Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sitting On the Fence

There are several words and phrases you don't want to label yourself with in life. They all revolve around uncertainty. Terms like:
    • Sitting on the fence
    • Torn between two worlds
    • Lukewarm
    • Undecided
    • Confused
    They're all bad terms when they apply to your life. I'm experiencing quite a bit of hurt, fear and sadness these days but I'm also feeling a lot of hope and determination. It makes things seem tedious and confusing.

    Though I don't feel like I was given a fair chance to fit into daily life here, I also feel like I deserve one and I actually might want to try to have one. That would mean moving out of this house because it won't ever happen here. I will forever be stuck trying to keep up with 30 year old customs that just don't work for me....or anyone.

    Life here's not the only thing that's confusing for me here. MIL has become another source of confusion. She's nice, does her "duty" in just about everything in life but I don't like her very much anymore. She's changed recently and not in a good way. I have too though. I'm no longer willing to put up with a few of her habits and I've demanded either they stop or I separate myself. My requests have been reasonable. The primary one being for her to stay out of my room and stop taking my stuff. Since she won't stop, I don't let her in here anymore. That's not the only problem between us but needless to say we're no longer chummy together.

    I'm determined to drive here when I come back but at the same time I'm dreading dealing with the traffic. As one reader recently confirmed, quite a few people here drive really poorly. Yeah okay, the majority do. All you need for proof is to get in a taxi. I'm not sure how the cars survive the way these people drive them. Getting hit is extremely common. (Actually every time I've been in a car, except once, we got hit.) I've been hit by a bicycle and a scooter while on our motorcycle riding around town. I've almost gotten hit by a bicycle rickshaw while standing on the side of the road and I did get hit by a scooter while standing next to a parked car. I have yet to see any cars in this city that weren't dented and dinged in several places. At the very least they have scratches in common accident locations on the car's body. It's a nightmare in the making. I already screamed at drivers in the US so I guess now I really gotta work on my Punjabi swearing. If I'm gonna tell someone off I want them to understand me. I guess that will be my summer project.

    I want my own kitchen but having it would mean that everyone in the family would use my stuff. There's a kitchen available which I've been told twice I couldn't use but, it doesn't have a locking door. I would also have to set my kitchen table out in the room and that would only attract lots of dirty items. I would never feel safe eating off of it after all the things it would encounter during a day around here. I'm not against sharing but I am against constantly cleaning up after people who are old enough to clean up their own mess. I'm quite sure a table outside of this kitchen would turn into a meeting place whenever guests come in the house and I'm not ready for that. I would also have to fight to kick uncle & chachi's junk out of the room...which I think I am ready for. So I have to figure out if it's worth my stress level or find a collapsible table that I can lock up in the pantry.

    At this point, I really don't want to come back to this life but, I don't want to leave my husband behind either. He's truly amazing and he's so wonderful to me (yes, even when I'm a royal pain in his ass) and good men like that are extremely hard to find. I'm not ready to live without him for long which means I'm stuck here in this house for a few months after I come back. I did already tell him though if it turns into more than a few months we're getting our own house or we'll have to live separate from each other. I have my limits for being able to tolerate things after all.

    That's just the short list of things I'm confused about right now. There's several other small things. Like should I go out and buy clothes that fit me better now or keep holding out until I get home. So far, waiting till I get home is winning and every time I go shopping I'm reminded of why. I had some woman try to con me into buying a 30,000 INR kurta that was 8 inches too small in the boobs (it had a zipper on the side so I know how far it was from zipping) by telling me she could alter it. Um, no. I have extensive sewing experience and I know there was no way to fix that kurta without completely ruining it. I wonder if anyone actually falls for that crap. I also can't decide if I should quit drinking Sprite or just not worry about the extra sugar because it's comforting to drink them. (Just a side note, I hated Sprite in the US. It tastes the same here so I don't know what makes me drink them.)

    I guess this confusion has a little to do with culture shock but I think it also has a lot to do with me changing as a person. I wonder what my family will think when I get home. I'm guessing I'll find out just how much I've changed then.


