Monday, February 11, 2008

A Taste Of The Everyday

When my rebellious/passive-aggressive nature doesn't get in my way, I try to listen to the good advice that is offered to me. This week I am going to listen to my internet friend, the Suburbancorrespondent. She mentioned that sometimes the everyday things are interesting. I am completely willing to test this theory. So this past week I roamed around my house and tried to think of all the things that are different enough to be semi-interesting.
First comes our temple. Every Indian home has one, whether it is a room of it's own, an alcove or a shelf. We considered many options for our temple, from the sacrilegious to the down right silly. One of our favorite ideas was a temple dedicated to my husbands employer. After all, they provide our current home and it is definitely how the bulk of Mr. Smith's time is spent. In the end, we were afraid some might not find our jokes funny, so we decided to fulfill one of Mr. Smith's long standing dreams by creating a library/reading corner instead. Mr. Smith is a bit of a bibliophile. He only brought two boxes of books to India (a major sacrifice), but he has already started to add to the collection. In fact the people at the three book stores we frequent all recognize us and always have new books to show us when we walk in. I am sure that we will out grow our little book nook before we go home, but for now it is a pleasant place to be.
Next in line are the Indian house cleaning basics. The broom type thing has it's ups and downs. The short handle means that the sweeper either has to bend way over or squat. The first gets tiring and the second is just not going to happen if it's me. On the other hand, it misses nothing and it reaches under, around and behind everything! The squeegee/mop is actually perfect for marble floors. When there is a water mess to clean, you just squeegee it all to the nearest drain or out the nearest door. Very handy. When actual mopping is needed, a wet cloth is wrapped around the squeegee and, viola! Une mop extraordinaire!
Third is the thing voted most likely to kill us all. We have a gas stove and oven. The best thing about it is the fact that we don't need electricity. No matter what the power supply is doing, dinner is on time. The worst part is the big tank of fuel in my kitchen. Can you say, "yikes"? Twice I have walked into my kitchen and smelled gas. Once was because of a leaky connection that was immediately replaced. The second time was a burner that had been turned on and not lit by a certain 5 year old boy. Now the gas supply is shut off at the tank when not in use and the 5 year old would not turn on a burner if you paid him. The red basket on top of the tank is our produce basket. I forgot to move it before I took the picture. Sorry.
Although I certainly wouldn't want to live without number four, I won't miss this particular style when I return to the US. Up in the corner of the kitchen and every bathroom is a little hot water heater. This means that about 20 minutes before you are going to need hot water, you have to turn on the heater. Plus, because of it's size, showering quickly is a must. Filling up a sink with hot water has to be done in stages and don't even think about filling a tub, it just isn't going to happen, which is a shame because we have a couple of beautiful tubs.
Although number five has a very high "eewww" factor, no discussion of Indian homes would be complete without it. The fact of the matter is that most homes in India are not stocked with toilet paper. If a public bathroom has it, it is probably passed out by the bathroom attendant to Caucasians or those who ask for it. What, you may ask, do they use in lieu of paper? (Pun totally intended, just by the way.) They use the little faucet, bucket and drain found to the side of every toilet, western or eastern style. Without going into too much detail, there is a reason that any social interaction and most eating is done with the right hand. Luckily for us, TP fits nicely into our budget, despite it's premium price.
Well, there you have it. Five things that seemed bizarre a year ago but that are now a part of our everyday life. Perhaps I could convince Mr. Smith to show some of the everyday things in the office. Perhaps not, busy season for the financial printing industry is upon us. Perhaps at the end of May.


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

That was great! Thank you!

Aunt Carol said...

Thank goodness you have a cook. I would blow up my house with that tank. I will have to show my house keeper the broom. Yes, I have a house keeper and there is only Dennis and I. What did I ever do with out one. She only comes everyother week but things do stay neater.

Thanks for the great story on house hold things in India. If I come to visit I promise to fill my bag with Toilet Paper. I did that when the Smiths lived in Alaska and TP was a premiem. Well, I would send a box of gifts and pack it with TP instead of bubble rap. Oh, the things we take for granit

Toni said...

That so reminded me of some of the places I lived in Spain.

Hot water heater - hardly enough for a whole shower. I would turn on the shower to get wet, turn it off and soap up, turn it on to rinse off. Fastest showers of my life.

Fuel tank and stove - If I remember right, in Spain they were called bonbones. We called them bomb-bombs. They always scared me. Portable room heaters were much the same.

I am very jealous of the book nook. Our nook seems to be our bed, with books all over the floor which makes it difficult getting in and out of our book nook.

With all that marble flooring, does it get very chilly?

Jill said...

Thanks for posting the photos. It's always interesting to see how things are in other parts of the world.
I wondered the same thing as Toni about the marble floors. Are they chilly?

Mrs. Smith said...

Boy oh boy are the marble floors cold. We keep saying that we are going to buy rugs, but I love the cleanliness of the marble floors. Spilled orange pop? No problem! Your feet are cold? Put your shoes on!

merinda said...

I had a conversation with some Indians while I was out camping. (It was the sort of talk that you can only have while on a camping trip.) They pulled me aside and asked about this toilet paper thing and how disgusting they thought it was. Shocked at the question, I told them how disgusting I thought the water method was and how that could possibly be any better.

The guy said, well, if you had some poop on your hand, would you just wipe it off with a dry bit of paper and call that clean?

Food for thought...

nicola said...

EEWWWWW!!! i will be sure to send you some TP, lol...

Amit said...

You would know what the faucet, bucket and drain are for if you have ever had spicy Indian food. The bloody toilet paper could catch fire.