Monday, March 27, 2017

Fashion in India….

I never got the memo that girls don’t wear salwar suits anymore. The trend is still kurti and slacks, that started 3 years ago.  And now there is the kurti and planko…oops plazo…what the heck! It’s this really just old fashioned pajamas. The kurtis on it are really really long, and the pajamas are really really wide! One looks like they are wearing a sack. It can be a good look for really tall and thin girls.  I don’t think its for me at all.

And then there is the “lowers” – again pajama! No girl wears a gown anymore. All these “lowers” are not in sync with the “uppers”. So T-shirts are really popular now.  This is the normal nightwear and casual wear.  Girls wear this all the time. 

I think being in Dev Sanskriti Vishv Vidyalay really protected me from all this fashion.  All girls were always wearing suits/uniforms when outside hostel. But in Subharti, everything is allowed. The girls here are quite different – jeans and capris are all worn here. It’s a different atmosphere.  I never got to see all these fashion trends in so much detail before. 

The party wear is wearing kurti and lehnga/skirt – really long kurti. Which looks good only in a party. I see that the long kurtis are quite in fashion. On the other hand, all the uniforms the girls wear have such short kurtis on salwars. Go figure…the old normal is gone. 

The guys are usually the worst dressed. They don’t even look good in uniforms sometimes. The non uniform clothes that men wear are just strange looking pants and shirts. They also have the sweat pants/tracksuit kind of pants, which is good when you are actually on the track. But young men here wear anything. The colors are dull and just not attractive. There are some professors I have seen who wear somewhat smart clothes but otherwise – not really. 

And then there is the beard! What is with this new unshaven look in young men. So uncivilized or so lazy?  

I sometimes feel that I am from some foregone era…there is no place for me in this new India.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sound Pollution

I am used to the peace and quiet of my home in my neighborhood. India is full of noise.  All senses are alert anyways but sound is something that everyone ignores – actually, I think in India, everyone ignores every pollution.  And after living abroad for so long, these things bother me and I wonder why they don’t bother Indians in India.  Trash is the biggest polluting factor. But today I want to address sound pollution.

As soon as I come to India, and am out of the airport, the first thing I hear is all the honking. That is the most common pollutant the whole time. As soon as I am on the road, it is just honking – whether it’s the scooter, the car or even a bicycle! It’s just too annoying.  The pedestrian really is the last on the totem pole to get a right to be on the road.

I also noticed that people here shout a lot.  They yell out rather than walking a few steps closer.

When I stayed at the hotel in Ginger in Delhi, I checked in around 11 pm and went to bed about 12 am. But there were people outside in the hallway speaking loud and playing music. After 30 mins of it, I had to call the reception. 

At mausaji’s place, Banwari and family get up around 6:30 am and start making noise in the kitchen – all utensils playing music. Although after that there is not much noise. I can sleep peacefully.

At mamaji’s place, there is a mosque and a temple competing for people’s attention at 4 am!! Oh god! Yes – I do think of God at that hour and pray that he would tell these idiots to stop waking people up.

And then at chachiji’s place they get up at 6:30 am and work around in the kitchen, washing dishes, making tea.  I cannot really blame them, they have to get to work by 7:00 am. But there are some dogs outside the building complex. At night, the dogs would bark. So there goes the night!

And now that I am staying in the hostel there are issues here also. There are the dogs which bark at night. But then, it’s the ladies that drive me crazy! The ladies working during the night and early morning love to talk. And they talk like they are the only ones in the hostel – we don’t exist or we don’t sleep here. They move furniture, they shout out each other’s names. That is the one thing that has really bothered me about staying here.  Initially I was able to sleep but lately I have not been able to sleep and its really affecting me.

At the college, the students don’t know how to keep quiet.  They talk in the class, they talk in the hallways.  They swarm around me in the class like bees. Its claustrophobic. I just hate all the noise in the background. And then there are the two faculty colleagues who keep talking constantly while they are there.  The only time I get peace and quiet there is when one of them is in class. 

So really – there is not much peace for travelers like me.  Well…until I get home.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Socializing in India

One of the things about coming to India is the social aspect.  Every time I come to India, I get to meet new people, learn about their life, make friends and then part. Sometimes we keep in touch, sometimes not.  Friendship is a two-way street. 

Here in Subharti, I have been able to keep myself socially active. Much more than what I would be in USA.  I am able to make friends in USA also, but sometimes it just feels superficial. Or maybe I have a different frame of mind here.  Or maybe it’s the language that binds us.  I don’t know.  Although I have made some nice foreign friends also in India while I was in DSVV. Maybe it’s just that I am relaxed and I have more time to talk to people.

