Okay. So. It’s been about a week since I’ve been in Lucknow, and I’m sure all of you have be DYING to know how things are going. The first few days here, Buttmunch and I HATED it. Hated it so much. Poor Buttmunch had caught some belly illness and spent some time running back and forth between our bed and the bathroom. We were stationed in a hotel which was lovely…except for the fact that the AC in our room was FREEZING (we slept with hoodies and long pants under a blanket) or it had to be turned off….and there were no people for us to socialize with. Buttmunch and I spent the first few days in Lucknow under covers, ordering room service (we’re addicted to sweet lime water now… mmmm) and watching lots of movies on TV…like…Wolverine….twice.
After a few days of that, we decided it was time we left and moved to a place that had 1) wifi and 2) PEOPLE. We found a place that met those two requirements which was SO EXCITING except that 1) some of the people were…awkward and didn’t find us amusing (I can’t imagine why not) and our room doesn’t have AC. Lucky for us, after three sleepless nights for me, we now have about 2 fans and a “cooler” in our room so I don’t turn into the evil sleepless cranky monster, and the hostel has welcomed some new people who are rather lovely and who enjoy Buttmunch and I as much as we enjoy them.
As far as our work goes…it’s been REALLY PRODUCTIVE! We’ve had several meetings in the last few days and we’ve met many people and have been able to collect very useful information. All of this is very encouraging and helps us ignore the heat and allows us to enjoy Lucknow. Despite all the not so happy things that we’ve seen…there have been some rather amazing incidents/moments that I just have to share:
1) Gloves – you know when women get dressed all fancy and they wear those elegant gloves that go up to their elbows? Yeah those…well women here wear them, except that instead of being in fancy gowns that make me drool, they’re riding on their scooters. Confused? The women of Lucknow have taken those gloves and given them a sense of practicality…here, women have these gloves that go beyond elbows…in fact, they pretty much hit the shoulders and are worn as protection from the sun when riding their scooters about town. Pretty smart actually.
2) Another adaptation that makes something multipurpose: construction hats being worn as helmets. I smile every time I see a passenger on a motorbike sporting the bright yellow hard had as a helmet. Totally Smart.
3) Paan – if you don’t know what paan is, it’s this thing that people chew. (So descriptive right? Let me try again…) you take a leaf (I’m not sure what kind….possible pupil?) smear some lime on it, throw in a few nuts like beetle nut, some red thing and on occasion some tobacco and just chew. I believe if it has tobacco in it you can’t swallow it so men (and some women here) chew these things all the time and then spit red EVERYWHERE. The red they spew stains EVERYTHING. I’ve seen splattered walls in Nepal…but here, I’ve seen red sploshed walls, decorated streets, stained vehicles and get this…there are even flower pots in corners of GOVERNMENT offices that serve as public and communal spittoons. You don’t believe me? I’ve taken a picture of one such flower pot on the stair well of a government building (this wasn’t even the most splatter-rific one… just the one I managed to capture on my phone). Enjoy:
4) Buttmunch and I were on our way home in an autorickshaw when we passed a convent. At the exact same time we turn around and start telling us a joke…I let Buttmunch continue to talk, about two sentences in I realize that we thought of the exact same joke at the exact same time. Epic.
5) I believe the heat does all sorts of crazy things to us. Not too long ago, we got home and for some reason the word “Gloria” came up in conversation which induced Buttmunch to sing “Gloria In Excelci Deo”… half undressed….with her kurtha pants untied and drooping on her hips ….hands cupped over her bra, clutching her boobs….in a Mr. Bean voice. I cannot put into words how much I love this woman.
6) While at the hotel Buttmunch and I developed a full-fledged addition to sweet lime water. After we moved, we keep meaning to buy some sweet limes as to make our own sweet lime water so every day when we’re out, I’d say “we have to get some sweet limes” and we’d also plan on purchasing them on the way back home (probably not smart to go to our meetings with bags of fruit) but it never seemed to work out. The other day I, once again, said that we should buy sweet limes…Buttmunch, the witty, intelligent girl that she is, looks at me and scoffs “…as opposed to the other kind of limes?”….yes, Buttmunch… as opposed to the other kind of limes. (If you’re not aware…there are the “normal” limes (that get wedged into yummy cocktails) and then there is the fruit…two distinctly different citruses that Buttmunch somehow seemed to confuse).
7) India is full of fun, entertaining….and thoroughly confusing signs and ads. My favorite one yet is where a certain doctor…a gynecologist is named….. Dr. Lovee. I wish I was making that up, but it’s too good for me to fabricate.
8) You should know, the morning that Buttmunch and I had to take the train to Lucknow, she was on 2 hours of sleep and I was rolling on 0 (crazy night at the hospital remember?). We got there early and seeing as our train info was not available (I am in India) we dumped our luggage on the platform, plopped on our bags and tried to stay awake. Buttmunch wasn’t feeling well, she was sleep deprived and just looked so ….pathetic. The platform was full of fellow travelers who decided the train station was just as good (or better) than a hotel. Buttmunch, sleepy eyed and loopy told me that she wanted to sleep with the children that were sprawled out on the floor. In an effort to convince her that it was a bad idea I told her that they were probably breeding grounds for lice, to which my poor, tired, beautiful and (at that moment) just terribly sad friend said….. “but lice are friends who never leave your side.” I wish I could have taken you back to that moment. Priceless.
9) The place that we’re currently staying at is a short term home for people from the US, India, Australia, Belgium and Japan. Some of them are passing through and only here for a night or two, others are here for work/research. A few are studying Hindi and/or Urdu in Lucknow. Over dinner, most of us will converse and communicate in English as that’s the language in common. About half of the crew speak (or at least understand Hindi)…the Japanese however has dodgy English but beautiful Hindi. The other night the World Cup was on in the living room so I scuffled over trying to catch a bit of the game. I found The Japanese sitting there watching the game. I tried to make light conversation with him, he responded and nothing about his attitude suggested my presence was unwanted until he abruptly held up his hand, gave me the universal sign for “stop right now” and in curt I-mean-business Hindi threw me a “ABHI NAHI!” which translated into “NOT NOW!”. Slightly confusing, mostly rude…I hovered around for a minute before backing away slowly…I later heard Japan lost, glad I wasn’t there to see that…who knows what other beautiful things I would have heard in Hindi.
10) We went to this interview with a guy at a well established organization. When we entered his shared office, he was on the phone so we stood and smiled and tried to act like we didn’t notice the HUGE BURP that he nonchalantly let loose mid-conversation…we also tried to act like we didn’t notice the following obvious burps that he threw into sentences like extra words. I have NO idea how Buttmunch and I kept a straight face the whole time.
Anyways, there are many enjoyable and funny things that happen (for more amazing stories like the policeman who hopped a ride on our autorickshaw and the mall security with do rags please visit globalbumblebuzz.wordpress.com for Buttmunch’s take on our adventures). Those ten are just snippets. I am NOT enjoying sweating. I’ve got to the point where I don’t care if I feel something on my skin because it’s either a bug….or a huge trail of sweat, usually the latter (anyone had back of knee sweat?! anyone?!! ANYONE?!..)
Tomorrow, we’re having another momo party – this time I’ll try to take pictures so you can all be sad about how you’re not here to enjoy amazing company and of course my mad culinary skills.