Saturday, January 29, 2011

India: Will Miss/Won't Miss (Non-Food Edition)

I did a Will Miss/Won't Miss post over on my vegan blog... and it made me want to do a non-food version over here. I'll start with "won't miss," so that we can end on a positive note! So, without further ado...

Won't Miss:
Walking on FC Road - FC Road has so many great restaurants and other good destinations - places to buy a paper, get some coffee, do some eating... but really, the sidewalks are completely in a state of disrepair. We end up here often, and it is not a particularly pleasant place. Plus, the traffic is INSANE and crossing the street requires ample doses of courage, attention, faith, and sheer stupidity!

Breathing in Pune. Seriously, the air quality here is NASTY. I am not a particularly delicate person in this regard, but it can be overwhelming. There are so many cars, so many rickshaws with 2-stroke engines, so many motor bikes, so much burning wood... and worst of all they just burn their trash (plastic and all!), so there can be some really, really toxic and unpleasant breathing experiences here. I am definitely looking forward to the crisp blue skies (or even rainy skies!) of Santa Cruz!

Along those lines... I won't miss the trash all over the streets absolutely everywhere. The streets are covered in plastic wrappers, bags, food scraps, containers, bottle tops and on and on. Plus the system for trash disposal here is as follows: put your bag of trash (or just trash items) out on the street & leave them there. Meanwhile cars will run over them, dogs and crows and cats will pick through them and there will be a big mess everywhere. In the morning someone will come and sweep it up. That person will sort it for recyclables, and burn the rest. Repeat daily. I definitely won't miss seeing and walking over and around piles of trash all the time!

Snoring in pranayama - ha! This week our classes have been focusing on pranayama- the breath aspects of the yoga practice. It's been positively transporting. Except there's always one Indian man in class snoring (or burping!) hee hee. We definitely won't miss that.

Our sad, sad little mattresses. Seriously, our mattresses are HARD. They are probably 1 inch thick, on top of a board. I actually had bruises on my hips that first week, until I figured out how to sleep on that crazy bed. Yes, I am definitely looking forward to getting in my cozy bed with all my furry buddies and konking out. Ahhhhhhh.

In fact, I have to admit, I won't miss our funky little flat. It has treated us well, I love the neighborhood, and I love our landlords... but the floors are super cold, even in the middle of the day it's pretty dark (no direct sunlight) and it's pretty dingy (despite our cleaning efforts) . Plus, in the end there's just no place like home. :)

Seeing sad, mange-y, injured, skittish street dogs. It's very hard for me. Carrying around bags of dog food has helped me feel a bit proactive... I will miss the feeling of compassion that comes from knowing that I've given them a good square meal, but I won't miss the constant heartbreak. I really look forward to hugging all 4 of our little rescue pets and letting them know that I will love them and feed them and care for them and help them feel safe for the rest of their lives.

6 AM Wake Up Hour. I'm not used to getting up at 6 am, and it's taking its toll on me! Ha ha. Call me a wimp... but them's the facts, folks. Plus, with class until 8 pm many nights, followed by dinner, and taking notes... it's actually pretty hard to get 8 hours of sleep many nights. Phew... I can't wait to konk out in my cozy bed with no alarm clock in sight!

Will Miss /Won't Miss:
Neighborhood sounds! There are a few I'll miss, but most I won't... I love the sound of the recycling wallas and veggie wallas who come through with their carts all day long. Each one has a way of calling out his services, and you can go to the window and tell him you are on your way down. But I won't miss their 7 am appearance on Sundays, our one precious day off. Also, I won't miss the sounds of fighting and squealing dogs in the middle of the night at all. It is a big bummer. Sometimes I am able to sleep through it (won't miss sleeping with earplugs every night), sometimes I'm not so lucky. Nor will I miss the crazy electronic ditties that the cars play when they go into reverse. So loud, and so weird. Someone in our neighborhood has an electronic mozart tune, but the best one is the one that goes straight from one stanza of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" into one stanza of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." It is totally trippy. They are pervasive all over town, not just in our neighborhood! And of course I won't miss the noisy little cricket who lives in our kitchen and squeaks incessantly. Or the fellow across the street who's morning religious ritual each morning involves ringing a bell for about 1 hour straight. For better and for worse, it's never quiet in India! Haha! Mostly I find it all charming and amusing and part of the wonderful masala of the Indian experience, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to the peace and quiet of home.

