Saturday, June 30, 2007

So, that was a pretty fucking awesome Hindi day.

I had a hard time getting out of the room today because suddenly they were all about making sure my bathroom was clean, my floor was clean, my bedsheet was clean... So, the sun was high in the sky before I made it out into the wide world of Jaipur this a.m.

I spent a lot of money (INR 180) to get into the City Palace w/ my camera. I suppose I didn't really need to go there, but I wanted to wander around for awhile and take pictures. Not sure what I'll use them for, but now I have them. Then I spent a long, long time in the Museum craft hall. This is where Maharaja-approved artists sell their workshop produced art. I sat and talked a long time to one artist named Harish. I paid a little too much money for the painting I bought, but I took up a lot of his time, and he was really patient with my Hindi. I think we both had fun.

When I went out, the same rickshaw wallah that had driven me from outside the wall of the old city to the palace was still outside. We had a funny conversation about how I wasn't to let any other rickshaw wallah drive me home. It's the slow season, and it pays for taxi and rickshaw wallahs to waste their time waiting around for a sure fare, because otherwise they might not get one all day. Anyway, he made me laugh, and I told him I'd look for him, but it would be a long time because I was going to the jantar mantar, and that might take me hours.

This was my first trip to the Jaipur jantar mantar this year, and jesusfuckingchrist. It was totally awesome--the entire complex is under renovation. They've pulled up the grass, they've surrounded everything with scaffolding, and they've torn the plaster off some of the masonry instruments. There was a group of men plastering the instrument just inside the gates, and they managed to explain the resurfacing process to me (basically a mixture of lime and marble dust, "for sparkle"). I really and truly didn't understand most of what they said, but they were all very excited to talk about their work. Then I wandered over to watch them work on the Samrat Yantra--you've got to see it to believe it, no fucking way I'd go up on that scaffolding--and had a conversation with two of the boys working toward the bottom. One of them almost clobbered himself with a chunk of plaster he'd just pried off, and I said "Careful!" in Hindi automatically. They thought that was completely funny.

Anyway, it was all very awesome. All of the workers seemed really knowledgeable about plastering, etc., but none of them really seemed to have much of an idea of what they were really working on. This might be my final project subject for class this summer.

And, yes, my rickshaw wallah was waiting for me when I left the jantar mantar. I stopped to buy a useless Hindi guidebook to the site outside the gate (useful for the correct spellings of the instruments' names only), and then let the guy take me back to Rajapark. Again, we had a very funny conversation about how I should really let him take me to the best markets, but he didn't really try very hard to convince me.

It's amazing how far such very, very bad Hindi takes you. I think no fewer than five people complimented me on my Hindi today. It's sad in a way, because it means very few visitors actually make the effort to speak the local language. On the other hand, it makes even my 5th grade vocabulary seem quite impressive, so I guess I should be grateful that most tourists don't try very hard.
I forgot to type the most important thing: monsoon arrived the same day Andyji arrived. One good rainstorm on that day. It hasn't rained again, but it's consistently cloudy and humid out, a nice change from the typical desert scorch.
It was nice having Andy back for a couple of days. He's coming back for the memorial lecture for Bhabhiji's husband on June 25th, and I'm already planning to skip class that day so we can hike out to Gaitor and some temple he wants to visit. I suppose it's just as well he's not here all the time, we'd probably get in a lot of trouble. We had a good, long, hard laugh over the time he almost died last summer. Looking back at last year's blog entries, I can see that I avoided discussing the entire series of unfortunate events in public (although I've since told the story several times). He says it wasn't my fault, but you know...I'm still pretty sure that it was.

Anyway, it was good hanging out with someone who already knew me. I'm so tired of repeating my backstory. On the other hand, I'm not sure it's a good idea to be kicking it with someone who's been spending all of his time in a village overwhelmed with TB. Although...I have to admit, I was kind of hoping he'd cough all over the obnoxious group of kids who joined us while we were trying to enjoy our coffee yesterday.

