Some in my readership are clamoring for details. No, I won’t name them slave drivers, simply motivators to ramble a bit and satiate your curiosity. And, truly, the following blog entry follows more of a stream of conscious than any nice & neat format so here it goes.
I went running Tuesday because I simply HAD to get out & move at more than a walking pace. I ran up the road with Prerna (my 8-year old neighbor pictured above with her mom, Bimla) and her friends the previous night & realized how much I missed getting out to stretch my legs. When I returned home, Bimla and her friends suggested I run with them the next day at 6AM. I balked at the time and they said 6AM is really not so early. I guess I am a lazy American, after all! They do not seem to run regularly, but perhaps I’m providing some motivation. I think they also want to show me a nicer, safer place to run.
I planned to go to Dharamsala to register as a foreigner today BUT I do yet have proof of residence (required to register), so I wandered about the Palampur market by myself for the first time and getting out independently felt great. Hmm, I’m sensing a trend here. I suppose I’m also the independent American, too. I almost got a SIM card for my phone on my outing, but proof of residency (& ultimately foreigner registration) is required for that, too. The SIM card was actually in my phone & the store owner was writing in a local person’s name & address so if authorities checked, the card would appear registered to a legitimate person. It pained me to put a stop to it, but I couldn’t (& didn’t want to) quench the feeling that I ought not go that route. Alas (& I use that in the true sense of the word), I am still without a phone number.
I made a glass of chai tea tonight after dinner. This process resulted in the dirtying and washing of three glasses, two spoons, a pot, and a strainer. I have a long way to go to perfect the art, but in my defense, I “decaffeinated” the tea first which accounted for an extra glass.
I caught a gecko in my flat last night. I had seen it the previous night in my bedroom, high up near the ceiling and just hoped it wouldn’t crawl into my mouth in the middle of the night. Last night it visited me in my kitchen and I used my mad Crocodile Hunter skills to trap it under a bowl, slide a pot lid underneath, and safely transport the lil’ guy outside. I saw him again today on the stairs outside my flat. He’s intent upon keeping me company – rather endearing.
My mentor/manager has been sharing his ideologies with me. At his mention of Communism and Marxist philosophy, all sorts of barriers rose in my mind. Yet again, the capitalist American rose to the occasion. Wasn’t Marx ultimately oppressive rather than liberating for the common man? Please, history buffs, help me out!
I am typing from my sitting room that is currently empty save for my table and chair. My flat has all marble floors, windows lining every wall, a Western-style toilet, a fridge, a stove range, a double bed, more storage space than I can fill, balconies outside my bedroom and front door, and that most incredible of views I described in a previous entry. Please, do live vicariously through me on this point as I am living in the nicest place short of good Ol’ Highway (at a monthly rate of ~$70!). But just so you know it hasn’t gone to my head, I do not have hot tap water so I heat water in a bucket for my showers. Also, the toilet flushing mechanism is broken so I have to turn on the toilet tap, wait for the water level to rise, open the back of the toilet, pull up the plunger, and, voila, my toilet flushes. Oh, and then I have to turn off the toilet tap or water leaks all over the bathroom floor. I also have to open the gas line from the gas container every time I want to use the stove AND remember to turn it off after use. I haven’t forgotten yet but I’m only on Day 3. Closing and opening my front door requires more effort than opening the Hiney’s refrigerator. Since I have such a large, empty sitting room, I turned on some sweet tunes tonight & danced, at my sis’ suggestion. (Thanks, Li!)
I cooked dinner for myself for the first time last night & rather enjoyed some alone time. While eating, I began reading Dalit Freedom to educate myself on the issues facing this population within India. I didn’t realize until RTDC Orientation a couple days ago that my organization is now focusing a majority of its time on Dalit issues within Himachal Pradesh. No time like the present for me to become more knowledgeable.
I practiced Hindi while sipping my labor-intensive chai tea. Some friends urged me to learn the Sanskrit script in addition to learning to speak, so I made flash cards of the vowels. Then I experienced the sugar crash after my sweetened chai and stopped for the evening.
You may know that cars drive on the left side of the road in India. What you might not have pondered is the fact that pedestrians also walk on the left side of the road. I pondered this while running with traffic yesterday. Granted there was limited traffic on the country roads I treaded, but the pedestrian “oppose traffic” rule doesn’t apply here. Then again, cars here are not guaranteed to stay on their respective sides of the road, either.
I got to listen to a traveling musician play this afternoon. He played a guitar & drum at the same time.