I did not realise how unhappy I was in the suburbs until we moved. Sasha's asthma was not coping well with 3 hours a day in traffic. When she breathes, her chest (to quote Arundhati Roy) sounds like a man shouting somewhere far-off. (I think Roy put it better). It is very worrisome and we have made three trips to different clinics. But getting out of the construction area of Dwarka and away from the long commute is a step in the right direction.
Sasha joked that at least her asthma is good for something: It got us out of the burbs. And away from the pergatory between being a guest and being a roomate. Indian hospitality is so warm and thorough. It was kind of stressing me out. Everytime I tried to make conversation with Bindu, she thought I was asking her for something. How could we explain that we just wanted her to relax and to stop cooking and cleaning for us. That we would have much rather shared the burden.
I think between me and Sasha and the sisters, there was enough baffled, cultural-gap-based guilt building up for the whole housing colony combined.
So we have new digs in South Delhi with private rooms HOT WATER and a cafe nearby that serves actual espresso. I am such a spoiled brat. The owner of the guesthouse is a middle-aged woman named Archana who says she is so thrilled see women working and travelling. She is a painter with three daughters, all of whom work and travel.
I am so happy to be in the bustle of things, even though this neighbourhood of posh Hinglish accents and designer clothes is not the world I came to work with, I am just happy to be around people again and to be able to go out at night!
And the Nirantar office is great. The women all speak a high level of English and are very efficient and enthusiastic about work. We all eat lunch together and talk about Hindu female iconography and gender politics in India, movies, and jokes.
They create tons of educational material for the newly-literate, including a magazine called Pitara that is written in simple Hindi without condescending to its audience. I am having a bit of a difficult time designing from scratch, but fortunately they already have some graphics form their magazines that I will use. I hope they like white space. I will be using lots of white space.