Tuesday, July 21, 2009

there are many things...

....which have happened.

i just didn't feel they were blog worthy.

well, i take that back. here are the updates:

Cuz the monkeys weren't enough.

With no real change in our health (read: we aren't dead yet) - we were jonesing for a because my life isn't ridiculous enough fix. Yes yes, the hair is still falling etc....and although that may be exciting news to some of you - i am kind of over it. bald, and over it.

Because we are creative educated type women, we have taken to hunting the cockroaches hooking up on my bathroom floor at night. The little buggers hide inside the floor drains, and when its dark and quiet, the residents of drain no. 1 venture out to slut it up with the loose ladies of drain no. 2. That is, until I caught on. I hadn't yet done anything about the nightly party in my bathroom - im terrified of cockroaches. And these ones are big fat juicy suckers. I once peeked out from behind the wall and watched one struggling to smush itself back into one of the tiny drain holes - its ass wriggling around in the air - until it succeeded and returned to roachland below. disgusting. angry at being scared to enter my own bathroom after 8pm - i made the decision to overcome my enabling nature of cockroach city, and implemented a plan.

i will kill every last one of them.

The slaughter occurs while babies sleep. We whisper "Shhhhhhhhhh, we are hunting cockroaches..." and then tiptoe in the dark...slowly...calculated...and then SPLAT!! They ooze fear. you would too.

don't be too jealous.

The blogging fast is also in part to work picking up. quiet moments at home are spent napping off sweaty days- instead of writing about them. Just when i was convinced life was becoming normal and boring, I looked down at the back of my hand and noticed a rash forming. little raised clustered red bumps forming a long line, traveling throughout the web of my fingers.

there is no use lying to myself. this is no typical bug bite. i have scabies. of course. because i didn't feel unattractive enough. no adventure would be complete without the one skin rash that carries the weight of the world screaming 'you are dirty'. i feel like some character out of the Grapes of Wrath. "Elizabeth, bring me the lie - gonna scrub yew down. haven't had a scrubbin' since paw lost the harvest." I know this is a bit dramatic. and i know lie is for lice. and i know im not in cali or a sharecropper. but i am allowed to say it. scabies depresses.

I probably picked it up from some kid in a school, or in a village, or some friendly dog. Scabies is everywhere - everyone gets it - its no big deal. right? There is dirt and mites and bacteria - what do you want? yeah, I WANT TO NOT HAVE SCABIES.

To kill this mite crawling around under my skin - laying its little baby mite spawn - i have been applying Neem Oil. i am also scalding my hand each night with boiling water in hopes to seal the fate the damn things. its a difficult balance. purposefully burning the shit out of my hand, while making sure the temperature isn't hot enough to result in a skin graph. I thought i would give the Neem Oil and boiling water a couple days to see if there was any improvement. sorry sucker no go. it is still spreading. Neem Oil (dark brownish in color) smells a little something like.....dirty fermented ass...on a hot summer day.

it is actually kind of amusing. while i am dealing with my own oil issues- anna has hers. in her effort to do everything short of a scalp transplant to prevent the big head shave, she has taken to using Parachute Therapie hair fall solution - a hair growth treatment used by the local ladies who have had their olfactory glads removed. Anna religiously oils here hair every third night and then washes it the next morning. When she first started the treatment, i would sit in bed at midnight and wonder why i could suddenly smell the trash pile rotting outside. got a little closer, and realized it was her. Honeybucket eau de toilet, literally. one month in, it isn't working. but at least our night smells compliment each other. if you have a sensitive gag reflex (or you don't like friends who smell like shit) we are not your kind of people. you will throw up, and probably get scabies as well. athena and anna both have started itching.

tomorrow i plan on getting some 'real' medicine, the kind with western chemicals in it.

(we smell like the train toilet. mom are you ready?)
(yes the brown blob is what you think it is)

uptight americans need not apply.

