I have little to report. Life in India (or at least at Visthar) is my new normal and I’ve settled in quite nicely. I decided to go with a list format for this post because I really like lists. So here are some things that I’ve grown used to:
Remove shoes before entering your home or someone else’s home
Though it seemed odd at first, it’s the norm here and is considered polite. Here on campus we really only wear shoes outside. Shoes are left outside the door before entering dining halls, classrooms, offices, and bedrooms.
· Watch where your walking
India is home to all sorts of critters that should not be stepped on—large bugs, biting ants, snakes, and geckos. While in cities, it’s best to avoid stepping in substances that you cannot identify.
· Avoid touching other people, books, or bags with your feet
Feet are considered dirty. Should you happen to step on or touch a book or bag (which when associated with school are considered sacred) you should immediately touch your hand to your forehead, which implies that it was unintentional.
· Eat with your hands—but only your right hand
Silverware is not normally used in India. It is much more common to use your hands, or at least your right hand. It is rude and unsanitary to use your left hand as it is reserved for bathroom business. It took a few days to get the hang of eating rice without utensils. The key is to wet down the rice with a sauce and then cup your hand with fingers together to scoop up the rice onto the tips of your fingers. Then push the rice with your thumb from your fingers into your mouth.
· Use your horn while driving
Traffic in India is extremely chaotic, but somehow it works. There are no painted lines, designated parking areas, stop signs, or turning lanes—at least that I’ve seen so far (though I have seen a couple stoplights near MG road/ downtown Bangalore). You communicate to other drivers by honking the horn and they communicate to you by doing the same. How this works—I don’t know. Interestingly, some horns have multiple pitches and they seem to sing a little song.
· Hand wash and air dry clothes
Washing machines and dryers are not nearly as common in India as they are in the US. We all have a two-gallon bucket that we use to wash our clothes. I generally wash a few articles of clothing everyday or every other day and then hang them on a clothesline to dry all the while hoping that it doesn’t rain.
· Take bucket showers
My two-gallon laundry bucket doubles as my shower bucket. Though I was concerned about bucket showers, they aren’t as bad as they seem. It’s amazing how little water is necessary to be clean—I have never used a full two-gallons. A typical shower head in the US uses two gallons of water every minute. So I probably averaged twenty gallons of water per shower at home.
· Expect the unexpected
Chances are the Internet won’t work or the power goes out or there is a cow in the middle of the road causing a traffic jam and there’s nothing you can do about it so you have to learn to go with the flow.