Sunday, October 31, 2010


I have a crush on Sonny. It could veritably have everything to do with his name, for if he was a Frank, or a Frantz or a Fritz (what's with me and my disdain for Germanic male names? hmmm), it probably wouldn't swim so gracefully in my mind or be as fun to mutter under my breath. Sonny. Sonny.  It is like the fire star in the sky and the gender I hope to give birth to. Aaaahhh. Sonny.


Sonny and I spend half an hour together, just me and him, at least once a week. He is the one that takes me back to work after my shift at the school in the slum. We chitchat about India and food. We gossip about colleagues. We laugh at my Hindi mistakes and my faulty pronunciation. We hang out. We share time. I love this ride back home. AAAND he is a devilishly good driver. Wowie- the way he masters the stick shift and weaves in and out of traffic (cars and cows. Yes; cattle are everywhere in India, not just the field. Sacred cow- don't hit her!) is admirable.


It's because he has a naughty crooked smile. It's because he has a scar on his cheek that tells of his past gang affiliation. It's because he is responsible and macho.  It's because when he talks he is so present, his eyes arrest you. There's no option but to look and listen. It's because he laughs a deep, mellifluous laugh. It's because he looks at me with sex written all over his gaze. And, it's because when I saw him onstage dancing Bhangra, a little piece of me crumbled at his feet.

"B and Sonny", he says in his delicious Indian English, flashing me that winning and naughty smile, his left hand confidently on the stick shift, his other hand drumming to Indian tunage at the steering wheel... "It has too nice a ring to it- isn't it?"

Yes Sonny. Whatever you say..


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Samosas and Tea

In France it's 'un court, ou un allonge avec un petit chocolat'. In England it's 'tea and crumpets' or perhaps 'tea and cucumber sandwiches'. A long lost English lover called it 'builder's tea'. What does that mean?

In India, it's chai an samosas. The sugary milky cardamom and ginger laced black tea marries well with the greasy spicy potato and green pea filled pastry. I love this afternoon snack, more than I thought possible. Indians reeeeeally know their tea. Do they get it from the Brits? This I must find out.

Tea stalls are scattered all over the places I've visited in India. Usually served by men(and boys... lots and lots of youngsters). The best to date is my chai guy in Manimajra, Chandigarh. I watch him methodically spoon loose tea, then heaps of white sugar in cream coloured liquid, crush ginger with a slab (is this hygienic?) and let it boil and boil. He serves me this gorgeous coloured drink. I didn't know it goes best with samosas until I started paying attention to the other stall patrons loitering in the early afternoon. Most of them had a couple samosas in one hand and their glass of tea in the other.

I work at the slum. My boss told me when he bought cups for his staff was when he finally got them to talk, to open up, to dish. A good excuse for taking a break indeed. And once cups were part of the accessories in the staff room, Frederick confided in me that the slum workers felt like 'somebody'. "I was nothing before." said Sangeeta, sipping the near boiling beige drink. Frederick looks at her with astonishment. "Actually! Dr. Frederick you have made me somebody, only!" I think he is embarrassed by her honesty. She puts down her glass and rushes out. He is dazed. Ten minutes later she rushes in with a brown paper big brimming with samosas. "We need to eat this while having chai in the afternoons, Dr. Frederick sir!" And she proceeds in handing out napkins topped with a couple of samosas to each staff member.

It seems like such a luxury, don't you think? Drinking this dessert like beverage coupled with a snack that fills like a meal? THIS is India to me: A breathing paradox. And it's only noon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Virtue vs Vice, A Dialogue With Duality.

Like an uninvited visitor that noticed your passing foot steps behind the door (you can't escape!). Knock knock knocking... Like a snarling stomach ache, persisting, in spite of all the soothing mantras and deep breathing: I see now that I am struggling with what I say vs what I do, when it comes to romantic dealings. The light is blinding and I can't flee or see clear until I write. So I write..

I say I want a diamond, but I settle for zirconia. I say Word Is Bond, but I permit them to be sloshed around, stripped of their essence and validity. I wish for an independent yet fervently loyal counterpart, and I end up somewhat satisfied with being left to my own devices, and wondering if this is my prerogative, or his doing.