Deepmala's son (i call him Beta meaning 'son') has been coming over more frequently. He is the most adorable 3 year old, full of curiosity, silliness and little boy attitude. clear gender differences are strongly defined at an early age (like any culture). The preference of boys over girls is no secret. Beta will run jump, get into trouble, demand pani tanda (cold water) from his mom - and get into a whole bunch of mischievous trouble. When Deempala is finished cooking, he will sit at the table and eat with us - slurping his dhal with one hand - munching on roti with the other. His sister (Gudia) sits quietly and smiles, does what she is told, much more under control. both are very sweet children. very intrigued by us ladies, our computers, our strange lives. We watch a lot of Tom and Jerry on youtube.

Beta is just a little younger than my nephew Devin in Seattle. And like my nephew, i am constantly overwhelmed with the fear that the child is going to hurt/kill himself and i could have done something to prevent it. Devin jumping on a trampoline gives me a heart attack. I was half terrified half overjoyed when rode his bike without training wheels. i had to hold my breath. i have nightmares of him poking his eye out as he furiously plays the drums (he is a drummer boy). i am a worrier. i blew on his food to make sure it won't burn him, gave him plastic spoons to play with, and sat with him with a whistle around my neck during his bubble baths - making sure he stayed above the water at all times. My poor poor children will be bubble wrapped until their 18th birthday. Can't you insert some sort of chip underneath the skin to act as a tracking device?

So you can imagine my shock when helping mommy time in the kitchen turned into a mantra meditation exercise for elizabeth to calm herself. i did end up storming into Anna's room to express my fear and concern. she of course calmed me by recalling the story of when she lived in africa, her mother would send her outside with some matches and a tin can to learn how to make her own fire. le sigh. I am so american.

(cutie pie has two knives, just in case one doesn't do the job)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


So i didn't have to go very far to find monkeys.

Literally 1 hour after the last post, i was woken up from a 5pm nap, by Anna and Deepmala screaming, "MONKEYS! MONKEYS!" "IN THE KITCHEN!!"


I have never seen monkeys in this neighborhood. Actually the ONLY real-up-close-and-personal monkey i have seen in india so far was the man dressed as one, who tried to attack me in Varanasi. As i described before, people here fear them. They can attack you, bite you, steal you. That's right, i said steal. I found out a plethora of monkey stories through my co-workers. I was going to wait to disclose them until after tuesday when i go to the monkey bridge to see the monkey banana man in all his glory. but since i have managed to have good luck AGAIN in lucknow, we can settle for now.

Amit's Story:

Amit was stolen by a monkey when he was one year old. I will write it again, in case you feel you misread. HE WAS STOLEN BY A MONKEY AS A BABY AT THE AGE OF ONE. As all fairy tales go....his mother had just finished giving him a proper oil massage and laid him down beneath the shade of a mango tree. Suddenly, a mother monkey swooped down and picked him up- taking him high up into the tree - keeping him there for sometime. Obviously his mother was beside herself as she screamed and pleaded with the monkey to please come down and release her child. After some yelling from the father, the uncle, the mother, the everyone - the monkey finally came down after an hour (ONE HOUR i said) and returned the baby unharmed. Amit hates monkeys. They give him the heeby geebys.

Stories of monkeys taking babies is quite frequent. This goes for not only monkeys, but dogs and other animals as well. Take Mowgli for example.

Richa's story:

Richa was in her home one morning when she turned around to find a monkey had sauntered into her kitchen. Not wanting a commotion, she backed away to let it do its thing, hoping it would quickly leave. The monkey approached the refrigerator, opened the door, and stood there side-saddle as it took inventory. It helped itself to two eggs, cracking each one into its mouth separately. Richa claimed the animal cracked an egg as if it were a chef on the Food Network. Monkeys and meringue, yuummmmy. Still unsatisfied, it remained there with the door open, looking for what else was appetizing. Seeing that biryani wasn't available, it settled for the bread- which it pulled out with one hand. It then copped a monkey squat on the banister, where it stayed until it had consumed the whole loaf.

