Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Survived a Year!

Wow, it has been one over-eventful year at that! Before coming here I thought my life had been challenging and full of drama and heartache. This past year though has proved how simple my life was before. I've had more drama, challenges, horror, embarrassment and negativity this past year than I have in my whole entire life before it. Let me give you a mini recap of the worst parts of my year (not all of them were written about):
  • I got hit by a scooter and a bicycle and almost ran over completely by a bicycle rickshaw
  • I had a major allergic reaction in which my throat swelled up so bad I couldn't talk and I still haven't figured out what I was allergic too - just won't be eating paneer shahi korma EVER again!
  • I checked ticket prices online and planned my escape (maybe a bad choice of words but let's just say I was leaving without saying good-bye) on more than one occasion. I would even venture to say I fantasized about this at least 6 or 7 times.  
  • I found out from locals as well as those from around the country that Amritsar is not the ideal place to seek medical treatment. Just wish I had known that before I spent almost a year here being sick. 
I spent the majority of my year either freezing or sweating profusely and being hungry. At the end of a year food still continues to be a major issue and it seems the more I try to find a way to work it out, the more problems I keep having. I do know now though that most of my emotional distress has been caused by the perceived lack of adequate food. (Either it's not in the house or I can't eat it for one reason or another.....I'm really trying not to get started on that issue again right now though.)

I've had to learn to deal with a few things because I'm just not in the mood to fight over everything. Those would be:
  • The constant lack of privacy or personal space (that includes my daily diary where I track everything I do, eat, etc.
  • Not having a single thing I can say is mine other than my underwear 
  • Living locked up - literally anything I don't want bothered is kept locked up in the cabinet. It's a cultural thing (the community property issue) but even the maid has went into my cabinets when they weren't locked so I don't let it happen often. 
  • Guilt - both over being a pain in the ass the majority of the time (not all my fault) and from leaving all that I left behind in the states
  • Dirt. Nothing will ever be up to my standards of clean here. This is actually one thing I feel good about being better able to deal with because keeping a white glove standard of clean is not easy and even in the states I would get discouraged by how much cleaning I had to do. Here, I know there is no amount of cleaning that will ever suffice so I don't try. It's not meant to be an insult it's just that there is so much dust/dirt in the air it's impossible to attain a white glove standard in this city.
  • Hunger. I have access to food however I was never taught to just deal with what you have. Therefore eating potatoes, tomatoes and onions at each and every meal pisses me off. Kudos to those of you who eat rice with every meal because I truly would go insane. Tomorrow's post is going to cover an interesting angle on this very topic that was brought to my attention recently. Unfortunately, I can't get out to the nearest grocery store for fresh veggies often enough and I will not tolerate rotten or semi-rotten food. Yes, I am too damn good to cut off the moldy parts and eat what's left. You just can't live off the street vendors when you have trouble with the foods here in this country. It doesn't work and my body has long since rejected the vegetarian lifestyle I attempted when first coming here.

I've learned a lot about myself that I didn't already know, like:
  • I can tell the difference between things that are really wrong and things that just annoy the hell out of me personally
  • I do know how to choose my battles - not wisely but based on what I feel capable and strong enough to deal with at the moment
  • I can overcome some of the major issues in my life by taking the time to think about it and making rational decisions
  • I cannot live a life where I work exclusively from home forever. Nope. I want a job in a building I don't live in.
  • Life under a blanket or sitting in a bed is not for me and all the reports are right - it does cause depression. Yes, once upon a time I did daydream about a lifestyle that enabled me to lie in bed watching TV and surfing the net all I know that reality was no dream but a nightmare (just kidding, it's not that bad but definitely not for me)
  • I can ignore the idiots in life who piss me off and repulse me. It's my right to choose whether or not I want to look at their face, listen to their BS, etc. They don't control me. I control me. 
  • I'm hard headed and stubborn and I have no desire to change it. Anyone who expects me to bend over backwards to kiss their ass can go lick a dirty swamp rock. (No, I didn't fully realize that before...I've told you before I'm slow learning these things lol.)
  • I can live in the same house with a person I completely despise without wanting to kill him. I can hold back my sheer looks of disgust at the site of his face long enough to walk by peacefully. 
I kinda have begun to relate India to one of the famed Baptist church committees that everyone talks about. Things take forever to get done and several people need to be consulted in the process - first to decide whether or not to actually do them, then to figure out how they were done for the last 1000 years and then to have others tell you how to do it. Finally, you just get someone to do it for you the way you were told to do it and wait for them to get it done. It's fascinating, comical and frustrating to watch all at the same time.


