The Help -This one is a true life story as well


In India, there are all kinds of “helps”. You have the maid who will come home and clean your house for you and wash your clothes and do the dishes, etc. Then you have the watchman who will also sometimes hail cabs for you or wash your car, and so on. You also have the “kachrawali” (the one who collects the trash everyday), the driver (whose sole purpose is to drive you around), the massage lady (who will come to your home and give your infant an oil massage), and so on. The list is endless and the needs plenty, as we in India, enjoy and expect a certain level of domestic help in our lives. It is not even a status symbol, to be honest. It is part and parcel of the Indian culture and lifestyle.

However, as one can and should expect, not all helps are reliable.  I would like to propose 3 kinds of helps: the really greedy, conniving types, the hard working but manipulative types, and then you have the sincere kinds of help that never ever ask for money except for their salary.  Let’s take Type Number I: The conniving types. The kachrawali, who has been employed by the building since the last 35 years, is the most horrendous person I have ever met. Mos people in the building have only disdain for her. You may wonder, then, why she is still around. Apparently, it’s got to do with the fact that she is part of a state union and getting her out would be very painful for the tenants of the building. That is a story for another time. Over all the years I have been visiting Mumbai, I have always known her to be a greedy and scheming woman, trying to get people to give her money, sometimes even demanding it. As is the norm, when anyone in a lower strata knows that you are “baar gaon” (not from India), they will try to milk you and find all the possible reasons under the sun so that you can give them some dough (I am beginning to realize that this is almost a rite of passage or initiation for being a Mumbaikar). I have often not interacted with her and, on rare occasions, I have only smiled or asked her how her family is doing.

This time when I returned to Mumbai with my husband, whom she has never seen before, I saw a side of her that really infuriated me. As soon as she found out that I was in town, she marched her way to my building, came to my front door, and rang my door bell. I looked through the peephole and recognized that irritating face and very happily decided to ignore her. The next morning she rang my door bell – i did not wake up in time to keep the trash out so I could avoid any exchanges with her – and asked me how I was doing and I did the same and then she closed the conversation with the following, “I am so happy that you are back now.” I knew what was coming…

A few weeks later, my husband who puts the trash out in the mornings, was asked about my whereabouts every morning by the kachrawali, to which he would respond in a bland manner with, “She is resting”. On day 4, she finally had the nerve to inform my husband that the couple who lived in the flat before us gave her Rs.100. My husband listened and when she found not much of a positive response from him, she immediately demanded the money. My husband said, “We’ll see.”

Day 5 and I wake up in time to put the trash outside my door to avoid ANY interaction with the woman. A pat on my back for making the effort to get up early and have a cuppa a joe and slip into the morning routine. All this came to a grinding halt when I heard the door bell. I knew in my gut, that it was the wretched woman!!! My husband got to the door and was reminded about yesterday’s conversation, to which he responded, “Let me check with the building’s secretary and then I will let you know.” She obviously got frightened by his remark and immediately told him there was no need to talk to the secretary and that, “Jo bhi dena hein, khushi se do” (whatever money you want to give, give it happily). Again, my husband said he would see and shut the door. Imagine her cheek!!! We have hardly moved back and she is already making her demands…..the greedy woman! We will use her exact dialogue when we give her money for Diwali and she tells us it is not enough. Our exact response will be, “Jo bhi de rehein hein, hum khushi se de rehein hein,” (whatever we are giving, we are giving happily)!

Then you have Type Number II: The hardworking ones who will still find indirect ways to give you a message and who will try to ge away with slipshod work once in a while. This the case with my house help. Let’s call her Mala. Mala is sincere, and honest, but has a great skill of using stories to get her message across. She recently told me that the previous tenants who rented our place, were very good to her. They even once took her to a departmental store and told her to buy whatever she wanted as a going away present because they were moving out. Mala explained to meet all the choices she had at the store and how she was forced into going to this store and was only later told that she was especially taken to this store to thank her for her work, etc. I take all this information with a grain of salt, because I have know this woman for the last 15 years. That’s how long she has worked for us. I am yet to get collateral from the previous tenants who she previously worked for. In any case, Mala is sincere and for most part, does a good job with the house cleaning and is always supportive of me when I share with her my woes. Here is Ms. Mala in her favorite colored saree:

 

And then you have Type Number III: The worker bee who expects nothing more than her salary and is grateful for anything that you do over and beyond……I am yet to find one of those in my lifetime! Will I ever find such a gem….my instinct says “negative”.

