Friday, September 25, 2009

am i wild wild wild why?

my 60 rupees phone charger measures time. every second the little red light, reassuring in it's own silly way (that it is indeed charging your phone and you will not be alone for up to 5 hours of talking time) flickers. i stared at it as to say "i'm wondering why you do that". got no response. everything around me measures time: my cup of tea getting cold, a smoke in the sun, the little bells on my anklet. but in the end i blame my hasty perception, hasty in ways that have nothing to do with time, but with a greedy 'do everything' weltanschauung.

and then i go back to what hit me two-three days ago before i went to sleep. i'll call it letzu's mime-time illusory perception: time feels like it is the one thing we dont have at all, yet the only thing we have, really. it could also be a paradox, but why bother? why i go back to it, i dont know. maybe it's a personal form of time travel.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

about what is and isnt cool on saturdays (part 1)

top pick of what isnt cool to do on a saturday: have a full day at work when your stuff is done.

even the horoscope could feel it:"The world may appear to challenge and oppose your dreams and ideals. Harsh reality may seem to ridicule you, and this could come through another person. You will have to hang onto your dreams and uphold your self-image in this rather rough weather."

i think we all know who that "another person" is.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

fraction of the action

after my first no-helmet-motorcyle ride came the first take-a-rickshaw-alone ride. and if i had written this post right after it, i'd kindly ask you to come back later as i'd have nothing to say. it was a calm, peaceful and short trip. well, calm and peaceful needs to be put in the context of "delhi traffic", but it's still great.

so since i'm writing it now, after an action-packed day, the feeling that there's too much to unpack is back, but i'll have a go at it. this time with bullet points:
  • helmet theft led my colleague to carry an extra helmet (!!) which probably (not) made me the first woman to wear a helmet on a bike in india
  • got a strange rash on my hand so i went to the pharmacy and this big, wwf-looking (the wrestling, not environment) guy who happened to be the chemist tells me its either allergy or something really bad
  • i spend the following two hours in utter panic, in a disfigured state of mind
  • finally going to the doctor to find out its not at all that bad, it's a skin infection from the water and food, haha, sharade you are, will be off non-veg and chili stuff for a while. :( doctor's orders.
  • of course, other sources claim it to be a spider bite, which you will know of, in case you hear of this super girl saving the day dressed like a spider on the streets of delhi
  • dreaming of escalating buildings in a hero like fashion, i went back to work to experience a one hour long blackout. i mean power cut, blackout sounds too dramatic. when power gets cut at work the only things left on are 2 neon lights, a fan and my colleague's computer. today this didnt bother me at all cause i got to read up on gaja gamini, husain's movie. fascinating stuff, will capitalize on powers cuts every chance i get.
  • too soon after the power came back we had to go back to jamia millia, where the exhibition and events for husain's 94th birthday were happening. it was amazing, i feel i learned so much these past two days and finally got my break through the glass window of the indian world. it's only allowing me to peek, but it's a very revealing peek. ;)
  • i wanted to stay for the big iftar that was supposed to happen at the event, just cause it would have been another debut, but i didnt, since my rickshaw turns into a pumpkin after sunset, so i skedaddled home. and i even got there, after insistently telling the driver to take a right while showing him the left.
  • boohockey, bullet points didnt help me be more concise. they're fired!

truth is all these things i've been through today gave me a sense of security. self-security. or call it confidence, but i'd still be calling it security. the feeling that i, alone, can handle stuff, can make it through etc etc. its quite reassuring. i needed it as much as i need comic books when i'm ill.

p.s. thanks, philosoraptor. you rock beyond the cretaceous!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

give head(s) a chance

had my first (motor)bike ride today, courtesy of my co-worker. when there was no helmet for me i froze for a second and then he told me: its' ok, women dont wear helmets in india. so that should have made me comfortable. well, it didnt.

anyway, had a nice day helping set up an exhibition in honour of the 94th birthday of the picasso of india, mf husain, living in exile. i pretty much like my work.

for the rest of the day, i had lots of water, paan and thoughts of how the 17th of september was also the birthday of my dog.

Monday, September 14, 2009


touching is a big thing. and i don't mean just from my new indian perspective. you can go as back as to the creation of adam (if you're into art or religion) or to the big bang, as the finishing touch of the beginning. however, my touching up on the subject of touching will be purely from the newly acquired indian perspective.
while i was on the train (not any train, but the mumbai local!!!!) with tabs' mom, in our very own ladies compartment, i found myself saying a lot of stupid things, as i generally do when i'm with adults i'd like to impress. to my surprise, the remark "i have not seen any couples holding hands since i've been here" rushed out of my mouth into her ear to provoke a smirk and a sympathy look that said "bet your bottom dollar that you wont". and i havent. not once. in my 2 and something weeks in india. what i have seen is lots and lots of men holding hands and i thought to myself "wow, never thought gay people would be so open here". and i thought wrong, because apparently holding hands is something men who are good friends or relatives do.
so, whereas boy and girl in love will probably not hold hands in public, boy and boy in friendship will. and to the ordinary folks, like me, who think if you dig long enough you'll reach china, this is truly a reverse taboo.

