October 13, 2008
Another Day, Another Adventure
Well, yesterday continued very interestingly. It seems I am living with a family very different from the one I lived with in Chennai…not that it is just more informal, it is quick paced and fast moving all day long. I will take this in order and make it as short and to the point as possible. After resting in the afternoon, I took a shower and then had tea and toast with papaji…grandfather who is still here and anxiously waiting to get home to his own home. The events of the evening are blurred after that. I hadn’t yet met Shweta’s mother who was off on business in Chandigargh, and her brother asked me what I would like for dinner…I really didn’t care but in the end he suggested chicken curry and went shopping for the chicken and instructed the cooking person of the day (seems now there are more than one…) to prepare, again noting not to use chilie.,
I was told it would take “awhile”…turns out I didn’t eat dinner until almost 10 at night! Anyway, shweta came home from visiting a friend who had given birth last week and told me that friends were coming over to play cards. Well, it was a typical evening of card playing (for money) which you might find anywhere….salty snacks, drinks set out on the table for each person to prepare himself…various colas, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages and
plenty of ice. By the time everyone arrived, there were at least 15 people playing for lots of money. Shweta herself won 800 rupees and she was not one of the high winners. The big difference was that instead of a card table, a piece of fabric was spread over the carpet on the floor and everyone sat crossed-legged around it. The talk was in a mixture of English and Hindi and after about ½ hour I got tired of watching. Eventually I had dinner, together with Papaji, while the friends (male and female, most in couples) continued to play. They were all dressed in different versions of what is called here “trendy” dress…meaning western, up market type clothing….a couple of the guys even sported tattoos, and from what I see, this group of twenty year olds (maybe some early thirties) represent the new up and coming India generation. They decline early marriage to the despair of their parents, have LOTS of money, all work in various forms of Hi-tech, advertising, media, public relations etc., have a fast paced life style and spend much type shopping for clothing etc., which fills their closest to overflowing.
But the all seem completely content with themselves and their life style and it was really nice seeing the interaction between them as well as the understanding of the older generations of this new jump forward into the future…wherever it may be going.
I finally went in to sleep but found it difficult to fall asleep, as I was trying to decide when to leave. I don’t really feel comfortable here (I feel fine with the people, they are wonderful hosts…but I need my own space), and while tossing and turning, and not sleeping, around midnight, Shweta’s mother arrived home and was brought in to meet me! And so I spent another hour or so talking to her. She was adamant about my staying and made all sorts of promises to “drop me off” at the mall, go shopping with me in Jaipur etc., just as Shweta had said she would love to show me the “real” Delhi. I now realize that this is simply the way Indians are. They are not making false promises, they are simply being nice to their guests. They are unable NOT to act this way. And I now realize that I will have to make my own decision…and I think it will insult them in some way, but I will see about leaving perhaps next week.
At any rate…I finally fell asleep and decided to check out the “real” mall called the Great India Place. Well, yesterday of course Shweta’s mom promised to take me, but of course I realized this morning that that would never happen, and so after having a follow up check up for my eyes (which are finally getting better), I decided to take a rickshaw to the mall.
And this begins the days adventure! Shweta told me to take a rickshaw (bicycle) as opposed to “auto” which is the three wheeler I usually take in India, and it would cost 20 rupees to the mall. So I did. And this was the first time I’ve every ridden, except for 5 minutes in Paharganj just for fun, any distance with a bicycle rickshaw. It is quite an experience. This poor man on his bike, carrying his conveyance and passenger behind him, takes you on the MAIN THROROUGHFARE and merges effortlessly and fearlessly with speeding cars, motorcycles and auto-rickshaws which speed around at amazing speeds. It was mind boggling how he did it. And if truth be told, I wasn’t not frightened at all. I felt completely secure in his vehicle. We drove like that for over 20 minutes and the price for the ride was 20 rupees (2 shekel!). what a way to make a living!! We drove through very wealthy neighborhoods, with fabulous homes, beautifully landscaped, which I would have loved to photograph but needed to keep my hands holding on to keep myself from being whiplashed or having my tailbone bashed! Perhaps one day I will have time to leisurely go there, and if not, believe me when I say these homes could be transported to the richest areas in Israel and no one would think they didn’t belong. Some were actual mansions, the kind you see in the bollywood movies and z-tv soap operas. And of course these would explain the need for the Mall I wound up at, and would explain how people can afford to shop there. I certainly couldn’t buy anything there. The mall itself was truly mega size. I tried to take some photos from the outside but was told it is forbidden. And what I forgot to mention yesterday about the mall, when you go inside, not only is your bag checked, but each person is body searched! They are even more afraid here than we are in Israel. Once in the Mall, I simply had no idea how to go about checking it out it is so enormous. Five floors with several sections on each floor….hundreds and hundreds of stores. You name the designer brand of clothing, shoes, sportsware, whatever, as well as the most exclusive Indian brands, several different department stores, bookshops and a full Food Court Floor….I thought I’d at least have a cup of coffee while out. But a simple, miniature sized pastry was 60 rupees and the coffee was 79 rupees!!!! Unbelievable. And all the food places were full of people. And the shops were as well. And this on a weekday fairly early in the day. I checked out a few places….even tried on some shoes which were amazingly comfortable and fashionable as well…but they were 4000 rupees!!
After some time at the Mall, I decided to go home. Nothing for me really to do there. So I went out, gave my address to a rickshaw driver, which is Sector 25….and got in expecting to be home in 20 minutes. But he seemed to be going in a different area than I remembered, and twice I asked him if he was taking me to 25 and he said yes. But I was seeing sectors 39 and then 40, and then 41…all even more fabulous than those I had seen on the ride earlier in the day…But I was sure we were going in the wrong direction, but what to do? He didn’t understand me, and so I just figured I wait and see where he took me. Well, when we got to sector 50 (!) , he indicated we had arrived at my destination and I of course refused to get out and said “no”…..so he asked an auto-rickshaw driver, one step up on the rung and speaking some English, and I explained where I wanted to go, he gave him further directions, and 20 minutes later I finally arrived back here. What a morning.
Just a few words about shweta’s mother’s home business….I will just say that she has a designer shop where she designs the clothing from the fabric she finds all over India, and customer’s come and go all day long, choosing from thousands of bolts of material in amazing colors and designs, so that they can have beautiful clothes stitched for them. I haven’t the faintest idea how they go about making their choices, but I can tell you that the color and design combinations are limitless and fantastic. She has a full staff of workers and there is a continuous flow of women in and out of the house. She also has cooking, cleaning and laundry help as well as a driver when she needs to go somewhere. And to my great surprise, one of the women arrived with a small child (as several did) but she had a “philipini” (caretaker from the philipines) taking care of the child. Her clientele seems to include a group of lovely women, all her “friends”, who sit here for large amounts of time, helping each other choose fabrics, and in general just enjoying themselves.
I am now waiting for lunch…and am starving….I will really have to consider getting on my way I think. I will see what the next couple of days bring make my decision.
Well, I had lunch…leftovers heated in the microwave from yesterday…very new way of doing things in India as well…and was served in my room on my bed so the business of women choosing clothing would not disturb me. Now I have found a cyber cafe after searching the shopping area near the house, so it will be easier for me to get stuff out when I have the need.
Am thinking of the 19th to leave for Rishikesh. Will make my decision soon.