I've managed to make hotel reservations for Ujjain (I did try to use the phone, but they never picked up, so I ended up using the web, in English.), so I guess we're on for the big trip. I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do about Varanasi.

Today I'm off to the City Palace to take some photographs, and I'll probably spend some time at the jantar mantar as well.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This morning I woke up to find my alarm clock in bed with me. I'm not sure what it was doing there (especially as it doesn't light up); perhaps my cell phone was being ganged up on and needed an ally in the fight against the flashlight and MP3 player.

It has been a *$&(! long week. Really. A $(*#(! long week.

Last night, we were all out late at a wedding. Anitaji, one of our teachers, has an older sister, and she invited us to her wedding. 1000 guests! It was a really nice show, but must have cost a fortune. The bride's sari was beautiful, and so covered with gold it was barely red at all. Most importantly, there was a lot of food at the wedding, and most importantly out of that, they had jalebi. Arvind says he overdosed on jalebi as a kid, but I don't really think that's possible. At least, I haven't managed to do it yet.

Andyji is back in town for two days only, so we are hanging out this afternoon. I skipped out on lunch at the Institute, and went out for chowmein with him at this rather sketchy looking dhaba. He says he's eaten there before, so I trusted his judgement. Now we're hanging out together checking our e-mail, which sounds like a weird thing to do, but there you go, we've always been an odd couple. Today, I got more hassle on the street than I have had to date this summer, and I'm absolutely sure it's because Andyji was with me. We look very funny, he 6'-7" and rail thin, and me 5'-2" and round enough to roll down the street with just a small push forward.

Today, I did a stupid thing and walked off and left my wallet at the shop next to my hotel. Luckily, the boy who works there saw it and tucked it under the counter. I'd just been to the bank, so I would have lost 2100 rupees or so, plus my bank card. Not an insurmountable lost, but definitely enough to panic me momentarily. I have to think of something nice to do for the kid, other than start considering him my son.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In the three weeks I've been in India, I've developed one really odd habit: sleeping with objects in my bed. I'm not talking about the extra pillow I use to prop up my shoulder, or the blanket I use to cover my eyes, or even the pile of clean (or dirty) clothes at the foot of the bed. I'm talking about plastic and metal inanimate objects that I would never keep in the bed at home. Every night before I turn out the light, I take my flashlight and MP3 player out of the nightstand drawer, track down my cell phone, and arrange them on the empty side of the bed well within reach. I only realized last night that I had been doing this every night. Why? Why can't the flashlight and MP3 player sit ON the nightstand? Why do I need my cellphone? I don't call anybody at 3 a.m. I was thinking about this after I was in bed, and while I was flipping through all the Johnny Cash songs to get to the death metal section of my MP3s (in case you're wondering, death metal isn't a great substitute for a lullaby), it suddenly occurred to me that all the spare items in my bed light up. My phone, my MP3 player, my flashlight, they all make my room as bright as day when they come on during the night. Who knew I was so afraid of the dark that I needed not one, but THREE, lights next to my pillow? India's a great place to get to know oneself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One last post about my cell phone, and then I promise to shut up about it already. Much as many of you may have suspected, I just needed to throw more money at the problem. If I had walked in on the second day and offered to empty my wallet, I'd probably have wasted a lot less time. Anyway, it turns out what I needed this entire time was a top-up voucher. I have at least five balances on my phone: a global (ISD) balance, a local balance, an All India balance, a Rajasthan SMS balance, and a main balance. This main balance? God knows what it is. I can't figure out how to check it, and before two days ago, I never even knew it existed. So, the solution to my inability to SMS is to buy top-up vouchers to add to the main balance. I have no idea what the main balance is paying for, or how quickly it disappears, but at least now I know that I need it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Well, hopefully Crystal and Julia will not tire of my company over the next few weeks, because I just signed them up for five days in Ujjain with me. If they are sick of me before we even leave, it's going to be a long, long trip. It's a ten-hour train ride from Jaipur to Ujjain on the "express" train, but it's all during the day, so we're just riding in the chair car instead of getting sleepers. Since I was already planning on going, I offered to pick up the hotel tab. That, in fact, is my task for Wednesday afternoon, trying to reserve a room over the phone in Hindi. I want to stay some place nice (not Taj group nice, but still), so it's only fair that I pay the tariff. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing the observatory--I'd like to have at least a strong outline written for my Madison paper by the time I leave here.

