With Love, From India

UPDATED:

It 530 AM here in Gurgaon India, and I find myself reflecting on my Indian Adventure, but more focused on the sensual environment in which surrounds the culture and city life here for the most part Delhi, New Delhi and suburbia Gurgaon.

I came here looking to expand my world. Not only did I travel to the other side of it but I have grown in my understanding of culture and heart.

I’m sitting in the front living common area. The front door open as per always with the screen door closed. The front gate is open for easy access and yet no one seems to mind the obvious lack of security.

It doesn’t phase me – minus the intruder aka gecko I found in my room one day much to everyone’s delight. After seeing my rather over embellished response seeing it scatter laterally across my bedroom walls to safety only to meet up with its mate, apparently everyone was entertained.

I had the two guests for a few days it seems. Mahdi had said he had seen it when he met me the first day I had arrived but didn’t say anything. Let’s just say that conversation had me rather insistent on the imperativeness of “NO CREEPY CRAWLY THINGS ALLOWED!!” To which he responded with a rather failed attempt to suppressed humour, “but ‘this is india.'”

I look outside and see sun-ish skies, and I say sun-ish because the pollution here is so bad. The rain begins to fall down beating the window pains as I sit here sipping the most amazing chai tea ever. This beats any Starbucks coffee hands down.

……And just like that the rain stops.

Now I hear some man chanting off in the distance as if he were practicing his vocal scales but stuck on repeat between two notes.

Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down.

His voice waivers between the two sounds and a second voice now breaks into a chanting prayer of sorts.

The ambient noises here are different than in my small Canadian country town.

I now hear multiple accompanying voices chanting a long slow deep rhythmical guttural “ah-ee……..ah-ee” sound. Or maybe that’s a cow joining in?

I’m going to the terrace to check…..

Nope. Not a cow.

The birds here are beautiful, their sound equally enchanting, minus one. You know that everyday sound which has invaded the world of technology as every persons notification setting called chirp?

I have found the muse to which it was created. Constantly, I find myself looking up for my phone. I have since changed the setting and rather forcibly instructed others to do so in the guest house.

Someone is now selling something as they pass through the alleys calling out for available purchase.

The house staff are starting to arrive.

India has officially awaken for the day.

Now, for the smells.

This is a hard one to describe as I’ve seemed to have experienced a buffet of smells, most new to my nostril olfactory pallet.

The air is heavy and thick with moisture and pollution. Add in the garbage, spices, sewage and exhaust it can be overwhelming. Three times I’ve almost vomited from the overpowering smells that tends to leave a sticky film on the lungs and throat. My forever cough which was slowly fading as I left Canada, has been given a new will to live.

The back alley streets in Agra, where the exposed liquid sewage drops down from the external pipes on the the side streets, was enough to drop me. My eyes burned and my body wretched as it fought the urge to breathe until I could get to my hotel room and escape to yet a different set of smells – yet not ranking so high on the Richter scale of body convulsions.

Then there was the hydrovac at the mall – I literally started gagging and dry heaving. I reminded myself of my father-in-law as he would change one of my kids nasty diapers as babies. Imagine this “Canadian white chick” as I’ve been affectionately dubbed, walking on a busy street convulsing and gagging, being rushed away by her two friends as they laugh and chuckle at my new experience…….

Lastly, the environmental friendly and forward thinking process that is the renewable resource of “recycled water” being sprayed across the vast lawns at the Baha’i Lotus Temple…….. I’ll leave it at that.

Three times I can live with. My effort in my explanation is not to degrade but rather explain in depth my whole experience rather than just the beauty.

It is as I’m told they say here “that is Incredible India.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Finally,

In the effort to keep my “this is incredible India” experiences current and to comment as to why I’m sitting in the main floor living room rather then in my air conditioned bedroom; I’ve been noticing a random noise in my room, like that of the slight shift of blind slats…. 

I’m quietly waiting for Mahdi to wake from his floor bed in the downstairs theatre room to come investigate.

I’m thinking my internal alarm clock has nothing to do with the internal.

