Leaving Bhubaneshwar was exhausting. But the last few days, everyone was singing. It was like my internship/stage had turned into a musical. Even I was singing on request.
The Web site got done but we could not upload it because of FTP problems. Final impression if the site? It is OK (if you don't mind hyperbole in the copy and crappy photos). We will try to upload it from here if they can't figure it out. Subu was NO help after the first day and we both kind of hate him now.
BGVS Orissa office invited tons of people and their husbands, wives, and kids for dinner in our honor (7:30 scheduled. We ate at 9:30) except they forgot to invite us until the day of, assuming we would be available. And we had already accepted an invite from the guesthouse owners! We decided to do both.
At the office, amid millions of mosquitoes and sneaky stray cats, they cooked up a huge mess of fried, bony chicken pieces (I so want to become veg right now) and served it with cold, dry nan. It was gross. And tasteless. I think they were worried that we did not like spices. We do. We left the office at 10 to make our second dinner appointment at 9:30, thinking we were smart to arrive late, knowing Orissa time. We ate at midnight.
At the guesthouse, we thought we would be invited downstairs to eat with the family (behind the curtain and such), but no. Pramod and his "brother" Hulu cooked us food upstairs. Only the overweight mother with the PHD in Faulkner (who was having her second dinner after eating at a five-star hotel) and her odd younger brother joined us while the skinny, tall husband took pictures and sat on the sofa, intermittently contributing to the conversation.
The brother was Rainman. He had a ball cap perched high on his head, a huge gap between his teeth and a proclivity for reciting facts. He was a fountain of information about anything from Canadian geography to the history of Sikhism. But on a full belly (2 potato curries, 1 pilau rice, 1 chicken) we were falling asleep at the table. Thank God my mother called at that moment.
So long and thanks for all the help
The next day, Pramod and Hulu and the sweeper boy who seems to do more snooping than than cleaning, converged on my room as I was packing, with the greedy energy of kids on Xmas morning. Hulu wanted the mini kaleidescope that Chris gave me. I said no, it was a present from my boyfriend, but he looked crushed. I felt bad and figured that Chris would not mind so I gave it to him. Then pramod asked for my army knife "cutter" he shouted, miming it with his hands. I said no. He still had not returned my English-Hindi phrasebook that I had planned to give it to him as a present. In addition to that, Sasha had made both of them several bracelets (for their wives, family, etc).
Now we were told to only give 50 rs total to them as tip on leaving. We gave them each 100, even though they have done nothing for us in the past couple of weeks, not even prepare our breakfast (they are paid to do that). But when we gave them the tip (admittedly very little by Western standards). They got all angry and acted like we were being cheap. Unpacking, I now realise that I am missing stuff, like my walkman radio, my phrasebook, of course, and a shirt. Boundaries are difficult to establish. Relationships with people who are serving you are invariably weird and strained at times. I have always been aware that there is a huge discrepancy between how I think I am being seen here and how I am actually seen. But this left a bad taste in my mouth all the same.
Back in Delhi
I arrived yesterday in Delhi. We flew.Holy climate change! It is cold and foggy here in Delhi. A shock to the system. The air is not as bad as I remembered. I have now identified the weird smell here as thousands upon thousands of people burning their garbage. [I could go on about garbage in India. I will another time.]
I am staying in a clean, bright apartment...near the airport. Deep shit suburbia. 300rs just to catch a cab downtown! ($10 canadian). But that is the only drawback so far. We have a driver to take us to work and back. And we are staying with two cool sisters from Kerala: Bindu and Indu (Sindu, the middle sister, is "settled down" and lives in East Delhi).
Indu, a graphic designer in her 20's, is very short and quiet and has spoken maybe 5 words to us. Bindu is 33, unmarried (yes!), beautiful and works at BGVS with us. She is teaching me how to cook.
The kitchen is big and bright and I gotta get me a pressure-cooker when I get back to Canada! Crushing ginger, garlic, and chili peppers with an iron mortar and pestle, I felt like a witch preparing a magic potion. "Fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through fog and filthy air." Could Shakespeare's witches have been describing Delhi in the 21st century?
Neither of the sisters seem to relax at all. The past 24 hours they have been cleaning the apartment and doing their laundry non-stop. It is a bit unnerving, esp. because I was suffering from caffeine withdrawl (Tata tea does not do the trick) and felt like a zombie, in spite of my first sound sleep in weeks (no dogs or motorcycles singing me "love me tender" in this "housing colony").
I am also wondering if Indians go out at all. I know this is a dumb question. Of course they do. But I never know what day it is (except Sunday is the "weekend"). In Bbnsr, Saturday night was badminton as usual. For the sisters, it is laundry night. I feel like a nun. I want a beer at a bar. I want to have filthy conversations. In private, Sasha and I have become crude as sailors. But in front of everyone else we are good, good, good girls. sigh.
The CFC AD
OK, for those of you who wrote about seeing my face all makeover-weird with the Frankenscar on my forehead in Now magazine this week....I have no idea why I agreed to be in the Canadian Film Centre Ad. Really. I was kinda guilted into doing it: "Puhleez? We only have guys so far. We need a girl...."
I did not get paid for it. There is nothing I am getting out of it. I kind of thought it would be cool to get a professional makeover and hair style. And I figured that if I was in India, I would not have to have everyone say: hey, you're in Now magazine. It is a bit embarassing. And a bit cool. hey, I'm in Now Magazine.
The war and the astronauts
Saw the news for the first time in a month. And cried.