Published: December 15th 2007December 15th 2007
the laundry mat
The drama has ceased...for now. I told Renuka and Dinesh yesterday that I am moving out after I received a call from Beejay at Fulbright that he will come with the van on Monday afternoon to help me move my few suitcases. Dinesh asked me to stay at least until I go back to the U.S. in January, but I told them I have to take the place now or I lose it. Renuka didn’t look at me for a while and moped around most of the day. Last night she came and sat with me in my room by candlelight (load shedding for 2 hours). The whole time I thought she was going to burst into tears. She again apologized, said that she has been praying to Sai Baba to repent, and begged me to stay, even if only for 10,000 Rs per month. But I held my ground and said that I had already made arrangements in the new place, explaining that I want to learn how to live on my own, shop for my own food, and cook. She asked how much I will be paying, of course, but I told her Fulbright is paying my landlord directly
the washer for colors
so I didn’t know. I feel bad because she’s taking it very personally. When I was out yesterday I bought her a little gift set with a candle, homemade soap, and body wash. I gave it to her last night, even though I was planning to wait until Monday to show her that it’s not because I’m angry with her.
I get the feeling she realizes she was being greedy. Both her and Dinesh, actually, but I think he was trying to make it seem like it was more her. I’ve also realized through this whole experience that there is this tendency in general to expect more from me because I am a foreigner. I was charged 20 Rs too much for oranges yesterday, even after bargaining with the guy. And the taxi drivers also try to charge me double at first, until I say in Nepal that it is too expensive and they should use the meter. I remember when I was here a few years ago I gave a sadhu on the street 10 Rs or something, and Renuka said he called me cheap. It’s like no matter what I give, I will always be expected to
the washer for whites--kind of like a giant grater
give more. And after talking to other foreigners, Americans as well as others, I realize I’m not the only one who experiences this. But I would like to give to as many people as possible. Sure, I could pay 30,000 Rs per month, but then I wouldn’t be employing taxi drivers, beauticians, massage therapists, servers at restaurants, or even Deepti as a full time research assistant. Renuka and Dinesh are fairly comfortable by Nepali standards. Why should all of my money go to them when others need it even more? I wish I could give more, but the fact is, I’m giving as much as I can. Not to mention all the other little things—clothing, gifts, free taxi rides, etc.
Anyway, Monday’s the day. I’m sure there will be a scene—crying and such. I talked to my landlady yesterday, and she sounds very nice (and speaks English well!). I’m going to look at the place again tomorrow to see if there’s anything else I need to buy and to meet the didi, the dog, and the landlord.
This morning Renuka sang the opening lines to “Happy Birthday” as she walked in with my tea. I had several emails
the rinse station
and e-cards from friends and family back home, which is nice since my birthday normally would have been spent with them. Everyone here has been wishing me, “Happy birthday, Michelle didi!” or “Happy birthday, Michelle Baini!” and shaking my hand. Bom made me pancakes for breakfast with curried potatoes and chick peas, and for lunch I had macaroni with veggies sprinkled with yak cheese, so I’m eating well again.
The party starts in a few hours. Bom has already started cooking, and Renuka is frantically cleaning. I asked to help, but of course they said no. I picked up 2 cakes—chocolate and carrot—from the Radisson pastry shop this morning. I thought it was worth it to spend $25 on cakes that would actually taste like cake for my birthday, not the weird spongy stuff you get at the local pastry shops.
I went for an aryuvedic massage this morning (but did not tell the family). It was nice, but I think I prefer deep tissue or hot stone. This one was more for healing purposes, so it was focused a lot on the joints and pressure points. But very relaxing, and because she used lotion, I am now
the family that owns it
I went to the laundry mat to pick up my last load of clothes this afternoon. I explained to them (in Nepali) that I am “shifting” to a new neighborhood. I took some photos of the facility, and they wanted me to take pictures of them, including all the family members. Then they wanted photos of the family with me. The woman that runs the place is cute—always giving me a huge smile when I came in. Now my didi will wash my clothes in a bucket on the roof of my flat. Although I’ve gotten comfortable in my new surroundings, it will be nice to learn a new neighborhood and meet new people.
I get to eat chicken tonight, although it’s usually more bone than anything. Renuka told me that party means maasu (meat), and that we should serve some chicken. I don’t care. I’m just happy that I had a massage and will get a good piece of cake.