Influence and Influencers


Suketu Mehta, in his book entitled Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, speaks profoundly on the idea of “influence”. He explains that in Mumbai, everything happens because of the connections you have, the influences they have, and only a handful of people really look at your credentials and experience after that point: the point where they believe that as long as you know so and so, you are fit for the job. I scoffed at the thought that nobody would really look at my experience and credentials, and that i would have to indulge in the “name dropping” game, which I have only been a spectator of in all these years; I have never been directly involved in it.

However, I have dicovered, much to my dimay, that the “influential game” – as I like to call it – is a normal part of existence in Mumbai. On one hand, I am used to standindig on my own two feet, like I used to in the USA. On the other hand, I am begining to reconcile to the fact that one has a have some kind of impact on an individual if one is able to participate in the name dropping or show that he/she has a connection that is influential in any which way.

I guess I will have to swallow my pride and push my ego aside concerning all my years of study and all my clinical and teaching experience and will have to be open to the fact, that in India, the great motherland, not much goes by merit, and a lot goes by the who’s who of society.

Folks, please correct me if I am wrong.

Smelly Nelly!!!


One of my pet peeves in India – seems like I have many these days – is the stinky, vile toilets that exude with the smells of urine and other kinds of bodily waste. My guess is that this post may put people off and so I apologize in advance. Unless you step into a 5 star hotel or a really classy restaurant, you can be assured that 96.75% of all the other toilets are unpleasant. I can’t even write this post with a straight face because it really infuriates me that, as Indians, we do not possess the civic sense and responsibility to keep our restrooms clean. It really baffles me! We put moth balls in the corner of the loo and shut the windows for privacy, but it seems that we have very little idea or interest in maintaining a public restroom.

To elaborate, I had two experiences this evening which prompted me to write this post. This afternoon I visited an old age home which has been in existence since donkeys years. I asked them for the restroom and when I walked in, I had to hold my nose. Although the space was clean, relatively clean, the stench was unbearable. I was not surprised one bit and scrammed out of the restroom and took a deep breath. I then went up to the person’s room I was visiting and was shocked to see that it was a nicely done up room, with a 42 inch flat screen TV, a split air conditioner, and nice marble floors.

I then went to the famous Elco Arcade restaurant in Bandra and experienced the same. The food was delicious and the restaurant was air-conditioned, well managed, and the service was decent. But lo and behold, I went to use the restroom and the second time around I just could not hack it. I ran out. I was flabbergasted and so disappointed with both my experiences. I really don’t get it. Why is it so hard for people to take care of their restrooms and keep them sanitized like the same way they take care of their homes, cars, clothes, and external premises? Why is it that people, even in homes, tend to pay the least attention to the hygiene and sanitation of their restrooms? Why is it that 15 years later, after living in Mumbai, is there still such a nonchalant attitude about clean and friendly restrooms? And I mean friendly to the olfactory glands. Can any of you solve this riddle for me?

All I know is that I will have to start practicing pranayama (the yoga technique of breathing) so that i can hold my breath for much longer periods than I currently can. There seems to be no other solution to my dilemma, as of now.

Cooking in Mumbai – Talk about Fresh Food!


Now that I have started cooking on a much regular basis, after week 3 in Mumbai, I have discovered a few things about how to develop one’s cooking style to not only accommodate the quality of vegetables, but to manage cooking in the heat/humidity as well. So folks, listen up! Here are some tips on surviving the kitchen in Mumbai:

1. Unlike the fresh veggies in the US which lasted on end, sometimes even for a couple of weeks, in real good condition, the veggies in Mumbai do not stay as fresh past day 4 of being in the chiller. You may think that this is a criticism of the vegetable quality in Mumbai and that my list of nay says goes on and on. But hold that thought! I am actually pleased with the idea that the veggies tend to go limp in a few days because it implies that they are FRESH in the true sense of the word: limited pesticides, grown and farmed by hard working laborers, hand picked on a daily basis, and so on. At least, that’s my theory, and I so enjoy cooking with such vegetables because I am certain that I am indeed eating fresh food. Lesson: Make sure to buy only enough veggies at a time or you may run the risk of seeing them get bad.

