Monday, January 21, 2008

Never Judge A Book By Her Tone Of Voice

When we first moved to India I met a woman who, like me, had left her homeland to come live in India for a while. She was very kind to me but I noticed that when she spoke to Indians she often used a harsher, no nonsense tone of voice. To my ear it sounded mean and bossy. I decided that this woman had been here too long and needed to go back to her country if she could no longer be civil to the people who lived here. I vowed to not let myself become jaded and bitter like she obviously was.

What a difference a year makes. I realize now that she wasn't rude or jaded. Her problem was that she was a woman. Please don't misunderstand me. I recognise that there are sexist attitudes everywhere, and in some ways India is doing better than a lot of places. For instance, in July a woman took over the office of President. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister for 11 years starting in 1966 and for 4 more years starting in 1980. Women are educated and expected to have a career. Of course there are certain groups here that have terrible views and traditions concerning women, but the areas that I frequent have a fairly modern view.

Unless you want something done. When it comes to giving instructions or asking for a service of some kind, you had better be a man. If you are competing with men for the attention of a shop keeper you might as well get comfortable. If you happen to have a man standing next to you while you are making a request they will look to the man for confirmation. Even if that man is your 16 year old son. I find this extremely irritating. Surely if they new anything about my 16 year old son they would realize that he is the last person anyone should take instructions from. At a party earlier this month he allowed some pretty girls to give him a burgundy mohawk. He believes that shoving the entire contents of his bedroom into his closet constitutes cleaning it. He begged for a month for the DVD of Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon Dynamite people! After eating a meal on the couch he believes that sliding the dirty plate under the couch is the right thing to do. Once he opened the freezer door while standing too close and smacked himself in the head with it. Then he came over to where Mr. Smith and I were sitting and, while demonstrating what had just happened, he banged his head on the corner of the wall. Not the brightest bulb in the marquee, if you know what I mean. But apparently he is the authority.

In response to this, my naturally sissy-ish attitude has begun to dissolve. I recently I found myself being rude to the dry cleaner. I was demanding, sarcastic and a tiny bit shrill. I sounded just like the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post. At first I was a little embarrassed and ashamed. The next day when the clothes that had been promised to us finally arrived...I was downright proud of myself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog!

It has been a while since my last posting, so let's summarize, shall we? American stores are awesome, Disneyland is indeed the happiest place on earth, our families are well, so many people to visit - so little time, the holiday's were merry, everyone got sick so we stayed three extra days, packing after Christmas was a chore, farewell sweet root beer, 7 hours in an airport is too long - way too long, and finally...oh man is good to be home! That's right, after a year of complaining I was actually relieved to get here.

Don't get me wrong, I will happily move back to the US after our time is up, but, for now at least, this is home. When we stepped off the plane, I waited for the smell of India to hit me. I was braced for it. But you know what? It wasn't the terrible smell that I remembered it being. It was just familiar. Comforting even. The sights and sounds of the city as we drove home were welcoming instead of depressing. Now if someone would just unpack for me. Blech!

I am very grateful to India for giving me 3 days to deal with jet lag before having a little fun at my expense. This morning we had several power surges that were very entertaining. Lights buzzing at maximum brightness, popping sounds all over, bulbs going out and everyone generally fearing for their lives. My favorite, though, was was the gate bell.

We have a bell at our gate. Visitors can choose between two buttons. The first sounds like a bell and activates the intercom. The second sounds like a bird chirping and just works as a doorbell. For some reason, one of the power surges started the electronic bird chirping. At first it was soft and slow. Then the chirping started getting faster and louder. Nothing we did would stop it. Not even unplugging the intercom box. You can only listen to a hyper active bird chirping for so long before you start to have violent thoughts. That, combined with the frequent and freaky power surges, had us turning off the power to the house this morning for about an hour. After an hour I knew the electrician would be showing up soon so I turned it back on so he could see what was going on. Can anyone guess what I am going to say next? Everything had stopped. No surges, no chirping, nothing.

Don't you just love it when you look like an idiot? I explained everything to the electrician and he looked around to be nice. Soon he was packing up to leave and I felt like a fool. Fortunately, just as he was about to leave, there was a rush of power and the chirping started again. Thank goodness. He looked very perplexed and started taking the intercom apart. About 30 minutes later he informed me that he had fixed the problem and all was well. This is almost never true, but the bird was silent, so, I was too.

Then, with comic timing worthy of Monty Python, the sound of the the door closing behind the departing electrician was met with the sound of the bird chirping. Again. Even as I type, the little bird is singing to me. He's taunting me. He sings, "All chirping and no quiet makes Amy go crazy!" But I'll get him yet. I know where Uday keeps the wire cutters and I'm not afraid to use them. Chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp *snip*.....ahhhhh.