It’s Friday night, October 30, the day before Halloween. My husband is asleep now. As I sit at the table preparing tomorrow morning’s post, I hear the background noise from five floors up: dogs snarling, growling, barking and fighting, horns honking, some other blaring noise, children laughing and squealing and those shots (the ones that sound like guns) we often hear. I’ve never found out what they are.
Earlier, around 5:00pm I heard the screeching and deep guttural growls. The view from my study window made my stomach turn. It was the monkeys again. The pure number, their high-pitched screams, like a fingernail running a long, long way down a chalkboard. And those noises coming from way down deep, I can see in my head the baring of their teeth. The fighting, the chasing, tree boughs bending as they jump among the trees, the viewfinder on my camera unable to take them all in as they walk in a line on the ledge. It’s too much to take. I’m petrified, just seeing them from the 5th floor window makes me want to scream.
The anniversary of my divorce was yesterday; I can’t remember how long it’s been. Ten years? Twelve? So proud and grateful for my journey back to sanity and all I’ve accomplished on my own. And now, this, a new marriage and India. I’d thought I’d make it back to really living again, but something like this never entered my mind.
It’s been some kind of day. An hour ago we returned from Heritage Hospital, literally a couple blocks down the road. One of my husband’s colleagues in WA has a sister who’s in the ICU there. The woman had been traveling in India, got severe food poisoning followed by septic shock, her life, for a while, on the line. Seems the bugs can be brutal here. I spoke on the phone to the Indian docs in the ICU, not something I’d ever imagined would happen in my nursing career. The young woman’s prognosis after a couple of days, better, thank God. This weak and sick woman I’ve never met was craving applesauce. My husband peeled the apples, I did the rest. A gift given via one of the woman’s travel friends. Coincidence we were down the road? Just how small is our world?
Not to be a whiner, but to be transparent and document my day, it’s been an awful one, a real bitch, as they say. Did I already say that? Last night we were in Sarnath for my husband’s class. The mosquitos thick as thieves. As I lay on the musty twin bed, they were buzz, buzz, buzzing in my ear, over and over and over again. With only a sheet for covers, I was freezing as well; it turned cool last night after a two-day rain.(Guess that’s better than Sarnath on Tuesday, though, when I covered myself with our one small, dingy grey towel). I folded the twin sheet lengthwise, thinking two layers were better than one. This only caused it to be too narrow to cover me up. I took turns, front side cold, then my back. Large, dark circles, puffy bags under my eyes, hair uncombed, no make-up, there’s no pretending I slept well. The (sometimes 30 minutes) trip back to Varanasi this morning, an hour and a half. Back in the flat, my teeth still felt clenched from all the jiggles and bumps, the potholes and near misses with the others on the road. Some of the bumps so hard that my face hit the side of the tuk-tuk, the pressure from my glasses hurting my face and nose. The dense, strong, smelly exhaust from the cars and mopeds burned my throat. And the mud on the streets. Ok, that’s enough. Decision made: no more Sarnath for me. (Unless it’s to meet someone like Anna and Malcolm again-Three Three’s Bads#1 Isolation).
I’ve learned a lot in the past thirty days. Half of it most likely already forgotten. Information and stimulus overload here in Varanasi. What I do remember, though:
Tumeric is good for you. It’s even used to ‘kill’ whatever’s in the buffalo milk served at the Nehru Guesthouse Dining Hall. The crabby old man who made me cry in the past told me so, just this morning.
That’s right, those milkmen, at night, they deliver high-fat water buffalo, not cow milk, in those stainless steel cans. That same crabby man let me know cow’s milk is much more expensive and a rarity to boot. As I think of this, I’m reminded of my walks down the road with the water buffalo again.
And I learned even more about cows. Despite the fact they are holy, they are sometimes shoved and hit with sticks and rocks. And I did practice patience that time I was eyeing rocks to hit the boy in the back as he stoned and cornered that cream-colored young cow.
Patience. It’s still a virtue and one I’ve yet to claim. I’ve needed very large doses of it to continue with my Three Three’s Goods #3, being faithful and blogging every single day. My only hope is that when I leave this place in 7 more months, I’ll have the patience of a saint.
The employees at Vodaphone can be crooks. They let us pay for tons of GB’s then used them themselves, causing us so much damn stress, worrying about Internet connections and our work. Greg, at the store four or five times, big bucks spent, that three-hour ordeal, the long walk in the hot sun, to find out my MAC was not, indeed to blame, but rather, corruption in India. Again.
It’s not worth it to accompany my husband to Sarnath. Mosquitos, the (now) cold nights, poor sleep, the draining drive back and forth. And the sadness I’ve felt twice not finding Pippa or Twila there. From here on out, welcome, nice hotel!
Blogging is hard work. Doing it when tired (which is most of the time) does not work so well. I feel stressed with my self-imposed deadlines, it takes an enormous amount of my day and night. Yet, despite these facts, the process and then the finished product I absolutely love; it adds so much to my life. And as my Daddy would say, ‘hard work is good for you.’
I need to take care of myself, this place is aging me. A lot. Most things take so much work, the difficulties with the Internet, frequent stress and fears, cold dishwater and showers, lack of sleep, the filth, poverty and sometimes awful and monotonous food, the constant drainage in my throat, the dust, always in my eyes, the sweaty smell in my hair. I need a plan for good self-care and need it soon! (ALL SUGGESTIONS WELCOME) At times I wonder if the (soon-to-be) addition of a heavy writing course will not be a blessing, but rather a curse.
India does not disappoint. There’s always something happening on a road, down a narrow alley or on the Ganga. But sometimes what I see, I may want to forget. The skinned carcass of a goat hanging in a butcher shop, his pretty little head on display for all to see. He was a beautiful little guy, gorgeous red-brown fur, golden eyes. The ‘chicken place’, where boys gather to watch behind a drape as heads are chopped off.
I’ve learned to make applesauce. It’s a really nice little treat.
And lastly, tomorrow is, and always will be, a new day.