and I've been all stressed about the 13-hour plane ride because I can't sleep on the plane, but reading your account of getting to Bangalore I surely feel like I've been complaining about nothing! Thanks! BTW I have that same issue of Discover packed in my carry-on. :)

At 6:33 PM, December 25, 2006, Blogger Kanishka said...

The coffee thing is pretty hard to deal with. Its a holdover from the Raj. Even harder: try asking for tea with no milk or sugar.

Glad you got there safe. I'd add to the "you've gotta try..." list, as some things have just popped in my head, but I'll decline...

At 1:02 PM, December 26, 2006, Blogger TSC Girl said...

It is spelled Mehndi, and it is awesome. I have had little bits done before, but never both my entire hands [always on the look out for interviews so I can't] Take pics!


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