My virtue is this: I believe 100% in the value of shared time and good ol' fashion love. I am an empathetic soul with a generous spirit that comes to all with alacrity and curiosity. Being regarded as anything but enthusiastic would be a gross misconception, for if you know me you know I'm usually smiling and enjoying one of life's pleasures; whether it be photographing faces, boogying any chance I get to delicious funk or disco (now Bhangarra!), laughing if it's funny (good thing I make myself laugh, gee whiz) exchanging ideas and niceties, crafting it up(scissors, glue, and potato stamps are serious underrated), or eating eating and eating some more.

My vice is this. I smoke. I swear. I stuff my face. I get grumpy and antisocial when I'm hungry. I'm incorrigibly impatient (especially when starving). I'm unpredictable, and tactless. I demand as much attention as I give. I am selfish in my wants for sensuality and demonstrations. My habit in love is that when I don't get what I want, I bitch to my close friends, but to the party in question I remain smiley and inspirational, when inside I hope he can read my mind and pick up on my subtle aloofness. I pick fights. I relish in argument. I feign coolness but I'm not cool. I want what I want when I want it. I'm capricious and susceptible. But mostly, I lie to myself and pretend all is well- until I stomp to stage left with a dramatic exit... expecting him to be running after me with a "NOOOOOO BEEEEEE! I F%$ked UUUUP"

Bahahahahh!! Yeah right. Not. Going. To. Happen. If it did, I probably would look at him with contempt and call him a pussy under my breath, just audible enough to remain true to my tactless manner. Getting what I want might actually be a turn off. Oh geeesus: Is the age-old platitude of girls liking bad boys true, then? Say it aint so!

Where is the 'juste milieu' ? Is it my problem or his? Writing me a love poem or baking me a sheet cake doesn't always cut the cake, so to speak (although it does help. If you're a writer or a chef call me up, I won't screen you!). I expect value behind statements and actions that resonate with them---And THERE is my issue: I EXPECT!! I knew writing would be my salvation! I knew it!

No attachment to outcome. This is what I need to befriend. It is indeed my problem, and not his. Writing: for your health!

Chinese proverb

It is better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A happening continued with a conclusion

In vain I attempted to reconnect with the lover, with the spark and with the vivacity I was drawn to in the first place. But, alas, dear friends, I could not touch what I had before. I don't want to spend too long on this post, since I have already consumed too much energy on this happening as it is. But I want to conclude and say goodbye to the fat pants buried in the entrails of my closet; I don't foresee them fitting once more. Good riddance.

What irritates me is my profound determined and persistent nature to get back what I once felt, what I once thought I had, when really, what's done CANNOT be undone. The impermanence of things and life is a reality, indeed.

So, this colossal waste of time wasn't really so. The lesson learned will show its face later I presume...

Until then, it feels awesome to throw out the stretched-out slacks and make room for more saris.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From 22825....(code name for a buddy)

It's easy to be accurate if you have freedom to be complicated, and it is very easy to be simple if you have freedom to shade the truth. What is hard is to be simple and very accurate at the same time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Staunchly. Direly. Finally. I will always and forever be, a hopeless Romantic. Tales of a failed trip to the Taj...

I'm zonked, but I remain dedicated to share my story with you all, beloved bath-and-beer blog readers... I gotta find a good way to begin my story though, so I'll start by arriving in Ambala to take the train to Agra.

I get off the bus, notice a beer/wine store and am delighted by this sighting. I have a few hours to kill in Ambala before taking the train, but the train station is smack in front of the the bus station and it's dark and I'm not in the mood to roam about. Plus, there's not much to see or eat in Ambala. I get a beer and as usual get chatted up by some cute Indian boy, Sachin. Soon we are joined by his cousin, Rohit. A patron at the wine/beer stall looks at me with a confident grin and gestures the universal 'Let's have sex' symbol (index finger going in and out of the other hand that has formed a hole). Ewww 'Baaad man' I yell in Hindi! Gross. We walk out, sit at a restaurant, order an omelette and more Tuborgs (cause you know what they say, 'Tuborgs are better than one'). I soon see Sachin is smitten and becoming more and more animated. His cousin, on the other hand is way more chill and collected and I am grateful for this. They invite me to Sachin's brother's wedding in December... I comply. We exchange numbers only after I make Sachin PROMISE not to abuse it and call me insessantly. He agrees.