2. If you miss the iceberg lettuce, and radicchio, and red colored lettuce and all those delicious, wholesome, salad leaves that you were used to in the US, do not despair! I was able to find a good variety of these leaves in the main bazaar in my neighborhood.  I was very pleased with my selection and last week, I came home with a crisp iceberg lettuce head. It was fresh, sumptuous, and refreshing. However, may I also warn you that such delicacies are not cheap and I paid about Rs.45 for two small heads. This would probably be the amount a poor family would spend on 2 kinds of vegetables that would feed a family of four.

3. In terms of cooking in a kitchen that is not air conditioned and that is relatively small and warm, I have come to learn and strategize ways in which to better my cooking experience. One of the things I do is turn on the AC in the adjacent room for about 30 minutes. I am seated in the (shut) room and take in the arctic chill that seeps through every pore of my body. What a thrill! Now that I am cool and refreshed, I  switch the AC off, turn on the fan, and leave the bedroom door open. This allows for some of the chill air to pass by the kitchen, and if I am lucky, it even enters in the kitchen, and gives me the much needed reprieve while me and my dishes are simmer. Of course, there are some days where even this tactic fails and I find that cooking one dish at a time can be helpful.

4. I also discovered that the cooking gas in Mumbai is “tez” – a colloquial Hindi word that implies “sharp” or “fierce”. I say tez because what used to take 10 minutes to heat up in San Francisco, takes 5 minutes in Mumbai. It is amazing how much quicker cooking is when you have a flame that is so tez even when turned on the slow mode. So, beware, and always keep your eye on the stove because cumin seeds can go from light brown to black in a heartbeat and turmeric powder can smell like burnt toast in a matter of seconds!

Happy cooking!

Customer Service – What can one Expect?


Friday was a day of disparities. Truth be told, most days in Mumbai are days of disparities. However, this one stands out for me. I had all of two outings yesterday and in both cases, the customer service that I received was at opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. In the morning, I went to the local branch of my bank, a bank I have been a customer of for the last 15 years. This is a government owned bank that has been in operation for over a century. Yet, very little has changed about this bank, including its customer service.

I went into the bank at about 1 pm, 30 minutes before its closing time. There wasn’t a crowd and I thought to myself, ‘Great, I will get my job done and move on to the next task at hand so that I am home in time to let the maid in”. But, this was not in the stars for me. I approached the counter where one updates their passbook. Behind the counter were two idiotic looking men working on something on the computer. I waited a couple of minutes and then asked, “Is this the counter to update ones passbook?” (dropping them a not so subtle hint that there was a customer waiting). The response I got was – as usual – “Yes, give us 2 minutes”. This, by the way, is the standard response for most Indians who are preoccupied with something else and basically want the other person to shut their trap. So, the impatient woman that I am, my first instinct was to give them a piece of my mind. However, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, hoping that in “2 minutes” they will do the job they were paid to do: serve their bloody customers!!!

Ten minutes later, I am still standing at the counter, praying and hoping that these buffoons will at least look up at me. I could have said something and I could have had a fit, but I decided to play the “waiting game” and see what would happen, all the while observing how incompetent the 50 plus year old man, with thick glasses, greasy hair, and fat unattractive protruding lips, was trying to understand how to use the computer program he was working on. I revert to the descriptive word in my opening posts on India: Archaic…..right from the systems in place to the people employed by these systems.

In walks another customer with his passbook and joins me at the counter. I look at him and shake my head, expressing my frustration and disbelief at the lack of efficiency in this bank. A minute later, this man also inquires as to why he is made to wait for so long, to which he too receives the same response: 2 minutes. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the man who is probably on his lunch break and has to get back to work. He starts telling the two goons off and throughout the display of his irritation, the two of them continue doing what they were doing, wrap up, and then one of them stretches out their hand and I give them my passbook. There was no apology for their lack of professionalism or no gratitude for my patience….Nothing! Back in San Francisco, this would not be acceptable or even tolerated. There is a semblance of decorum right from the way the employees are dressed, to their manner of speaking, to the ambiance of the bank, and to the way they treat their customers…..a government or private bank, it wouldn’t matter.

