Thursday, June 5, 2008
The Living Conditions
We live in guest houses next to a Jain Temple in Delhi (see above pic). There’s a shopping mall nearby, peacocks in the courtyard and a lush green cricket pitch just behind us. But let’s not equate these digs with paradise too soon. Our rooms are humble; 2 rock hard beds, a light, a closet, and 2 plastic chairs make up the entirety of our furniture collection. The bed sheets are possibly as old as the religion and I count my blessings daily for having the forethought to bring my own silk sleeping bag on the trip.
A ceiling fan and an air cooler take the edge off of the heat (just barely) and our bathroom provides us with a sink, a western toilet (thank God…I mean, Ganesh) and space to bathe ourselves by cup and bucket. We have running water in each room (undrinkable) – it comes out of a tap with a double layered sac made out of cheese cloth that will filter most minute bugs from the flow – ensuring we don’t unknowingly harm the insects and accrue unnecessary karma (this tap sac is unique to Jains).
House guests include ant colonies, lizards, cockroaches (fortunately we only ever saw one…others had enough that they would play “roach hockey” trying to flick them down the drains from wence they came), pinworms in the bathroom, beetles and on one occasion, a pigeon.
Please don’t take my description as a complaint. My roommate and I have come to cherish our room. It serves as a necessary refuge in a city that requires psyche up sessions before stepping foot outside and frequent decompression breaks throughout the day. A barrage of horn honks, kamikaze drivers, putrid smells, gawking locals and insistent beggars make trans-city mobility laborsome at best.
Our living standards have been reduced considerably here, but perspective hits you hard when you get your first heavy dose of Indian poverty. Our tiny room feels palatial in comparison. And life back home? Disgustingly privileged.