But food isn’t the only topic. The other one is talking about how much I enjoy Kerala. Everyone wants to hear only praise about this southern state (I guess every person in the world is proud of where they’re from and will only want to hear outsiders speak highly of it). And the praise they wish to receive regarding Kerala is not only about the beauty of its nature, but also about the food (because it differs so much from the rest of India). So I give them the praise they wish to receive, because, even if I’m complaining a little, this place DOES deserve it. Really… and the sooner my time comes to leave, the more I’m seeing how gorgeous it is, how bright, green and light… Also the thought that in 4 weeks time I won’t have the regular taste of coconut in just about every dish I eat, saddens me a little. So I happily praise Kerala for its nature and food…
Besides being interested in food and Kerala, they’re so eager to find out my fathers name…! Hummm… sweet that they want to know this, but what does it matter what my fathers name is??? If I tell them Jacob, Anthony, Peter or (his actual name) Gerry… what difference does it make! They’ll still say: “wouw… how nice!” This just proves their innocence I guess. Then, after hearing his name, they want to know my mothers name, how many brothers and sisters I have, and what they are all doing… To make things less complicated and not to startle most people (about the fact that my sisters are living together with men and have babies, but AREN’T married) I tell them that all my sisters are married with beautiful children. And that always leads to them wondering (and sometimes looking at me in horror): ‘so…. If you’re sisters are all married, what on earth are you doing here in India, unmarried and ALONE at the age of 28??!!!!! Niamh, you must be so unhappy!’ (a few weeks ago I was even told I was an old spinster!!!!!) But I smile to it all and tell them I’m happy to be alone… and when I talk of how much I love to be in India and I love the food, they are relieved again… so the horror vanishes and a smile reappears.
Man oh man… the Indian ways can be so funny. If I’m on top of life, I smile at it all, and happily repeat the answers I’ve already spoken for the 100th time. But if I’m not full of the right amount of energy, I answer in a way that will keep the conversation brief and deep down I give sup and sigh… Oops! I don’t mean to offend anybody, by saying this but I’m just being totally honest here. Because it can be tiring at the best of times. Does it mean I think less of every inquisitive person I come across (which is actually every person)? No way! I probably appreciate them for it; they only want to get to know me. The ‘problem’ is that I can’t always give to them what they want and when I sup and sigh deep down, I know I’m in need of some kind of a break; either a break from being seen as the foreigner or a break from India. I’m not too sure.
I guess the reason I sup and sigh is because there’s no balance between real conversation and superficial talk about Indian food, my fathers name and my unmarried status. The only time I get to use my voice is to give my classes OR to answer such questions. So… this is what I’m lacking; a balance in the different ways we can communicate. The emails have been my saving grace, just like this blog, just like my journal – it gives me expression. But, no matter how much I love writing, sometimes a person needs to actually speak. And last night, speaking so freely, made a huge difference. To actually hear myself saying the words I’ve been writing about over and over again, was quite confronting and refreshing, all at once. It reconnects me with me, and with home, strangely enough… I’ll probably be doing it again soon! Yay! (how ‘sad’ that I’m excited by such little things…haha)
So, on that note, I’ll just add these freaky fleeting moments I’ve been having. On occasions I’ve looked at my hands and my arms and actually have been shocked by the whiteness of my skin. Sometimes I forget my skin colour is so different from those around me. I’m not an Indian, but I’m learning that the longer I surround myself only by Indians, the more I can feel to become one!!! Hahaha… But no… I’ve simply been absorbed in this lifestyle, and I’m grateful for it all, but now I’m coming out of it, slowly… Because the road is open and the world is at my dirty feet (with their black souls that I cannot properly - because of teaching in my bare feet everyday… it’s always nice to feel the earth beneath me, but tricky to keep them shining ‘white’…).
Either way, all is well, as you can clearly tell. A lot is happening and time is moving, as will I, shortly. I don’t know where just yet. Will keep you updated!