Sunday, January 27, 2002
Very funny book that somebody happened to have left lying around here.
There are a lot of monkeys in the village. Don't look them in the eye or they go crazy and try to attack you. My colleagues keep a cricket bat with them at all times (altho actually spanking the monkeys is inadvisable). I meanwhile I have been taking notes so I can later perfect my 'monkey dance'.
Republic Day (2): What's big clotheswise in India? Blazers, neat 'taches and flopy hair, slacks, loafers. David Niven would be revered here. People do keep themselves tidy under trying conditions so I have had standards to maintain. Yesterday this involved sitting down in roadside shack where a 14 year old attacked my head with a cutthroat razor and a pair of pinking shears. The end result was quite fetching.
Republic Day (1): Yesterday was Republic Day. So all the school children marched round the village in a parade and then performed some cute musical numbers on a makeshift stage. And no just the children. Us foreign visitors (2 Brits and a Swiss) got to sing a song. I bet most of you have never hear 'We Shall Overcome' in Hindi, eh?
Notes on Indian education: been doing some informal convrsational English classes with some of the students. The school syllabus in India is like the UK 30 years ago. Learning by rote, memorising answers to questions - all Gradgrind-style facts, facts, facts. Very little imagination or creativity encouraged. But also very, very competitive - not only for the academic exams but also for the entry exams for prestigious civil service posts. So students work hard(altho not always to great effect). There is also a fair bit of cheating. Tho it's not as bad as in the 70s when B.A. students would often take guns into exams and shot uppity invidulators.
Indian personal ads: Never mind GSOH, n/s, veg, WLTM, etc. Ads in Indian papers work differently. To begin with, it's 'matrimonals' and they're posted by parents seeking 'alliances' for their beloved offspring. They generally state religion/caste, then move onto the educational achievements and salaries of the wouldbe-spouse. For women, height is always given/specified. And, of course, they must be 'fair' and 'most beautiful'.
Okay. Made the journey from Amurpurkashi (the village where I am staying) to Moradabad by jeep today. Last week, our driver ran over some one and then sped off. Indian driving ain't pretty.
Saturday, January 19, 2002
Sugar cane: You break away the greenish bark with your molars until you have a whitish spear of the soft core exposed. Then you chew. Think wooden gobstoppers.
Train journeys. Everybody piles in. I saw one guy wedged in a luggage rack. Every so often the train stops and guys wander round selling hot tea in urns or peanuts or socks. You see mud huts next to Escher-style concrete villages. Landscapes that could from England but for the banana trees. Rows of people calmly crapping in fields. Armies of buffalo dung cakes drying in the sun.
I have been given some clerical tasks at the project involving computer. Well, when there isn't a power cut that is. Fortunatey there will be an election in a couple of weeks so apparently there'll be fewer of them for a while. Such is political largesse.
Laalgadger. This is my email address and is Cumbrian dialect for 'short bloke'. It also sounds like the Hindi for red carrot. Which is odd, cause here carrots are red. Bright, florescent red like a little subterranean glow sticks.
Driving in India: Unhinged. You see entire families clustered on top of mopeds. In the UK, use of the horn is reserved for informing another driver you wish them and their family dead. Here it merely means "hi, I'm here. Do not drive into me."
The good news:
Rural India is ace. My chapati/curry addiction is coming into its own. People very friendly. Learning Hindi a priority.
First the bad news:
Delhi: Truly, it is crap. Pollution equates to a 20 a day cig habit. Touts everywhere. Hmmm.
This is coming to you straight from Moradabad - a town in UP.
Thursday, January 10, 2002
I have now left work. Been free of meat (and booze) for nearly 2 weeks in preparation for the coming days of austerity. Of the two, meat is harder to kick. Also started the malarial medication - with no apparently side effects so far. May be that three-week trek in Kashmir I booked wasn't so wise after all...
The next post will be from Delhi.