According to my computer is 12 degrees outside. It's 11:25, so around mid-day, and it's quite a lot colder early morning, evening and of course at night. Westerners may laugh because it is a lot colder where you are of course, but well - I guess I must be de-habituating myself to being cold somehow. And mostly, our Indian houses are poorly prepared for the cold, understandably when it's only that cold for about three weeks of the year, round here. Still, right now in a poorly isolated house where as soon as I step out of my room I'm in an open yard (or sort of) and where of course there is no heating, I don't go home to any comfortable warmth. The stone floor of my room is freezing. I don't have many warm clothes so I can just alternate between two pairs of trousers, and I kind of wear all the warm clothes I do have at all times. I'm constantly wearing one or two jumpers, a scarf, and at night I still have my two jumpers underneath my blankets. But it's ok. I do put on more clothes as long as I feel cold, unlike many Indians. I am very grateful for the tank of boiling water downstairs, from which I feel my bucket before taking any shower. Oh, and I'm very glad to have invested in a thermos; for I mostly drink my water hot; it's great to warm myself up, especially at night. Mostly, it's just a lot more bearable than 48 degree temperatures anyway!!!
Many Indian women and girls still only wear their thin kurta/pajama suit with just an extra jumper and perhaps a scarf on their heads. Many Indians still go out in sandals with no socks, only covering themselves in a shall or small blanket. I don't know how they cope, frankly. Many don't do it just because they don't have the money to get any more clothes, I don't think. They still look cold and I don't know why they put on more clothes or at least socks. But I have asked some women why they don't wear socks, and they just don't like wearing socks. Is the discomfort less bearable than the cold? I find it a little odd, but then of course I've been wearing socks most of my life, and it's ok for my female image to wear masculine trousers, or something.
It became cold pretty suddenly. And I think the cold will leave us suddenly, too. Before I went to Khajuraho, mid December, there was still some warming sun during the day. Then suddenly one day it was dull and grey during the day too. But it is even colder in Khajuraho. It was a shock when I got there, on 21 December. It was freezing on the train, because they are poorly isolated too; many windows don't close properly etc. I had a very small blanket only - perhaps next year I'll bring my sleeping bag - but is it worth it for one short month out of nine warm ones?
The Khajuraho house doesn't even have glass windows - the "holes" are covered in a plastic sheet only, so it's a lot colder inside too. Most evenings or when they sit for rest the family gathers around a small heater, hands spread over it to get warmer. When I arrived Vijay built a water heater, one wired thing you get at the bottom of a kettle. He tied up two thin metal plates onto a flat piece of wood with thread, and attached it to a wire. Indian Style! Not exactly conform to the British Health Care Commission that I had to follow so strictly at my old job, but it saved the family 250 rupees. Sometimes I like to call Vijay MacGyver. He is the king of DIY and home reparation. Amazing. So I could bucket-shower in hot(ish) water. But before that, the family always had cold showers. In that cold. Are they just less sensitive to temperature change? Since they sweat a lot less than me in excruciating heat? Or I guess they complain less than we comfort-addicted westerners do?
I had a lovely restful time in Khajuraho. As usual I enjoyed my calm and traffic-free days, and I didn't practise any violin. I did some Hindi only when I had nothing to do or nowhere to go to. We all had fun playing a lot of Rummikub. Vijay took me to Pipal Ghat, the bank of a river some 20 kilometres away from Khajuraho. It was so nice that a few days later we returned by rickshaw with all the family; we crossed the river on barks and had a picnic on the other side. We drank a lot of chai, sat on the house front watching life buffalos and goats pass as always. We said hello or pulled faces at the neighbouring children who, in even greater number everytime, shout "Vio!" whenever they take a peek at me. And I joined in taking daily Hindi dictation with the seven children who come to take after-school class with Vijay's sister every day.
On 30 December Vijay and I took a train back to Varanasi. I wanted to return on time for a violin concert of my Guruji on 31 December. It was magical as always, and lovely to see my "guru-brother" there again. We had a lovely quiet time in Varanasi. Now, Vijay left last night back to Khajuraho and I shall resume my studying routine. Hindi exams are coming up in less than two months now already, and I will have to seriously start memorising some facts from the texts I have been studying, like who is the wife of this god or that king, and when was this poet born, and other mythological facts. And that endless list of synonyms and antonyms... It's kind of daunting to me, because I have no memory for facts most of the time. But I guess I have time and it will be fine - of course, hey!
With love and light, and all my warm wishes to all for 2010.
A note on my three blogs
A note on my blogs
(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...
(2) sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!
(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.