Becoming Indian

After living in the neat district of Jor Bagh, where gates are closed at night and your neighbours are embassy staff, officials of the United Nations and judges, I moved to Nizamuddin, where much more live is going on in the streets. Here a gaunt women sits on the sidewalk every morning, a baby in her arms, and begs for money. An east-asian guy sells cabbage-stuffed dumplings on paper plates, eaten on tables and chairs that seem to collapse every time someone moves. Children push around old cars in an auto graveyard, rickshaw-drivers doze on their vehicles.

my room – with bike and window (!!!)

When I first stepped into the room at Mrs. Virmani’s house, I instantly felt comfortable. So I trusted – and didn’t try. Which turned out to be a mistake. Because when I brought my belongings with a taxi over one morning and started to unpack, I realised the drawbacks of my new room. But as I was already feeling quite Indian, I found (of courese only temporary) solutions for everything.

bucket for the shower

Take the shower for example. It doesn’t work  because the shower head is full of limescale. But the heater is doing good work. So I always fill the hot water in a huge bucket and use a pot to pour the admittedly quite milky water over my body. One bucket is just enough for all of my surfaces.

When I found out that the mosquito nets at the windows have holes in them and I got bitten several times at night, I bought an “All Out”, a liquid vaporizer widely used in India to repel mosquitos. But you need electricity for it. I was short of electrical outlets, so I bought a multiple socket-outlet. Just to realise that the clever mosquitos apparently are immune against it. They don’t seem to care.

Actually there already was a socket-outlet in the room. I’m using it in the kitchen-corner. The problem with this one is: It only works when the on/off-switch resides in the middle between on and off – where it wouldn’t stay without external support. But I don’t want to stand in the corner of my room and wait ilde minutes for the water in the cooker to boil. So I tried to put something on it. Nothing worked, until I finanlly succeeded with a very heavy statue, given to Major Virmani for his virtue (or so it seems, because it depicts a man overcoming a lion with his sheer hands).

the noisy fridge

Of couse the toaster wouldn’t toast on it’s own either. But I found out that a fork, pinched into the gap,  is needed to hold the button down. And did I tell you about the fridge that is so noisy? I switch it off at night. The dripping tap? I close the bathroom door and don’t worry about. The shelf, that can’t support anything? I simply don’t put things on it. The missing extra blanket? I rang the bell of my landlady at 10pm to show how dearly I needed it.

And to be honest: Despite all the challenges, I sleep longer and deeper than in Jor Bagh. “Everything will be good in the end. And if it is not good, it not yet the end”, a hero of everyday life says in the wonderful movie “Best Exotic Marrigold Hotel”.

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1 Comment

  1. Karan

     /  November 11, 2012

    Boy!!! You are as much a delhitie as one can imagine…Loved reading your experiences….n hope the adventure continues….( and the misadventures with the not so poltie mosquitoes stop)…have fun

    Reply

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