Will Miss:
Yoga!: Obviously. It is such a luxurious treat to have no responsibilities other than yoga. 4 hours of instruction and 3 hours to practice almost every day has been just glorious. It's especially awesome to practice here in this room full of dedicated yogis & yoginis and with every possible prop imaginable at your finger tips. Imagination and curiosity are the only limitations to what you can explore. It's been wonderful.

The convenience and thrill of rickshaw rides: You don't ever have to wait more than 1 minute for a friendly rickshaw fella to drive up. It's SO cool. Most intelligent people can find the crazed driving and absolute chaos of traffic completely terrifying... but somehow I find it all quite peaceful and entertaining. I just put my faith in the system and go along for the ride. I especially like the drivers who are fast, but really safe and skilled. It's so fun to zip around and weave through the traffic and dodge potholes and zoom across town. Just like a real-life video game. Fun fun!

I'll miss the friendly faces in our neighborhood, especially the nice guys at "my" internet place. You're supposed to hand in your ID every time, but I don't need to anymore because they all know my name. The other day I left my sunglasses, and started to walk down the block. When I realized, and came running back, the guy said "Amey!" and gave me my glasses. :) It's so nice to feel a sense of home and community building after just a few weeks of living here. I'll miss them for sure!

This awesome weather. It's been nice and toasty the last few weeks and I have been loving it so much. A little chilly in the morning, and probably somewhere around 80-90 during the day. Pretty much great as far as I'm concerned. With nice warm nights. Ahhh. It's like heaven. I will be sad to return home to the land of fog and fleece. Speaking of which, I'll miss wearing all my awesome Indian outfits. They are so comfortable and pretty and fun to wear... and are just perfect for this climate. Back home, I can get away with wearing my kurtas for a few days in the summer, at least before the fog rolls in at 6 pm... but here I can wear them all day and all evening long. I love it!

Tulsi Bhag - my most favorite area in all of Pune. I LOVE IT. Tulsi Bhag is a winding little neighborhood full of shops and vendors and stalls selling just about everything: combs, cheap jewelry, scarves, kitchen wares, devotional statuary, brooms, herbs, clothes, bags, floor mats, toys, and on and on and on and on. Right across the street is the huge market selling all kinds of fresh fruit and veggies, which is also totally huge and amazing. And right there is also Laxmi Road, where you can buy all the finest gold jewelry and silk sarees. However, I am a Tulsi Bhag girl through and through. I love the alleys packed and jammed full with throngs of people, the temples, the shimmers and sparkles of all the merchandise, the street vendors... and the overall feeling of LIFE that fills Tulsi Bhag. Love love love love love.

Obviously, I will miss the food and the fruit (more details here). I'm no dummy. The food here is out of this world. 5 weeks later and I am not one iota sick of Indian food. I could just go on and on. There is still so much to explore. We've got 4-5 days left and we have a lot of food to eat in those few days. Wish me luck with this critical endeavor.

Mama Cookie. My favorite street dog. I love her so much. She is a gentle, friendly, calm little spirit, and I am totally amazed by her. If you can be that quiet, that sweet, and that trusting as a street dog in India, you are a special spirit indeed. There are some nice fellas near where she hangs out who look after her, and this really warms my heart. There's a cute picture of her here.

JANE! My totally awesome buddy, roommate, and travel companion. We met in yoga class years ago and have gradually come to be better and better friends. We both knew we'd have a great time together on this trip - but our compatability has completely surpassed my wildest dreams. I am having so much fun with her. In many ways we are hilariously opposite of each other, the original Yin & Yang. But somehow we totally groove on each other and she has been a most excellent travel buddy. We've got very similar ideas of what's fun and what's not, when to relax and when to go out, when to be quiet & when to be goofy... it's just awesome. I know I'm going to miss spending 24 hours a day with her once I'm home again!

One thing I'll definitely miss is the simple thrill that comes from living in an unfamiliar culture/country. My parents started taking us traveling when I was 12 and my brother was 15. It definitely opened my eyes to the joy of discovering other places. The thing I remember most from that first trip overseas was how positively amazed I was that the people in Denmark had a whole different selection of candy bars than we did!!!!!! What other wonders existed out there that I didn't know about ????!! Ha ha! I think I will never stop wanting to find out the answer to that question. I love how being in a different land makes even the most mundane things interesting and adventurous and educational - different matches, different foods, different faces, different way to make a phone call, different way to get across town, (and of course) different candies!! :) Some things never change!


Rachel said...

What a wonderful way to post about the paradoxes of India! Thanks Amey!!!

Jen hall said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!!! I simply love and miss India!

jane said...

I miss our dailyness, my travel buddy...what a time we had...memories that fill my heart with smiles....I love you Miss Amey...snuggles...Jane