Wednesday, February 9, 2011

light and fluffy

Living out of suitcases for a year has the same effect on a family as taking a long road trip in a car with finicky A/C.  The cool and comfortable hours are quickly forgotten during the sticky, baking ones.  And everyone in the car takes a turn completely losing their minds and picking fights about any little thing.

Like whose turn it is on the laptop.  Jeremy does work and fun on it, and so do I, and we both like to sleep during the nighttime hours these days (see? another reason to love shift work!).  The kids barely get to touch the thing now.  But Sir really does understand my need to think in writing and to do that thinking alongside friends, so I have his blessing to hoard the keyboard a little bit more than I already do to indulge this new blogging hobby.

Speaking of friends, I might have made a new one this morning.  Her name is Cindy and she's from Canada.  She and her husband brought their sons for a visit to their grandparents.  Her husband grew up in this city, but this is only her fourth or fifth visit, and she is very matter-of-fact about the things she enjoys and those she doesn't.  She says she feels like she's in a minimum-security prison here in our complex.  She says that she really wants to visit the Mother Teresa House while she is here, but that it is unlikely that she'll be able to do so.  Getting around town by cab or driver, she feels, and through the traffic is just excruciating, especially with small children and so it is easier to just stay home although she feels trapped.

It was good to hear someone else say it.  We invested in a stationary bike about a month ago because we were going a little nuts without any exercise at all.  There is simply nowhere at all to go for a jog, or even a nice walk.  Sure, I can do laps around our complex, but I have to be ready to shut out the stares of idle drivers-on-call and to ignore the honking cars (Cindy's husband told me that it is considered polite to honk here and that explains a lot). 

Vising the Mother House is something I, too, would like to do more often. On Monday, I finally pushed myself out the door to go sign up to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity.  It is something I have wanted to do all along, but there is no good time and no good way to do it.  I can't explain it very well, but it is basically what Cindy is talking about: the combination of caring for kids and the amount of courage that is necessary to step outside.  Oh, and I don't know the way to their registration site, so I'd have to communicate that to the cabbie somehow.  I figured we might get lost, or show up late, or something else might go wrong, but I was still willing to give it a try at least, and that was a huge victory in itself. 

So, yes, the battle with with culture shock goes on.  I mentioned how rotten it has been for me in that post.  The part where you find yourself criticizing the host country and idealizing your own are not the most difficult parts. I have those feelings, but I can talk my way out or around them pretty easily.  The harder ones are the "easily irritated or annoyed" part, and the "fear of being a victim of crime or disease or accident" part.  Some of you may remember that during my visit here five years ago I suffered a combination of anti-malarial/pregnancy-induced insomnia that meant endless nighttime hours of fretting.  Would my unvaccinated one year-old contract typhoid?  Malaria?  Both?  Turns out that is classic symptom of culture shock.  Which is not to say it is irrational: India has the highest traffic mortality rate on the planet.  So I'm not totally nuts to be worried every time we get in a car; I'm just being a mom.  Sort of. 

But like I said, the grandparents don't want to hear this stuff and so the other blog will stay "light and fluffy," but still honest (I think.  Mostly.).  This one will get some of the other nonsense that occasionally leaks out.  So you have been duly and fairly warned.

On the other hand, I seem to have plenty to say about boobs...  

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