My first friend I made was the girl who recharges the phone. My BLU phone was having trouble with the internet and she, and her brother in law, spent so much time in figuring out what was wrong with it. I was really grateful because I really needed the internet to use it as a hotspot for my computer. The next day I took her some Hershey’s as a thank you. And then we became friends.  She is quite sweet, and very nice. Her husband also sits in the same shop. I felt comfortable enough to ask them to bring some stuff for me (candy!). And they did – so sweet. I routinely go and see her during my evening walks.

Then I got to know the warden of the hostel. I had gone to see the Nivedita hostel and even though I had seen the rooms, the ladies working there said I should meet the warden. I was happy to. And we talked and she showed me this room, where I am staying now in Rani Durgawati and as they say – the rest is history.  We hit it off – she had no one to socialize with and I was, of course, new.  We routinely meet to go for walks, we have been shopping together and meet regularly. It’s nice to know she is there. The only problem is that being a warden is a 24-7 job, which for me sometimes is not suitable because I am free after 4 pm and on Sundays, whereas she is not. But still – a friend.

When I moved into the hostel, the first day, I met another young lady. She is going to college here to finish her MPhil in Education. She works part time at the hostel. very nice young woman – has the best smile and temperament I have seen in a long time. She is always in a good mood. I see her every day and we talk a bit and some days we have had a longer discussion on things. She has a very promising future.

And then there are my colleagues. One of them and I get along really well – we go for tea together. The only issue I have felt with her is that it is hard for me to get a word in the conversation and she speaks too fast! I have to be totally alert to talk to her.  The rest of the two women faculty are quite friendly with each other and one of them especially stays away from me. Don’t know why. Although she will reply my questions, but does not initiate conversation. That’s okay – I don’t mind it, but it just seems odd that she sticks with just this one faculty the whole time.

I, of course, had no idea when and who I would meet….for me whatever happens is good. After my first experience in India at Shantikunj, I have become more patient and have a good humor about everything that happens in India. The best part is that everything temporary, nothing is permanent. Even life is not permanent. What is the point of living and not enjoying all aspects of it? Even at the absurdity of life! What is the point of getting angry? Happiness is the key to life. And after living alone I have learned to find happiness within myself. There is no one else! I also don’t want to intrude into people’s lives, nor do I want their mess in my life.

I am grateful for anyone comes into my life without their personal dramas.  I cherish every new friendship and hope it lasts….

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SU - One month later

As my time at SU is coming closer to an end, I am feeling tiredness coming along.  My teaching load went from one full class to two full classes and just this week an addition of three labs in the morning.  The problem is not that I have two classes; the problem is that I have to prep for them. For one of them – the Biotech class is getting to more inorganic – and that part of chemistry is soooo boring. I am not enjoying teaching it and so consequently it’s hard for me to keep the students engaged. Those silly reactions that no one is going to use or remember are driving me crazy!

The other class is fine – its organic, but I still have to look over the material since the syllabus is slightly different here. And I am not happy that I cannot use my power point for spectroscopy.  How will the students learn if they don’t see what a spectrum looks like? And in this day and age, there are no accessible computers in this university. What the h%$#!! And now I have to start teaching Solutions? I cannot believe their syllabus is so messed up. How can you have organic and physical chemistry all in one semester?

And then this week, I was assigned three more labs in the morning. Since two faculty are now gone, each person has had to take in more than their share of load.  When I went to teach the lab this week I found out that the students have done only two labs! Just about two months and only two labs? What the h$%#!! So, I quickly did a qualitative analysis with them. The lab tech helped very nicely in getting the chemicals – but no pipettes! What the h#%$! I cannot believe I am teaching in this expensive university which is equipped even poorly than my college 35 years ago! I pity the students. I don’t know why they come here – it’s possible other places are worse? Or do they know what they are missing? I don’t know.

Since last week the HOD has been on and off. She says she is not feeling well – who would? With the stuff going on, it would give anyone stress. I am all tired out.  What is even more tiring is how the administration is behaving, as if losing two faculty is not a big deal. I am here only temporarily – on 10th April, these poor faculty will have two lectures and three more labs to accommodate. Then what? And really – why am I given so much to teach? I don’t even work here!!

Luckily next week is their mid-term exams, so I will get some time off. Hopefully I will not get examination duty anywhere. I just have to grade papers for my class. Which, the organic one is too large, if all the students take the exam! Not fair. But after that, I only have one week left. Then it is fun fun fun for six weeks before I start at Capital. And teaching at Capital is not bad at all. I will be back in States, in my usual elements.

This week has been particularly tiring….hope it ends soon.