    1. Keep drinking the sprite, it makes you feel good so it qualifies as a stress reliever :), I recently became hooked to diet coke, I liked it in Switzerland but not to the point of drinking 1-2 cans a day, but I need my caffeine fix in a cool drink :)

      As for the spare kitchen, try to hire a carpenter to put a door that can lock, and be firm, since nobody uses that room other than to dump junk, you have the right to use it, screw  hierarchy and what not, recharge your batteries in the US and come back ready to tackle things in your in-laws house, you live there, you are part of family and your demands are far from being even remotely unreasonable. Chachi and Uncle Ji have no right to get mroe space than anybody else in this house especially since their kids steal your wi-fi and they try to freeload on anybody. Beside no one can complain on your home improvement plan since you are the one footing the bill with your money. There are Indian choti bahu that have more power and space in the household than they made you feel you should have, stand up to them.

    2. It's tough. India does change you. And indeed one has to change, or forever struggle against living here. You know, I really think you should get the chance to try and enjoy India more, and that definitely won't come from still living in that house. If you just had a bit of freedom, and a space that you could call your own and feel comfortable in, you'd likely feel so much different. Even if you did resolve all the issue such as the kitchen, you still have to live with the tension from everyone. All that bad energy is enough to make you feel bad on its own.  I guess you should just wait and see how you feel after you come back from the US. I think that will clarify a lot for you, about what you are willing to put up with or not, second time around living here.

    3. Ok, here's my 'personalized' advice even though you didn't ask for it. After 2 years of putting up with the 'choti bahu crap' as graciously as possible until I absolutely could not stand it anymore-
      1- You owe to yourself to have a physician (endocrinologist) that specializes in your disease- you have a serious health condition that requires chronic care and that's the way it will always be. You need to move somewhere a quality endocrinologist such as this exists.2- Living with other people sucks- in this extreme culture they aren't going to change and neither are you- time to hand out ultimatums- we get a flat as far away from family (rent or own) or else! (you can decide what the else is). Get as far away as possible to minimize visitations.3- I wouldn't attempt to drive in India, I've done it- I'll not do it again. Take a taxi. Learn to negotiate a reasonable fee & put your game face on or take some one with you. I am an excellent driver & have driven in several countries but the insane drivers & livestock on the roads in India terrorize me. We have a at 2 of our properties that really aren't worth the cost of their upkeep anyway.
      5- Insist on having your own credit card and at least 2,000 rupees cash on your person at all time. I don't want something to happen to hubby and I don't have a paisa in my pocket.

      6- Missy, I have a 50 inch bust, 32 inch waist and 42 inch hips, if you need a tailor or a place to buy reasonably priced readymade or unstitched  kurta/suits/saree/churidar in any size in Delhi I got ya covered!

    4. oops! that was a bit sloppily written but-
      2- 'you need to get a flat as far away from family from family'3-'We have a car at 2 of our properties that really aren't worth the cost of their upkeep anyway-more of a 'status thing'.

    5. I agree with sharrel....AS-- LIFE IS A TALE TOLD BY SOMEONE...yes every culture every society in every country have their own style of moving so when you are commiting to adapt it you should not keep on comparrisoning with other cultures..& if u did so then sure you are getting into problem...so just keep the pace in your life..motivate with your full energy....try to keep up your marriage life...cause indian guys are very good when they are asked to be but once they are out of control they can be worse then you think....cause as your husband married you ignoring his familly..so a lott of stress he had taken for you...so just try to adjust...& have a wonderfull life..& yes try to learn more & more from other expats...(bright example- cyn,sharrel) & many r there...hehh:-) INDIA IS TOUGH.....

    6. Long time ago, I remember reading a blog post where you mentioned a bit about your "other" life back in the states. If you decide to live here, doesn't that mean that they too might have to shift here? What does rohit think about it?

      I think hatima bibi(below comment) too has an offspring from here past life. I think she can help you with that,

    7. Sprite is my drug of choice lol. I can't give it up!

      I'm already making demands and tackling stuff. It's slow (IST you know) but it's going. Ultimatums don't work with them though. They just get even more ridiculous and never do anything about fixing the problems no matter how simple they are. Rohit winds up doing everything so I am careful of which topics I address because he doesn't deserve the stress or being stuck in the middle. It's just a mess.

