So about the housing colony. Dwarka used to be the largest slum in Delhi. They have now santized it of the hungry, hollow-eyed, communal defecators and implanted scores of highrises in various stages of completion, with two types of private toilets ('commode' and squat') in each apartment.
I am being shuttled daily between Dwarka (West Delhi) to Saket (South Delhi, where i did some of my work today on the patio of Barrista-the Indian chain analogous to that American chain). It is kinda like splitting my life between Mississauga and Thornhill. Or West Island and Ville St. Laurent. Or unfashionable parts of Queens and New Jersey. I did just not come to India expecting to live in the suburbs. I am not ready to give up on turbulent, challenging third world just yet.
There are good parts to being here, so far away from the city, for sure. I feel completely safe and unhassled. No one stares at me or follows me. There is a security guard at the gate. There is an Indian version of a stripmall with all the conveniences I could need in India within walking distance. It happens to contain the best sweet shop I have encountered in this country.
I sleep deep, undistubed sleeps on account of all the silence. I can't go out anywhere and spend money because there is really nowhere to go. So I am "saving" (which would be really satisfying, were I "earning").
And or course, India is never sanitized, per se. There is still ample evidence of humanity, unlike Canadian suburbs (which do not, to my recollection, contain cycle rickshaws). And there is still the odd cow who has lost its way and wanders between half-constructed buildings and looks spooked by the unholy tranquility.
And every Tuesday there is a huge market on the street leading to our sector where, by the light of kerosene you can sift through houshold items, bags of bright spices, and vegetables, all artistically displayed on blankets. Do not underestimate the romance of vegetable shopping by lamplight.
Bindu and Indu never, ever stop futzing. I thought Sunday was just their chore day, but no. Every moment they are in the apartment, they are handwashing clothes, rolling out chappatis, sweeping, sweeping and sweeping the floors with a long-strawed, short-handled broom.
They never chill. I can hardly find space to write or reflect because I run the risk of being swept into a corner. This morning, when I came out from taking my bucket bath (a heating tong immersed in a bucket of water. Once the water is hot, you pour it over yourself with a cup), Bindu was making my bed! Thing is, I had already made it. She just had another idea of how to make it. I can hear my mother rolling her eyes right now. Mom, seriously, it looked nice the way I did it.
But enough with the rant. They are lovely girls (with a mild case of OCD) in the unusual position of living by themselves, unmarried, away from family, and professionally employed. They got this apartment as a favour from a co-worker who has a residence on campus of JNU and they just want the place to be perfect. For one month, I can hack it.
The big 3-0
I have started to react badly to thirty. I have spent a good deal of time in front of the mirror lately, lamenting enlarged pores and fine lines that have made their appearance around my eyes. I have considered stopping smiling altogether because I suspect it is giving me jowls. I also think that using facial expressions to communicate where words fail has made me age more rapidly.
To add accent to the cliche, this morning, I found myself thinking about fertility and motherhood. (If someone -- I am not going to name names here --is freaked out by this revelation, he is requested NOT to cancel his plans to meet me in Thailand. I can wait.)
I have always been teased about making my birthday so *important*. As the baby sister who got more than her fair share of attention, it was considered a family joke that I needed a day in my honour.
But what they did not understand was that my need for a celebration was not just part of wanting more attention, but part of an compulsive need to demarcate between now and then. See where I am. Who surrounds me at this point? Who is still around? Who has gone? Who has gone and come back again? Where the hell am I? Did I plan for this? Do I like who I have become? Shit like that.
But getting tipsy on crantinis purchased by your close circle of friends is not necessarily the atmosphere conducive to taking stock of your life. Nonetheless, I find it necessary to strike a balance between maudlin drunkenness and sober reflection. In order to give time for both, I like to spend a little time with myself before the celebration. This being the all-important 3-0, I find it doubly -- nay -- triply important to take the day to myself. I have taken the day off and plan to go to Old Delhi and get lost in the markets. I love the chaos of markets. Then at night I will go out.
But how am I to do go out in Delhi? Who will come at night with me except Sasha? How on earth will I get home afterward? Man, I would like nothing better than a birthday at the Cameron House, surrounded by friends. *sigh*. I am old and alone. Deprimas.
OK, i will end this one with a funny story from Orissa. We were having a conversation about all the sites we wanted to see in Bubhaneshar, when Subrat said: "You have seen the Jew?" "Right here in front of you," I joked. "No the Joo! the Joo! Very famous in Bhubaneshwar. Many different animals."