|Cattle in the street...sacred animals
in Indian culture.
Of all the places on the face of our earth I think that India has been talked about more than any other. So what can I say that you have not already heard? Let me think about that.
I have been here at the American Embassy School in New Delhi for about 10 days now. We eat, we sleep we walk across the street to the American Embassy for lunch or dinner. I am with my son and his family so I get to spend time with them. It is very normal in so many ways. Yet not at all!
|Dinner at a restaurant courtyard
under the Banyan Tree!
First of all you need to understand that the American Embassy is part of the Embassy Enclave for nations around the world. It sounds very exotic and yet it is located next to a famous slum or camp where people live a life that I cannot imagine. (I have included a link to a tour for the slum. The pictures from inside are wonderful.) Water comes in by trucks and there is little electricity or even sewage disposal. It all seems more than impossible. Yet as I sit writing I look across the street and life goes on quietly. Children play. A man has set up a barber shop that is constantly busy and a garbage truck comes occasionally.
|Water bottles waiting for the water truck.
Sunday morning finds women dressed in beautiful scarves waiting for someone to gather them up for a day somewhere else. People mill around and stop to talk. The village is surviving as it probably always has. The site of the slum is owned by a foreign country that talks of building an embassy someday but until then generations are born and live their entire life inside its walls.
|Tuk Tuk driver
|Proof of the Tuk Tuk ride.
Here in Mahal 1 across the street life is very different. A fence separates it from the real world. That fence is topped with barbed wire (because of monkeys?) and guards check everyone that goes out or comes in. I find that in my mind the line between those two worlds is blurred...until I approach the gate and come under scrutiny. So close yet so far. I have to remind myself that I am a tourist and that at home we have a system not unlike India's.
Here in the house I am never alone. A cat named BOO and two dogs keep me company. Two teens come and go. The oldest will graduate next week (hence my visit). A cook comes some mornings. A cleaner comes all week days. Gardeners clip and others clean the gates so they shine. A man comes to walk the dog and a man comes to water the plants inside as well. Every surface is dusted and scrubbed with infinite care.
I am told these people are very proud of their jobs and they have jobs that are coveted by others. The idea that a job is so precious reminds me of the privilege we in the United States are blessed with.
Yes, we have gone out to eat and shop a bit. My son and his wife walk or run to parks and restaurants when the weather permits. Their children are busy with their school life. The whole family is thriving I think.
See, in this place, life is complicated so for me without my husband I do not feel free to wander about as I would do with him. I do feel safe but it is very hot night and day so there is that. But, having said that, I want you to know that I get so much pleasure out of each day un-pressured and relaxed. Watching the world go by is not such a bad thing! I will go back to Oregon on June 1.
Where are you today?