Another time, Richa stood by and watched three monkeys sit properly at her kitchen table with a bucket of butter and bushel of bananas. They ate the butter by the hand fulls, chatted about their weekend holiday, licked their fingers after every drop was finished, and then moved onto the bananas. Ate every single one. Richa is the one person here i have met that has a deep LOVE and affection for all animals. However, monkeys make her very nervous.

Deepmala's story:

Told to me in hindi of course, but this is what i got out of it. Deepmala was outside folding clothes on a table. She heard something beneath her, and looked under the table to find two monkeys and a mirror. Both were using the mirror to get a better look at each other's butts. They stood there, showing off their backsides, entertaining themselves, laughing and monkeying around (sorry). Suddenly, they noticed her and got annoyed that she had disturbed them. To retaliate, they attacked her, bit her on the arm, stole the iron, and pushed off. Deepmala is terrified of monkeys and has the scar to prove it.

I have been told these tales are a dime a dozen. Everyone i talk to says any person on the street can give you a monkey story, each one being more outstanding than the next. No biggie.

I don't know why these stories are so entrancing, aaaaannnnnd I don't really care to know why. For me, they are just magical - so out of my element - so incredible to hear and see. I know monkeys can be dangerous, i know they carry diseases, i know i am from a small town in tennessee, i know i know i know i know - but WOW. monkeys, bananas, butter, and a baby?? YES PLEASE! I am overly elated at the fact that this is a place where stories of monkeys are just part of the flavor. Kind of like how we at home have transfats. They may seem like a lot of fun (and they ARE), but realistically, are dangerous company to keep.

So, to answer the previous question, NO. I was not dreaming about the monkey madness:)

A momma and a baby monkey were roof hopping, and decided to stop by and see what we had for them to nosh on. We were an easy target. third floor, door unlocked, napping americans. They walked right in via the front screen door. Deepmala found them in the kitchen - screamed bloody murder - and startled them so badly they managed to escape with just a peach. Anna and I spent the next hour, bating them with day old roti - trying to coax them back onto our terrace - to get a good shot of the culprits. It worked rather nicely in fact. Besides Anna being chased back into the house a couple times - we got our proof.

what they got.

what they left.

us being brave.

us being really brave.

us being a little too brave.

deepmala being brave, showing us her monkey bite.

the peach.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

sorry cheney.

Near death experiences? Check!

Bribing the train conductor? Check!

Finally seeing giant mamalians walking around my neighborhood? CHECK!

Don't you love how the dream wedding in India involves ELEPHANTS?

Now, on to my next search: MONKEYS in Lucknow.

One of my co-workers (Tanuja) explained to me that on Tuesday mornings there is a man who walks the bridge in town (monkey hang out central) - and feeds them bananas. She says the monkeys don't push or squirm or swear at each other to get fed, but line up- one by one- take their banana, say thank you, and then leave. I will be taking pictures of this asap and reporting back.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Just in case you haven't figured it out already, it is official.

Anna and I have officially lost it.

Over the course of this past month, probably since Mr. Paul wouldmakeagreathusband Javid got us into the Taj for a breaky, we have become painfully pathetically delusionally hopelessly incoherently inappropriately immature.

Yes, we were pretty stupid before. I know. but we are light years ahead now. we laugh uncontrollably when coworkers try to talk seriously. we poke each other under the table at restaurants. we dance around to motown - imitating our mothers' dancing ability and creating the conversation they would have if they ever each other at a club. we have taken to ordering coke, nachos, AND popcorn at the movies. we walk around at home in our underwear- giving the neighbors a show and tell- in our hotbox of an apartment. we have attained the retched energy of 6 year old girls at a princess party, who snorted a couple pixy stix in the back, and then proceeded to have their way with the jumping thing.