    8. I agree with you. When we're not here (like in Delhi or on vaca) I always have a much less stressed time. This house is very negative and tense and I've never had to live with so much tension. It's not healthy, that's for sure.

      I do have ultimatums in place. One about me not coming back unless demands are met and another about not living here once I do. I don't have to live here and I think they realized that when I got out my suitcases the other day. I'm done putting up with some of this crap.

    9. I love your take on this. As for my thyroid, I am well trained on that myself. Even in the states it was hard to find a decent endocrinologists that understood my case. I was one of those problem cases and inevitably solved it myself. I've had it 19 years so I learned enough to get by and read my own tests, etc.

      I've made the ultimatum of living elsewhere and I'm serious. I will live on my own if I have to. The perceived lack of safety in this town can't possibly be as bad as living in such a stressful household. That and I have self defense training and a bat I'm not afraid to use.

      I know about the driving but I'm determined. A taxi doesn't offer me the freedom to get out like I want. Our road is in the middle of a neighborhood and requires twists and turns that taxi drivers don't seem to understand. So I either need to learn how to drive a motorcycle so I can go out and bring them in here or learn how to drive myself. Yay the joys of living in the old part of the city. *obvious sarcasm*

      I have my own credit card and money. I also have bank accounts that no one can get to but me, etc. etc. I came here with an exit plan on the advice of a friend just in case the family turned out to be something other than I expected. I have 4 different bank accounts and they only know of 2.

      Lol on the suits. I know you understand me well then when I say how hard it is to find clothes that fit or get a tailor to make pants right. I have large calf muscles and she can't seem to get that through her head. I get suits cheap though (when I want to). I just don't prefer to because I've yet to find a local tailor that's any good. Well, except for kameez. One is amazing on kameez but she can't make pants for crap. I don't get it.

    10. I'm not sure which post you read but I most likely worded something wrong in it (or not clearly). There's no one in my past that would need to shift with me.

      If you meant Rohit's parents shifting to the US we have discussed that and we're never taking them to the US permanently. A visit most likely but never to live with us.

    11. You deleted that post but it is still sitting in my google reader page. Actually, you talk about it in not one but at least three different blog posts(now deleted).

    12. If you want to drive in India, you should probably take driving lessons *in* India. The rules of the road are different, #1 being "might makes right." Very different from what we learn in the US but if you try to drive like you would here, you are either never going to get anywhere, or you are going to meet with an accident. Even if you have a AAA International Driver's Permit, taking Indian-style driving lessons would be a very good idea.

    13. I am just impressed that you have tolerated them and lasted this long. I would have probably packed my bags and left by now issuing hubby an ultimatum. They really do push you, surely there must be some decent accommodation like an apartment or somewhere you can move to with hubby where you can just shut the door and not worry about anything else. I hear Amritsar is expanding rapidly? And on moving to the United States, good move, just make sure that they don't follow! Is it any wonder that your BIL is staying away.

    14. I'll keep that in mind. I'm certain I will meet with an accident anyway. I've yet to be in a car that didn't (taxi's excluded).

    15. I finished revisiting some of the deleted posts in the old blog. I hope you have come clean about it with your new husband and family cause these punjabis can morph into something you would not like and I suggest you do it on US soil if you haven't already.

    16. I don't have any secrets from people in my private life. But I did decide it was best if some people weren't mentioned in my blog with approximately 700 strangers a day reading about it. Those aren't the only posts I deleted to protect certain aspects of my identity online. Don't worry. MIL and FIL both accompanied us to the courthouse with documentary proof of my past life in their hands (because women just aren't listened to as well as men here....hell, I didn't even go most days because I apparently wasn't needed).

    17. And no offense but I'm deleting your posts in reference to it as well. I do have one person I must protect myself from so it's essential they not read your references. Please don't be offended, I have to protect myself from a very psychotic (western) individual.