Friday, June 16, 2006


I am a grouch today. And here is why. Or part of why.

I have a pants problem. You know they sell all of these clothes on the street here in Bombay. They are very cheap.

I have bought the same basic pair of pants four times in different colors: deep plum, scrubs blue, khaki, and dusty blue. They are for the most part horrible (the scrubs are okay). They are tapered and bulky in the pockets and just in general the pits. But I've been going for something obviously that I was hoping at least one of these pairs of pants would achieve. Breezy cottony trousers that I could wear in casual situations and probably also while teaching (since I sit on the floor so much during teaching). But none of these pants really fit the bill. The scrubs pants would if I didn't just feel like I was in my pajamas while wearing them.

So today I ventured out in the scrubs pants for the first time. I'll usually just wear them around the room or down to dinner. But this morning I was just going out to this cyber cafe about 5 or 10 minutes from the Y so I could type out a response to my first couple of weeks here for my host organization to read.

I got there and all was in chaos; they seemed to be revamping their whole network. So they told me to come back in a half an hour. I decided it would be dumb to walk home again, so I thought I would just walk down the road for 15 minutes and then 15 minutes back. On this little jaunt, which I did not want to take because I've been sick, I discovered that these pants are exceedingly HOT. I was quite miserable. Plus I walked by one of the most horrible stenches I have ever encountered. I think people were cleaning out fish right next to poultry cages. It was horrible horrible horrible, but it lasted only about 20 yards.

I also came upon some very skinny, sad kittens with their mother surveying me menacingly from under a motor scooter; a few rather lovely cows; and many interesting little shops. That is one thing I've decided I love about Bombay: the visibility of the many professions. We in the U.S. don't get much chance to see the intricacies of key making or shoe repair, but here these businesses are out in plain view on the street. In fact, one of the things that has been frequently running through my head since I got here is a line from my favorite English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins: "And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim..../He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change" (from "Pied Beauty"). And of course another pair of his lines, from "God's Grandeur" fit very well too: "And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; / And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell."

At any rate, I got back to the place and they let me type out my response but then it turned out there was no way for me to get it off the computer: their printer was not hooked up and they didn't seem to want to hook it up for me; the internet was not working, so I couldn't email it to myself; and every time I tried to save my document to a disk, the computer froze. Meanwhile, I was growing later and later for my 11 o'clock meeting. When it became 10:45, I finally left. I had worn my horrid outfit in part to get myself out of the cyber cafe in a timely manner. I thought that the prospect of wearing it out in the city would be enough of a horror that I would get back to my room in time to change. Apparently I care that little for my physical appearance.

So I got to my meeting 15 minutes late without my response to turn in. All was fine though, except that I was still dreadfully hot because of these bad pants. But then we walked to this fabulous Irani restaurant and I got even hotter. I was so grumpy I could barely enjoy lunch. When we got back to the office, they announced we would have to stuff invitations into envelopes for their big event. This made me very grumpy because I just wanted to go home and take off these dreadful pants (which got very wet in a surprise downpour on the way back from lunch). So me and one of the other girls escaped to this other cyber cafe (the invites hadn't arrived from the printer quite yet) and I'm still here and am bad and don't want to go help. I'm so hot and grumpy and just want to be alone. This is my first truly grumpy day in Bombay and I'd much rather spend it alone (and for those of you who know me, it's for sure no one else wants to be around me on one of my grumpy days). I just want to go to a nice air conditioned movie theater and eat ice cream and watch Clive Owen rob a bank (this is what we did last night).

I guess I should be writing about my daily experiences with the fabulous children I teach. This sort of thing is I'm sure infinitely more interesting than rambling on and on about a bad-pants-induced bad day. Basically, the teachers here are very strict and unsmiling and whereas, again for those of you who know me, I am capable of strictness and unsmilingness, these are not qualities I admire in myself or anyone else. I would much rather let the beast sleep, but I worry that the other teachers will lable me ineffectual. I guess I shouldn't care so much about that.

