Sunday, May 28, 2006
(Interstices: Other important factors for coming to this conclusion include reading Foucault at the same time I read Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. And, also, I am perpetually plagued by disease -- real or imagined.)
So ANYWAY, I was having all this existential angst about finding a good psychiatrist in Delhi, who doesn't charge an arm and a leg (because I WILL NOT claim this on my health insurance as I think the Indian HR bitch would use this as an excuse to fire me, global nondiscrimination policy or not), and who is also still operating (there is a massive medical strike that's been on for three or so weeks now to protest reservations for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other backwards castes -- and if you don't understand what I'm talking about, message me, or read something from the Indian Express on the issue, which is aboslutely fascinating). And I was bitching and fretting and moaning, and finally S just suggested we go to a chemist and try and buy my presciption medicine without a prescription, because, well, this is India.
And...in less than 10 minutes, I got the medicine I was having a nervous breakdown about running out of. The clincher? A month's supply in the U.S. of this medicine (generic name quetiapine, used to treat schizophrenia, primarily) costs about $120 (though it's free through my insurance plan). Here? I bought a two-week supply as a test case, and it cost $1.50.
I am a little...I just don't know. Now I'm agonized at the evilness of Big Pharma and insurers and etc. I need to write something and submit it to an American paper, because...think of all the people who are homeless in America (and abroad, I suppose, but I haven't read the literature) because they are mentally ill. The medicine is prohibitively expensive and getting it requires numerous doctor's consultations, a possible reason so many lapse in treatment and end up completely unable to function. What if they could buy it at a reasonable price? What if not all our medicines were marketed and branded and intellectual-propertied, etc.? Even though I believe in the bottom line...why isn't there some sort of conscience underneath the layers and layers of bureaucracy?
Of course, I'm not suggesting that this medicine should be as freely available as it is here - I could be any bum. Americans are much more savvy about medicines, it's much more in your face, etc. But there should be some happy medium, no? Should I follow S's suggestion and start stockpiling pills of all kinds for illicit importation and sales to the underprivileged (in my opinion, the worst idea ever, but it's something a revolutionary would do, isn't it?)?
Friday, May 26, 2006
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).
MY START DATE: May 27, 2006
MY END DATE: February 21, 2009
1) Learn enough Hindi to read a children’s book without using a dictionary for translation.
2) Move back to the
3) Let my nails grow by not biting them for one month.
4) Finish knitting the blanket I began last October.
5) Work out at least four days a week (at least 20 minutes each day) every week.
6) Open a Roth IRA.
7) Read the Mahabharata translation by Rajagopalachari.
8) Read the Ramayana translation by Rajagopalachari.
9) Take the GRE.
10) Make payments that exceed, even if only slightly, the minimum payment on my student loan every month.
11) Archive my LiveJournal entries from 2001 to present.
12) Create filing system for journals, writing, and backup CDs of online information.
13) Write and submit a column to be published in Times of
14) Write at least one letter by hand per month.
15) Donate one piece of clothing every time I buy a new piece of clothing.
16) Learn to cook avial.
17) Update my resume to reflect experience with School X and MNC.
18) Write one useable chapter for a book to be based on my experiences in
19) Find a psychiatrist in
20) Passionately kiss S on Ring Road.
21) Reduce my consumption of paneer tikka to one serving per week.
22) Travel to
23) Shop in a bazaar in
24) Allow S to invite people over at least one night per week without crying, bitching, or otherwise complaining.
25) Learn how to ride Betsy and/or another non-Enfield motorcycle.
26) Procure a copy of Joan of Arcadia season II on DVD, pirated or otherwise.
27) Visit all the Indian sites in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
28) Go to a party and have fun without getting drunk
29) Reduce backlog of Rs so that he queue has no more than 50 documents in it at any time
30) Write proposal for book on experiences in
31) Send proposal and sample chapters to literary agents in
32) Read all novels on the Modern Library’s list of “the 100 best novels”– 81 to go
33) Read all books on the Modern Library’s list of “the 100 best nonfiction books” – 95 to go
34) Eat at least one serving of fresh fruit per day.
35) Learn how to knit socks with turned heels.
36) Save enough money to buy a new laptop.
37) Learn enough Web do-hickies to design and host my own blog.