but the thing that touched me off was the walking from the rickshaw to the
jama masjid mosque (the largest mosque in india), through this extremely crowded street market. so crowded that at times you simply couldnt take a step in any direction. the unbearable crowd gave way to people finding it natural and/or easy to put their hands on you. it resembled that thing you do when you're a kid when you say something and then you have to touch red to make it the ultimate truth, but only here they touch white. touch, grab, or whatever comes in hand. ;)

while at the jama masjid mosque, sitting on the ground with 7-8 more interns, we noticed that quickly a group of people began to form around us, all standing and staring. not any kind of staring, not the timid, glimpse kind of staring, but the intense, non-blinking, intimidating staring. so as i got uncomfortable quite quickly i stood up and started walking back and forth, in this silly attempt to not get eyes fixed on me.
then a little girl all smiles, holding her little brother by his shirt comes up to me and asks me, giggling, "can i touch you?". she's waiting for my answer and she shies away, hiding behind her brother whom she pushes and shoves, he's giggling too, all red in the face. they're really funny but then it strikes me: i've heard "can i touch you before?", in sentences flooded with sarcasm, but her words are honest, clear, no double entendre. i am hit by some kind of hippie haze so i tell her "but why? i'm just like you." she gives me a look, a look that makes her eyes even bigger, pulls her brother by the shirt and runs away.

psycho babble or no psycho babble, we're not the same. we're all as different as it gets and i have falsely pretended to have accepted that long back.

well anyway, india 1 - letzu 0
touché, pussycat!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

horn ok please

india is an assault to my senses. to everything i have known, learned, thought and felt about the world. yes, i knew it would be different. a priori. now, what i feel is that i have to learn everything anew. how to walk, talk, climb stairs, cross the street etc. with my set of life skills and cultural gps i am as new and naked to this as a newborn. and please, don't confuse this statement with "feeling like i was born again". the difference is huge.

every street corner, every food-stand smell, every thing around me has the sensory power of 100000 pictures, therefore 100000000 words, therefore no blog post i could every write, no coffee chat we could ever have would allow me to express what is going on in my head. i am having a difficult time absorbing all the new things that are coming my way, deciphering them and stopping the feeling of frustration from constantly trying to make sense of all the non-sense, or better called, chaos. it's not as bad as it sounds because i am comforting myself with the thought that i am a strong, independent woman who will eventually get used to it. :) its my very own sisyphean challenge. i know all it takes is accepting it.

traveling by train in india is like a box of assorted chocolates. some good, some bad, some awful and some surprisingly excellent. it's, of course, a matter of taste. my first train ride was a 27 hour ride in an AC compartment. it was clean, nice, we got good food, a bit too cold (!!!!) but enough electricity to play plants and zombies all night long. almost. :)

goa was amazing, rain or no rain, it will have its own blog post one day. mumbai was a short yet intensely lived experience. we arrived there in the evening and had to leave the next morning, but i still had the chance to ride on the mumbai locals. and that's all i can say. really. nothing more to add.

except for the fact that i was awed. AWED. seeing pictures of people riding on trains or clinging to the outside of the train is one thing, but seeing those people with your own eyes, watching them get on the train even before it stops, hearing them scream war shouts as they cram and push each other in the wagons.the platforms were like a big after-concert scenery. swarms of people coming to you or going in the same direction as you, just like driving, except for the honking - no lanes, no rules.

you know that feeling when you're having rice and enjoying it quite a bit, but it's quite dry, you eat it anyway, trying to finish it fast so you take another bite even before finishing what you already have in your mouth and the minute the fork or spoon approaches your open mouth this feeling of panic hits cause rice might fall out while you bring in the second load? i know you dont. this is the feeling india gives me. surprise, enjoyment and a bit of panic.

the greatest part? i'm having 2l + of water a day. and the cheese to my macaroni! ;)


let me give you the context. i spent 6 years in a youth organization and i enjoyed every minute of it (give or take 2 hours ;) ). it has forever changed me, open secret windows to myself and the outside, taught me stuff, made me be even more curious and excited about the world around me and i will be forever grateful for that. i am now going to start my internship (so basically i am no longer an active volunteer, but merely a beneficiary of the wonderful abroad experience AIESEC offers) in an NGO in New Delhi, India which i am very excited about. but somehow, something shifted my perspective so much that it's difficult to accept the fact that it's the same AIESEC i was part of.

i want to avoid going too much into details about what that something was, especially so soon, but hearing stories of the people who have been here, as interns, for some time and having felt some of it myself are factors that are urging me to let it out.
a hand picked selection of the finest topics in the intern community: not being picked up from the airport, not having a decent place to stay upon arrival, the reverse or hidden meaning of words (simple ones, like "yes", "no", "i dont know"), the possibility of coming here to do a certain job and ending up not doing anything cause the company you're with doesn't have anything for you to do - an AIESEC committee which either doesn't have the capacity or the interest to manage well all the interns they have.

and being the silly idealist that society didnt bring me up to be i am left with wondering how can it all come down to numbers in an organization that stands for such high purposes as AIESEC?! dare i mention that India won the most prestigious global award (for overall excellency) in AIESEC? i have to do my calculations again, cause something doesnt quite add up. as a big fan of the organization i will for sure look into the matter in the time to come. feel free to discard these thoughts that probably dont even scratch the surface.

p.s. haven't started my job yet, i am still excited about it but also scared because i really really love the project i'm supposed to work on. tuesday will be my first day of work and the mix of high and low expectations is driving me crazy, without having a honk ;). stay tuned.