The formal tasks that I've set for myself:

Roughest draft of my dissertation proposal (still possible)
Make at least one contact within the City Palace archives (still trying)
Preliminary bibliography for major field exams (seeming impossible right now)
Some sort of draft of paper on Ujjain observatories for Madison (still possible)
Varanasi photographs (still possible, but dubious--how much is airfare? ask Kumarji)
Return to Delhi for more photographs for HSS conference (still possible)

Informal tasks I've set for myself:

Gather as much ASI literature as possible for minor field exams (in progress)
Gather as much info about INTACH as possible for minor field exams (still possible)
See as much architecture as possible, for both exams (in progress)
Gather as much printed info/photographs on architecture for syllabus project (in progress)

I have been working some in the evenings, but find myself easily distracted by everything going on around me. And this week, I really need to work more on my Hindi. I feel like everyone else is progressing more quickly than I am. I should be able to keep up, since I have more free time than anyone else, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Well, a lot of time spent at both the Hindiwali Reliance store as well as the Angreziwali Reliance store, and I'm not sure I'm any closer to fixing my SMS problem. I'm also not sure why it seems so urgent: before ten days ago, I'd never sent a text message. Suddenly, if I can't text message, my world will end. Well, it's nice be able to communicate without having to actually *talk* to people, so maybe that's the attraction.

This morning, I dragged a classmate to Jai Niwas gardens so I could take photographs--I'm working on the second draft of an article (well, we can hope it turns into an article) about the Jaipur city plan, and I need my own photos. I'm really pretty excited about it, especially now that I've revisited the gardens and re-experienced the space for myself. I even managed to get a photo of the facade of the Chandra Mahal that faces the Govind Devji temple. I looked and looked for one this spring, but except for a 19th b/w print in the British Library collection, I wasn't able to find one. So, that alone made the rickshaw ride through the bazaar this a.m. worth it. The ride was so hair-raising that I handed the rickshawallah 2x the agreed upon price when I got out of his rig. I mean, really, it was pretty intense for a few minutes there.

Also in Jai Niwas gardens is a Hanuman temple, and outside is a monkey corral full of happy monkeys eating temple offerings. Baby monkeys with wrinkly baby monkey faces = SO CUTE.

We walked around Jai Niwas, and then around the bone-dry Tal Katora. Hard to believe the site used to be marshy and wet during the 18th c. Today, it was full of boys playing cricket. We saw this unfortunate 8-year-old albino boy--my eyes hurt from the sun here ALL THE TIME, even with sunglasses. Imagine his pain.

I think perhaps Julia and Crystal are getting tired of my impromptu architecture lectures. "Look at the Shahjahani baluster columns!" "Oh my god, look at the faux chini khana!" Crystal had to sit through an endless session of me with Ebba Koch's Mughal Architecture (OUP) book while we were drinking watermelon sparkles in Barista: "Look at the perfect hesht behesht!" "Look, aren't those fantastic squinches?"

Today, a 26-year-old informed me that 40 = over the hill. She apologized, but said that's what she thinks. Over the hill, and I haven't even finished my Ph.D. yet.

