Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reflections of My Time Here Part 2 - My Adjustments

I've decided as a way of making sense of all that has happened this last year. I listed a few of the major problems I've faced in yesterdays' post and for today's post I'm listing the adjustments I've made coming here. Some have been easier than others.
  • I adjusted to taking cold water bucket baths in temperatures as low as 32F/0C. (for the first 9 months)
  • Not having any privacy.
  • Having my things taken without my knowledge - most never coming back.
  • Living in a house with people who refuse to speak to me for months at a time.
  • Not having adequate food in the home.
  • Having to wait my turn to shower and use the kitchen. 
  • Waiting till evening to go out whereas I always did everything in the morning back home. 
  • Living with excessive dirt and trash everywhere. 
  • Never going to the movie theater. 
  • Having people barge into my room without knocking.
  • Being woke up while I'm sleeping for literally no reason.
  • Having random medicines shoved at me whenever I'm sick. 
  • Eating whatever food was pushed at me - in the beginning, I no longer eat these things.  
  • Being limited on what foods I can eat. 
  • Dealing with unhygienic conditions. I adjusted to living with them, I have not stooped down to participating in them. 
  • Extreme isolation and loneliness.There are very few social outings available to me.
  • I've adjusted to never touching walls or doors unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Sleeping on an uncomfortable, hard surface that makes my body ache. 
  • Wearing long pants daily. I do occasionally wear calf-length pants but it's rare and never anything shorter outside of my room. 
  • Having my things randomly moved or rearranged to suit someone elses preference. 
  • Having my things broken because someone wanted to look at them and didn't take care of them. 
  • Living with cheap junk. The quality of goods available here is inferior to everywhere else. 
  • Not having enough clothes to wear. Either they don't match or don't fit. It's extremely difficult to find decent clothing that is made right and the tailor has yet to make anything right. Looking like crap does not improve your self-esteem. 
  • Crying. I'm already emotional but I've spent more time crying here in the last year than I spent my whole life altogether. 
  • Being online constantly. Or at least it seems so. I've never spent so much time online in my life. Most of it's for work but it's still tiring.
  • Never getting to exercise properly.Space and time are a big problem in that regard. 
  • Being bored. There's nothing here worth doing that I haven't already done too many times. 
  • Physical pain. Though it's not always extreme or medicine worthy, I experience physical pain daily.
  • Being paraded in front of guests as if I'm a commodity and not a person.
  • The stench of death or feces wafting through the air frequently. (Almost daily.) 
  • Being overcharged because I'm foreign. 
  • Having sugar added to every food - even chips that are supposed to be (and labeled as) salty. 
  • Hard, dry bread. It's extremely difficult to find fresh, soft bread that doesn't crumble and, as mentioned above, taste sugary.
  • Seasonal access to certain fruits and vegetables. 
What are some adjustments you made after moving to India?


  1. Well, it has been quite a few years since I moved here but I can relate to several of the things on your list.

    Things that still bother me are-

    Staring/'Celebrity Status'- Yes, even though I've lived here for years... EVERYWHERE I go I am still STARED at- My husband is informed through friends, neighbors, relatives of my every move throughout the city whenever I step out the front gate.
    We are invited to weddings, parties, & other social events frequently. I refuse to go anymore because once again the entire event becomes 'stare at the gori.' 
    There are only a few 'social events' at the American Embassy I feel comfortable going to (4th of July & New Year's). We attend a few events at the Indian Embassy to do the all important 'schmoozing' - but I am once again continuously stared at.

    Clothing- Stock up on underwear in the US, no decent undies to be found in India. Even my Indian husband refuses to wear Indian underwear since I bought him American style mid length briefs.
    In all the years I've been here there are only 3 stores in Delhi where I can buy clothes I like 'off the rack'. I'm sick of buying material for 'suits' and being disappointed at the tailoring. When I first moved here I thought "WOW! I can have things custom made!"
    Not quite, it always takes 2 to 3 trys (if the entire suit isn't so screwed up by the 'redos' by then) to get it 'right', then I'm 5'10" so there is never enough material. UGH!!!
    It ends up being more expensive in time & travel & overall frustration.

