The website is not live yet, but when it is I will post the URL.
I leave here on Feb 1 (for Delhi)
I will be back in Toronto in the beginning/middle of April. I miss brunch, too!
I have not got malaria, but I am getting eaten alive by mosquitoes that hatch in open sewers. euch.
I have read so far on my trip: The Kelly Gang (Peter Carey), The Shadow Lines (Amitav Gosh), The Interpreter of Maladies ( Jhumpa Lahiri), Paddy Clarke hahaha (Roddy Doyle), and a couple of others I forget. Oh yeah, a book of essays on India with intro by Arundhati Roy and I am in the middle of Fast Food Nation. I had to throw Taslima Nazrin's "The French Lover" across the room because it was awful. That book is everywhere. I think it is the closest thing to porn that Indian women can get. Also, communalist-supporter VS Naipul's books are Everywhere, monopolizing the book stands.
As for poetry, I have been reading The Country Without a Post Office: Poems by Agha Shahid Ali, an awesome Kashmiri poet.
Sexual perceptions are so messed up here! Two adults told me that the sexual abuse of children "does not exist" in India. And they work for a social welfare org (thankfully not in child welfare)!
Whereas gay culture is not adressed outside of cities like Bombay, there is tons of "homosocial" behaviour among men, from holding hands to nuzzling each other's necks.
No one is supposed to have sex until they are married. Ok, so I expected that. This country is OBSESSED with marriage. Every single movie, it seems, centres around a marriage. It is all women can talk about. And men, for that matter. In all fairness, I am sure it is a great party and a serious institution. But men get married in their 30s. And I have not yet met a woman who has had sex before marriage (and will admit to it). Anyone know what they do here? I am curious and can't get a straight answer.
The other day, I was told by two people that they did not like the way I dressed (not proper). I was wearing a long jeanskirt and a tshirt. I got all punk rock and started to lift my skirt to show my knee and pull my t-shirt down to show my shoulder, all the while going: "ooo scandalous Canadian". They were shocked, all right. But later, I figured that my foreign-ness was doing their head in, kinda like a woman in a sari going to Thunder Bay.
So yesterday, I wore my new Salwar Kameez. It is kinda pretty: blue-green with woven bits of beige and orange with beige pants and matching scarf. At the office they were thrilled that I was wearing it. Immediately, they put a bindi on my forehead ("without a bindi a woman looks like a widow"). I felt like an animal in a cage. So I said: Do I look sexy now?
And they said, shocked: "Oh no! A salwar kameez is never sexy! you look like a proper gentlewoman."
On the Opencola mail list, Adam Smith pointed out that in terms of women empowerment, Asia, with its kama sutra and such was way more progressive than Europe at the time, where women, who bled, were personifications of the original sin. But now the roles have reversed.
But just when you think you are understanding something here, something does your head in completely:
The top release right now in India is an erotic thriller called "Jism".
Find the love.
I am having a great time. It is difficult. I am thrilled to be here. I look out the window of the office where I am working in Photoshop and there is a cow grazing.
I went to an art opening with some Bhubaneshwar students (stuti and sandip) and met an 85-year-old painter from Calcutta who anointed me is 27th girlfriend. He danced Orissi dance for us and sang us a song.
It is hot and dry and my sleeps are invariably interrupted by dogs marauding in the dusty streets. I will miss this place when I get to Delhi.
Also, my badminton is improving. I actually won a game. Is there badminton in Delhi?
Don't use up the birthday wishes just yet. I turn 30 on February 7th. There are many Aquarian robots. Happy birthday Rich and Tim!
I wish I could be there on Friday in NYC. Take pictures and raise a glass to me!