Indian Schools have shut down for an indefinite (hopefully very short) amount of time due to the cold. The temperature today was sunny and in the mid-sixties—chilly in the morning, sure, but really, Indian Government? Shutting down the schools because it’s a little chilly? I’ve got a program to run here and we’re on a tight schedule, dash it all!
The story around town (from Madhu, of course) is that the parents (from the 300 some-odd schools in Udaipur) just banded together and refused to send their children in. Word is, the kids have been getting sick left and right and it’s just not worth subjecting them to the germs and the cold when they can just stay home. Oh, blast! I just had one of those realizations again and now, uggh, I can’t even be justifiably annoyed that the schools are shut down from a slight chill. Of course it’s not worth risking sickness in the home when there isn’t any medicine—or very little access to medicine for many of the families. It is a known universal fact that children’s schools everywhere are the cesspits of germ-breading. Over the years, my hand-washing habits have gone Lady Macbeth status (although I’m just washing baby boogers not blood off my hands. Promise). But it’s not easy to wash your hands a million times a day when you don’t have water. Keep the kids home, bundle them up, and keep your family from sickness and all the potential, very very bad outcomes of what sickness means here. School can wait.
You know how this issue would be dealt with in an NYC school? Yeah, you do: Drugs. Parents are working. Have the babysitter pick up meds from the doctor. Feed them to the kid, send him to school and tell him to wash his hands and stay inside in the heated classrooms and drink his organic juice box. I’m sorry, of course, that’s not an entirely fair assessment, I know. It’s just, these two worlds I’m experiencing are so different. I can’t see New York shutting down all of their schools to avoid spreading the common cold. It seems so silly. But then, you know, things get put in perspective again and I just don’t know how to … reconcile? I suppose?
Down the road there is a group of gypsies who live under tarps. The children playing in the dirt look like they have never had a bath or a full meal in their lives. The two little goddess girls I took a picture of smiled for the camera and then reached out with little silver tins they had been hiding behind their backs. I gave them my pocket change and they scampered off. Our rickshaw nearly hit a cow today. I mean, usually we skirt around the animals by at least a foot, but I think we might have grazed this guy. Cows gotta move out of the way—so do elephants, so do camels, so do toddlers, so do bikes, trucks, cars.
Oh, my new mode of transportation? MOTORCYCLES. That’s right, without a helmet (we don’t wear helmets here, mom–and all my other worried moms. Just stop already. I’m not going to wear a helmet, and I’m going to ride three to a two-person motorcycle through the winding city streets of Udaipur. Can you stop me? No. But you may say a silent prayer or meditate that we don’t crash into a wild dog or get trampled by an elephant. There are worse things that could happen, really).
I moved into Rita’s. She is one of the trustees of the NGO we’re working for—Big Medicine Charitable Trust. Madhu, I love, but it’s nice with Rita. Her house is outside the city a little bit and it’s so … calming and picturesque. It reminds me of home, but in India. Like the Cottingham’s farm and the Vanaver’s house in Rosendale with some of the antiques and quirkiness of my home. The internet is pretty shoddy here, and the electric goes out for most of the day, but I took a warm shower (a luxury I have learned to not expect to have anymore) and it was great.
Not only that, I did laundry by hand today! It was great too. I think the maintenance guy, Narain, was laughing at me because I was out there for, probably, two or three hours and I’m sure I was doing everything wrong. Mixing the soapy water with the rinse water and spending like five minutes wringing all that water out–per clothing item. He probably would have been done in twenty minutes and he kept offering to help and then shaking his head and chuckling when I said no, thanks. But you know what? I really liked doing the laundry. I watched the mongoose run around the yard and I listened to the sufi singers chanting in the mosque down the street.
Ok, one more thought before bed time. Food. Dad will be proud to hear that my tongue is now well adapted to the spiciest of spicy hot foods. Although my nose isn’t. When I eat, people laugh at me because my nose just does not stop running (at least I think that’s why they’re laughing but who knows, I could also just be a hilarious eater) but anyway, my goal is to eat all the curries and garlic chutneys and spiced veggies with a dry nose by the time I leave. The food here is so good. It’s so good. I’m going to be taking a cooking class and I. Can’t. Wait.
Outside there is a pack of wild dogs howling up a storm. Sufi singers are still at it. The moon is red and reflects in the giant lake. It is pretty chilly out there now. That’s for sure.