Monday, January 5, 2015

After a month in India

It doesn't seem like it's been a month. I guess that's a good thing, right?

The first few days were a whirlwind. And I started learning, everything is a lie.

It was a scary thing arriving here. All the scary stories you hear and not knowing which way is what; I stayed wide awake when I finally found the driver with my name card. Typical of India, we stopped to drop off a sandwich for a friend and pick up some juice before getting to the apartment. When we finally pulled into the apartment complex in the middle of the night at 5 in the morning I was so relieved, although oddly so, by the presence of a white girl in short shorts and a tank top waltzing by with grocery bags in her hands. I was relived she was there because I knew I'd must been taken to the right spot, but what in the world was a white girl in skimpy clothes doing shopping that early in the morning?! I found out later she was just dropped off from a shoot and the bags had her stuff.

The apartment is a three bedroom but only two of us are here and my roommate works away often so it's frequently just my place :) It's not a nice place though, but it works. There is a cold water clothes washer, a tv, wifi, medium size fridge, two burner portable stove and a cold water single basin sink :)  I also get a room to myself with a bathroom, minus a sink..not sure how that happened.

Outside is a Catholic church which rings bells and holds weddings and events and a lot of local village people live on the beach just opposite the cricket field so even as I type this at 11:30, I can't hear the tv over the marching band or whatever noise producing source is outside. On the bright side, at least it's not a dead neighborhood :)

I continued to learn that everything is a lie though.

I spent the first couple of days completely immersed learning Bollywood tunes for my first show just a few days after I arrived. Literally, it was only a couple days and I was put out on stage to play my first show. Unfortunately, playing with backing tracks, I only had four tunes learned by then so I had to supplement with a lot of classical. It was not a big hit, but several of the people working sound complimented me on what I had learned so fast. In about a week I had another show booked for three solid days. I had been working day and night and had about 14-16 songs by then so I was feeling good to go. When it was time to perform my manager told me to start off with some slow classical. That was apparently not the best advice since I was told to cut it after two songs and then reprimanded by the head honcho of the whole shebang about playing sad songs. When I went to go back on stage, set with more upbeat Bollywood songs, I got shut down again, although this time for the establishment not having an international performer license. Not sure what all happened, but I didn't perform more than those first two songs for the entire three days. I've since performed one event in Delhi which was received quite well because I was prepared with good Bollywood tunes :)

Getting used to India has been interesting. The food is tasty :)  That part I like. The shopping is remarkably terrible. Experienced at haggling in Mexico, I expected to be able to haggle here, but the store owners won't even bother. There are so many other white people suckers that it's not worth it to them to haggle down to a decent price with me. And by decent, I mean still overcharged, just not more than 100% over charge. I'm learning who to take with me and where to go and what to say so they'll even consider the haggle, although it doesn't always work and works less often than it does.

Did I mention that I'm still learning that absolutely every single thing is a lie?

Something I was completely unprepared for was the public groping, er, frisking, to get into large public places. It's still really awkward, disgusting and vile in every way. I'm working on trying to find a different, more positive emotion to the procedure...

It's filthy here, as everyone who's ever been or seen a tv or read a magazine article knows. It really is dirty beyond belief. It's like being at the beach with all the sand, but without all the surf :(

No, that's not a henna tattoo. That's dirt and yes, I was wearing sandals all day!!

The people are really nice and it is absolutely true...don't trust a thing anyone says. I mean it. Not one single thing. It's hard to wrap my head around how nice people are and yet how I can't trust anyone.

I am having fun figuring it all out though. Sometimes it's difficult, and sometimes it's scary, but it stretches me in every way. And as hard as it is and as much as it hurts, I like it because it's how I grow. It's how I become a stronger person, a smarter person, a more complete person. Still working on getting a working phone sim card. Still figuring out the company here. Still working out how to get things and how not to be taken advantage of because I'm a white girl. Still working on how to stay on and enjoy the roller coaster ride that is daily life here.

This picture well represents the roller coaster ride. Happy and sad. You never know which emotion is around the corner.

It's just all a big fat lie.

Getting everywhere takes forever. Not like LA forever where you creep along, but where you surge and stop, surge and stop. Besides the lack of shocks and the dust in your face, rickshaws are actually rather fun. And you get places faster than in cars, because they're smaller :) Yes, it's true. There are no traffic lanes and even when driving directions are separated by concrete you will still see bicycles and mopeds going the wrong way on the other side of the road. Transportation is quite the sport here. Speaking of which, I have taken a train. During rush hour is when you see people hanging so far off the trains I wonder how they don't crash into other buildings and trains when they pass by. I've been fortunate enough to take the train outside of rush hour, except once. That was certainly an experience. Let's just say I'm very glad to be tall and a lot stronger than I look. There were a lot of surprised and very angry Indian women who didn't get on the train because of me. I even have the scars to prove it. Btw, those women are vicious!

The mosquitoes here are just as vicious as the women. The bites are similar to Alaskan mosquito bites but they spread farther instead of raising higher. They still itch just as fiercely!!!

This picture is a week old mosquito bite. Imagine what it was like when it was new!

A downside to being in India is that my nights end far too early. Being a musician I like being out until the wee hours of the morning but here, I'm up, but definitely will be catching up on a lot of tv series. The other productive use of my time will be to continue learning Hindi. I've started just a couple days ago and I now know three Hindi vowels and can read and write them! I'm looking forward to adding another language to my arsenal. Maybe not fluently, but at least I can read and write and will know a few words.

Adventures have happened and are happening still. I'll write another entry soon depicting my day and I'll also share some small tidbits along the way if I can keep them all in my memory :)

But it's just all a lie anyway...

So check back. Now that I'm getting into the rhythm of things more, I will be able to carve out time to blog better and keep you all abreast and entertained!