This morning I had a large crow-like bird hop onto the windowsill in my bedroom. I didn’t see him come into the house but he was bold enough to peer inside. I didn’t think too much about it except I wished I had my camera in-hand to take a photo of him.
I left my bright red Bank of America card on my bed and when I came home from my morning class it was gone. I just thought I misplaced it somewhere else in the apartment.
There is a knock on the door and it’s the watchman. He shows me a note in English that says, “If you are Roberta Dell’Anno, come see me.” I follow the watchman to another building and there is a lovely, older Indian couple waiting for me. They had my bankcard. It was on the ground in their courtyard. I haven’t been to their courtyard, so the only thing I can think of is that big, curious bird took it! I thanked the couple profusely and they told me I should be more careful..I agreed and thanked them again.
Around 2:00 this afternoon, thunder started sounding. I have never heard thunder this loud. No rain, just thunder for hours. Until, of course, 5:30 when I’m ready to head to the Institute for my Pranayama class. Thunderous, buckets of rain begin to fall. When I walked outside, into the rain, there were toads everywhere! I love toads. I caught one to show the watchman and he was horrified. But it made him laugh and up until then he didn’t like me very much.
After class I decided to go to a nearby hotel to pay to use their internet connection. I packed my computer, put on a rain coat and headed off. I didn’t wear my waterproof pants because the rain had slowed and I didn’t think it would be a problem.
In order to get to the hotel you have to cross a 3 foot wide plank of wood over the narrowest part of running sewer water. The water was higher than normal and was moving more quickly, but I crossed it easily and went on my way.
I paid for my hour of internet use and tried to log on. Just as I am logging on, blinding rains begin falling outside and the internet goes down. I ask the woman at the front desk and she said the rain interferes with the connection and I should come back tomorrow. I pack up my things and head out into the dark, blinding rain.
I get to the crossover and the ‘bridge’ is gone! It has been swept away by the now raging waters. WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO NOW?? Its pitch black out, pouring rain, and I have no idea how to get back to my apartment. No problem, I can handle this… I turn around and try to figure out a detour. I turn onto a side road that opens up to a garbage dump. I don’t mean a messy area, I mean a real garbage dump, where truckloads of garbage are piled high. There are pigs everywhere nosing through these 8 to 10 foot garbage mounds. Dozens and dozens of pigs.
It’s dark and there’s not a lot of street light here. I see someone coming. I have to figure out how to ask this person for directions. I knew if I asked him directions to my street it would get me nowhere. Instead I asked him directions to Pune Central (a large, modern, mall close to my apartment). Bingo! He tells me to go straight through a narrow opening and I will find it. The narrow opening turns out to be a dirt road lined with corrugated steel and plywood lean-tos. There are no doors on these dwellings and I can see directly into their world. People living in maybe 10ft of space, with dirt floors, sleeping on small cot-like beds, no running water, some have electricity, others don’t. It reminded me of the houses I made as a kid using a deck of cards. Fragile; ready to fall.
Hundreds of people live here. Pigs, goats, and chickens are wandering about living in the same small spaces with their owners. Beautiful wide-eyed children play in puddles on the road, in the dark. I walked past hundreds of these dwellings, in the dark.
I emerge onto University Road, at Pune Central, back to a more modern India. I check to see if their internet connection is working. No luck. I head back to my apartment.
Playing a kind of charades with the watchman, I tell him all about my adventures. He laughs heartily. I am no longer the ‘annoying’ American, just the crazy one.
I walk into my apartment and see a few large ants walking around. (Side note: I am not fond of ants. Ants and I have a long history of bad experiences together, but that is a blog for another day).
I walk into the kitchen hoping to warm up some of the delicious food my cook made earlier in the day. I was horrified to see dozens of ants wandering around the kitchen. Okay, I can handle this. I grab my OFF and begin to spray in the area of the kitchen they seem to be congregating. MISTAKE! Hundreds (not exaggerating here!) start pouring from a hole in the windowsill! Flying and crawling like something out of a Stephen King novel. I scream! Panicked I call the landlady. She is not impressed. “Yes, they come in during the monsoons. Just open a window and let them out.”
I try to convey to her that this is not just a few bugs – but hundreds. Again, she is not impressed but hearing the panic in my voice she decides to send someone over. Fifteen minutes later her son-in-law, daughter and my housekeeper come in. Yes, they agree there are a lot of them, but they are not impressed either! Sit down and eat your food the son-in-law says to me. I can’t, my appetite is gone.
My house keeper is walking on all of these ants in her bare feet. How can you do that?, I ask. Her response, “You’re the only one that’s afraid of them. We are used to it here.” She starts to spray them and that just encourages hundreds more to pour into the kitchen. One lands on me and I scream so loud that everyone jumps, then bursts into laughter. The son-in-law says, “Your skin is so white they think you are a light. That’s why they land on you.” More laughter!
I tell them I am going to catch a bunch of toads and bring them in the apartment to eat all of these bugs. That horrifies them! Ha! They don’t like cute, pudgy toads, but the ants don’t bother them.
They finally tell me, as the ants continue to pour into the house, to shut off all of the lights and lock myself in my bedroom. They will eventually go away.
So that’s what I did, but they haven’t gone away…back to eating granola bars…
Using the words of a fellow yogi friend, “Roberta, you’re not in Kansas anymore.” Welcome to India.