Today’s Let’s Go Flaneuring post comes from Ren Ward, writing about her neighborhood in New Delhi, India. Ren blogs at Tea, Teach, Travel and happens to have Minnesota connections – hooray! Click here to read more about the series including how you can participate.
“Beep, Beep”, my unrelenting alarm goes off at 5:45am and I slowly move my body off a mattress that is a solid piece of something that is most certainly not good on your back. I walk in to the kitchen, careful to turn on the light and give the bugs inhabiting my kitchen the opportunity to scurry into hiding places so I can avoid seeing them. “Click!” The water tank is switched on to be left on for the next hour; if my roommate and I fail to do this, we can forget having water for the rest of the day! Week day or weekend, the drill is the same; water is special here in New Delhi.
The house is cool, it’s early morning and the fans are still on and the AC that kept us cool during the night is now turned off. But the minute you step outside, the fact that it is the beginning of October means nothing. The rains lasted less than a week at the end of August and the city has failed to cool down. It’s in the early 90s by 8am, and only gets warmer throughout the day. The humidity is less, but still there, causing you to drip with sweat all over your body even if you are just standing quietly by the side of the street waiting for an auto or a cycle rickshaw.
They say that Indians aren’t dirty, but India is. There couldn’t be a more true statement. You can clean and clean and it’s still dirty. It can be discouraging and frustrating, but don’t forget that it is completely culturally appropriate to have house help. My heart is so full of thankfulness as Sapna cleans my floors and kitchen, ensuring that our home doesn’t become a dust bowl! And her face when my mum speaks a little bit of Hindi to her as they meet via Skype is priceless.
As I leave the house, I take the garbage bag from the kitchen out with me. But, there isn’t a garbage bin right out the door. The many wild and dirty dogs would be all over that craziness. We walk a block away to a huge garbage skip area and dump our garbage there before walking to our common shopping area near our house. We have a sabziwalla (a vegetable stand man) who wanders around with fresh veg on his cart, but it takes going to several stores and even to several markets to stock up on different things for the house. However, because the electricity is temperamental, it is important to be wise in what and how much you are buying! You don’t want your groceries to go bad. And, this is a day to day culture, so it’s okay to go out shopping every day if you need to, which will happen.
Life here in Delhi is like living at full speed with your mind switched on all the time, which can be a lot to handle. Especially as a short, white, red haired woman who gets the stares, the leers, and the comments from the men who apparently have nothing better to do. Delhi is full of autos, cars, rickshaws, motorbikes and people. The other day a young girl with a baby on her hip came to my auto, begging. We looked and smiled at each other. I said, “When the light changes, I will give you something.” I talked to the baby, but the baby wouldn’t engage; I could tell by the baby’s eyes and how the girl held it that the baby had been drugged. The light was just about to change and I handed her two oat biscuits and said, “Yeshu ka nam se” meaning “In the name of Jesus”. She nodded at me, and the auto moved away. She is one of the 23 million people here in Delhi. Yup. 23 million in ONE city.
There is a language barrier here. Most people speak Hindi, so I can’t communicate in words about my faith in a loving God with the girl on the street or about the reason for the hope I have with my auto driver or the man helping me buy groceries. But I can look at them and see them, I can pray for them.
But for now, excuse me while I go and murder the cockroach that is daring to walk down the hallway.
Love from India,
I’m an elementary school teacher with a classroom of 25 4th/5th graders from all over the world. I am short, red-haired, and talk constantly with my hands. I have a crazy energy that gets crazier the longer I am around people and I have an intense desire for those around me to meet my best friend, Jesus! I used to drink my tea with biscuits, before I moved and filled up on pumpkin pies and lattees, but for now I eat curries and drink chai! My website is www.destinationclassroom.