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cultural gap
I was riding on the back of a motorcycle in Bhubaneshwar and suddenly -overwhelmingly - I missed my grandmother. Perhaps it was because I was riding without a helmet and I knew that would drive her crazy. Perhaps it is because, like at my grandmother's house, no one will let me do anythingfor myself here or let me have a moment alone and I am on the verge of locking myself in the bathroom and screaming.

God, they are so NICE here with their country manners and baffling generosity. They do everything for us. They worry about us compulsively. They want to arrange all our meals.( Here they eat either chapatti or rice but not both with meals). There is a curry that seems to have rocks and leaves in it.

The guesthouse is all pink (pink walls, pink curtains) with bucket baths and mosquito coils. Everyone in this neighbourhood already knows our names. There are garbage cows everywhere munching placidly on compost and birds that make the sound of a skipping rope being whipped in the air.

The wife of the guesthouse owner did her PHD in Faulkner and I can't understand a word she says. In fact, Sasha and I can barely communicate with anyone, especially K.K.(krishna kumar) junior who is like the slow brother in The Sound and the Fury: Me like beer. Adina, you are goood friend. Ha. (Then he burped in my face as he chewed a chicken bone. Yes, he ate the whole chicken bone). He is so kind and sweet. He is driving us crazy. He seems to have been assigned as our guardian.

The saving grace is Subu, who no longer works here permanently, but he is great. He understands that a website's work is not in the amount of "pages" and "hyperlinks" but the architecture. Subu is very frank. He turns red as says he is not comfortable talking to girls and tells me I should wear Indian clothes because I am in India. I told him if he dons a dhoti, I will put on a salwar kameez.

The work, if we get down to it (the pace is agonizingly slow) will be interesting coverage of the relief work following the super-cyclone of '99. In partnership with Action Aid, BGVS Orissa has developed a long term approach to disaster prevention and management. Food for Work, Livelihood Restoration Project, Women-run self-help groups. But more on that later. Field visit to Jagatsinghpur (sp) on Wednesday. These people are so proud of their work. It is awesome.

Even if they tell me I must be in by 8:30 p.m.

Update: Sasha and I had a heated converstation with the BGVS guys today about women's independence. They are going on and on about the women's empowerment (like it is a mantra) in their Livelihood Restoration Project, but they will not allow us to manouever freely. It started out as "Indian girls do this. Canadian girls do that." But it ended up with me ranting about treating women as property, and how the worst line of logic it follows occurs in war and violent outbreaks (ie Gujarat) where the rape of women is an implement of war, tantamout to burning your farm or slaughtering your sheep. How rape is seen as an action done to dishonour the fathers and husbands but not as an act against the woman. Everyone got kind all quiet. They know this of course. This is their story, not mine. I am so confused. This is not my country. I am not here to educate people. I do not believe my culture is better. The people at this organization are the good guys, right? But I am filled with conflicting emotions. I do not know how to express them. I am trying to hold back judgement, but it is hard when the cultural gap affects me so directly (ie curfew).

I want to walk through the snow late at night, alone, and hear the echoing crunch of my footsteps and feel no fear. I want to join my friends for a beer and swear and talk about sex and wear a short skirt and eat pizza and kiss my guy in public, and then come back here, refreshed. Today, I need a break.

Here, the moon has 90 degree angle difference from North America. Today, it is like a bowl of rice. How come no one told me about this before I got here? I am not well-versed in astronomy. I never expected the moon to change.

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