As often happens towards the end of narratives involving city folk struggling with small town foreign ways, I have finally started to love it here. Just as I am leaving. Dramatic irony or something.
We have been innundated with dinner invitations in the past few days. So far we have had 3 strange meals (very nice invites. Odd setups). Always 1 odd aspect in the meal that is difficult to reconcile. Always 2 potato curries. Always much later than planned.
1. Dinner at Amarjit's house: Prushty gets us there an hour late. We stop to get a gift for Amarjit's son. We eat at the table (only set for 3 - me, Sasha and Prushty) as Amarjit (son in arms), his wife, and mother stand and watch us eat. We play ball with the son for 15 minutes after supper (adorable, loud and squealy 2 year-old) and leave. Whole event lasts 1 hour. 2 potato curries. rice. chicken. potato parathas. 1 unidentifiable coconut dish. Very tasty. They forgot to serve the dessert.
2. Lunch at Stuti's house: Sandip comes to pick us up in a taxi. He leaves us for 1/2 hour with Stuti, her brothers, and four parakeets while he goes to get his motorbike. We have an appointment at 3:00. Lunch begins at 2:30. The house is delightfully messy and bohemian. Stuti shows us her paintings (a long series on ganesh). Her friend, Mama, has helped her cook the meal, but she does not join us to eat. She is "too shy" to meet the foreigners. I ride back on the back of Stuti's bike (I think she does not want a girl in a skirt on the back of her boyfriend's bike) and Sasha on the back of Sanbit's (or "son bit" as she likes to call him -- french for "his pecker"). 2 potato curries. salad. dhal. veggie pilau rice. gulab jamun for dessert. Delicious! I eat too much. Rush back to work and there is a power-out for 1.5 hours. Hurry up and wait.
4. Dinner at Vikram's house: Vikram and all the badminton boys converge on his home near the Kandigiri caves. This is the nicest home I have seen so far. His mother is a delight. His father, a retired colonel has a turned up moustache and is impeccably turned-out in his TV chair, save the unnerving tendency to touch his balls, as though he is reassuring himself they are there. He tells us that in the Mahabarat (Indian/Hindu epic with warring family) that one of the patriarchs was able to have 100 sons through cloning. He says that as though it were a scientific fact. "ancient scientific knowledge has vanished," he says, grooming his moustache and shifting his family jewls. Me, Sasha, and the boys smoke cigarettes in Vikrams room, the boys thinking the incense can mask the smell. I feel like I am 16. Dinner was set for 7:30. We eat at 10. 2 potato curries. chappatis. rice. chicken curry. sliced fresh vegetables with lime. creme caramel for dessert.
2 more invites for tonight....I'll keep you posted. Probably from Delhi.