Food and more

Ok, so this is to answer some questions, open up to requests, and to fill in some gaps. I spoke to Anne today to see what she might want to know that I haven’t written yet. I’m sure everyone understands that not everything can go down on the internet, not only because it is about other people’s lives, but because I can’t remember everything. I have to take notes throughout the days to remember what I want to say, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. So I was happy to hear from Anne this morning (her evening) to see what she wanted to know. She said I could write an entry about one thing, detailing one topic. Does anyone have any requests? A few people have requested knowing about the whole toilet situation (to my Indian friends reading this, yes this is a huge adjustment, especially because I don’t have a proper western toilet in my house). But I don’t think I want to get too into that on the web either.

What Anne did ask about, which I think is a pretty interesting topic is what it’s like going around alone as a woman, a westerner, an American. What is is like trying to figure out what’s in the grocery store. On a side note, Anne and I used to cook together almost every Thursday and watched Grey’s Anatomy. Another side note, if anyone has any way to get me the Grey’s Anatomy (the only TV show I watched) here in India. That would be great. Apparently ABC, Hulu, etc don’t broadcast outside the US.

So, tonight’s topic will be about being a woman, a western/American woman. I must say that I’ve never been one to be dependent on others. But people here are so nice to you, that I find it hard to refuse requests to pick me up or drop me off places. Mostly this comes from many of my guy friends. My friend Rajan has become a little less protective and tells me where to meet him as opposed to picking me up. I appreciate that also. I have never felt threatened, intimidated, or helpless. As a westerner, some people take advantage though, by people, I mean for the most part, Rickshaw Walas (drivers). What makes me feel better is that they try to rip off almost everyone off. Sometimes a ride I know that should be 16 or 20 rupee, they try to charge 30, and once 100 rupee. It’s just not nice. But back to the nice part, I don’t know if I’ve ever met so many people who have reached out a helping hand at almost any point in time in my life. Everyone I meet offers to help with whatever I might need help with, people I’ve met for 5-10 minutes who I know through friends of friends of friends offer to help with whatever I may need. It feels really great.

I’m not sure if that answers the question of what it’s like to be a foreigner, a woman, in India. I’m not really sure what else to say. Everyone stares. Some stare longer than others, some are quite obvious about their staring. The other day on the bus (I don’t think many foreigners go on the bus) an older man turned around and stared and didn’t turn back around. He must have stared for at least 2-3 minutes. Sometimes people comment (I usually just understand the word foreigner).

Grocery stores are confusing. There are so many spices here; it’s amazing. Unfortunately, many of them are written in Hindi or maybe even Marathi so I don’t understand what they are. Pooja helped me buy three, which is what I’ve been using to make most of my sabjis this past week. Grocery stores do not have all the products, in fact, I could probably get away without ever really going into a proper grocery store. The, what we could call, corner stores have many food and non-food, household items. There are also areas where there will always be vegetables, and areas where there will always be fruits. These “stands” are either on the floor or on carts, or in an outdoor like market on the street. I should try to snap some pictures of these at some point. They’re all usually really nice, patient, and have a million different kind of vegetables. Onions and tomatoes are all over (which is really nice for me because I love onions and tomatoes!) They’re also rather cheap too (or at least comparatively, US tomatoes are soooo expensive!). They also have rice and sugar in big bins (many, many different kinds of rice) where you can weigh out as much or as little as you want. There aren’t many cereals, and the ones there are, are kind of expensive because it’s not in a daily diet. There also isn’t everything you need in one super market. Supermarkets also have vegetables, but somehow, and I may be wrong, I feel that the veggies you get on the street are better. I love the little “deli’s” but not really like delis. They have a longer counter and they have almost everything that a supermarket has. I’ll also try to snap some shots of that too.

Is there anything else I should include about food?

Not related to any of this is something fun that happened in the office today. The center that takes place in the morning in the office was singing Christmas songs today. And I joined in with Shweta to sing our version of Jingle Bells (the American version I’m guessing, because the kids were singing verses I didn’t know). It was rather fun. And they encouraged us until we started laughing too hard. They also sang other songs like Lean on Me and Que Sera Sera. I loved it!

On another update, I’m not mad at my landlady anymore. Her older son, the one who jokes and talks to me and such came to check out my gas when I walked in and told him last night. He changed the chord that connects the gas to the burner. My place no longer smells. I feel better and am happy not to breathe in gas while I sleep. It was also really nice to walk into my flat and not have an overwhelming gas smell.

Lastly, I have 2 days before I go to Bombay! I’m so excited to see my friends there, to play capoeira, to have a really good time. I get to stay with Nupur and his family; his mom is awesome. I might also have some good capoeira news soon, but don’t wanna jinx anything.

    • Rajan
    • December 9th, 2010

    I now know that u r a smart lady. Don’t really need the pick-ups and drops. U sure can figure your way out. 🙂 but that doesn’t make me any less protective of you.. lol 😀

    • Naveen
    • December 10th, 2010

    ‘Topic Detailing’ is a good approach with minor emphasis on other events of the day. Feel you should include more of snaps in each blog to give readers a visual peek into your experiences.

    Your analysis of Stores is pretty much correct –
    Corner Stores
    Pros :-
    Conveniently located near home.
    Cons :-
    They are confusing as rightly pointed out, as their counters block your physical access to the products.
    Supermarket Stores
    Pros :-
    Have a larger variety of products, easy physical access to products and you can touch and feel the product before deciding to buy.
    Cons :-
    Dont stock the freshest of vegetables and advisable to get vegetables from street vendors.

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