Let Me Introduce You to My New Home

15 Oct

October 14, 4:00 a.m.  The driver honked the horn and the guard opened the gates at the housing complex.  We pulled up to the front of the house, and Suhas and Shama–my landlords/ host “parents”–were there to greet me.  I hauled all of my bags to the foot of the stairs that lead up to my apartment.  He and I lugged my two 50-pound duffel bags up the two flights of stairs, I unlocked the door, and stepped into my flat.  It was exactly what I expected based on the photos Suhas had sent me weeks ago.  I was already drenched in sweat, not only from from bringing my bags upstairs, but also from the 100% humidity.  Suhas promptly turned on the air conditioner in my bedroom.  Ahhh!  Shama offered me tea, which I turned down in favor of a shower and sleep.  “Come downstairs, and I will feed you lunch when you surface later,” she said.  “I’ll set my alarm, so it’s not too late,” I told her.

October 14, 2:00 p.m.  I surfaced.  I turned off the alarm that I set for 11 a.m. and continued to sleep.  I suppose this is the jet lag that I’ve heard so much about.  I got up, put on clothes, and headed downstairs to the main house, where Suhas and Shama were visiting with their daughter Shilpa (who also lives upstairs in the other apartment), and her six-month-old baby girl.  Shama went to the kitchen and heated up lunch.  There was rice, several vegetable dishes, and bread (not that I can remember the name of it, but it wasn’t naan.  It was so much better than naan).  I ate as much as I could, then had to cut myself off.

Because my laptop battery was dead and the converters that I paid an arm and a leg for at Radio Shack did not work (despite their packaging that reads, “For use in India.”), so Suhas came upstairs with a collection of them.  We found one that matched and decided to go for a walk to the electronics store later in the afternoon to get more.  I had only seen my neighborhood out the backseat of the SUV at 3:30 a.m., so I was looking forward to getting acquainted with it during the day.

We headed out at 5:00.  Things I forgot about India since my last visit:
1.)  Drivers sit on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road.
2.)  Very few crosswalks exist.  In a city of 20 million people, crossing the street during rush hour can be tricky.

If you want to witness a miracle, visit any Indian city during rush hour.  It is amazing that people don’t get run over, that rickshaws don’t hit each other, and that most drivers make it home without a dent or scratch on their vehicle.

Not far from the electronics shop, we passed by Sweet [Something].  I didn’t even see the store’s full name because my eyes fixated on the word “sweet” and the dozens of chocolate cake sitting in the bakery’s glass counter.  “Should we go in?”  Suhas asks.  “No, no,” I said, “It’s just good to know this exists.”  Suhas walks in the door anyway.  Air conditioning and chocolate.  What more could I ask for?  He picks up a loaf of bread for dinner.  I resist the urge to purchase anything made of chocolate.

I found the outlet converters and purchased a new hair dryer at the electronics store, since mine did not work with any adapter.  As we walked out, Suhas pointed across the street to a sign.  The word Natural in big, bold letter crawled across a photo of fruit.  “That’s the best ice cream,” Suhas says, “it’s made from fresh fruit.”  My jaw dropped.  There is a pastry shop and ice cream store on the same block.  “If we did not have ice cream in the freezer at home, I would get some,” he says.

From there, we head to a watch shop and then to the neighborhood mall, which isn’t much different from one in the U.S.  There was an electronics store, a bookstore, clothing stores, and more.  The only difference is they had Indian names.  On the top floor of the mall was the food court, complete with Domino’s, Subway, KFC, and McDonald’s.  No hamburgers, of course.  But, you can get a Chicken Maharaja Mac.  And, mom, when I finally convince you to come visit, don’t worry, you can get a Filet O’Fish.

We took a rickshaw home from the mall, I went up to my apartment to finish unpacking, and at 8:30, went downstairs for dinner.  Fried fish, sauteed mushrooms, rice, and leftovers from lunch lay on the table.  The closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games played on the living room’s television set.  To top it all off, there was sherry and chocolate ice cream.  Everyone keeps telling me I’m going to come home from India as thin as a rail, but I’m not so sure.

Pics of my flat (I love saying flat!), Part 1:

From left to right: My air conditioned bedroom, the toilet room, the shower room, the view from my bedroom (note the red bus through the trees.  That’s the bus I will take to Bandra.  More on that later.)

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9 Responses to “Let Me Introduce You to My New Home”

  1. Bill D. October 16, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    Air conditioning, ice cream, chocolate and fish filet sandwiches all in the near vicinity! This does not sound so bad but then that restroom does not look that wide! I am so proud of you Steph. Take care and thanks for the updates. You are in my prayers.

  2. Steph October 16, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Thanks, Mr. Bill! I truly am spoiled, as you will see if my next post. And, you’re right, the bathroom is a bit narrow, but it’s fine. Hope you are doing well!

  3. MomDC October 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    OMG – the luxuries of home……is that a fan i see in the sleeping room? Love the flat and love more the fact you get to go downstairs to be “served” meals. Will you be learning to cook from the staff in the eating room? I could send you a list of dishes I’d like served upon your return!

  4. MomDC October 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Oh, and one more thing Steph…..does the McD’s at the mall serve those McAloo Tikki sammy’s cuz if they do, I’m so there? I also hear there’s a new movie in town called “Wake Up Sid”. You should check it out.

  5. Mom October 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    Hmmm. Speaking as your mother, I can’t help but notice three things: 1) How unbelievably neat your bedroom is; 2) how I would fit in perfectly with the rush hour drivers; and 3) the local McDonalds serving filet-o-fish! The latter would be crucial for me to consider a visit…..

  6. Marilyn_Res October 17, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    WooHOO! You made it! You can even take a rickshaw to the mall. Looks like a great setup. Can’t wait for future posts.

  7. The Shreve's! October 17, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    So glad to hear that you made it safe and are enjoying yourself already! Your flat looks great, and clearly you won’t have trouble finding excellent food. Looking forward to your updates! Miss you already!

    PS: I promise to also send you honeymoon pics within the next couple days!

  8. carolyn October 17, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Sounds like you are having a blast! So happy for you babe!

  9. lynnteaguecoach October 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    Sleeping in as long as you need and waking up to an already prepared lunch – Heaven in my mind! I’m glad you made it there safely, Steph!

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