Nesting in New Delhi
This is the first of a few posts from over the weekend. My internet access has been limited, so I’m posting them in one bunch. Enjoy!
Thursday was the first day I felt at home in New Delhi. I slept through the night, waking up refreshed to the sound of rain outside my window. An hour or so of heavy rain made the morning cool and serene. After a breakfast of mangoes and pomegranate in yogurt I lazed around the flat, watching TED videos on my iPad and journaling. None of us had classes so after a midday visit from the electrician to fix our doorbell we left to pursue various errands.
I returned to my host’s house to pick up my phone charger which I had there on Sunday. I was greeted by his sister and offered lunch. She sat with me and we chatted about her faith and the upcoming Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, when sisters will tie small bracelets on the wrists of their brothers and the brothers will return the gesture with a gift of money or jewelry. What a lovely holiday. I spent a couple hours at the house catching up on your emails and comments. I called home on Skype, waking my mom, and we chatted about settling into a routine and my new space. Gobind returned from work around 4pm and we caught up over a cup of tea. Walking the familiar steps out of his neighborhood to the metro stop where I caught an auto to bring me back to Munirka, I felt calm, capable, and happy.
I walked back to the flat though Munirka Market. The day before, we had finished was seemed like the endless task of furnishing our place. Today I experienced the market in an entirely new way. With no necessity to buy a bed, table, chairs, or linens, I was able to walk the crowded streets of the market as a passive observer. The economist in me has always relished in the exploration of outdoor bazaars, flea markets, farmers markets, etc. There is something beautifully raw and about the gathering of vendors and buyers to exchange the products of daily life. Today’s experience, much different from the previous days of dread and drudgery, made me realize that I love market shopping when I don’t have an urgent need to buy anything and can simply browse. I purchased pears, cucumbers, yogurt, and a gnarled ginger root to make tea, as well as supplies for my afternoon craft project, making curtains for my room.
Now I don’t want to brag, but I could call it quits and leave India tomorrow feeling quite proud and accomplished simply knowing that I fashioned some pretty stellar curtains for the windows in my room out of a bed sheet and matching pillow cases. I spent the afternoon in the living room using a Leatherman from Dad as a seem ripper, safety pins, tacks, and packing string to create matching curtains for my windows. Okay, so I will brag. This slide show displays my McGyver meets Maria Von Trapp domestic abilities.
More than the rain and falling temperatures, the process of “nesting” in my new space with my new roommies who are as foreign here as me has brought about my new found comfort. The first morning I woke up in our apartment I walked into the kitchen to find Lesly making breakfast…for three! The simple kindness of her consideration almost made me cry. Last night Lena made dinner, an improvised ratatouille with cauliflower, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and paneer (a mild Indian cheese similar to mozzarella). We also had potatoes (half Belgian, Lesly is a potato expert), cucumbers in yogurt, homemade garlic toast, and mangoes with pomegranate for dessert.
We each pitched in to put dinner together and as we sat down to eat I read “The Beginning”, a Taoist reflection I keep in my red travel book and read at the beginning of any big adventure. We commented on how lucky we are to have found such great company for the year, how nice it was to share a meal together, and dreamed of the future meals and celebrations we will share in this new home. After dinner our French friends Albin and Manu came over. They brought Kingfisher (great Indian beer) and the five of us stayed up until 1a.m. chatting and playing cards on the living room floor. As we sat and played I forgot I was in India. This group of young people from Germany, France, and the U.S. could be anywhere in the world, sharing beers, card tricks, games, and stories from home. I think the increased opportunities my generation has to share these simple moments with our peers around the world is a sign of good things to come for all of us.
Until next time,