For a man who is recently ex-military, he sleeps like the dead. Clearly his priorities and my priorities are somewhat weighted differently.

So I sit hear and wait.

The cockroach in the kitchen is twitching only slightly now so I feel I’ve been given the all clear to start cooking breakfast.

UPDATE: A couple of months after posting this blog on Facebook and having been home for awhile, Mahdi and I were reflecting on this day and as per usual, I walked away from it with a life lesson learned.
I remember being extremely messed up with my internal clock.  I’m an early to bed, early to rise type gal and with the inside-out change of days, it took me some time to adjust, slightly.  I still woke up at 5 am every morning while I was there and I still needed to go to bed early.  The heat helped me with the need to rest but it didn’t change my need to see the sun rise every am no matter what side of the world I was on. I’ve always been a busy person scheduling every second of the day with to do lists constantly. GO GO GO GO GO.
After about a week of me getting up early and waiting…WAITING…WAITING….for everyone else in the house to arise, it started to get to me.  The waiting was killing me. I started to pace.  I started to go mad.   I started having lists run through my head of what I could do, where I could be, how much time I was wasting sitting here doing NOTHING.
NOTHING! 
So around the fifth day or so, after many failed attempts to wake the sleeping man by stomping on the floor, slamming doors and resisting the urge to walk up to him and kick his feet, my patience had decided to go on it’s own vacation and I had a minor melt down. One night I laid it on thick.  I was loosing my mind and I needed to say something.
So I did.
“HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY SLEEP THAT MUCH?  WHO SLEEPS THAT MUCH? WHO?
YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO?….LAZY PEOPLE.  THAT’S WHO.  MY DAD NEVER LET ME SLEEP IN BECAUSE THERE WAS THINGS TO DO, PEOPLE TO SEE….BUT NOOOOOOOOOO I HAVE TO SIT HERE AND STARE OFF INTO THE DISTANCE. AND WAIT.  NOT JUST ONE HOUR BUT LIKE FIVE HOURS
I breathed.  I calmed myself and I thought of the perfect solution, so I concluded;
“You have one day.  Tomorrow at 8 AM, I am out of this house and going to go somewhere to see something.  ANYTHING.  Come or don’t come.  Either way I’m going.
He stood there quietly and smiled, calmly and still amused; “I didn’t realize you were getting up so early.  You should have said something.  Your right.  Let’s go do something before the heat of the day gets to be too much.
NOTE: The concept of time in India was relative.  I remember seeing an add on the grocery story staff poster in the back office – because I had to pee and there was no public washrooms – it said “We value you as an employee and your work schedule.  Show up between 8-12 and work your 8 hour shift and leave each day.”  I remember thinking how insane that was and how does a person schedule anything.
Another time, we were waiting for a friend to come pick us up and take us out to dinner and dancing at a local club and after confirming his arrival of 15 minutes, he still didn’t show up for 2 hours.  This frustrated me as I thought it was extremely disrespectful and rude, whereas the locals didn’t even think twice about it.  They said it’s normal.
Fast forward to our phone call four months after…..
ME; “Mahdi, do you remember that morning when I had lost it because I was always waiting for everyone to show up?” “Do you remember how mad I was?” insert laugh here and a giggle of 20/20 hindsight.
Mahdi was quiet and smiling. He looked at me and said “can I tell you something?
– “of course.
Quietly he opened up his secret;
Did you know that I’ve never had a vacation?  Did you know that every morning I’ve woke up it was out of duty for work, for a mission, for war,” …… his list went on.
Did you know that the only time in my life that I have never had to worry about something that day or have ever slept in was while in India?
……..
……..
……..
“&^%$^ – OMG!!!! WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING?” – I felt like a selfish wench.
Mahdi trying to reassure me;  “No- no. You were my duty.  You flew halfway around the world to see me.   We do what you want, when you want it.  I was happy to get up and take you on your adventure.  It made my day.
Me:  UGH!  I still didn’t feel any better.
Lesson in life: RELAX.  This is India.  Time is irrelevant.

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