I must be at home as I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal (Quaker) and fresh fruit. The only difference was that I had boiled the fruit, ok so I am somewhat paranoid. Nothing else much different, except that I had to manually turn on the gas and light one of the two burners on the stove. OK, maybe there is a difference. Let’s see I also washed clothes, put them into a bucket in the bathroom, threw in some soap powder and then wrung them out and hung them on my back porch. Just trying to be more environmentally conscious and not use too much water. I had a Hindi lesson at 10 AM with Bolbol, the nine year old who lives in the house. Went up to the roof top and watered a bunch of plants. It does feel like home, but yet it is different, I think.
Yes, there was the riding home on the metro last night after work finished and seeing one other person with a lighter skin color, although I’m darkening. There was the bicycle rickshaw from the metro station, with the “driver” huffing and puffing, so much dust, buses, motorcycles, cows, saw a mother pig on the side of the road with her piglets in a large culvert that had this incredible smell. OK a bit different. Then there were the ten boys that I befriended when I went outside my house with my basketball. All of the boys talking at once asking me questions, telling me things, trying to get me to cuss in Hindi, telling me that they would teach me how to play cricket.
I’m listening to very familiar music on my laptop, I’ve hung up “my stuff” throughout my house-a poster of the big “O”, some Napolean Dynamite things, of course farmers’ market posters, my spiritual corner, familiar pictures, but also some posters in Hindi discussing women and Dalits.
I’ll grant you that I’m in India and it still seems a bit off the map to me, but it is also becoming home. The other light skinned person that I saw yesterday surprised me in that when I asked her where she was from, she stated the U.S., in fact, born in Pasadena, but has lived in India for 40 years, her home.
I’ve been here a bit more than five weeks and I suppose that I am starting to settle in, although there is still quite a bit of Delhi, and of course India to explore. Every neighborhood and there are a multitude, seems to have its own character. I hope to get off at various metro stops and just walk, to see the markets, to see the people, to try to get a handle on what it is that makes India, India. This will all take time depending upon the outside temperatures.
My roommate has left, but I do have a gecko, maybe more hanging around and eating the mosquitoes, at least I haven’t been bitten recently. My refrigerator, although not full at the moment, could contain many of the same things that I eat in the States. My stomach at the moment feels fairly normal. I’m going to the YMCA this afternoon to talk about possibly doing some b-ball coaching. Then there is the fact that I brought my clothes around the corner yesterday to be ironed, outside, by a woman with an iron heated with coal. OK, so maybe a bit different. I also understood maybe one or two words that woman said to me, like the cost/piece of 2 rupees or about $.04. Seems to be different, but then I bought some peanut butter and the cost was 99 rupees.
What is home? I suppose that this is being redefined for me. Is it just a state of mind, a feeling of comfort, even if one feels that one is not on the same planet that one was born on. Look, I sat in a meeting yesterday and talked about some structural issues with my employer and some other NGO Executive Directors. Could I have been in southeastern Connecticut talking with other United Way Agency Executives about a program? Sure, except for the fact that the acronyms were different, that the women were dressed in saris, but the facilitator sure seemed as if he could have been any where in the world. The discussion was the same as many that I’ve had in the States or in my training in Canada prior to coming to India.
So back to home, yes it is where one makes it, where one can eat oatmeal with fruit or have peanut butter and jelly, where I can play b-ball with some Americans or eastern Europeans or Filipinos, the rules seem the same. A place where I can hang a picture of Barrack or Napolean Dynamite, the walls are the same walls, although they don’t seem to be made of wallboard. All right so there’s no segregated shower area and the washer and dryer do seem a bit different, but maybe it’s all a continuum, what the so called “developed” countries used to look like, no matter it is home.
This is important to me on a number of levels, I want to appreciate what I’ve been given in life, but I also want to appreciate how others live. I want to understand other languages and why things are done certain ways. Yes, it would be difficult if I didn’t have my music to listen to, but I also get to expand the music that I listen to, the films that I will come to appreciate, the people who maybe were once strangers but are now friends. Why stay in one place for one’s entire life, when there is so much diversity, so much to see, to experience. Why not be that intrepid explorer?
I do understand that feeling of comfort, of knowing, of “security”, but I think that a lot of it is false. Home is where the “heart” is. Ok, I can go with that or maybe it’s only where the oatmeal is.