community.

Today is the first day I feel like I’m actually in a groove. Everything is set up, I’m establishing my routines again, and I woke up feeling like things were under control.

I’m finding that one of the main differences about life here is the very active sense of community. I had lived alone for almost ten years before this, and though I loved the solitude, I always had the lingering thought at the back of my mind that if I fell off a stool changing a light bulb or something, no one would know for days.

That would never happen here. People are ringing our doorbell and knocking at the door constantly. There is someone to deliver milk, to take out the garbage, to fix the fridge, to sell us an internet plan, to install the router for said plan, to sell vegetables, to ask for money for the electric bill… There is a physical person who comes to our door for anything we could imagine. We know their names, and we see them often. Whereas in the States, most transactions are now done electronically, and even a phone call is often considered too personal (so personal, in fact, that they have endless webs of touch-tone menus in place just to dissuade you from the very act), in India, someone coming to your door is the norm, and a phone call is often just a way to set up the visit. Also, I’ve noticed that almost everyone picks up their phone immediately, no matter what hour, or how much more important they are than you.

I really enjoy knowing the people who provide services for me personally, but it has also been a bit of an adjustment to be constantly ‘on call’. People will just assume you’re awake at 7:30 AM and ring your doorbell until you answer – six, seven times if necessary (yes, I know this from experience). They are not worried about waking you from your sleep or disturbing you. It has taken me a little while to adjust to this, but now that we don’t actually need as many things done in the house as we did when we first moved in, and now that I know when the regulars are coming by, it’s much easier to navigate.

Though I think our maid, Anita, has figured out that I’m a late riser: she rings the bell three times in a row every morning, just to be sure.

While this element of Indian life has taken some getting used to, I find that there are things about India that I’ve fallen into more naturally than I had anticipated. I love the humidity, for instance. There is something very cleansing about it, and my skin feels so nourished. I love the street noise. It is much less industrial than the noise you find in a big city in the States. I love the quaint sounds of bicycle bells and rickshaw horns, so high pitched and squawky to make up for their lack of volume. I love the whistle that the guard blows each hour in the hour, late at night. I love hearing the various wallahs calling out their wares as they walk down the street. There is a vibrant street culture in Delhi that I’ve never experienced in the US, and it makes me feel like I am living in a past era where I am surrounded by real people, consciously voicing their presence.

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2 Responses to community.

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