Monday, July 17, 2006

Posting from the city of Headband

Well I’m sure my millions of fans have been eagerly awaiting my next blog instalment. Well here it is.

Since my last entry, I’ve done quite a few things. I’ve went for a special jamvaanu (meal) at a nearby mandir for about 200 hundred ppl which we were told to arrange on behalf of the anniversary of my grandfathers death a few years ago. The fly season started soon after. Flies everywhere! I’ve got a lot of insect bites now too. I also had to take part a mysterious religious ritual a few days ago involving just me and mum. And yesterday I went to this strange meeting with the “Rotary Club”. Cos of my limited Gujarati I couldn’t quite work out what it was. It seemed like a cross between Free Masonry and a local trust fund type thing that they use to build things needed for the village. Apparently it’s a worldwide thing.

The main unpleasant things of the week were a huge spotted spider jumping on me, and having to refuse holy milk cos a fly fell in it. Everyone else, probably shocked at my refusal, didn’t see a problem with the fly!

Lets start with the jamvaanu. I’m always reluctant to eat at ppl’s houses in a village cos I’m a bit of a hygiene freak. I did in the first week I arrived here, a bit naïve thinking the ppl aren’t that dirty. But my mum told me after eating at one of her friends houses that whilst she was cooking she was sweating like mad, and just wiping the dripping sweat off her face with her hands, and then throwing her hands back into the cooking, whilst making puri. That and a few other things at other houses made us decide not to eat out. Every time someone invites us, and we got a lot of invitations, my mum would tell them “Naresh doesn’t like eating at other ppl’s houses” !!!! She hates it just as much as I do but she only mentions me!

Anyway, the thought of eating at the mandir was even more off-putting. God knows who cooks it and how clean they are. Ive learnt that villagers definition of “clean” is completely different to ours. Their “clean” is our dirty. And our “clean” to them is waaayy over the top.

At first I suggested I eat before I go and not eat there, but was told I gotta eat something there even if its just a pinch-ful. So I agreed. There, we sat, the plates, bowl, cup and cutlery all laid out on the floor of the hall. I inspected the plate, and it was a bit dirty. I inspected one of the bowls, it was filthy, the other bowl wasn’t too bad tho. I didn’t bother checking the cup as I didn’t plan on drinking anything. So I planned in my head where to place the food, on this side of the plate to avoid the dirty bit, and in that bowl, the cleaner one.

Food starts arriving, some men who walk through the aisles offering the food to our plates, and I declined most of it (some out of choice, some cos they’re bad for my condition), accepting some rotli (chapatti) and kadhi (kari? That yellow, watery curry) and a piece of ladoo. The rotli looked so kaatchi (uncooked). I got stuck in and it wasn’t very nice. Had about 4 bite-fuls, and it began to taste worse n worse with each bite, I thought id finish it, but on one of the bites I almost heaved! Haha! It tasted like “lot”/dough. The kadhi was awful too. I stopped there, I didn’t wanna heave in front of everyone who are eating the same food as me. And moved onto the ladoo, looking forward to the sweet taste of it to get rid of the doughy taste in my mouth. Had a few bites and a big bit of fluff was inside, about an inch long. Lovely.

After I finished, I followed my cousin to where we put our dishes. Soon realized we have to go outside to a long line of outside sinks, bare foot, and wash our own dishes! No wonder the dishes were dirty! Random ppl were washing them, little kids even. And washing involved rinsing them in water and rubbing your hands across any stubborn bits of food. No washing up liquid. Ppl hardly use that here in the village. I tiptoed around, trying to avoid stepping on bits of food on the floor, glad it was finished.

The fly season started quite suddenly soon after. Within a few days, the number of flies must have tripled or quadrupled! Id walk out of the house to find my chappal covered in about 10 or 15 flies, god knows what they’re eating. My foot-sweat or any skin that may have shed onto the chappal. It was time to use my insect repellent. I now spray that on my feet and chappal before I leave the house and not many land on me after. At night, they buzz onto your face, hoping to get a few slurps of the natural oil on your skin. Sometimes they’re so fucking aggressive! Flying like kamikaze pilots, right into your face! There’s not many in our little room thing. It’s separate from the other houses. And it’s upstairs too so less insects and not many flies cos we keep the doors and windows shut. You get a few flies but if they keep bothering us, we (me or mum) catch them in jars and let them out outside. There was quite a few the other day so we decided to fumigate the room.