  1. HAH!
    I hear you, girl!
    The first 2 years of marriage were rough on me too. Getting the full on 'choti bahu' treatment from my Indian in laws after being a respected professional with a career & home of my own for 20 yrs. I swear I'd be homicidal if I had to live with my husband's family.
    Isn't there any way that you & your husband can get an apartment of your own?
    Perhaps like in Bangalore or Mumbai or Delhi?
    I think you'd be a lot happier with the healthcare, shopping/food options, and 'privacy'.
    I can sooooo relate to you on the 'privacy' issue, I have to lock my door & my suitcase when visiting my husband's family. Otherwise everybody's in my room(doesn't matter if it's 6 AM or I'm stark naked) & my nieces have helped themselves to my clothes & cosmetics. Seriously, wearing my lipstick, eyeliner & underwear right in front of me.

  2. Congrats on the year of survival!!! It sounds like you've learned so much this year.

  3. Well if Rohit could get a job in Delhi or somewhere bigger we could but he doesn't apply for them too hard so I'm guessing he wouldn't want to. However, now it wouldn't be a good idea anyway because we're going to apply for a visa and go to the US. Until then I'm just holding on to whatever peacefulness I can find....which isn't much.

    1. What kind of work does he do? What about work in the states? I hope you two get the visas and stuff you need quickly. When I married my husband it automatically changed his status so we had to file for and get his green card before we could travel. Does it work similarly on that end? Please also keep us updated on the process for your PIO card and how that all goes. I believe I just read its all done through Travisa now.

  4. Woohoo happy anniversary, and the first year is the thoughest when you are an expat, I can tell you things will go better from there :)
    And yes I hear ya on the same food at every meal, eating dal-subzi-roti at every meal just gets on my nerves, I forced myself stupidly for 2 years, and then I threw the proverbial towel and diversified the content of my plate :)

    Living on your own is much easier in India than living in a joint family, as you said the concept of privacy does not exist, DH and I are so used to it that it drives us nut each time we go visit his parents, or when the come over, without a lock on your door you can't keep people out, and not one of my relative understands the notion of knocking on a door before coming in.

  5. I can't believe you managed to force yourself to eat like that for 2 years. I didn't last 6 months lol. I quit eating and all that. It's been a mess to say the least. I wish I could have the opportunity to live on my own here but it's never going to happen so instead I'm just working on leaving. I can't tell you how many times someone has walked in on us unexpectedly...once the door was even locked but somehow when they pushed the lock fell and the door opened. So it's like a no-win situation.

  6. I'm resilient LOL
    I'm sure you would have had a better time in India living in a big metro and in your own place, you at least get the luxury of taking the culture shock bit by bit instead of having it forced upon you by privacy challenged family member, not to mention the convenience of find more of what would make your life better in stores and being to go out alone as a woman without much drama.

  7. Hi

    I have read so many of your posts and I cant make up my mind whether to congratulate you or ask you a question 'are you trapped'? You say you dream of things you could have accomplished yet you accept your life as something destiny has bestowed upon you. I feel sorry for you to land in Amritsar since it in the worst place in punjab right now. I am from mohali and please dont argue about this matter. period. Amritsar has lost its glory. 
    Otherwise, you wrote a great piece on how indian women have to eat afterwards. Just to cheer you up, this does not happen in our home. Happy life and happy cooking :)

  8. Well, like you I think I am genuinely confused. I do have dreams and most of them are being crushed by being here. But it's necessary because I really don't think I could live my life without Rohit - I did try once and it didn't go well at all. It's difficult but in some ways I'm choosing to give up some of my dreams and find other ways of enjoying life and making a good life in exchange for the life we are going to build together. It's just going to take longer and have to happen in different ways than I originally wanted.

    I would never argue about Amritsar being the worst place in Punjab...I promise! It makes me sad but so many people have lost sight of how grand this place could be and probably once was and they just treat it like a trash can/dump. But I have good news coming because the tourism office is trying to change all of that.