India Anonymous: Calcutta 1 year later

December 6th, 2009 | No Comments

Um, hello,

It has been 1 year since my last Limca. My family has been very supportive of my transition from India. Some days are easier than others though.

I finally realized that I had a problem when I found I had an insatiable craving for pouri in the middle of the night. Fortunately a friend stopped me from throwing out all of my dishes and utensils, and confiscated the collection of maple leaves that I had laced together into plates. It’s all I can do sometimes to not smash my terracotta flowerpot and use pieces as little scoops. My biggest problem is the Chai. It sucks here. I try to be positive and retain the more enlightening aspects of India, but trying to do Yoga Nidra at work just ends up pissing everyone off. I even offered to lift a big heavy pot for someone. The restaurant agreed not to press charges if I never came back there. One night I got a little excited when a woman with a thick eastern European accent was rude to me, but walked away in disappointment when I learned she was Ukrainian and not Bulgarian.

Before India, whenever I saw someone wearing all white I would think of the Glad garbage man. Now, I want to ask them why they didn’t pack anything else for when they left the ashram. Holes in the ground make me think of little scoops and multi-coloured buckets. I miss napkins that don’t absorb liquids, and that feel like scraping a pink fire-retardant Kevlar material across your face. I long for the sincerity of a shopkeeper that tells me he doesn’t care about making money, that “this is your store” and I should tell him what I want to pay… only to have him swoon like William Shatner playing Scarlet O’Hara doing Caesar’s death scene. The rest of the world is missing out on Lay’s Magic Masala potato chips, and the interconnection between people when you respond to a street vendor by politely saying “Nay…Nay…Nay…Nay…Nay…still Nay…Nay…I don’t speak Indian…Nay…Nay…ask her over there, she likes Ganesh more than I do…Nay…Nay…no I already bought 3…Nay…”

Why don’t children here live with the same level of appreciation? Throwing water over your shoulder IS a sincere gesture of thanks, and birthday cake SHOULD cause a Stanley Cup-esque riot. Furthermore our kids are too distracted by designer labels that do not include Bumchums. I want honey lemon ginger tea that is served to me in 4 different bowls. Passing construction sites I am reminded that I would take women with bricks on their head over men with bricks in their head any day. And I want daily epiphanies like when we floated down the Ganges in Varanasi and watched locals washing clothes in the river, and I could finally place the smell in the scarf used to cover my face, which the hotel had laundered the day before.

I think what it comes down to is this: we don’t have enough cows. Those damn critical mass cyclists would think twice about blocking bridges every month if there were more cows commanding the right of way. Cyclist-only lane my ass.

I miss people who bobble their head side to side, even when saying “yes”. I miss tuk-tuk drivers who sing in-between cursing at other drivers. I miss smuggling chocolate into an ashram. I mean, shh – never mind.

Alas, the last of my neem shampoo and toothpaste is now gone, and I have resigned myself to the fact that the korta I bought isn’t ever going to get the casual-summer-BBQ-apparel use that I once thought it would. I finally gave away the singing bowl that I bought, and then forgot that I bought, leading my to buy another one 3 weeks later. It is still too soon to eat cauliflower again, but I do love saying Jeldi! Jeldi! Jeldi! to cab drivers.

I am going to go throw a load of white clothes in the laundry and expect them to come clean, because I can.


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