Monday, 15 June 2009

The Bus Incident

I had a funny experience in a bus the other day. I was going to visit a friend who lives bit of a ways out of town and I had to take a bus to get there. I wasn't quite sure which bus to take so I asked someone. The man told me to wait and pointed me in the right direction when my bus arrived. My Tamil isn't fantastic but I get by without too many issues - usually. When the ticket collector got to me I told him that the stop I was going to was 'Nadar Shed' ('Nadar' being the name of a large and wealthy family that owns a lot of land in that area, and 'Shed' because I think there's a large shed across the road from the bus stop that's used to store harvests of produce - like carrots, pears and plums - that come off this family's farms). When I told him that I wanted to go to Nadar Shed, he looked at me completely blankly and then told me that he had no idea what I was saying. So I said it again, "Nadar Shed!" And again he looked nonplussed. So I said it a third time, "Nadar Shed!!" Finally he gave up and called over a more senior man who was the conductor. The conductor came over and asked me in a kindly, sympathetic sort of way where I wanted to go. I was feeling a little bit flustered and embarrassed by this time since the conversation had attracted a fair amount of attention from the other people on the bus, but I said - for the fourth time - "Nadar Shed". The conductor understood me and says to the young ticket collector "Nadar Shed", in what I thought was exactly the same pronunciation in which I had said it. I could see that this time the ticket collector had understood and, while handing over my ticket, he looks at me as if to say, "Well why didn't you say that the first time?!" I giggled to myself about the incident all the way to my infamous stop.

The more I thought about the whole Nadar Shed incident, the more I realized that it's a very clear commentary on my life as it is right now. When I'm in Canada, I have a Canadian accent that my parents tease me about but that also ensures that I'm understood. And even then I find the odd person who simply doesn't have a clue what I'm saying. And now that I'm back in India - which I had thought with absolute certainty is my home - I'm being faced with similarly blank expressions. It seems that I'm as foreign in my own country as I am when I'm abroad. It's a bit strange, to say the least.

My non-Indianness extends further, I suppose. The only language I speak fluently is English. Of the Indian languages open to me, I speak Tamil and Hindi to an extent that allows me to function but does nothing to hide the fact that I am uncomfortable speaking anything but English. I stick out like a sore thumb to hawkers and vendors on Indian streets because I look and sound like someone who lives abroad and has tons of dollars to spend. I guess that for the moment I just don't know whether I'm coming or going ...

Anyway. More on that later, I suppose. In other news: I had a fairly ok time visiting family last week. We were out of Kodai for 10 days and it went by quickly. It's 30 hours by train to Pune (pronounced Pu-nay with a short u sound and is also known as "Poona") and we got in at 1:00 am or there abouts on Sunday morning. We went straight to my grandparents' place, spent the night, and left shortly after breakfast. It was a 2 and a half hour bus ride to Ahmednagar (Ah-mudh-nugurh also with short u sounds; "Nagar" for short) where my mum's sister and her family live. My mum's two elderly aunts are also living there at the moment. So with me, my mum, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, two grand aunts, a cat, and a dog it was pretty crowded. My parents and I were sleeping on the terrace under mosquito nets and very starry skies and it was lovely. It wasn't too hot in either Poona or Nagar but we were definitely grateful for the cool air outside. My parents left for Delhi on Tuesday morning and I was left in Nagar. I was there till Thursday morning when I got the bus back to Poona and my grandparents. On Sunday afternoon my parents flew back into Poona from Delhi and I was happy to have them back. We took the train on Sunday and were back in Kodai at 11:30ish on Monday night. I was happy to be back and reunited with my puppies and kittens and dog who I worried about and missed when we were away.

We've been back almost a week and I'm heading out again soon. I booked tickets to go to Mysore to visit Noah. For those of you who aren't tuned in, Noah goes to Mt A with me and we're going to be living together next year. He's in India on Mt A's Shastri summer abroad program. I'm leaving Kodai on Tuesday afternoon (30th of June) and I'll be in Mysore on Wednesday (1st of July) morning. I'm going to be there until the following Monday afternoon (6th July) and I'll be back in Kodai on Tuesday morning. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I don't know how often I'll have the chance to have friends from Canada come to India and actually be close enough for me to go and see. I shall update you on how it goes. And Noah probably will too. He writes a blog for Mt A as well; in case you're interested.

Here are pictures of the puppies and kittens that I took today. They are basically the sweetest things I have ever seen.

Puppies eating breakfast.


And those are they. My gorgeous puppies and kittens. I'll put up a Picasa album with the rest of them and I'll give you all a link to that. For now, these are just a selection. I got bored of downloading off Facebook and uploading to this so I'm stopping.