38) Make prints of all my pictures on Flickr.
39) Organize high school and college photographs.
40) Write and print chapbook of short stories for Christmas presents.
41) Have portraits of S and me taken.
42) Take a class on microeconomics.
43) Sleep without the air conditioning once during
44) Review old magazines and newspapers once a month and donate any unnecessary publications to Friendicoes or other animal shelter.
45) Floss my teeth once a day for at least six straight months.
46) Wash all the dishes S and I dirty for a week without being asked to.
47) Go whitewater rafting in the
48) Compile an address book, including former students and current colleagues, and update it once every three months.
49) Learn how to rock climb.
50) Compile a list of my 100 favorite books.
51) Make a book of knitting patterns printed from the Internet.
52) Go one week without watching television.
53) Report at least three autorickshaw drivers who overcharge, don’t use their meter, or refuse to take me to a certain area.
54) Buy an antique book.
55) Gamble on an Indian reservation.
56) Have my teeth professionally whitened.
57) Take pictures of S’s moustache bedecked with moustache wax.
58) Get a manicure.
59) Get an ayurvedic massage.
60) Conceptualize and implement a small-scale public art project.
61) Grow my own mint.
62) Have my Dooney and Burke purse repaired (lining resewn and zipper replaced).
63) Buy a formal sari – and wear it.
64) Apply sunscreen on a regular basis.
65) Refuse to badmouth anyone at work; offer only constructive criticism.
66) Learn tenets of the Chicago Manual of Style.
67) Read the Bible.
68) Experiment with aromatherapy.
69) Create and name my own cocktail.
70) Learn to count to 10 in five languages, excluding English.
71) Take the kittens to play in the park once a month.
72) Have a girl’s night out without calling or messaging S.
73) Read a popular science fiction book, as well as a popular romance novel.
74) Ask my co-workers not to use the phrase “chinky” (and tell them I don’t like receiving e-mail forwards)
75) Go wine tasting with my grandpa.
76) Go to
77) Order a cigar from “Kastro’s Cigars on Wheels”
78) Raise a huge ruckus if someone “eve teases” me
79) Visit my bizarro hometown,
80) Design a small tattoo and get it inked on one of my haunches.
81) Eat a worm from the bottom of a tequila bottle.
82) Read the book that won a Pulitzer Prize the year I was born (The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1983)
83) Watch the Academy Awards’ Best Picture of the year I was born (Terms of Endearment)
84) Ask my mother why she married my father and solicit advice on marriage.
85) Visit a country in which English is not a commonly spoken language.
86) Go vegan for a week.
87) Determine whether the Schauer family store still exists in
88) Swim with dolphins.
89) Mend S’s favorite shirts (and, let’s face it, underroos) that he refuses to get rid of.
90) Buy saltwater taffy and eat it while watching the seals on the
91) Send an anonymous letter to my favorite living writer (Joan Didion).
92) Sell, donate, or throw away 101 items.
93) Buy my sister a special, one-of-a-kind wedding gift.
94) Stay up all night and watch the sun rise.
95) Give an outrageous tip to one of the domestic workers with whom I regularly interact (newspaper man, garbage collector, dhobi).
96) Go to a buffet and eat only desserts.
97) Avoid coffee (and coffee-flavored products) for two weeks.
98) Try drinking wheatgrass.
99) Complete a 26 Things project
100) Write letters to everyone in my life I’ve truly loved (platonically or romantically) to be distributed when I die.
101) Publish this list on my blog.
Will update as I progress/complete. Wee, a fun new project! Red = completed.
You are an ass.
I suspect that perhaps you've never taken the time to actually speak to one of these "fair-skinned opportunists," but you may be surprised to know that, as a white person living in Delhi, I am frequently invited to events -- such as marriages or birthday parties or office outings -- by my friends and colleagues.
It's a bracing friendliness; I often marvel at the magnitude of these events, and am amazed at the generosity of hosts who seem always willing to accomodate one more person, feed an extra mouth. Yet you exclaim, indignant, "Just the other day at Ashwin Deo's party I spotted a dozen such Goras and Goris who didn't look like they were invited. To ensure, I checked with Ashwin and the host failed to recognise them."
