Published: March 4th 2012March 4th 2012
The small stuff that entertains us....
On the way to the slum one day Natalie decided that she should initiate a poll to determine which is the worst smell in India and the choices would include:
a) body odor,
b) livestock (cows, pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs, monkeys),
c) cow patties drying in the sun (actually not that bad),
d) human feces from the communal toilet (large holes dug in the ground),
e) burning garbage/plastic,
f) side walk urinal stations with urine streaming down the street,
g) my roommates after weeks of eating beans.
It's a pretty tough call.... but I think it might be a tie between d), e), and f).
India is a country full of many contradictions and each day we add another to our list. Examples include but are not limited to
1) garbage cans have signs that say " use me" and sit empty near piles of garbage or the bins themselves have holes in the bottom,
2) cows are considered sacred yet they wander around land fills looking for food, are chased by tuk tuks, and children tug on their tails/hit them,
3) birth control is available for free but nobody knows about it because it is illegal to teach sex education in the schools,
4) the bicyclists, tuk tuks, rickshaws, motorcyclists, and cars cut in and out of traffic with determination except when three female foreigners are walking on the side of the road, then it is absolutely necessary to drive in the proper lane and honk for us to get out of the way. Really? Now it's too much trouble to go around? You just went around that cow didn't you?
5) We hesitate when shaking hands with people (because they don't wash hands after using the bathroom or collecting cow patties), but we don't hesitate to eat the samosas prepared by street vendors (with a very high probability of similar hand hygiene),
6) It may be considered offensive if us girls wear clothes that leave our shoulders or knees exposed yet the women wear sarees that leave their belly/back exposed, toddlers walk around with no pants on (for ease of toiling), and men take baths near the public pumping well in only their boxer shorts,
7) We are technically spending time with children that don't
A nice outdoor urinal that actually offers privacy.
Notice the puddle of urine running into the street.
exist (but with $20.00 and the right government worker a birth certificate can be drawn up on the spot to prove the child's existence),
8) metal detectors at malls, tourist attractions, metro stations are either left unplugged or beep when each person walks through with no consequence,
9) vegetarian soy protein is wrapped around a popsicle stick and shaped into a chicken drumstick (why would a vegetarian choose to eat food shaped like meat?),
10) when shopping, anything with a "fixed price" can still be bartered down,
11) children speak English and go to a private school two blocks away from the slum where the children are illiterate and don't have the opportunity to go to school. Volunteers from the other side of the world are the first to introduce these kids to each other.
12) when we go to tourist attractions more photos are taken of the "foreigners" than of the sites.
13) "foreigners" have to take off their shoes at sacred sites and then give a "donation" of "whatever you like" to get them back (and a "donation" of 5-10 rupees is not going to be good enough),
14) A Bollywood
movie is not necessarily set in India and does not have a prerequisite of singing, dancing, or sarees... A bit disappointing!
15) the dowlry and caste systems are legally abolished yet they still continue to guide the social structures and traditions today. People have caste certificates to indicate which caste they are from and dowlry has been given at the weddings we have gone to.
One more thing, our date night consists of going to KFC to fulfill our craving for meat as we live in a strictly vegetarian house. Mmm.... Chicken! The slogan on the back of each employees t-shirt says, "student of lickonomics". Get it? Cause KFC is finger licking good? Ha ha.
Our house mom, Mamta, asked why I was still single and proceeded to inform me that in India I would be considered "past the expiry date". :( Thanks Mamta!
It is difficult to understand why people do the things that they do in India so it is often best to just laugh and appreciate the humor in it.