In other news, I still can't speak Hindi. I also seem to be suddenly struggling with English, however, so maybe that's a step in the right direction.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A few random points:

  • I feel compelled to go back and correct the misimpression I gave about the quality of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom as a movie. Mr. Bachchan's role as a sutradar (sutradhar? where is my dictionary?) was quite awesome, and the music is snappy. Otherwise, I have to say the movie was really just a timepass. Don't get me wrong--I'd pay INR90 to sit in an A/C cinema hall and watch Preity Zinta do just about anything, but that doesn't mean it was a good movie. As far a PZ goes, I'd say that she really needs to find better roles. It couldn't have been in the least bit challenging for her. Well, physically, I suspect it was grueling, those are some high intensity picturizations. But as far as substance? Not worth her time.
  • There is a "closed for renovations" sign on Big Shopper. I suspect the sign should really read "Closed because Reliance Market down the street put us out of business," but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not sure I get this whole Reliance Market thing. Can you imagine shopping at Cingular Market or the New AT&T Market? Rajapark and the surrounding neighborhoods are definitely high-end (one of the host fathers described the houses here as "bilkul palatial"), and Reliance Market shows it. Its major selling point seems to be its produce section--even I have purchased apples there, each with their own little "Washington State Apple" sticker (because I am doing my part to help my family's local economy, even if I'm doing from without in a global economy, right?). Anyway, mostly it seems to be a place for rich locals to shop without having to haggle over prices. Also, it seems to be a place to buy microwave popcorn, but I don't know anyone here with a microwave, so I'm not sure what good that does anyone.
  • Survived the first full week of classes, took my first exam. It's hard to get too worked up when you're not actually being given a grade. Anyway, we just got next week's schedule, and the homework seems to have doubled. Plus there is the major project to think about. I should be able to do something about the jantar mantar. The project is really a way to force us to go out to talk to people. We need to write up a questionnaire, go ask random strangers all the questions, then write a paper about it. Some crazy student once wrote a 45-page paper for their final. I think if I can manage 10, that will be good. Anyway, I think I'm going to hang out at the various jantar mantars and just ask people why they came and what they think about them. It's nothing I can really use officially in my research, but you never know, I might hear something really useful.
  • Speaking of the jm, apparently they had a gathering at the Delhi jm to watch the occultation of Venus by the moon. The same may have happened here in Jaipur, but I was sick and thinking seriously about dying that night, so I missed the entire thing.
  • Back to the topic of Reliance: So, I paid almost $40 to get a Reliance cell phone. That price included the phone, the activation fee, 220 local minutes, plus INR575 worth of international minutes (about 110 minutes). For some reason I was given a Delhi phone number, but everything seemed fine. A couple of days ago, my SMS function suddenly stopped working, and I kept getting a message saying the SMS mobile function hasn't been activated on the network. Back to Reliance, where I paid INR35 for 1000 local SMS messages. I was assured that as long as I had minutes on my 575 card, I could SMS to the States, too. Today, I am still receiving this message about not being activated in the network. So, here's the question. Do I go back to the same store, where everything has to happen in Hindi and there's no paper work to back up these transactions, and no one really explains what the problem is, they just say it's fixed, or do I do the colonial thing and pay INR50 for a rickshaw to Gaurav Towers where there is a very posh Reliance store with English-speaking employees and many forms and explanations for every transaction? I think I'll try the Hindi-wala people one more time, but if it doesn't work, I'm off to GT. And maybe I'll eat at Pizza Hut while I'm down there.
  • Dude. The rickshawwallah I had on the day I got sick was TOTALLY singing Ye Dosti from Sholay. I mean...seriously. I leaned forward and asked him (in Hindi), "Hey, dude, are you singing Ye Dosti from Sholay?" And he said, yes, and wasn't that a great movie? So we talked about what a great movie that was, and then he told me that in June he was going to Washington with a friend, and was it nice there? And then he stopped at the petrol station for a drink of water. And then he took me to Rajapark.
  • Sunday night, a young father was out with his little boy, teaching him how to ride a bike in front of my hotel. Well, that's okay, because there's not much traffic there. The kid fell off a couple of times while I was watching. Fifteen minutes later, I saw the kid out in major traffic on Big Shopper Road, father trotting happily behind. I hope the kid made it home alive.
One thing about being in India: everyone suddenly drops their inhibitions about discussing their lateness infirmity and illness. Let me just say that I know way too much about my colleagues' intestines. But I understand why people talk about it all way too much. As Andrew pointed out last summer, you might often wake up with indigestion at home, but you can say to yourself, "Well, I shouldn't have had that last piece of pizza." Here, it's anyone's guess as to why you're sick. Is it indigestion, or are you about to develop something truly horrible? It could go either way, really.