Uh-oh time has flown and my train is leaving in ten minutes. Sachin is drunk and rambling, so Rohit takes my hand and weaves us in and out of the train station maze of people and luggage to the platform. He has strong hands, and they're soft. I'm swooning juuust a little, and my mind dreams of a Hollywood (Bollywood?) scene where Rohit kisses me passionately on the platform, then turns to leave and doesn't look back. Of course that doesn't happen. Instead he gets me a chai, a veg puff and samosa and walks me to my sleeper, smiling as he descends the already bustling train. Meanwhile my cell has been ringing off the hook. It's Sachin, looking for us, in vain(he promised not to call a lot! LIES!).

Ten hour train ride goes swimmingly. I realize I much prefer 2nd class. It's not only cheaper, but there is a constant flow of vendors selling chai and biscuits and samosas and other fried deliciousness. Also, one can open the door, hang in the doorway overlooking the scenery whizzing by and smoke butts. Sweet. I wash my face, brush my teeth and get off the train sooo ready to see the Taj Mahal. I can already imagine how its statuesque and remarkable beauty will impact me and my romantic dreams of meeting a man that would be that crazy in love with me... Hmphf! It can and does exist- the Taj is proof..

The foreigner ticket is a whopping 1700 Rupees. Please don't forget, beloved reader that although I am a foreigner, I live and work in India, and I make rupees, not dollars. So the above sum sorta hurts. But included are three historical sites, and I'm in India godammit- I can't miss the Taj! I get on the tour bus. To my amazement I am the only white girl amongst Indian couples and families. How odd, I think to myself. All around me huge air conditioned buses are filled with tall white blonds. It strikes me how I'm more comfortable being around brown people now... I'm not used to seeing so many white faces anymore, and I feel kinda funny about it. They look so sanitized, scrubbed, pale, self assured. Do I look like that?

I sit in front of two young boys who ask me a multitude of questions, and when I tell them what I do they start sharing knowledge about everything they know; from Hindu Gods and Goddesses to European History and Indian poets. The boys' fathers chime in. I'm enthralled. They talk about Tagore, about the caste system, about their beloved India.

We get to the first place, the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri. I'd like to add just how cool and well spoken our tour guide is. He reminds me of an Indian Alain Delon. Tall, thin, greased salt-and-pepper hair and a killer gaze. He is by far one of the best tour guides I've had. I feel so good to have befriended a couple Indian families and have him as our guide. I look at the white folk clumped together, talking loudly. Inside, I am gloating... I know you're thinking 'who the hell are you to judge, B? You're a whitey too!' But I feel accepted by the people of India. They are incredibly proud to be Indian, therefore relish in the fact that I made a choice to live and work here. Membership status privilege- whoooot!

We spend over an hour here. It's gorgeous, it's like you stepped into Aladdin, only redder, and better. The soft redness of the buildings, the detail on the monuments... If you visit India, visit Fatehpur Sikri.

Off to eat lunch. One Indian family shares Chicken Biryani with me, while the other shares Butter Chicken. Yum and Yum.

We get back on the bus to visit our next destination: Agra Fort. A few minutes into the ride we stop.. Traffic jam. I hear whispering around me that this is unusual. We wait.... and wait..... more cars/buses pile behind us. Waiting some more. Now it's been an hour. Something is up. Zameer(the guide) walks forward to check what the hold up looks like.. He comes back with grim news. Ministers are barricading the road with their bodies to protest the Provincial Election results. Some votes were allegedly compromised, stolen, or something... Still, somehow no panic on the bus (India's mantra of Surrender and Patience is alive and well, everyone!) Hours pass. Crowds have gathered on the median, around buses, cars... everywhere. And we wait. From 2 to 8pm we don't move. The round face of the butter yellow moon shines on the road. I'm surprisingly calm, although I am disheartened by spending my precious off-time doing not a whole lot but listening to my ipod with one of the young boys and yearning for the bus to mooooooove.