For the sake of argument...did you point to the woman in the bejeweled sari, snagging mutton kebab after mutton kebab? The man downing whiskies in the corner? If a dozen white folk dotted the landscape, the party must have comprised a hundred or more people -- and you would like to assert that Ashwin was personally acquainted with each and every one?
I'm not sure what precipitates this outburst, but it seems entirely unfounded. Baseless, even. You're reducing white people to...objects, not humans with feelings and thoughts and problems of their own. "A few weeks back, at a party at the Nikko, I saw this shocking sight of a tall blonde draped in a sari and just a bra for a blouse enjoying LITs on the house and drawing paparazzi attention too."
You do know that...saris aren't our native dress, and perhaps this statuesque blonde was unaware of how one procures a blouse. Or she thought that a brasseire was enough -- on more than one occasion, I've pondered the thin line between the garment and undergarment, particularly keeping in mind the fact that many blouses are of such thin cotton that the bra is completely visible anyhow. And the nerve, she, getting paparazzi attention! Surely, she was begging the photographers to chronicle her faux pas. I mean, she's white!
"The Goras in Delhi have a whale of a time," you assert. And though that may appear true enough, remember that discrimination works both ways -- perhaps you can take solace in the fact that although we guzzle an occasional free drink, our day-to-day lives are often fraught by autodrivers charging triple the metered rate; men and women pointing, staring, and laughing at our general comportment; and a crushing sense of alienation at not better understanding Indian culture.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Or so says the Indian Express, Hindu, and Hindustan Times. From page 3 of IE's Delhi Newsline:
"All official documents and certificates to be issued by the Delhi government will carry the beholder's mother's name also from now onwards. The decision was taken by the Delhi Cabinet as part of the approval of women empowerment programmes...The documents include voter cards, driving licences, ... [and] birth certificates."
Having filled out my fair share of documents issued by the Indian bureaucracy, I say bravo. Because I haven't spoken to or seen my father in nine years now, and because he poisoned my mind, and because your documents give me no other options. No field to write in caveats, for example, to explain how my stepfather is really the person who has always been there for me, how my mother has stood by me no matter how low I've sunk.
It's a step. It's not "empowerment" -- but then, what is?
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Is this part of a publicity stunt? Is it a costume or is Richie trying to start a new trend? Will the "Punjabi dress" -- apparently so popular among travelers to the subcontinent that leering touts find a mere whisper of the phrase brings firangs calling -- make its way into the American cultural conscience?
I started thinking it would make a lot of sense once it became fashionable to wear dresses over jeans or slim black cigarette pants -- not such a far cry from the kurti combos so fashionable in India's metros.
Then again...grain of salt. Most of the sites commenting upon Richie's sartorial style said she was wearing a sari.
(Bonus points: Another gossip blog has pics of Aishwarya at Cannes. There's a fever for Indian fash!)
So, S and I decided we want to have a traditional engagement ceremony before his parents move to the States, which has thrilled mum-in-law-to-be to no end. And, though we don't plan on having the celebration until September, we're already talking clothes, food, magnitude of event.
Yesterday, S and I hit South Ex to start checking things out. The big question now is, Indian wear or Western wear? We examined Deepson's and Benetton, designer duds by Rina Dhaka and company, and weighed them against more understated basics from ColorPlus. I secretly covet Indian designs, but I know how out of place white women can look in them, all elbows and sucked in stomach and pallid countenance. Usually I hate fripperies like this, but there's something oddly satisfying about being such a base consumer, caring not about price tags (thanks, fam-to-be!) but about the impression my magnificent rags will have upon the extended Punjabi family I am about to enter.
But after tromping through the stores, fingering fine silks and ostentatious organzas, S and I were still noncommittal; and I can hardly fathom spending hundreds of dollars on a garish get up I'll wear only once before consigning, sheathed in plastic, to the upper reaches of my cupboard. So he turned to me: "Fab India?"
It's hardly the "Rs 13,000 to an obscene amount that cannot be mentioned" Times of India's wedding supplement suggests today, but it's honest. It's comfortable. It's simple and understated and yet it's fabulous; "sequins and hand embroidery and lots of lace and net" be damned.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
"Why move to Delhi from abroad?...us firangis -- NGO workers, diplomats, corporates, NRIs, zealots, spiritualists and writers -- come because we can impose ourselves on the Capital, much like our colonial predecessors. Our presence here is transient, and our integration tenuous. We live out fantasies of philanthropy, celebrity or religion while enjoying servants, cheap rent and obsequiousness. This type of behaviour wouldn't be tolerated in London or New York" ("Cheap Thrills," p. 7)
I'm not sure if I could disagree any more with Sawhney's assessment.