Here is one thing: it is very difficult to teach 15 young children in half a very small classroom with another class going on in the room at the same time. I get a little freaked out by the chaos. Plus the room is really echoey and there are always other children running around and yelling in the halls outside so I can barely hear my extremely soft-spoken pupils. And I know they are still getting used to my accent, and they probably also think that since I smile a lot I am a pushover so they are not very obedient. Ah well. They are truly fabulous and they are just kids like kids anywhere. Some are very loud and bad (in an endearing way) and some are very conscientious and want to please.

In my afternoon class, I am not the main teacher, which is better in a lot of ways, and there is a boy I absolutely adore. He is really quiet and nerdy looking and he tends to sit by himself. I had tried talking to him before and he didn't really respond, so I assumed he just didn't know English as well as the other kids. But then I did a reading assessment with him, and he did a very good job. It must be my accent. There's another kid who is straight fabulous. He came bursting into the classroom the first day, full of bravado, and shook my hand and asked me how I was doing and what my name was. When I ask him to do something he doesn't want to do, he gets this very appealing look on his face and says, in the most irresistible little whine"No, didi(sister--that's what the kids call us)! No!" I love this kid.

Well. I guess that's about all. I like Bombay. I miss my cats. I dream of Salt Lake.


At June 16, 2006 8:13 AM, Blogger see-k-tee said...

I KNOW I have a blog. I KNOW you have a blog. But I forget abt them and I find myself wondering--why haven't I heard from my bad pants wearing friend since she left? And then I remember the blog. I miss you and I miss your grumpy days and I am so so so so delighted that you are in a place that you might call "dreamy!"

At June 16, 2006 1:05 PM, Blogger lily said...

I have officially changed my opinion-- I think you should just wear Mumu's everyday, then you would totally avoid the problem of pants altogether. Of course we all want to hear about your bad times as well as good. It is good to hear from you at all, I miss you!!! I was just thinking about last summer when you were here the whole time, it was such a blast. I can't wait to see you in August... I am getting your room ready! But for now you are having amazing experiences, and I will not wish the time to go by faster than it is....Please find yourself some better pants! It hurts to hear you feeling so forlorn!

At June 16, 2006 8:43 PM, Blogger Saroo said...

Oh Lolly! Can I just say how much I love the internet!!! There would be no other way for me to find out about all the creepy cats in India, or the children (well, just the one child) that was just about to crawl into on coming traffic, or all the stinky fish in the fish market... unless the internet was here, and it is! I am so glad to hear that you are in Bombay and are mostly enjoying yourself. I totally agree with Lily... if the pants are too dang hot then don the Mumu! I have a house coat that Mike's parents gave me for christmas if you want me to send that to you. ;) I am also looking forward to your coming here in August... Lily promised Terri and I, that we would all get together while you are here. I am holding you all to that! I miss you guys a whole heckuallot!

At June 17, 2006 1:24 PM, Blogger lily said...

I wuz just thinking about the partay we are going to have at my house when Lolly gets back...Its gonna be great! Also, I read your blog all the time but I am not good at commenting.. keep it up-- yours is one of my favorite blogs to read! Besides yours of course, lolly!

At June 19, 2006 7:32 AM, Blogger Terri said...

I find it amazing that you are in Bombay teaching little kids. That must be incredibly fulfulling. You in a mumu... I couldn't agree more with Luhz, you should do the mumu. Pants are always uncomf. in the hotness, and I can't imagine the hotness that exudes from the climate there.-Go mumu, for sure.
As for the little kid that went about to crawl into the street... Oh my heart about stopped beating when I read that. I wouldn't have known what to do either.
Yeesh, though. You are fabulous for your strength. I couldn't be there alone without me home and familiarities that surround me here.
Keep it up though!
You are already making a difference to those little kidlettes there, whethere you think so or not!!!
LOVES))) Tedder***

At June 20, 2006 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing more grouch-inducing than being hot...and anytime one's pants aren't right, even without the hotness, it is miserable. THE WRONG TROUSERS. I feel as though much of my life has been spent in the wrong trousers...hmmm...mumu...

At June 20, 2006 10:48 AM, Anonymous criz said...

Hey that previous "anonymous" was me, Criz. Sumpin musta gone wrong. Anyway, it gives me the chance to also say - hi Laura! hope all is well and you have recovered from the pants-from-hell.


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