Anyway, all of this is just to say that I've survived my first bout of sickness this year (god, only two weeks in!), and everything seems to be fine at the moment. I'm really glad that I'm living on my own, otherwise I'd have to share every single detail with the host family. On the other hand, on Wednesday evening, when I was wondering if I maybe I was going to end up in the hospital, it occurred to me that no one would even miss me if I died of whatever it was I had, at least not until late in the next school day. Those are the moments in which you wonder why you didn't do research in...oh, I don't know....Canada.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Then again, it's not a good idea to carry yourself with too much confidence. My Hindi is good enough for waitstaff, but not good enough for dukandars (there's your vocab word, Beth). While I can talk someone down from 2750 rupees to 2000, I can't talk them down to the 750 it should be. It's frustrating in the moment, but once I do the conversion to US dollars, it's difficult to get too upset about being more or less robbed. Gotta let it go.

Advanced Hindi follows the same type of daily program that Intermediate follows, so I feel a bit as if I've been here forever. Today, we had our first listening comprehension class. That was the worst class last year, but I seem to have lost my stress over it this year, possibly because I've heard the passages before, possibly because I just really don't care so much about my progress this year. I'm either going to learn Hindi or I'm not, and I can't lose a lot of sleep over trying to keep up (or keep ahead) of the other students. This is the attitude I should have had last year, instead of feeling inadequate all summer.'s only day three of class (not quite two weeks in India), so I reserve the right to change my mind about the entire thing.

I'm overhearing many conversations that remind me of why I am living in the hotel. Even people who really want to live with a family can get stressed out by the all Hindi environment, by the family's expectations, obligations, etc. I definitely made the right choice.

Stage Three: Hoarding Knowledge. Now that you have your social group established, and you feel comfortable traveling around the neighborhood together, you are finding out interesting things. You know where to buy a cell phone, you know where the post office is. You've found a good book store, or a good rickshaw driver. This is the kind of information you're willing to share, but only within your social set. You have a lot of hush-hush conversations that end with "but don't tell anyone, I don't want the entire group to show up there." Everyone is sworn to secrecy about every aspect of Jaipur. What are the repercussions of revealing this information to the larger group?

I'll let you know.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Yes, I must speak on this subject again: it's nice knowing what's up. It's not nice being completely clueless.

Today, I took my two (TWO!) new friends into the old city. This was kind of cool for me, because I knew just how to get there from the Raj Mandir, and knew which direction was Bapu Bazaar, which direction was Nehru bazaar, etc. Even nicer was the fact that I was able to take them the marble carving section of the old city. A lot of places were closed up because it was Sunday, but they now know where it is, and no one from the group does (hoarding local information, that might actually qualify as Stage Three--I'll think about it). Anyway, I just had fun showing them cool stuff in a hopefully not too pretentious way.

Also, I impressed Julia's out of town friend with the fact that I once had dinner with Maxim Shostakovich. Just saying.

I think the point here is: I'm impressing myself, if not my friends. I'm getting so much more accomplished than I did last year because I know exactly what I want to do, and more importantly, can communicate that desire in Hindi. Last night, the man at the stationery store was really pleased I bought my notebooks from him in Hindi, and today, the waiter complimented me on my Hindi. When he asked if we needed our bills separated, and we said no, he said he thought not, but the tourists tend to want separate checks. It was as if we'd passed some sort of cultural entrance exam.