One: I am of the mind that you can't really generalize about anything, so immediately I am wary of the claims. I don't understand why this couldn't have been written as a narrative, without pulling me and hundreds of other individuals into it.
Two: Not all of us plan on being transient. Not all of us want to avoid integrating. Some of us have moved here because...well, because we're not seeking anything. I for one aim only to absorb what is going on around me. To live as a person in Delhi lives (which, admittedly, is difficult because I make more than 98% of people in the city and I live in a posh flat and have an air conditioner and can afford to eat out frequently, etc.). But, nonetheless, I am trying my best to be respectful, to fit in while, simultaneously, consciously attempting to avoid an unnecessary, artificial imposition of my Americanness upon an environment that is not my own.
Three: While you may have gotten me on the cheap rent part...really, not everyone likes having servants. S and I employ a woman to wash our clothes, as we can't afford a washer/dryer, but it's a strained relationship. I, fundamentally, am uncomfortable with a strange woman touching my soiled underthings. And I think most Americans -- particularly those who have any recollection of, say, U.S. (and world) history pre-1960s -- are more than a little uncomfortable with the division between servant and served, employment and exploitation.
Four: New York wouldn't accomodate transients? The city demands everyone to be a native? Have you ever BEEN to New York? Read a book about New York? Heard of Ellis Island?
Five: Colonial predecessors? Do you really want to go there?
Friday, May 19, 2006
I present you Anna Nalick, because listening to this song calms me a bit, at the very least.
"There's a light at the end of this tunnel, you shout, because you're just as far in as you've ever been out...and these mistakes you make, you'll just make them again."
S told me he's going to Nepal next week; I've been checking fares. There is a good chance I'll fly to Kathmandu on a whim, because...I am itching in my skin. Change is essential. And Delhi is a home I can return to.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I've been told I can be a little cold and aloof, which I've always attributed to my predisposition toward polarities -- black or white, all or nothing. Living here has confounded me. Black is white, all is nothing, and I can oppose any argument I formulate with an anecdote from my three-block walk home from the point at which the company car drops me.
I'm beginning to adjust to the heat; it rained during the night and the air is clear, which makes the city a little more bearable. I haven't slept for more than a few hours at a stretch in the past few days, and the unsettled aggravation that has come over me is confounding. I love my job and feel as if I am making a measurable contribution to MNC; I love coming home to my little kittens, my naughty noodles; I love lazing around in my flat and reading newspapers and reading in bed while S reads beside me.
So now I've babbled on and on, and I still can't reveal much beyond platitudes about how great things are. You think writing is your passion, and then words fail you. And THEN where do you go?
Saturday, May 13, 2006
All very interesting, yes, but the best part? The paper's citation of the legal definition of a prostitute (the law was enacted in 1921): "The rules define a public prostitute as 'a woman who earns her livelihood by offering her person to lewdness for hire.'"
Also -- and a private prostitute is...a woman?
"...some mouth-watering cock-"
This is one line of the story. Granted, most people read entire stories, but if you're someone who is alert to things like line breaks, etc., this stops you in your tracks.
(The sentence is, "It's a bartender's delight to play with Sauza tequila and create some mouth-watering cocktails"; it is split over three lines and the person who copy edited it is either a) very dirty or b) incredibly dense.)
Friday, May 12, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Hippos have never been, um, cool. Not even when they're, like, funky 3-D hippos with sunglassess (presumably from Ray Ban) and headphones.
Although I applaud the social justice stance adopted by a sprawling, ridiculously profitable pharmaco...no. Just no.
And, a side note...what about hep C?
I could eat it all day right now. My appetite varies by the season, and I'm a habitual eater -- sometimes I'll eat nothing but yogurt for a week, then I'll eat nothing but mangoes for a month, before finally deciding that it's really it's peanut butter and honey sandwiches that will sate me.
Because I'm too wary of street vendors (and S would kill me if I got dysentery just to get a taste of delicious, gritty snackies from men with bells and grotty carts), I have improvised a home recipe. Yum.
