Monday, October 16, 2006

Friday, 13th October, 2006 – Fruitcake and sweet coffee

I had a horrible night and woke up this morning feeling pretty tired. I just couldn’t fall asleep. I woke up at 9am because I wanted to get ready and head out so I could go visit my new place and meet my new host at 11am. I switched on the TV and Oprah was showing, with Jada Pinkett Smith and the Williams sisters as her guests. They were talking about problems young girls face, and all the guests had just written books on the topic. I was intrigued, so I kept watching. I ordered some toast and a bottle of water, as I didn’t want to face the tea they had served the day before. Around 9:40am Twum called and said he would call back in ten minutes. This meant I couldn’t go take a shower in case he called. I just kept watching the Oprah show, which ended at 10am. Twum finally called around 10:15am, and we had a small chat. He was getting ready to go home. Around 10:30am I told him I had to leave, and then got ready for work. I got downstairs around 10:50am (yeah, I was quick!), handed in my room key, and went to wait at the bus stop for my bus.

While waiting for the bus, a middle-aged Indian man kept staring at me, then finally said hello. I nodded, said hello, and turned my gaze elsewhere, as per the Lonely Planet guidebook instructions. He wasn’t done though. He wanted to chat. He asked me where I was from and I said Ghana. He asked if Ghana was in South Africa and I said no, in West Africa. He wanted to know what I was doing here, and I said I was just touring. He asked if I was staying in that hotel and I said yes, and then he asked me for my ROOM NUMBER!! WHATTT??!!! I told him I couldn’t give him that, and he said that he was also staying in the hotel. He then asked if I lived in Lumumbashi, and I said no, I was from West Africa, which is near Nigeria. Then he said that I had a good body, and looked really fit. I said I thanked God for that, and he asked if I was Christian, and I said yes. Then he said again that I had a good body, and that he liked it, and I said that my husband liked it too. I wanted to scream at him to leave me alone. Then he asked me where I was going and I said Hazra Road. Around that time the 33 bus was approaching. For a split second I wanted to wait for the 204/1, but I knew he would keep trying to chat with me and maybe keep commenting on my physique, so I jumped on the bus. LOL!

I got to my stop safely (cost Rs. 4.00), and dropped in at the office quickly to let them know I was going to visit my new host. It was pretty close to the office, just as Anu mentioned. As usual, I drew a lot of stares. I’m getting a little used to it. The lady lives in a high rise, on the 14th floor. There was a security gate there, and I had to sign in and give the name and apartment number of the person I was going to visit. I did that, and went to wait for the elevator that would take me to the 14th floor. I got upstairs with no hassle, and rang the bell to the apartment. An older man opened the door for me, and greeted me with his hands clasped in a prayer stance just below his neck. The old lady in there also did the same thing, and I copied them. I thought it was so cute!

I sat down, and chatted with the old lady. Her name is Mrs. Kamal Sanyal, and she is 83 years old. She was quite young looking and active for her age. We had a lovely conversation, and I was given some slices of fruitcake, water and coffee. I was also given a fried dough type of thing, but I didn’t know its name. She showed me the room, which is large and has a double bed, and has a great view of the city (hello! It’s on the 14th floor!). She would be charging Rs. 800 per day, and it includes breakfast and dinner. I thought it was a pretty good deal, about $18 a day. I spent an hour with her without really realizing I’d been there that long. We settled on me moving in there on Sunday. I agreed to stay there for two weeks, to be extended if I stayed longer in Kolkata.

I left and went back to the Swayam office, and did a bit of reading. I got some coffee to drink, in an attempt to stay awake. However, since I hadn’t slept that well last night, I kept dozing off. One of the staff members asked if I would like to take a nap, and showed me a little room with cushions where I promptly fell asleep. I had a fan on me, so it was a pretty sweet nap. Thirty minutes later I woke up because I was sweating profusely. The lights had gone off. Apparently there is some load shedding going on in the area, so it was our turn. I went back to my nap after a few minutes. Another staff member came to wake me up for lunch, but I was still so sleepy I said they should give me ten more minutes. This ten minutes turned into thirty, and I woke up at almost 3pm. I think I had napped for an hour and a half. I didn’t want to wake up but I didn’t think it was nice to sleep the whole afternoon away. I forced myself to wake up, and got some more coffee to drink.

As I was sitting at my desk, one of the staff members came by and introduced herself as Chandrana, the mental health consultant. She asked me if I wanted my lunch, and went to speak to the canteen staff to prepare my lunch. For lunch I had boiled rice with red beans, the Dal again, and some potatoes in a spicy sauce. That potatoes and spicy sauce is very good. I can’t seem to ever finish my lunch because I get filled up pretty quickly.

After lunch, I went upstairs to chat with Chandrana, and we had a lovely conversation. She also gave me a dessert (Rosh something) to try. It’s made from milk; the milk is boiled for a while, then a citrus juice is added to curdle it I guess, then a bit of flour is added to it to make some balls. Then, the balls are soaked in syrup (sugar water, basically). The balls are chewy, and taste a bit like condensed milk.

I did a bit of reading, finishing up the book on helping domestic violence victims who have tried to commit suicide. It was around 5:30pm at this time, so I went online to check my flight booking, which had been sent by the STA agent I’m working with. I hopefully leave India on or around 20th December. I then registered with Jet Airways, so I could claim the miles I had flown (and will be flying in December) from them.

I left around 6:15pm, caught the 33 bus again, and this time, was able to get a seat for most of the trip. I missed my stop and had to get down at the next stop, but it was near the internet café so I knew how to get back to the hotel. I got into my room, ordered some dinner (two chicken wraps. I’ve learnt my lesson.), and I’m now working hard to finish my blog so I can put up the updates online. In the meantime, I watched an old version of Friends and Seinfield, and I’m now watching this year’s VH1 music awards.

(Honey, I just saw the Bacardi Mojito advert on one of the channels! LOL!)

1 comment:

Katherine said...

And I thought Jamaican men were bad! Hope you have a great time in India! I'm so excited for you; I feel as if I'm living vicariously. :-) I can't read your other India updates yet -- I'm a little behind, as usual -- I might have a test on this Spanish book in under an hour and you can guess how much of it I've read. ;-)

Love you tons,

PS. Still getting used to the 'husband' bit. But loving it. :-D