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April 28, 2007

Hi Lovelies!

She shoots me a look as if I could never have worse offended her. Spit on her new shoes, knocked over her favorite import vase, ran over her first born; I cannot imagine any of these eliciting such a wicked response.

So I was thinking this trip to sweltering India is a perfect time to diet off all my Michigan winter insulation. The heat makes you feel like you’ve been on a treadmill (in a sauna) for 45 minutes just by walking up the stairs. Naively, I assumed traveling in a foreign country with limited funds would force me to budget (starve a little) and probably scramble to find foods that suit my vegetarian requirements. Not so; what was an adorable little pudge at the end of the finals has morphed into a decidedly less cute bloated disaster. Good thing the pants on my new salwar kameez have an elastic band. If you’ve got any ideas about how I can manage this with my low-rise jeans when I return to the States in a couple months let me know.

I’m starting to realize it’s all a game of strategy. Eat tiny bits of every dish, barely whetting your appetite, even if your stomach is audibly grumbling, even if you’re so hungry the feeling of faintness distracts from polite conversation. When she insists you must have some more of her home-made, glistening chai chai, sizzling parantas with thick whole butter, or another dish of rice pudding with perfect sugar crystals and nuts, politely decline. Stay strong. When she again offers hold your stomach, put on your game face. Feign a look of indigestion and pain such that you’re not sure you’ll ever be able to walk again. You must refuse. For now. No matter your theatrical skills this won’t get you far.

The feeling of fullness pervades through every cell of your body. Awash in wave after wave of calories, every cell is through with polite decline; suture-splitting pressure, they HATE food. They are through with the rhetoric, “just one more bite/just finish this shake/only a little yogurt to compliment the dhal.? In fact, they never want to eat again.

It is at this point where desperation arises. Your host has only yet brought out half the dishes, of which the largest she sets next to you. After all, it was specially made upon your passing reference to really like tomatoes. You have to refuse again, hands folded, head shaking, cells screaming, eyes peering towards the floor.

Now you’ve done it. You don’t hear the words, though you imagine she says something like, “YOU M---U---S---T,? all drawn out in a deep slow-mo voice. It is a frigid, heart-wrenching, command. In one moment the sweet face, charming bangles, soft chiffon scarf are all a blur; shock nearly causes you to drop the remnants of your perfectly chilled mango shake to the floor.

Yet, you reach out, arm contorted in objection. Where I’m from we call this DO or DIE. It’s your choice.


In other news… I HAVE ARRIVED! Don’t worry, I’ve been doing more than just eating. This week alone I have visited three tailoring and embroidery schools in Delhi, taking a couple informal interviews at each one. It looks as if I will continue touring schools for the next couple weeks, then switching to do in-depth work with one of them.

More to come! For now, I am off to Chandigarh to visit more centers.


P.S. About the heat, I'm not just complaining because I can. Apparently yesterday was nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit. !

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Posted by tvanderm at April 28, 2007 12:32 AM


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