1 teaspoon imli chutney, diluted with water
Two handfuls (my-sized hands) puffed rice
1/2 handful raw chana
1/4 handful raw small, black chana (I totally don't know the name)
1 handful peanuts
1/2 small red onion
1/2 diced tomato
1/2 green chili
Take a spoon and stir, then eat. Preferably while laying in front of the AC and dreaming of actually being able to have an evening snack in the sultry winds of a Delhi afternoon.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Every so often, a woman's voice breaks in: "Just kidding, yaar! In your dreams!"
Then the singer launches nasally: "Mallika, I hate you I hate you...Mallika I hate you I hate you..." The voice drops an octave, the verbal embodiment of the men in Chandni Chowk who love to give my breasts a squeak when the crowds swell to overwhelming proportions, "but I wanna touch you, I wanna touch you."
Download as ring tone (incredibly annoying, mono) or head here for an MP3/wav/whatever. Click on the box to the left of the first track listing, then hit the button that says "Play selected." After a short ad, the song will play. And it's definitely worth it.
Basically, this whole song squicks me out (ummm, yeah -- is it really necessary to spew such vitriol about women and then say it's about loooooove?), but it is an interesting listen. If only it wasn't hitting the Hindi radio stations -- a favorite of MNC chauffeurs, played constantly and loud -- so hard during rush hour.
(P.S.: Mallika Sherawat is a Bollywood "star" most famed for her large breasts and ample hips; if you're American, you might have seen her for, like, five seconds in a recent Jackie Chan movie.)
Yes, it's the infamous Indian traffic. But watching it? Wasn't so impressed. Where are the zipping buggy rickshaws? Where are the cows lazily meandering down National Highway 8?
I suppose about three hours in the traffic every day inures one to its sheer chaos, and perhaps I should shoot video of my daily commute. But once you've seen several accidents, watched a man on a rickety bike get plowed over with nary a driver batting an eye, and sitting through no fewer than five fender-benders (so routine they didn't cause the driver even to pull over and inspect), people hanging U-ies are no longer so appalling.
Sunday, May 7, 2006
According to the MCD, the boundary walls of many Defence Colony houses encroached on the municipal land and public roads. ...
An MCD official said, “Though the MCD is taking action based on visible evidence only, and do not measure the plots, there is little room for error. These people break the laws themselves and then blame us.”
They destroyed my landlord's wall this week; see the picture, taken from my balcony, of what is left of the front yard. Dr K is in blue.Although I do agree that there are a lot of illegal constructions in Delhi, and took a great deal of pleasure in watching fashion designers beat their breasts as their MG Road malls were razed, this effort seems so arbitrary. Dr K has already rebuilt his wall, and it's...about a foot from the previous location. The detritus of the former bound now clogs the nalli, the protection of which was the ostensible reason for the drive.
Some things feel so futile here; break down, rebuild, break down, rebuild. Life's like that, I guess.
It's old and the person S bought it from would only say, "from hills! Old from hills!", probably because S didn't speak Nepali and the proprietor didn't speak Hindi or Punjabi.
And...I love Samuel L. Jackson, so I thought it was only appropriate for my snake-themed mask to advertise his new snake-themed movie (I love the internets).
'Dead' baby alive: Probe underway (5/7/06, The Indian Express, Delhi newsline, p 4)
'Dead' baby cries just before burial (5/5/06, Times of India)
Father finds 'dead' baby alive (5/5/06, The Indian Express)
An interesting story, but I was expecting more zombies and eating of the flesh. You've let me down again, media!
And, one for the road --
Q: What's more fun than stapling dead babies to the wall?
A: Ripping them off again
(Also, I know dead baby jokes are sick and these are real people and whatnot, but...irreverence. It's the new black.)
Thursday, May 4, 2006
Listening to: Indie Pop Rocks! on iTunes radio, courtesy SomaFM
Cooking: Beans Paruppu Poriyal
Thinking about: Immigration
Approaching: My 23rd half-birthday
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
And, something that might as well be taught in the hallowed halls of Fisk (or is McTrib the more appropriate venue now?):
"Let's review the rules, here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he's the decider; the press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type, just put 'em through a spell check and go home."