The Police show up, armed. We drive back to the train station. Zameer refunds me the Agra fort and Taj Mahal entrance fees. I eat Thali and drink chai, now ready to board the train once more and go home, defeated a teeny bit. My train isn't for many hours yet and I decide to focus on my novel and wait at the station.

The train is 2 hours late. ugh. I am so thankful for my book, you don't even know! It's past 3 am when we board. I close my eyes. I wish I had a sheet with me, or something. It's cold now. Brrrr. I lie down. I feel something around my head. I assume it's a limb from the top bunk. Black night all around me. I swat it with my arm. Again I feel something, this time around my neck. Again I swat. I'm so tired. It's so quiet but for the metal click clacking of the train tracks in the night. This time I feel a forceful weight on my breast. My eyes and torso spring forward. I look to where the touch came from. There is a man sitting on my bunk, calm. I scream profanities in French and English, forgetting to make an effort to practice my budding Hindi language skills. I punch him. I kick him. A light comes on. Two guards assuredly come to me and talk fast, grab the man off my bunk. They look at me and nod in question. I nod in approval. The men take turns slapping him in the face forcefully and repeatedly. The men around me get up from their bunks and want to join. The guards drag the man out of the compartment. The light goes off. I'm left alone. Murmurs fill the air. Then silence. Not so tired anymore! My mind races, somehow I'm so proud of my instincts...I fall asleep with a smile on my face. I wake up to the chant of a small boy passing through singing 'chaiiii. chai chai chaiiii gurum (hot) chaiiiii'. Yes please!

I bring my paper cup to the train door and open it. I smoke and stare out to the landscape of cows and fields and people defecating in the open. I finish my book, read the Acknoweldgements. My eyes well up, ache: "Finally, thank you, Roya. For reading this story, again and again, for weathering my minor crises of confidence (and a couple of major ones), for never doubting. This book would not be without you. I love you." -Khaled Hosseini. My mind goes back to the building of the Taj, of love bringing out the artist, the passion and the drive in people, and my heart once again fills with hope that one day, I shall witness this caliber of emotion.

Sigh. I'm happy to be home. I buy produce from my local market vendor and get a chai from my local chai guy. 'Namaste ji' they welcome me with. Namaste ji, I reply. 'Ap kya se o?' 'Tikeh' (OK, all good, fine). Haaa.. 'Yes' I think. Tikheh indeed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wise man who excels in Maths and Science shared nuggets of truth with me this morning.

Last night during my walk my ipod played Arthur Russell's 'That's Us/Wild Combination'.... I remembered Hong Kong and the full moon and missing home. And I recalled a friend's comment on my last entry, about gravy... I am on the hunt for not necessarily a harmonious partnership; more, like Russell suggests: a wild combination....

Anyway, I do have amazing 'luck' in life, but alas, super 'bad luck' with men. I ask my wise bud why this is so.. and this is what he shared with me....

him: I don't think there is such a thing as luck..
Just people reacting to people based on impulses

me: yeah, I don't actually believe in luck either, truly. So why is my life so rad?
I do agree with you though.

him: because you make choices and are okay with the results ahead of time. It's hard to not care about things that involve emotions but the more you force yourself to stop caring the more it ends up working. That's what I've found. Leave the details to the devil.

People like feeling appreciated but not needed...

That last phrase hit home. BOOYA. How true is THAT?

a happening.

So- I met this person. We met so ordinarily- but we quickly mingled into a harmonious and spirited 6 hour conversation on the bus. Ordinary morphed into auspicious. I was pleased, for lack of a better word, since meeting someone that can see past my skin colour and that I can vigorously talk with in India is, sadly, a rarity (well, that's not necessarily true, but I mean, Hindi is the National language and not English, so, you know...). Reason being language barrier and cultural resonance. You wouldn't think the latter would be of tantamount importance, but laughing about the same moronic or obscure show and discussing standardized health care is a sincere delight when all you've been saying is 'ap ka se o?' and 'tickeh', 'atcha' and 'kya?' for a couple months....

Anyway, I'm homeward bound and he's off to explore. I smile a big dorky smile all the way home. I am enriched by our exchange. We end up meeting again, this time not by accident, and it turns out to be even more fruitful than the first. So far so good... We are beginning to like each other, this is most obvious. He ends up staying longer to hang out with me, and I am, again, pleased, rather pleased! I am now filled with alacrity and wonder alongside my habitual loving-India-and-my-work spirit... life is good.

