Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the stuff of romance

After almost 7 weeks of solo travel in india, I finally met up with michael a few days ago. we are having a really great time together, despite the fact that our bodies are pretty wrecked from the variety of ailments that have plagued us since his arrival. I have to say, nothing makes the heart skip a beat like:

-- things violently coming out of the body: I have been vomiting for 3 of the past 4 days, likely due to some bad cheese in mumbai and then subsequently feeding myself the wrong things for my recovery. meanwhile, michael has had more poops in the past 24 hours than I've had in 3 weeks, probably because of some sketchy chicken in goa. he actually started taking cipro, when it became clear that his diarrhea wasn't letting up and his gases were becoming "sulphuric."

-- open wounds: I have a lovely little hole in my back from a skin irritation

-- hives: walking on the beach last night, my left arm decided it didn't like something in the air and broke out in a few dozen hives

-- the usual assortment of mosquito/sandfly bites that turn red and swollen

-- (the kicker) bald spots: you'd think michael would go bald first, but I was shampooing my hair in front of the mirror the other day and found a bald spot the size of a dime. thankfully it is under a mountain of hair and unnoticeable, but what. the. hell. after calming down enough to do some wikipedia-ing, it turns out that it is fairly common and often times is triggered by stress or new situations. damn you, india.

-- lying around all day long tired and dehydrated and itchy from the above afflictions

luckily we are the mend, but by the end of Michael's 1/2 weeks here, I'm thinking we'll have a pretty kick-ass, bastardised version of "12 days of christmas" to sing for everyone (i.e. on the 12th day of india, my true love gave to me, 12 poops exploding . . .11 innards puking . . .10 mozzies biting . . .9 arms a-swelling . . .5 bald spots!). it's a good thing we're getting married and are mostly past the needing-to-impress-each-other stage.

so who wants to visit me in india next?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

under the knife. sort of.

I am in mumbai visiting a friend, Jordi, and it is almost like being back home in NYC. the city is probably the most westernized place I´ll see in india -- I can walk around in tank tops with my hair down and men don´t care, and there are loads of indian women in western clothes. not to mention the bars and restaurants -- I went to one of the most beautiful rooftop bars I´ve ever seen where I paid 500R for a drink ($12), then proceeded to eat a hamburger with gorgonzola and caramelized onions. there are beautiful people and general flash everywhere so I figured, hey, it´s valentine´s day and I´m seeing my fiance in a day and a half, not to mention hanging out on beaches for all of next week -- let´s get a brazilian! mumbai will probably be the best place in india for this, right? uhhh . . .

now I´m used to fairly basic parlors -- my favorite place in NYC was run by severe russian women who served free wine in the fluorescent-lit waiting area. I don´t need ambience and I don´t need someone to baby me through it. the experience started out benignly enough -- Jordi once got a facial at a salon located in an upscale part of mumbai, and said that it was clean and probably as good a place as any to get waxed. I walk in and it is bumpin, and in a matter of minutes, I´m being whisked away to a back room.

the first thing I notice is that the wax is in a regular kitchen pot. like the kind I use for making couscous.

whatever, I´m sure it´s fine, I think to myself.

the second thing I notice is that the woman has a butter knife. and she is dipping it in wax and coming toward my vagina with it.

the third thing I notice is that the wax is a little too hot. noting my discomfort, the beautician is blowing on it to cool it down before applying it to my skin. I have to laugh, because this random woman is effectively blowing on my genitalia.

and just when I think I can calm down a bit, she asks if I would like my landing strip trimmed. I say, sure. she brings out a huge pair of kitchen scissors. like the kind you use to debone a chicken. I hold my breath and pray that her aim is good.

if I had closed my eyes, it would have been just like any other brazilian I´ve ever had. unfortunately, that wasn´t the case and the beautician kept having to remind me to relax. yeah, you try relaxing when sharp metal objects are hovering around your clitoris.

Monday, February 11, 2008

India revelation #2 -- candy can be currency

I was just in Pune visiting my friend, Cyrille, and one day we decided to go out for western food. you are supposed to look at all the food stalls and then go back to a central cash register where you pay in advance for your food and take the ticket to the stall, and only then do you get your meal. I had a bill of 165R, but when I gave the cashier 200R, she gave me back 30R and said she didn't have the extra 5R, and the look on her face seemed to imply that I should come back later for my change. Cyrille was just finishing up his transaction, and at the end, we both received mini Kit Kat bars, which we thought was just a nice gift from the management.

As I was finishing my meal, I decided I wanted to take the leftovers home with me. it turned out that takeaway boxes are 5R, so I thought, PERFECT, I'll just get my change from the cashier and use that to pay for the box. and this is where things go awry.

Me: Hi, I was wondering if you had the 5R you still owe me.
Cashier: I don't owe you 5R.
Me: yes you do, remember, I gave you 200R and you only gave me 30 back? my bill was 165R
Cashier: ahh. (head wobble) I gave you a Kit Kat.
Me: yeah I know. it was good. but you still owe me 5R.
Cashier: we don't give 5R change here. if someone needs 5R back, we give them kit kat.
Me: but you gave my friend a kit kat too, why did he get his for free?
Cashier: we owed him 5R too.
Me: oh. (pause) well here's my problem. I want a takeaway box for my pasta but they cost 5R, but I don't have any change left. can you just give me a ticket for a takeaway box?
Cashier: then give me back the kit kat.
Me: I can't, I already ate it.
Cashier: then you have to pay me 5R.
Me: but if I give you 10R, you're just going to give me another kit kat.
Cashier: yes.

Friday, February 1, 2008

the rules of the road

I'm in Hampi right now, a gorgeous, gorgeous area of india. it's basically a rock landscape -- millions of boulders stacked on top of each other, for miles all around, with rice paddies and the occasional rock temple thrown in for fun. everything is pretty far apart and there's no public transportation, so I decided to finally sack up and learn how to ride a motorbike. it's actually pretty easy, though riding in india is a different ballpark so I've come up with this set of rules for my future reference:

1) when encountering rickshaws or other bikes, just move left. when encountering trucks, tractors, or buses, get off the road if you want to live
2) front braking on gravel or sandy bits = not a good idea, unless you want a souvenir scar from india all over your face
3) little kids who run up to you and yell 'hi' and stick their hands into the road are cute, so slow down. but don't stop, otherwise they'll surround you and poke your arms and try to practice their english with you, and it takes a while to escape.
4) if a local sidles up to you on his scooter while you're driving and tries to initiate sketchy conversation, feel free to yell "fuck off, can't you see I'm driving?"
5) try to carry a spare water bottle of gasoline in your rucksack. that's right, a water bottle.
6) there is no need to honk at goats because they always stay to the side. chickens, birds, pigs and normal dogs will move when you honk, but honking will only piss off crazy dogs and make them run after you. cows won't listen to anything. especially the ones I saw that were too busy being intimate in the middle of the road.