This has been a trying week. We moved into our house on Monday, but we had numerous problems with the electricity and water that were only resolved yesterday. For four days straight I had to haul buckets of water back to our house just so we could flush our toilets. Dishes and laundry were piling up and Jessica was getting understandably upset.
Part of this had to do with the fact that it’s a brand new house, but part of it is that getting people to come to the house and fix stuff is an uphill battle. There’s a language barrier, which is entirely my fault. Although I’ve studied some Hindi, I’m still a beginner and the Hindi I’ve studied is of a more formal style, much different than the street Hindi that most of the laborers speak. I feel badly about this. Although English is the official language of India, Hindi is much more widely spoken in the north. The burden is on me to get my language skills in better shape. But I’m working on it by myself and planning to hire a tutor soon. I can’t reasonably expect to be fluent in nine months, but I do want to be able to read the newspaper and converse with our milk man, who is really a sweet soul.
But the other problem with getting stuff fixed is partly a cultural issue. Akhilesh complains about this constantly. The work ethic here is often just not as intense as it is in first-world countries. (Although in some areas like with my teachers it is incredibly intense.) There are a lot reasons for this, and it’s a complex problem. I try not to get frustrated. The key is to just flow with things and smile.
Despite the setbacks with getting the house settled, it was a productive week artistically. I had several voice lessons with Umakantji and Ramakantji and I’m making good progress. I’m working on Ragas Todi and Gauweri right now.
I’ve also learned how to ride a motorcycle in India! We’re living about 18 kilometers (about 11 miles I think) from the Gurukul. Rickshaws are too expensive to take every time I want to commute for lessons (which I do every other day), so Akhilesh is renting me his Honda motorbike. It’s easy to ride since there are no gears to shift, but riding in India is TOTALLY different than the U.S. Cows, goats, dogs, rickshaws, pedestrians, motorcycles, large trucks, buffalo, vegetable stalls, pedal bikes, and other things all jostle for space on the roads. The main road I take is pretty smooth, but still it’s a whole other level. It’s a lot like a video game. I can see it now: India Commute!
One interesting thing I’ve noticed culturally is that people on the road aren’t exactly polite as everyone is madly tooting their horns and trying to get ahead of one another, but they are very calm. I haven’t seen one single instance of road rage. There’s much more smiling and flowing. That being said, I wear a helmet and ride very carefully!
I’ve had to adjust my expectations with my endurance sports. I thought maybe I could do the commute by pedal bike and keep up my cycling passion, but that just isn’t a reality here. The roads are too crazy and the sidewalks are not functional. Fortunately the secure campus we live in has a decent gym, so I’ll just do that for the year. It will be a year of extended rest from the training, and I’ll focus on my family and my music.