When we are not in the same city he and I seem to chat online more than regularly, and this brings us closer, too. Okaaaay. 'Cool beans' I am thinking! He is off to the desert for a week, and will be internet free. Before his journey he writes me saying he feels that he and I are destiny, and that perhaps I am even his dream woman.

WEEEELLL--- being the hopeless romantic and sucka for swoon-worthy language, I begin to melt a little and let myself get carried away by a wave that has no end in sight and that is part of smooth infinite waters. I count my lucky stars that the Universe has placed me here, in a foreign country, with many responsibilities, so that I cannot make the same mistake twice and get involved rashly with a man to regret it later (my past marriage is testament to this... hahah! Vacation/Out-of-Canada Bianca lets her guard down easily and permits swooning to occur from the opposite sex a liiittle too readily). I tread lightly, not wanting history to repeat itself, but my single-dom, my ego and my intellect get the better of me, and I let myself feel 100% what is most certainly brewing. He is disarming. He is dangerous, I can sense this right away. I love Danger. And I love the feeling that swooshes around me when I think of him. It's a congruous mixture of peace, excitement, confidence and anticipation. The red flags are no where in sight..... until-

Altercation erupts. Something cracks. A change of plans demands that he leave India sooner than expected. He promises to say goodbye. I remind him of what a huge deal Divali is in this country and that, if at all possible, he should try to stay for this festival. I have a couple days off work and would delight in the prospect of spending just a little longer with him before he must go back to his land of origin. We try to juggle travel plans, in vain. Alas, financially and time wise I cannot afford to follow him. I am disappointed. There is wicked lag in our internet chat and this does not help our current predicament. I feel l have been completely and grossly misunderstood. He states that I can't monopolize his final days in India, I am already too attached to him and that I am oversensitive. I am pressuring him to do as I want, subsequently guilting him and ripping all the excitement of our reunion..... huh? I am at a loss of words. Disbelief and frustration overwhelm me. What in the world just happened? So- the vow of a face to face goodbye falls flat. He backs out. Just. Like. That.

I am at that very instant hurt, angry, disillusioned and disenchanted not only with his choice of vocabulary and sudden icy disposition, but also with myself. Why in the world did I get swept away like this? How could words bring about such feelings? Disarming me, leaving me raw and vulnerable, powerless over my circumstance? The dull ache in my heart makes me miserable,and utterly annoyed with myself. Why why why, I repeat in the mirror? Why am I such a fool for love? Why do I let my emotions dictate my reality? How, at my ripe wise age of 32 could I let this happen to me AGAIN????? I had the rug pulled from under me without more than a glance away from my computer..

So; I cry, I write to my mother, I berate myself with self loathing remarks. But- true to my Indian self- I still do my 25 minutes of breathing... and I calm down, and I breathe... I hear the birds chirping on my balcony. I smell the Indian morning: ghee and chapati. I go over my mothers soothing words, I remember that I have a class to teach that afternoon and a staff meeting that morning. I remember how much I enjoy my work and loooove my students. I remember that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world and that India is about me. Not me finding a life partner, but me clearing the path of my purpose and falling in love with B.

I B R E A T H E . With every inhale I fill with forgiveness and creativity. With every exhale I connect with Destiny. I can only be me. I can only be the naive and trusting person that I am. I am sophisticated and emotional. I love to love.... Do I really want to be anything other than what I am? Oh my God. I feel inspired and peaceful. A few months ago had this happened, I would have chained smoked and cursed the world. Now, because of India's mantra of surrender and patience, I breathed it out and made a conscious choice not to struggle with reality. Ohm Shanti, my beloved blog readers... I am thankful for that boy INDEED!

To be continued......

Monday, October 18, 2010

trust instincts

I'm an idiot... When will I learn to stop taking what people say at face value? I don't want to become a cynic but jeeeez, being a fool for love is ruhtarded.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

couldn't sleep last night.
the fan and the mind buzzing-
agitated bee.

Haiku. October 18th, 2010


Tell your secret to the wind, but don't blame it for telling the trees. Khalil Gibran

Saturday, October 16, 2010

making out on the day of the Lord? Oh my.....