I don't know if it's because we now only have 1.5 months left of this lucknow business - and the bright clorox bleached light at the end of the tunnel makes us giddy with hope. Maybe it was the Taj followed by our second trip to Delhi to see Jeevy last weekend which sent us over the edge (more about that later). I don't know. It could be the fact i am becoming uglier and she is becoming balder minute by minute. Its probably the lethal high from the Larabars and Extra peppermint chewing gum my mom sent in her care package. Whatever it is, we cannot control ourselves any longer. we have lost our minds completely.

Here are the most eminent clues as of late:

Star Trek.

Breaking News, Anna is a fan of Star Treck TNG. Im not joking around. This is a woman who has tutored me in Ruhi Book 6 during college, we have sunbathed together at Greenlake and just barely escaped getting our asses kicked by a heard of obese chicanos. she has cleaned up my puke. Even though I have known her for 7 years, she has just recently decided to reveal this deep dark gem.

One morning we were sitting at the kitchen table smelling ourselves in silence. she looked over at me and spoke, "You know, sometimes when I am working in the office, I want to turn to you and say 'Make it So' like Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek..." (enter hand gesture and FRENCH accent on the John Luke Piccard).

..........everyone holds their breath and waits...... ...... ... . . .

I was so embarrassed by this blurtation of honesty - and hilarity of the situation - i literally began to cry for everyone involved.

So now that she was out of the battlestar galactica closet, we had to go see Star Trek the movie when it came to Lucknow. I had never watched Star Trek in my life, I was too busy with Little House on the Prairie - but i am a loyal friend - so we went. good movie, but i understood nothing due to the fact Anna was blabbing on and on in Vulcan the entire time. And in true Vulcan fashion, anna mind melded me right then and there in front of the gods, aunty and uncle across the isle, and Jean Luc...fascinating.

And like any inappropriate joke, or extreme accent, or catchy idiotsyncracy, i was immediately hooked from that moment on. it is possible we have taken it too far though. i should have known there was going to be a problem when Amit (coworker) caught us mind melding each other randomly throughout the last half of the movie. or in the rickshaw ride home. or at the office. or on skype with seattle. or in the middle of the night. or on facebook.

if you don't watch out, i will mind meld you.

Dr. K Chaudhry.

Dr. K Chaudhry is the mommas milk that sees us through this endeavor. He is the ringleader of our rickshaw wallah riding, mango eating, kurta sweating circus. If you don't know who this man is, you haven't spent enough time talking to us. I am quite the fan. She is quite the junkie.

In a perfect world, Anna and I would show up at his house in Delhi (we have done our research), introduce ourselves as fans from America, and he would invite us in to sit on his couch in the background as he records his grammy worthy performances of Metalica, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Avril Lavigne. The good Dr. got his start on youtube after he auditioned for some talent tv show in india- but was rejected for lack of ability. He decided to prove to the officials and the world that he was in fact talented - and 700 songs later - we never miss a new upload. He has become quite pleased with himself, confident in his prowess (as can be seen here), and even commemorated the death of our dear Michael Jackson. Dear sweet watermelon eating man.

We laugh, we cry, we religiously imitate. At night as india gets its beauty rest, his warble of a mating call can be heard four cows down, three trash piles over. He has become one of our constants throughout all of this. no disappointments.


Vanity has officially flown out the window here. Our fate has been officially sealed. It has dried up along with the cow shit i stepped in today. been removed along with my desire to eat anything with the words palak or paneer in the title. I have mentioned in several blogs how Anna has lost 1/3 of her hair. Well, i am happy to report that her hair still is falling out at the same rapid rate - a pace so intense, it would make a woolly mammoth nervous. Anna has become incredibly obsessive about her follicular regeneration - which she rightfully should be. Please don't inquire about it. Please don't give her your opinion. Please don't offer any thoughtful tips. She will regurgitate every sleepless night medical blog she has read, every webMD self help cure she tried, every guru she has prayed to. Its a sensitive topic. We have in fact had a couple real arguments about it which have lead to me being wildly insensitive and her crying. The only non-rejectable reassurance i have managed to offer is: if she actually goes bald, i will shave my head and wear large earrings along with her.