In any case, I got my other jobs done and barely made it in time for the maid. In the evening, my husband and I ventured out to Bandra – the queen of the suburbs, and rightly so, as some of the top restaurants, bars, and clubs of Mumbai have made Bandra their haven for good business. We were meeting up with an old college friend of mine and were delighted to step into a finely designed restaurant which had several buffet stations ranging from Chinese food to Sushi to Indian food. And this is where I saw some real good customer service. The waiters were well dressed, they came to our table enough times to see if we wanted refills or needed a drink, they checked in on us and asked if we wanted to order any food for our table, and there were enough of them at any given point in the night so that all we had to do was turn around and there would be someone there to take care of us. We had a great evening and it made up for the nonsense I had to put up with at the bank.

It was a real day of disparities, where I was initiated into the Indian ways of making someone feel schizophrenic, because nothing is ever consistent in India. And I know that there will be many more such days to come.

Dumbstruck and Disappointed – All in One Day


On the 21st of September, I called up a professor of psychology that was recommended to me by my ex-professor. We will name the professor I called Sheila. I informed Sheila that I heard there were possible vacancies for teaching at the college (which by the way, is a pretty renowned women’s college in Mumbai). She confirmed and asked that I come see her at 11:30 am on the 23rd. I was excited by the prospect of meeting a college professor and possibly discussing a teaching position as a visiting faculty.

The day arrived and I dressed for the role. This time, there was no battle in my mind about taking a train versus a cab. It was 10:30 am and I knew that there would be relatively empty trains going to Churchgate. I hopped on the train, with my headphones on, and it was a smooth 30 minute journey, pleasant and all.

I arrived at the college promptly at 11:25 am. I walked through a highly crowded and small campus, feeling out of place amongst the hundreds of college girls all clad in Indian attire and speaking multiple Indian languages amongst themselves  – English was rarely spoken. Even when I spoke to a student in English, she responded to me in Hindi. I guess it is fair, considering that Hindi is the national language. But, I surely didn’t feel like I belonged here.

I got confirmation for the same after I experienced all of the following:

1. There was a tiny elevator or lift that slowly crawled from floor to floor. Outside the elevator door on the first floor, there were about 15 students trying to get in. I decided to bypass this waiting game (there are a lot of waiting games to be played in Mumbai), and walk the 5 flights of stairs.

2. As I walked up, I couldn’t help but notice the fire extinguisher case – I wish i had taken a photograph of it. The glass case was not there at all. There was no water hose as well – the gigantic hose that usually lies in case there is a fire!!!! Instead, the case was filled with people’s trash. I was shocked, to say the least.

3. Now, the icing on the cake. I went to the psychology department and was there at 11:30 am. I was met by Sheila who looked like she had been smoking hash forever. Her eyes were half shut and she slurred a little, as if in an altered state of consciousness. She greeted me by inquiring who I was, why I had come to meet her, and how she could help me. I was a little dumbfounded considering that she knew who I was and she herself invited me to meet her on the 23rd day of September.  So, after explaining who I was and reminding her about our conversation, I thought she would lead me into her office so we could talk about the possibility of me teaching at the college. But that  was not to be. Instead, Sheila decided that she’d rather talk to me in the waiting room than take me to her office, which was just around the corner. It was barely a 7 minute conversation, with one interruption, and all I did was hand over my CV to her and tell her I was available to teach or supervise psych interns.

4. As I walked through the building, I felt utterly disappointed and dumbfounded. Dumbfounded, because of the lack of professionalism that was exhibited by Sheila. She is the face of the college (or at least the psych department) and she left a very poor impression on someone who was visiting her organization for the first time hoping to teach there (well, not anymore). Disappointed, because as I looked around the school and saw how poorly maintained it was, with shabby looking classrooms and unkempt restrooms, and really dirty staircases with spit stains on them, I kept thinking to myself: How can we expect our students to take pride in good education when the very educational institutions in which we put our faith and trust in are so poorly kept? How can we make education innovative and inviting when we fail to stay with the times and revamp our establishments and the people they employ?

My journey back home was miserable, me feeling sad and even concerned about what I had just witnessed. The sadness that I was feeling a few days ago has now returned, and I am praying for someone or something to lift this veil of sadness and to give me some hope.

B.E.S.T – Doesn’t imply “best” – Not at all!


If there is an opportunity to ride the public buses in Mumbai, I often seize it, even though the thought of getting into a sometimes packed, damp bus, scares me. I have come to realize that, when taken at the right time, a lot of places and things can be discovered in the city; a lot of things and places can also be re-discovered. Today was such a day. By the way, it is 9 pm on a Wednesday night and I am surrounded by not only my own thoughts, but the street noise of the small by-lane on which our house rests. I don’t even want to imagine the cacophony on the main road!

