I spent a lot of time last week congratulating myself on how well I had acclimated to living in India. No jet lag, easy practice, meeting lovely people, and the heat? No problem! After nearly two weeks, though, I have to admit that there are some things that it’s been taking some getting used to.
Even in Gokulum, which is a relatively chill little corner of Mysore, the sounds are nonstop. Cars and scooters honking, music playing, cows mooing, birds (even the birds here are freakishly loud). Right now, 5:30am on a Saturday, there’s something going on outside that I can’t quite identify: a cross between ritualistic droning and people moaning in pain. Maybe it’s both. Five or six times a day, a guy comes down the street selling fruit, and yelling “Aaaaaaaah, Aaaaaaaah, Aaaaaaaah,” Not words, just sounds. Just to let us know he’s here. The Indian version of “Beer here, get your beer here.” It feels pretty futile to attempt to deny the noise, which is why my earplugs (that are on every traveler to India’s “must-pack” list) sit unused in my suitcase.
Thick, heavy, I feel it getting in my eyes and sitting in my lungs. Especially when traveling by rickshaw or scooter.
The showering process.
Turn on hot water, wait five minutes. Fill a bucket with three or four inches of hot water: set aside. This is usually all I get. Then, “shower” with a combination of small pitcher, large bucket, and sticking my head under the faucet, saving the precious hot water for the end, so I’m not shivering when I leave the bathroom.
(Contrary to what I expected, it is not hot all the time here. When the sun is down, the temperature is cool, and my apartment is comfortably cool most of the time; it seems that the houses are built purposely without large light-giving windows, so they won’t become ovens during the day. )
Cows, dogs and goats.
Cows are all over the place, mostly hanging out at the side of the road. People honk at them just as they honk at pedestrians and other vehicles, but usually end up swerving around them; cows don’t move very quickly. Stray dogs, also, are all around. I much prefer the cows, as they don’t run up to me with hungry mouths lunging for my groin. (In Athens last year, I was bitten– not badly, thankfully no skin was broken– in just such a way by a stray dog, and the memory makes me a little nervous.)
The goats mainly stay at the bus station. “Where do I take the bus to go into town?” “Over there, by the goats.” They are a reliable landmark.
The head bobble.
Greeks have Greek Face, Indians have the head bobble. It’s a way of saying yes, or no, or maybe, or I don’t know. All-purpose. Which makes me think that perhaps Greeks and Indians are on to something: that it is sometimes necessary to surrender to the unknowable. Like which way is the dosa stand, or did they sterilize that IV needle.
Today: taking a rickshaw with my roommate to More, which I’ve heard is Mysore’s version of Target. I’m trying not to expect it to be anything like Target.