It's Sunday today.
Some pigeons are making out
on my balcony.

Haiku. October 17th, 2010

Namaste, Ji!

......Sigh!. It's been a long long while since I sat down and put words to how my world is going. It used to come so easily to me. Now I have writers block or something, so am fitfully working through it and coming back to my blog; a forgotten cyber real estate that could indeed be the ideal vehicle to break through this non writing.

A day in the life of Bianca in India:

I get up early. 6:40. I walk down two flights of stairs, make a coffee and bring it to my room where I sit on my balcony, smoke a ciggie and hang out with Fred, the bird that seemingly likes my company (is it the same bird? Who knows, I like to think so). My neighbours are waking up too: the smell of chapati, parantha, pulses and fried something or other (onion, mustard seed, cumin, butter) fill my nostrils. Yummmm

I come back to my bed and do 25 minutes of breathing exercises. I take a shower and think of my outfit as I suds up. I put my itunes on shuffle and get dressed. I stack bangles on my wrists, outline my eyes (sooo Indian!), shut the fan and walk out the door. I leave my home with a banana in hand and eat it on my way to the market. I have a chai and a ciggie with the patrons. Holy-do I ever buck convention doing this! I am the ONLY woman there, smoking and smiling and trying to look like I belong (do I fit in? Not really, but I like it regardless). I pay the chai guy (5 rupees, jeeesus) and turn the corner to find an auto-rickshaw. It is usually Ashok or Kashmir or Ganesh that take me to Dr. Frederick's in Sector 8. Ten minutes later, after inhaling dust and diesel in spite of covering my mouth and nose with my dupatta (long scarf that is part of the Salwaar Kameez) I get to Frederick's. Sunny is there, waiting for me and Natasha. We drive to the slum, the bustee. We enter the bustee and the colours remain the same but the smells are ranging from putrid to unbearable. Ugh. Not a worried look in site. Cows and goats lazily hang out with the slum dwellers, women speed walking with purpose, men spitting gross orange stuff and chatting away, their bellies hanging out of their wife beaters . Once we reach the school/Clinic I start to teach pretty much right away. I do read alouds, play games, sing and observe. OR- I conduct a conversational English class with the health promoters that work at d.i.r. My first time teaching ESL is not only rewarding but bringing with it a whole new energy and discipline. I love it. Someone brings us chai. We sip and talk. Sunny takes me back to Pause at noonish. I enjoy our chats very much.

Once a week I teach Drama and Arts and Crafts to bustee children that are being integrated into a private school(incidentally, I teach at the school that most of my Pause kids attend). They're a big group ranging from 6 to 16 years of age and wowie do we ever have a ton of mustee (hindi for fun)! We play charades and do improv, we make things with fabric and glue, newspaper, paper plates, yarn, sticks and crayons (we just made a personal mobile. WICKED!)

I eat lunch (usually sprouted mung beans and rice, cilantro, tomato, radish, green beans, chilis and raita) and get ready to teach my kids at Pause. I have two age groups. The Spaceships and the Leopards. We are entering a new theme, Self Esteem, and just covered the concept of being unique. We dance, do improv, play games and share feelings. It's awesome. By 6 p.m. I am knackered. I come back to my room, eat some chocolate bars and get online.

Now it is time for my walk. My neighborhood is so lovely; dotted with parks and a continuous flux of children playing cricket, acting, and giggling. Punjabis seem to be partial to leaving their homes at night to walk around their neighbourhood. Kids play really late here... like at 10pm they're are still out on the streets! I sometimes go back to the market and buy food, eat samosas,momos, chow mien, check up on my tailors to see if my next punjabi suit is ready, and eat a 5star or savory namkeen (Indian snacks) on my way back home.

I enter my room, burn some lavender incense, make tea, get online and get ready to enter sandman... I love my life!!!

Does it sound boring? Indeed, I haven't gone out dancing in many moons. I haven't been to the movies since 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai' and have gone out for dinner a handful of times, IF that. But I am at peace. Surrender baby, yeah!

There ARE a couple things I miss about North America,though: idioms and C H E E S E.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I met a kindred spirit.
He is disarming.

Haiku. October 13th, 2010