A few days later, my mum tells me “god is coming to our house tmr morning. I’ve invited god to come at 8am.” I don’t like to argue with her materialistic views of god so I just agree to it. It’s a 2 day ceremony for me and her starting at 8am for about an hour and a maraj carries it out. I had no idea what it was for! Felt like a marriage at one point! The next day mum said it’s a ritual that brings good fortunes to the family. I’m gonna start playing the lottery from now on. The maraj also said he does astrology readings! That was cool so I gave him my birth date and time. I look fwd to that! I like that kinda stuff.

On the 2nd day, near the end of the ceremony, one of those kamikaze flies jumped into the holy milk. The maraj picked it out with his fingers. The fly lived btw. And at the end the milk was passed around the room for everyone to drink a tiny bit. I was like “WHAT”. I whispered to mum that I’m not having any. As I was about to get up and leave as it was finished, my cousin says wait u haven’t had the milk yet! I’m like SHIT. I told her I don’t want it cos a fly fell in it and she smiled and gave this “u weirdo” look. I wanted to shout to everyone “A FUCKIN FLY FELL IN IT MAN!!!!! A FUCKIN FLY!” I asked mum if she had any and she said she didn’t want to but had to, so took a tiny bit. Haha. I think she felt too ashamed to refuse it in front of everyone. She wouldn’t have had any if the room wasn’t full of ppl.

A few days ago, my cousin (Ramesh) and a few of his friends invited me to go with them to this farm house in the evening, his friends place. He said there’s a meeting going on, and then they just drink, n eat n chat, and there’s a swimming pool there (not in use at the moment tho). So I went along, thinking I might enjoy.

It’s a huge piece of land. Some farms. Some buildings. Some were enjoying the customary whiskey + water. How sick that must taste. And this hairy beast of a topless man was starting to make the food. I decided there and then that I’m not gonna eat there. There probably wasn’t much I was allowed anyway, unless I ate curry on its own as I’m not a big fan of rice either (strange I know). They tend to eat a lot of moong beans here (kichari) and that’s a food to avoid for me.

The meeting was about to start, so we all was led upstairs. It was a bare house, I think it was being newly built. It was starting to get dark outside. The windows were all wide open so I was a bit aware that insects would start to flock to the light in the room. Anyway, they sat n started talking about plans of this Rotary Club thing they have started. I couldn’t understand much of it. It lasted an hour and a half, while the dude who owns the land was almost shouting. Guji’s have gotta be the loudest bunch of ppl on earth. I started insect spotting…. Saw all sorts of weird stuff flying around in the room. Stuff id never ever seen before. I remained calm tho as I sat there cross legged on the floor. As long as they don’t touch me I’m alright. I saw 2 little lizards come in through the window too. I dunno what they’re called in English, we call them “Andhi-chi-chi”, tried spelling it the best I can. They’re cute little lizards.

Then suddenly I feel something land on me near my shoulder, my face screws up in fear as I turn my head left to see a big spider on me, I start flicking my hand like mad at it to swat it off me and it falls a couple of foot ahead of me. GOD. It just fucking jumped out of nowhere! It was quite a big black thing, with white spots on it! AND THE FUCKER CAN JUMP. I composed myself. Keeping one eye on it. Then a minute later it fucking jumps towards me again! AND I HOPPED BACKWARDS A FEW STEPS ALONG THE FLOOR WHILST STILL ON MY ARSE (we were sitting on the floor). And the dude near me, who knew my fear of these things, flicked it away, and some ppl laughed. Bastids! Thankfully the meeting finished soon after and I was dropped off home as they were about to eat.