I had some time to kill before getting to my destination today, and as usual, I toyed with the idea of taking a (relatively) comfortable cab versus the crowded public transportation. Today I felt brave and took on the B.E.S.T buses. These are the public buses of the city and boy, do they need some TLC. Nothing has changed about these buses from the time I lived in Mumbai 10 years ago (Discovery #1). No, that’s not true. I did notice some changes. But, I’d like to first speak to the changes that have yet to be made to the buses of  the bustling city by the bay.

As much as the B.E.S.T buses function and serve their purpose, despite there being a gazillion people on them and in them, these buses are a far cry from the efficient and technologically advanced buses of San Francisco. With the ability to comfortably hold a significant amount of people, the infrastructure to accommodate one to two wheel chairs at any give time, and with the capacity to lower its self if there is an elderly person trying to climb into the bus, the MUNI buses of San Francisco are one of a kind. On the other hand, with the buses of Mumbai, I have often been greeted by the tattered, spongy, green seats of the bus, its dented metallic frames and by the faded red color of the exteriors.

Small and crammed do not do justice to the description of the interiors of these metal boxes. These buses must be a 100 years old. Heck! They look and feel a 100 years old, and a 100 years ago, one can safely assume that these buses would have accommodated a much smaller population that once existed in Mumbai. But alas, this is not so in 21st century Mumbai. The throngs of people that try to get into these buses, especially during peak hours, can barely fit in them, let alone comfortably ride in them. Folks, see for yourselves:

One can see the chaos on a regular day, when Mumbai is not faced with any environmental elements, such as heavy rains or winds. But what happens when one does have to get onto a bus when it is pouring outside? What happens when the bus can barely accommodate people, let alone people and their soaking wet umbrellas? From what I have experienced myself, it is a nightmare, details of which I wish to avoid!

However, the changes that I do like are the fact that a lot more seats are sectioned off for the women folk – old and young alike. So, if there was a vacant seat and there was a man and woman standing, the seat would automatically go to the woman. This is great, considering that the art of chivalry is slowly dying out in the mega metropolis. Second, the bus conductors are now all equipped with a ticket machine that is metered so that once you tell them your destination, they electronically print out your ticket and hand it to you. In the past, the conductor would have to look at tickets pertaining to your travel zone, punch the ticket, tear it out from the bunch, and then hand it to you.

All in all, riding in a bus in a city is sometimes entertaining and mostly exhausting. I hope that sooner than later, the B.E.S.T buses will be replaced by more efficient machines that match the technologically advanced century we live in. But then again, perhaps the state of our public buses reflect the atrocious state of our roads, both of them begging and hoping for a complete makeover!

Missing California :-(


Hope this brings a smile to your face, it sure did to mine!

 

Corruption or tradition?


Continuing from yesterday’s posting on the “price” I had to pay for my wireless internet through MTNL: The telephone technician, who has been to our place at least 3 times in the last 7 days, came for the 4th (and hopefully) final time with the magnificent router. I was elated! As usual, I was kind in asking the man if he wanted a glass of water. And as usual, he declined. He did his magic in setting up the router with the phone and, presto, I was half way to becoming integrated into 21st century technology!

He then said that he would come back in 30 minutes with the engineer, who would do the final part of setting up the wi-fi, and as he left he was very clear in expressing  that I should “take care of the engineer”; not take care of him, but of the engineer. Keep these words in mind because it will be handy toward the end of this blog.

I simply nodded and saw him to the door after which i dashed to the telephone and got in touch with a friend asking him for his input on how I should respond to the technician’s demands. He counseled me stating that it would be in my best interest to humor the gentleman because should I encounter any future problems with my wireless, the chances of a scorned technician responding to my pleas in a timely manner would be quite slim. I was deeply saddened and knew I had to make a choice, quickly. So I decided that it would be OK to “tip” the guy for his good work; I rationalized him asking for a tip as a way of me saying thank you for all his hard work. I also rationalized that it would have been a different story if he asked for a bribe even before he started the wi-fi assignment.

