Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Cherries (Aliyah!)

Sigh. Still here in Chennai, at Bhoomi’s “closet”. The apartment has a long and complicated story attached, involving a military lottery and a contractor who ran off with the money and invested it in prawn farms, that would probably infuriate Jagannathanji if he knew the half of it. There’s not much here -- no phone, few cooking facilities, but there is a collection of books and Krishnammal has yet another closet full of saris. (I once tried to figure out how many she has, but couldn’t. There are at least a few dozen, some of which she has probably owned since before I was born, almost all hand-me-downs from Sathya.)

Jagannathan is currently telling his stories of struggles to another elderly man, who is collecting them and writing them down. I really wish I could understand, but he’s speaking in Tamil. Krishnammal has been in meetings and discussions with government officials dealing with rural development. Sathya has come a few times, once bringing her dog, Tipu, a hyperactive, white, long-haired spitz named after a famous sultan.

We are on the fourth floor (what in India is called the third floor) so we’re too high up for mosquitoes, but the traffic noise sounds day and night. There hasn’t been too much for me to do but read, as I can’t understand any of the meetings, and I feel, frankly, out of the loop.

Sathya brought cherries this morning. I have no idea where she bought them, but I’m happy, since I missed the cherry season at home. Hopefully there will be peaches and blackberries when I get back. I love mangoes and bananas and all the food here, but I’ve been thinking longingly of good, wheat-flour bread. I’ve been watching people make sambar, so maybe I’ll have a better idea of how to make it myself when I get home.

This evening, I plan to go shopping for some presents, so I should make a list of what I need. I don’t mind shopping in India as much as I do in the U.S., but it’s still not one of my favorite activities. I have never understood spending money as a form of entertainment. I like looking at things, but I don’t particularly care for buying them, and I am definitely frugal to a fault. I have to constantly remind myself of the exchange rate here.



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