I have no idea why I’m so scared of the little shits. I know they do fuck all. But something just overrides all that like instinct. Like when you touch something too hot and your hand just automatically comes off of it without your conscious control. Actually I do have an idea of why. I remember my mum used to discipline me by telling me a spider is coming if I don’t behave etc. It probably started then.

Ppl here love nature. Sitting on a farm or on a large piece of natural land. I can see the beauty in it too, but before I do, my mind is focused on all the insects that u get. It doesn’t seem to bother these ppl one bit that there are 2 or 3 beasts crawling on their neck.

We had a little frog in the kitchen the other day. It was so funny seeing it jump up n down. My mums so scared of them, and rats.

Earlier today we went into town (Bhuj, 10 miles away) for some shopping. I needed a poo, so my aunt took me to her brother’s shop which was nearby and asked him if I can use the loo, he said yes. Then my aunt said they’re British, they prefer the sitting down loo’s not the hole in the ground ones, so he said he’d get someone to drop me to his relatives house nearby. Some guy came out the shop and I got on a scooter with him… *cue mission impossible theme*… we rode about 10 fucking mins! Must have travelled about 2 miles just to use the toilet, going thru tiny little aisles n bumpy roads, swerving around the numerous cows, buffalo’s and dogs. Did the business n another 2 miles n 10 mins to get back *mission impossible theme ends*. All that just to poo! Haha.

There’s a huge tree here nearby that houses literally hundreds of bats. Its quite amazing. During the day they all sleep on the branches upside down. Occasionally screaming when disturbed by another bat. At dusk, they all flock slowly somewhere in bunches. I don’t know where. Its quite a sight. I need to get some photo’s of it.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I've felt what I think were 2 teeny earthquakes. I was wondering if it really was a quake or a big truck that drove past but there’s always trucks going by and I don’t feel a thing and my cousin confirmed that there are often little tremors. Felt quite amazing. I’ve always wanted to feel one. Nothing too major obviously.

Earlier in the week we thought we had a bit of a family scandal. My mum wanted to check our bank accounts here, cos our dodgy cousin here (Haresh) has access to the accounts, he deposits our rent money in it and withdraws money in case repairs are needed on our house here that we rent out to ppl. And my mum don’t trust him one bit. He, and his mum, have a history of thieving, often from their own relatives. On checking the accounts, we noticed 300’000 rupees (~3600 pounds) was taken out in total over the last year. And a few months ago 200’000 was put back in. And we weren’t told of all of this so we suspected he took it out and when he heard we were coming to India, tried to pay some back. So for a day my mum was screwing thinking “I knew it, I knew it”. But we spoke to our uncle in the UK and he said its all ok and it was for some major roof repairs they did on our house. We were still not sure about the money that was put back in, but Haresh explained it was cos they took extra out to cover repairs on other houses too which they then paid for back into our account or something like that.

My mum wants to restrict access to our accounts cos she cant keep track of all these withdrawals in different accounts. Esp as some of ppl able to access it are thieves. But she was told by my uncle n my dad in the UK not to restrict it. She was so pissed off about that, and told me to just spend spend spend if I wanted. “Rather we spend it than them spend our money”. Never heard my mum say that ever about money before. She’s famous for being a scrooge. But here she is saying spend as much as I want of the money we have in our India accounts! It’s a shame I’m not a huge fan of gold or id get a whole load of jewellery! I dunno what else I can buy! I’ve already done my biggest purchase in laser eye surgery. Cant get any big stuff cos of limited space in suitcase. I’m gonna see if I can get some computer components if they’re cheaper here.

Less than 2 weeks left here in the village, then a final week in Ahmedabad to do some final shopping. Insect season and the peak of the monsoon is approaching so it’s a good time to leave. The weather is horrid in Mumbai with ppl dying in the floods. And also the recent train bombings! Luckily our flight is from Ahmedabad, where there is also heavy rain but not as bad as Mumbai. Cant wait!

Btw, not surprisingly, Word didn’t recognize the word “Ahmedabad”. And it had suggestions… so I right-clicked it out of curiosity to see what alternatives it suggests… it had the one suggestion… “HEADBAND” heh.

No comments:

Post a Comment