Of course, not 30 minutes, but 75 minutes later, the technician and the engineer waltz into the house and get started on the internet connection, all while being polite and professional. The time comes and they are walking toward the door. I handed some money to the engineer and a little less to the technician. The engineer says, “What is this? Don’t give it to me, give it to him”. I was shocked that after i was told to “take care of the engineer”, the engineer himself refused. So, I handed the money to the technician and while the engineer insists that should anything happen, I should call him directly and not hesitate even once to do so, the technician had a baffled look on his face. As the engineer walked toward the door, the technician said to me, “Madam, yeh kam hein” (this is less). I pretend i did not hear him and walked toward the door myself thanking the engineer, who was now waiting at the bottom of the staircase. Again the technician tried to get my attention and alert me to the injustice I have done him with my paltry tip for all his hard work. His third attempt, as he approaches the door, infuriated me and I curtly, but politely asked, “Aap bateyein. Apko kya chahein?” (you tell me, how much do you want), to which he responds, “Do sau theek hein” (r.s 200 is fine). So i go to my wallet and retrieve rs 40, give it to him, and tell him, in a half joking way, that I will give him the rest later. He too, even though he did not get his rs.200 tip, insists that I can call on him anytime and he would be more than happy to help me out with any kind of telephone problems.

This whole exercise left a bitter taste in my mouth, as well as showed me a window into a reality. And i though to myself, “What would Anna Hazare say?” Indeed, what would he say to an act that was selfish and that contributed to the exact mess that he was trying to eliminate from the face of India? I couldn’t help but feel that I just betrayed his cause…. on the other hand, I realized that I also did what I needed to do in a country where only you take care of yourself, because nobody else will.

Music Therapy & Deoderants – A Must!!!!


This morning I had to travel to Andheri by train – a 15 minute ride from my place and it was a pleasant ride, without the maddening rush that usually accompanies a train ride in the city. Of course, when I got out of the station and tried to halt a rickshaw to get to my destination, I was greeted by several disgruntled faces which left me stranded on the road. I had to walk (luckily, it was a short walk), but it was a warm, muggy Sunday morning; sweat dripping down my back and face is a phenomena that I had long forgotten since living in lovely cool San Francisco.  However, I was reminded of a valuable lesson, again: BUY A CAR!!!! Those days of having dependable public transportation are gone to the dogs. We now have monkeys for cab drivers and rats for rickshaw drivers, although I will bet my life that the monkeys and rats are far more intelligent and sophisticated than these baboons!

I attended a conference on “veganism as a lifestyle” and how it can help prevent and reverse heart disease and diabetes II. I also learned, to my great shock, that India is the leading country in the world with individuals with diabetes…yes, India, the land of ayurveda and yoga. More info can be found at http://www.sharan-india.org. In anycase, I was impressed with the organization of the program (mainly its timeliness), as well as with the building and multiple conference rooms in which it was conducted.

But, to now finally address the title of this post, I would like to share AND enforce two realizations that came to mind through my journey in the city:

1. Music Therapy – I have found that listening to my ipod or nano or whatever device you want to use, greatly helps drown out the noise and extraneous auditory stimulation and hassles I experience every time I step out of my house. In fact, with noise pollution so rampant in India, where you can here the honking of cars and and screeching of people right within your own home, i vote that all house residents should possess  a musical device that will eliminate – to a great extent – the external noises. With my music on, I crossed the busy streets, waited on a noisy train platform, stood through a noisy train ride, walked to my destination, and did the same damn thing on my return trip, not feeling as bogged down by the colorful sounds around me. It kinda helped me feel a little less on edge being out in such a crazy and busy city. It was soothing, if not anything else.

2. Deodorants – I got on the train on my return, into the ladies compartment, and it was packed to the brim; everyone holding on to the hand grips overhead, and there was a fume of under arm smell that took me to another planet. I thought I was going to die…..it’s been a long long time since I have had to deal with the exaggerated force of body odor, all emanating from the moist, fleshy, and sometimes, hairy underarms of women of all ages and sizes. My god! Why is deodorant not so popular as it should be?? Why, God, Why? I had to grin and bear my return trip and it was the music that saved me from jumping off the train in my attempt to escape the pungent aromas of moving  bodies all compressed into one small metallic compartment.

All in all, an educational day; I came home all sweaty, had a shower, and crashed!

p.s. The internet guy did show up, finally, with his router, and now I am no longer chained to my two feet of cable, but actually feel part of the 21st century with wireless internet. I must add, though, that this came with a price…to be detailed in tomorrow’s post!

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