Sunday, July 4, 2010

First Task at Work, the Mall, and Scandal in India

After recovering from heat sickness, I was able to go to work on Friday. We normally work from 10 AM- 5 PM. Jenni, Sebastian, and I were joined by Martin, a French boy who has such a vibrant character, the Babylone House favorite, who just got back from a trip to Nepal. Bhawani gave me my first assignment: proofread the 2009-2010 Annual Report. I was glad to oblige since the other reports had awkward wording or incorrect grammar and spelling. That task took me the whole day, and I was proud of what I turned in at the end of the day.

It was Jenni's last day. She had a special ceremony in which she got a tika, a garland of flowers, candies, and a present. She and Sebastian said that the associates at GBS didn't like her, and her recycled plastic flower gift may have been an indication of this. She will be missed by myself and the other interns. She has such a light sense of humor and is very level-headed and kind.

When we returned home, I begged Sebastian to take me shopping so I could buy some Indian style tunics called kurtis. Luckily, another group of girls (Divya, a Canadian; Julia, a Russian woman with long hair; and Ksenia, another Russian who lives in France) was going to the mall so I joined their party. Now realize that only the rich Indians get to visit malls. Everything is much more expensive. You have to pay for quality. We girls were so relieved to finally be in air conditioning, however. I bought a pink tunic for 400 rupees (~$8.50). After shopping, Divya, and I went to eat at the cafe in the mall and then went upstairs to their food court. The mall had a hot dog stand, but instead of beef or pork they serve vegetarian or chicken "hog dogs". The food is delicious here mostly because it is fried, rich with cream and butter, and served with delicious blend of spices.

After returning from a successful shopping trip, Anna, a Russian girl from Kazakhstan, and Martin invited me to go to the swimming pool at a 5 star hotel. I took a shower, shaved, and wore my new bikini from Victoria Secret under a sarong. Since I was in a rush (apparently I take forever to get ready), I didn't pay attention to the snicker and laughter that followed me as I left the house. As I walked through the streets, people kept staring at me or honking or making comments in Hindi. After walking for quite sometime, we finally got to the hotel only to find out that the pool party was not that night. Since the guards were acting in a sketchy manner, we decided not to stay.

At this time, my leg (which is still recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery) and my back were hurting terribly so Martin gave me a piggy back ride. BIG MISTAKE! We were laughed at and ridiculed during our stroll back to Babylone. One pair of men on a motorcycle screamed at us, "Not allowed in India!" In India, it is frowned upon from people of the opposite sex to touch or show affection despite what might be advertised in India commercials or film. Interestingly, men are allowed to show their affection to other men by holding hands and riding on the same bike together. Indians also don't seem to protest against public urination, but a girl touching a boy, *GASP*. Ironically, this conservative land has also produced the Kama Sutra and has paintings of sexual positions in its palaces. To make matters worse, I was showing too much skin for Indian standards. My shoulders and legs below the knee were visible, and in the United States, I would have been modestly covered by the sarong. In another point of irony, stomachs are socially acceptable but shoulders are very erotic here.

When we finally arrived at the house, I got chided by Himanshu and his Indian friend for my inappropriate clothing. Himanshu said that he would finally take me shopping which I had asked him to do earlier. I got pissed off at that point. As if I couldn't tell from the reactions of all the other Jaipurians that my dress and actions were not acceptable. As an active (versus passive) woman and stubborn American, I am starting to reject completely acclimating. No matter if I do cover my shoulders, I am still white. I will still be stared at, judged, and gipped by storekeepers. GRRRRRRRR!!!

1 comment:

  1. haha cover it up u skank, sounds like fun! good luck neighbor