Recently I lived in Denmark for one year as a student. I rented a studio apartment there, one of the lamest apartments that I have ever seen. It was painted in dark-grey, except for the anteroom that was pink. There were holes in the walls, loads of silverfish (carpet sharks) running around the floors (occasionally in the kitchen cupboards too), the toilet was hardly working (it really should have been replaced with a new one) and facilities for cooking were very limited. Note to self: Never sign a long-term contract for renting an apartment without viewing it first.
The limited facilities were one reason for lack of variety in my cooking, another reason was that I had other things to think about. By around 6 – 7 pm I usually figured out that I would need to have some kind of dinner if not to starve. Way too many times it ended up being the simplest dishes like pasta or scrambled eggs, some of the ones that require maximum ten minutes preparation. Sometimes when I was eating pasta for the third night in a row, I reminded myself of preparing something better the night after but the next day I had usually forgot. Another thing that seemed to surprise me for some reason was that dishwashing would be needed after dinner. “Oh no, not again! But I also had to wash the dishes last night!” I would argue with myself quite often.
Here in India it’s totally different, I never have to think about what to eat because I am served three exotic meals a day. Approximately 90% of the food I have got so far has been marvelous, splendid, sizzling and what not. It has been slightly surprising because honestly I wasn‘t sure what to think when I knew I would be living with a vegetarian family.
That has turned out to be unnecessary worries and I think my host mother must be among the best cooks on planet Earth, if not in the whole Galaxy. During orientation week, we (the interns and coordinators) ate at restaurants, usually very good food but what I get here at the house is better, it’s like a class above what I got at the restaurants, believe it or not! On the first day with the family when I had just finished one of these delicious meals I took my plate to the sink and started washing it…my host mother stopped me right away and said there was no need for me to do that, placing it in the sink would do perfectly well. – Then she said these words to me that I will never forget: “Gudmundur, I command you never to do the dishes again, ever! Is that clear?” – For a moment there I thought I was in heaven. (That last part actually didn’t happen; let’s not take it too far). No dish-washing and no grocery shopping for a few months will be very nice though.
I’ve been watching this sitcom several times with my host family. I don‘t understand much of the Hindi, but the people‘s actions and all the different sound-effects make perfect sense to me.
At work I feel like I‘m slowly settling as the days go by. On Thursday I attended Panchayat Mela (e. village meeting) for the second time. There the elected representatives have a chance to speak to some of the higher officials about their difficulties and challenges along with sharing their ideas. This time, a “magic show” was included at the end, where the accountant from the Institute went on stage to show a few tricks.
This was not only for the entertainment’s sake, because the purpose is to educate and remove common superstitions among the rural folk; to give natural explanations for some “supernatural” happenings in the villages.
Apart from this I have been setting up a basic website for the Institute, because it didn’t have any. I have also been working on a brochure with mostly the same content as the website: information on this Institute, what it does and why it was founded. Yesterday I was not at work though because of stomach crisis (“Delhi Belly” if you like), the first significant one since I arrived in India, so the CWG contestants in Delhi are not the only ones. I think the cause might be a very spicy fried bread, stuffed with spices, chili and potatoes that I was served at the Panchayat Mela on Thursday, but who knows. Today I’m back to normal, dehydration salts was all it took – I think this will be a good day.