I shouldn't have said anything. My hair got jealous of all the attention her hair was receiving - so it has started falling out as well. It is not as noticeable as anna (yet), but it is definitely happening. My bouffant has become mouse-ish and ordinary. I really took noticed on the train ride to Delhi last week. In an effort to relax, I took my hair down in the ac car, began to stretch out, and there in my hand was a clump. Anna informed me the average person sheds 50 - 100 hairs day. I ran my fingers through it again. oops. another clump. Just for fun, i began counting the individual strands. 10 minutes later I reached 100 and stopped.

I should mention Athena's hair was lonely too, and went on strike as well. What is stranger than seeing a white lady, chinese lady, and mexican lady in a cycle rickshaw? Seeing a bald white lady, chinese lady, and mexican lady in a cycle rickshaw. I'll make sure to cut out the newspaper article for you.

Hair is a woman's crown and glory? After this experience i would say so. After us being so sick, it is the only physical feature i have left empowering me to feel attractive. and now that this is pretty much gone, we have lost hope. and lost our minds along with it. my pretty is an endangered species, 200 a day and counting. anna no longer does activities which would put stress on the tresses. no more getting a hwbd (hair wash blow dry), no more running at the gym, no more letting it be to fly around in the rickshaw. she won't even stand in front of the ac for fear it will be blown off. I wait for the day she comes home from work, walks through the door, reaches up and grabs a hold firmly, and removes her hat of hair. "Here hold this, i gotta pee."

On a typical saturday night, you can find Anna and I in our underwear - in 100 degree heat- frantically chasing after the rat sized hair tufts foxtrotting across the kitchen floor to the tune of the ceiling fans. we lay in bed and feel the strands take their last breath and let go. falling in the food. clogging the drains. onto the keyboard. tickling you as you sleep. You can actually see it floating through the air if the light is right. Sometimes when she is on the computer she notices a big chunk clinging to her shirt. She reverently cups it in her hands, says a silent prayer, and lets it fall. all three of us american morons fearing the inevitable. greeting the nightmare receding hairline each morning with a hopeful smile. saying 'up yours' as we stare it down before we go to bed each night. Poor Deepmala has been sweeping and sweeping. The more that falls, the more we tell her to clean. Denial denial denial.

The other evening anna and i were frustrated, balding, and overheated due to a power outage. Lying in bed with just the light from the laptop. Anna bargaining with God - for the 5th time that week - to please turn the electricity back on (this is a common occurrence when the power goes out, and so far we have found that we get a better response if she does the talking). We glanced in each other's direction, and for the first time recognized what had actually happened to us. It was the epiphany of the year. We had done it. It was all over. We had peaked.

Some girls peak in middle school, some in high school, some when they go away to college and start waxing their goatee and wearing cute scrunchy brown boots. Unfortunately this wasn't our fate. We had peaked in hair ball city India. Not out with friends dancing, or on a beach with our husbands, or at the park - being one of those ridiculous women who looks even sexier after a couple of kids. We had peaked in cowtown. I was on the toilet and she was checking for lice in the mirror when we should have been out photographing our 6 month window of opportunity. i could smell it. we had become the most disgusting, sickly, smelly, bony, unattractive women on the planet. We just had to say it out loud to fully commemorate the momentous occasion. I of course went first.

"Honey, you look like shit." loving smile.
Gaping silent laughter "Honey so do you!"

we laughed as if our life depended on it. how ugly we had become. wiping the sweat from my upper lip trying to make its way into the crease of my mouth, she went fishing for a couple more strands and was actually surprised at the 50 she caught in one go. and for the next 20 minutes, and laughed until we about threw up.

Who is with us for a good head shave?
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