Anyway, I'll stop bragging on myself, but I've just been noticing how much more relaxed I am this summer. A lot of that has to do with staying in the hotel (best decision EVER), but some of it has to do with having the ability to take care of myself without a lot of problems.

Today's high temp was only 95 again, and it sort of sprinkled for awhile. It's just so lovely being able to walk around in such cool air. Well, okay, I guess I'm dripping with sweat, but it's nothing like it was that first weekend in Delhi. Thank god.

Oh, today was the first monkey sighting--three in Bapu Bazaar. @#$*(! monkeys!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On the other hand--there's a lot to be said for being the local expert. I'm finding it immensely rewarding, anyway. I'm trying not to be obnoxious about it all (there's plenty of pretentious posturing going on here as it is), but I do kind of enjoy being consulted about Jaipur. I can give directions to the bank, the supermarket, two different hookah bars (don't ask me why, I don't smoke the sheesha), two different coffee shops, fabric stores, book stores, and all kinds of other things like parks and post offices and pathways. I am trying not to offer advice unless asked, but once asked, I have to say...I'm batting a thousand (two posts, two baseball metaphors) at getting people where they want to go.

So, this is a big difference between last summer and this summer--my confidence level speaking Hindi. I'm the one doing all the talking: directing the rickshawallah, bargaining, asking directions, etc. I'm still falling back on English a lot, but seem to have lost that fear of speaking that followed me all summer last year. It's kind of relief to be the one with all the answers for a change.

Mostly hanging out with one or two people (we've formed our own clique, membership requires that you be shut out of the rest of the cliques that formed the first week of classes). Started classes officially yesterday, started studying this a.m. We had a brief pre-monsoon downpour today, which was fantastic. The high today was only 95, dropping below 100 makes such a difference. The temperature is supposed to climb again by midweek, so I'm enjoying the cool while I can.

Okay, this is my mailing address for everyone who wants to find me:

[My Name]
c/o Hotel City Home
463, Gali No. 4
Across from Bank of Baroda
Raja Park, Jaipur 302 004

I'm being taken of really by the hotel staff, they put me in the safest room, I think, and one of the AIIS program leaders is in the same place, so I always have someone available if I need it. More importantly, I have a TV, so I can watch the IIFA awards tomorrow. Rocking.
That was fucking awesome. Seriously. That whole cancelled-flight-to-Chicago-rent-a-car-race-to-O'Hare-during-rush-hour-barely-make-the-flight-followed-by-13-hours-of-interrupted-sleep trip to India was totally worth it for just the first 45 seconds of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. When Amitabh Bachchan came on the screen in that *completely* bizarre but rocking outfit, the crowd went wild. It was like witnessing a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning in a tied seventh game of the World Series. Seriously. Totally fucking awesome.

(I'm not allowed to swear in India, so I have to do it online.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In the Foreign Languages Building at UIUC, there is a display about travel abroad, outlining all the stages a person goes through before adapting to life in a foreign country. You'd think I'd know all the stages because I've read that display a minimum of 100 times, but no, I can't remember. Anyway, it is directed toward individual adaptation, not group behavior. I'm thinking of outlining my own stages of adaptation for group study programs, particularly for groups in India. So far, I've seen the group go through two distinct,but overlapping,stages. I'm trying to predict stage three, but having no luck.