I'll write again when I'm back from Mysore and hopefully I'll have pictures from there, too.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

I've come to add another book to my list. I got through this one more slowly than I was expecting to. 'My Dream of You' by a woman called Nuala O'Faolain. She's Irish, as you might have guessed and the book is, essentially, about Ireland. I'd like to go there some day. It seems like a place with a lot of history and some pretty deep scars. It's a good book. I'd recommend it.

It's been a lovely day here in Kodai. Bursts of scorching sunshine interrupted by brief rain showers that are quickly followed by bright sun again. A typical Kodai day. The monsoon is here. Apparently Cyclone Aila drew a lot of moisture away from the monsoon and so it halted for a while and we had a few sincere summery days, but the rain is back. I have to admit that I'm not so keen on the rain, after the cold and darkness of a Sackville winter. I just want hot sun, but it would be cruel to wish the monsoon away. Too many people are waiting for it, practically on bended knee.

I'm making progress with my guitar. I can now play: 'Horse With No Name' (America), 'Orange Sky' (Alexi Murdoch), and 'Wonderwall' (Oasis). I think 'Yellow' (Coldplay) is next. I'm struggling to get the singing and playing to happen at the same time, though. It's sort of like that thing where you try to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. It's hard. It depends on the song and the rhythm of the strumming and what not, but still - it's easier said than done.

Some time a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a massive thundershower, Shades (our dog) decided that enough was enough and she brought her puppies up to the house. They're a little over two weeks old and they've just opened their eyes and started looking more like puppies and less like furry sausages. We've also got two kittens - a boy and a girl. I've named them Max (after Maxwell Edison whose hammer came down) and Lucy (in the sky with diamonds) and, in keeping with last summer's obsession, they're also names from Across the Universe. I wanted names that were sort of a pair. My dad (a doctor and biology nerd like myself) and I were thinking of amino acid names, but they didn't work very well. I looked at Greek mythology, and cellestial bodies ... and eventually settled on the Beatles for my inspiration. They're the sweetest little things, my kittens. Except when it's 2:30 am and they're playing pouncing games all over me. The last couple of nights I've been kicking them out of my room and only letting them in again early in the morning. I can't begin to describe how nice it is to have pets again. Eight of them, that too! One of the things about being at home that I miss the most is having pets. The boundless, unconditional love is like nothing else. I mean, who else can you kick out of bed at 2:30 in the morning that'll still come running in first thing just bursting with happiness to see you?

I'm going out of town for about 10 days this Friday. My parents have work and so I'm going along to do the necessary visits to my grandparents and general extended family. I'm being left alone with them for a few days which isn't an ideal situation, but it'll be alright. I'm a big girl and I'll probably be fine. It's not guaranteed ... but probably. (Let it suffice to say that my family has issues.) We'll be back on the 22nd. I feel like this trip marks the end of Part 1 of my vacation back in India. I've been back a month today, actually. I'm dreading the trip because we're going off our lovely little mountain and heading back into the Indian summer. It's going to be crazy hot. Especially for me. Kodai's weather has been (aside from the rain) perfect with it's highs of 20-ish and it's lows of 10-ish. But once we get off the mountain, we'll be in 35-ish and higher and I don't know if I can take it. On our trip to Kodai from Chennai when I arrived, I was very, very hot and unhappy though I did try not to complain. Stepping out of the airport was like getting punched in the face. Ah well. I guess it'll make the return to Kodai all the nicer. And yes, I'm being picky about the kind of summer I want. You'd understand if you were in Sackville for the winter and it made you as miserable as it made me.

Kodai's a bit lonely though. I went out the other night with two guys from my class in high school. They were both bumming around in Kodai and so we went out for dinner and a drink. One of the guys has left back to university (India's on a slightly different schedule from the West). I might meet up with the other guy later this week to watch a movie or something. We're both a bit bored and lonely and I'm sure we'll be grateful for the company. I certainly will be. Other than that, there's not much happening.

The main excitement in the last few days has been the French Open. I'm a huge Federer supporter. I've been a fan of his since the day way back in 2001 when he beat Pete Sampras in the quaterfinals of Wimbledon and upset a huge winning streak that Sampras was on. Anyway. His French Open win was a big deal: 1) it's his first French Open title; 2) he tied Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles; 3) he tied Ivan Lendl's record of 19 Grand Slam finals; and 5) with the win, he became the sixth man in history to complete a Career Grand Slam. Apparently he is offically the best player ever now. It's pretty sweet.

Cricket has crept back into my life. It is now the T20 World Cup being hosted by England. There are matches happening every night again. I'm planning to retreat to my room to read and watch movies on my computer. I've had enough cricket. I watched 'Thick as Thieves' last night with Antonio Banderas in the first role of his that I've like and Morgan Freeman who's awesome no matter what.

Anyway. My mum is here, the cricket is on, and I think I'm going to disappear back to my room. It was nice to catch up. I guess you'll hear from me when I'm back in Kodai on the 22nd or the 23rd.

Be well, good readers. Till later ...