    Illness- After 3 hospitalizations due to 'filth' related illnesses (in addition to the 'choti bahu' treatment) while staying with my Indian in laws I simply said to my husband-
    "I'm not ending up sick in the hospital anymore or possibly dead to please your family. We will live away from them and when we visit them we will be staying in a hotel- or I will leave."
    I hated to have to say this, but it is the truth.  

    Food- I miss the diversity of foods available in the US. Brewed coffee, real cheese, French baguettes, - the other day I was craving a Butterfinger bar!
    I enjoy cooking for my family and planning balanced nutritious meals, that takes up my mornings. Fresh fruits and vegetables are quite plentiful here, guess that is a perk of rural Nepal- I notice when we visit our flat in Delhi the vegetables and fruits aren't as nice.

    Being cheated because I'm a foreigner- After living here I've found that Indians routinely try to cheat other Indians. I've seen it watching my husband's business & daily interactions in India. Cheating is just a part of the culture in India.

    India stinks- Yes, I'd add human urine, rotting food, a variety of feces, rotting flesh, smoke from burning trash, and the overwhelming exhaust fumes from diesel/petrol vehicles to your list. I have mild asthma & sinus issues so 2 weeks in India and I'm a wheezy congested mess. The smell of stale human urine just makes me heave still.

    Inconvenience- Yes, from 'load shedding'/power cuts to basic housecleaning to just basic transportation to just buy a simple thing at the store- EVERYTHING takes 2-3 times as long to do in India as it did in the US. Even with a maid. Who hopefully won't steal you blind.

    Rudeness/lack of consideration-empathy- Still haven't quite gotten used to this nor the 'Indian hierarchy'. I refuse to give up my 'western' egalitarian notions. Won't do it. However I've given up being gracious & hand out American whoopass without a qualm, when I'm not feeling talkative sometimes I use the 'American middle finger salute'. I've found it to be quite effective. I also am embarrassed and feel I am 'stooping low' but unfortunately, in India it is the only thing I've found that works.

  2. As always, a great list of things I missed! India is definitely offensive on the nose! You just let me know and I'll bring you back some butterfinger bars. We can meet up in Delhi for delivery.

  3. You gave me the inspiration to write a blog post about my adjustment, mine are viewed with the advantage of time, 8.5 years in India makes you see things differently, I'm pretty sure all the ones on your list might have bothered me at one point or another, but I got so adjusted to certain things that they no longer feel like I adjusted to something if you know what I mean, my list of adjustment is almost a decade worth of realisations.
    But not going to pretend the first few years where the toughest of my life, I didn't have disease issue, but there was a lot of other small things that seemed enormous back then and aren't so much today. One thing that India has taught me is to have a little more patience, I am not a patient person to begin with, and still am not, but I learned to let go of certain things, and to give it time.

  4. While it may seem some of these things are small issues, I know that small things add up and become enormous mountains... Its like putting too many potatoes in a potato sack. One day the weight is too heavy and the bottom of the sack busts open and all the potatoes fall out. 

    I hope that your time away will revitalize you, give you a fresh perspective, and much needed rest. I enjoy your blog very much and your insights are really intriguing and thought-provoking. Some of your experiences I have experienced in my trip to Pakistan last fall... definitely some similarities there!  Keep writing and keep your chin up. You have a lot of potatoes in your sack.  :)

  5. Yes!! That's a great analogy! All of my potatoes are spilling out for sure.

    Thanks so much for the kind words and I'm glad you like my blog. It is often a struggle to keep my chin up despite so many obstacles.

  6. The biggest issue I'm dealing with at the moment is complete disregard for employees. Apparently, this is the hottest summer in Delhi since 1980 and our AC unit at work doesn't work properly. The temperature in the room is somewhere near 35C -- and it's extremely uncomfortable for everyone. 

    The higher management really doesn't seem to care about keeping employees in these conditions. I've adjusted to it by not doing such a good job at my work. Meh, if they want optimal performance, they can fix the bloody AC.

  7. That's awful. Hubby deals with similar issues. His office is on the 3rd floor and they don't even have AC. He works for a horrible company thought (IMO). I'm so glad I'm not there right now.