Stage One: Culture of Knowledge Possession.
This stage starts for all American travelers the moment they leave U.S. soil, often as early as the plane trip to India, or in the customs line in the port of arrival. This stage involves an elaborate display on one's personal and deep knowledge of all things South Asian: food, people, religion, history. In a group, this behavior quickly develops into a type of Indian-one-upmanship, with everyone aggressively performing their "Indian Expert" identity. Anyone who makes a statement about India is immediately contradicted. This could be a large statement (for instance, a proclamation about Islam in India), which will spark a fiercely competitive debate on the issue, with everyone involved invoking previous in-country life experience as evidence. Similarly, this could be a small statement (for instance, a claim that there is a mall near the hotel), which will also become a much-debated matter. Who has more local knowledge? This period of individual identity formation within the group is at its most intense in the first week of in-country time, but will continue to ebb and flow throughout the duration of the program.

Stage Two: Evidence of Economic Competitiveness.
This stage grows out of, but does not completely supercede, Stage One. In this stage, each member of the group continues to position themselves as a container of authoritative knowledge by behaving in a certain manner with money. Americans seem particularly prone to this stage. In this stage, shopping and acquisitive behavior alone is not enough to solidify one's position in the group of knowers--we also have to demonstrate the we arrived at the moment of purchase only after a particularly challenging bout of bargaining with shop owners. Few of the compliments made about clothes are sincere--rather, they are an excuse to open the discussion to matters of bargaining. Who spent the least amount of money on the most amount of cloth? This behavior might be considered a subset of the Culture of Knowledge Behavior, but it requires active participation in the local economy to provide an opportunity to display one's position of greater knowledge. This participation must be followed up by a discussion, otherwise the purchase is socially invalid.

Stage Three: I'll let you know.

Monday, June 04, 2007

This is me being introspective.

You know, I could completely be a bigamist, that' s how separate I've managed to keep my two lives. It is true that a few people in Illinois have met Catherine, but I could have easily have prevented that from happening. There is such a complete disconnect between here and there it's amazing. A short anecdote to demonstrate this:

I have been growing out my hair since last March. It's been longer and shorter over the past 1.25 years, but it's mostly been over my ears and collar--unusually long for me. A couple of weeks ago, I got it cut back to something more bearable. When I was in Illinois last week, every single person I saw commented on the short hair. But this weekend, when we were with all our Indiana friends, no one noticed, because to them, it was completely normal, the same length it's always been--no one in Indiana has seen me for any length of time over the past 2 years, so how would they know that I've been wearing it shaggy for the past several months? Anyway, it's a small story, but it's those little details that make me realize that I'm not doing a very good job at balancing the here and there.

In other news, I am doing more introspecting.

You know, I'm not completely stupid about my work. I realized it's political. In fact, I had a very real moment of fear earlier this semester when I looked over the sum total of my work this year and realized that if I published it all, no BJP-led government would ever let me back into India. So, I'm not really blind about what I've been working on and what I've been writing about. I'm also not totally unaware of the fact that it is MY work. I've been without an advisor for a year, and I've really been relying on my own brainpower and abilities to connect the invisible dots to produce my article drafts. I can see that (again, not totally stupid). But what I hadn't realized is that my work is somehow an extension of my self. Okay, that seems obvious--my ideas, my words, my work, blah blah blah. But yesterday, when I realized that the person I hate most in the world had accidentally acquired something I'd written, it wasn't the intellectual or political I was worried about--it felt like a personal violation. I've worked SO HARD to keep my private life private, to keep everything about me guarded and protected, only to find out that for the past two years, *I* am the one creating the chinks in the armor. How stupid is that I would simultaneously exhaust myself building up my defenses with one hand while drilling the wall full of holes with the other? Pretty stupid, I say.

This is me, still being introspective.

Yeah, no, I'm not ecstatic to be leaving the country for ten weeks. It might sound like a vacation to some people, but it sounds like a hell of a lot of work to me. It's going to be a long, hot (did I say hot? I meant HOT) summer of balancing classwork with my real work, and it's not going to be easy. So, yeah, no. Not caring so much about going to India. Also, I don't want to take my new pajamas with me, because you know they're going to come back all ruined. Why go at all, if you can't take your pajamas?