Sunday, August 26, 2007

Okay, sorry. Yes, I made it back to the U.S. last Saturday, and I apologize for not letting people know. In my defense, I've been pretty sick. Why didn't I go to the doctor that last week when Neelamji asked, "Susan, do you need to see a doctor?" That would have been the smart thing to do. Instead, I ended up bringing a respiratory infection back with me, and it's making me and everyone around me miserable. At the risk of sounding like a baby, stupid, whiner, I would like to point out that it almost impossible to recover from jet lag when you are up all night (alas, not an exaggeration) coughing up a lung. Well, I'm three days into my antibiotics, and I feel better, but I think I've made a lot of social and professional mistakes over the past week that I might not have made, had I been feeling better.

Anyway, school is back in session, I've attended my first Advanced Hindi class, and I'm happy to report that I'm not the weakest student in the class, although there's still time for me to devolve. I'm feeling a lot less positive about my program than I was three or four months ago, and I'm starting to wonder in a more serious way if I will even make it to ABD. Hopefully, this is just the bacterial infection closing down my creative thinking channels. I seem to be unable to figure out how to get from point A to point B in my career right now. Actually, while typing this, it became clear to me exactly how deeply sad and depressed I am at the moment. Again, hopefully it's just the time change and being sick, because, damn...I don't have time for more therapy right now. Must.move.forward.Must.make.progress. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Well, in about eight hours, I will be starting the 24-1/2 hour trip home to Indiana. I've been sick all week, so it's pretty much just been a painfully long slog through desert heat, monsoon rains, and final exams, and that's not much fun to write about.

I managed to stay upright long enough to go see Chakde India last night. I think I should have enjoyed it more than I did--it's possible I'm just too sick to enjoy a sports movie right now. I liked the scene right before the intermission the best. I'll see it again sometime when I'm feeling better, it will probably please me more. Actually, seeing a movie that's not in Hindi (and Panjabi, and Marathi, and Telegu, and Tamil, etc.) would probably please me more.

I have some small bit of shopping to do today, and then I am just going to lay in my bed and read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I've read 240 pages so far, and that's a lot of Hindi words, but I'm never going to finish it before I go to see the new movie with Catherine this next week.

Sorry, I'm too tired to write anything more. Maybe one day next week when I'm up at 3 a.m. from jet lag I can fill in some of the gaps. See you all on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean (or Pacific Ocean, depending on which direction you like to circumnavigate the globe).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To, yes, I am done with my final presentation. I don't think it went very well because afterward, everyone said, "You had really good photos!" not "You have really good Hindi!" All I have left to do is the highly Sanskritized standardized Hindi exam. Ordinarily, I would not worry about this, because if you don't want to know your score, they don't tell you, so I can continue on in life pretending it never happened. However, because I'm on a FLAS this year, I have to report the test scores from the beginning of the summer as well as from the end of summer.

I'm fighting a head cold and feeling sorry for myself. The trip back from Varanasi pretty much killed me. It all went smoothly, but I woke up at the Midway on the Delhi-Jaipur road with a sore throat and a cough. It's just gotten worse the past two days. Not the best way to spend the last few days in India, but as long as it's over with before I have to fly again, I'll be happy.

Well, I had more to type about paying off a policewallah in Varanasi, and about the group of boys who followed me around Sarnath trying to convince me to buy something (Beth, the story ends this way: you now own a terracotta Buddha statue, artificially aged with green paint), and about how horrible it is to hear Spanish/French/Italian tourists whining to/chastising hotel staff in English. That story ends with me being glad that I was the only American in the hotel--those other people But, really, I'm too tired and headachy to type much more. Tomorrow is Independence Day, so everything will be closed. Thursday is my final exam, then we're going to a movie. And then Friday I have to do a small bit of shopping here in Rajapark, then fly to Delhi Friday evening. A week from tomorrow, I will be sitting in the basement of FLB, pretending to be happy to be in Advanced Hindi class.

Oh. When I came home from class today, I discovered that the hotel boys had taped up Indian flags on my door only in celebration of Independence. Those boys, they make me laugh. The best line of the summer has been "Koi bat nahin, esa mera duty hai" when I made one of them get up at 2:00 let me in the front door of the hotel. They are funny.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


That sounds like "toe," not "too," and means "So," at the beginning of the sentence. For some inexplicable reason, I now start every sentence with that word, even though no native speaker around me does. I usually get my bad speech habits through imitation, but this one seems to be all my own. I have also, thanks to either J. K. Rowling's inept writing, or some other person's inept translation of Harry Potter from English to Hindi, began starting every other written sentence with the "baharhaal," the Hindi equivalent of "At any rate..." Stupid language.

To, yes, I'm in Varanasi with a pretty decent internet connection for the first time in 9 weeks. Okay, I had no sooner finished that last sentence when the power cut out. Luckily, Blogger automatically backs me up these days.

I spent some time at the observatory today. I had it all to myself, I was the only person who visited those poor A.S.I. workers who have to sit there all day and wait for some tourist to discover their site. That's going to be a long, lonely wait. I went twice, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, because I've noticed that if you leave, and then come back, they think you're really interested and will be more willing to talk to you.

You have to go the observatory (and all the bathing ghats) on foot, bicycle or motorcycle, so I left my rickshaw wallah sleeping outside the Mazda picture house and walked to Man Mandir ghat. I did this twice, which wasn't really all that great of an experience because Saavan ka mela (the monsoon month(s) festival, roughly translated) is going on and there are pilgrims everywhere, people trying to sell me things, etc. The second time through, on my way out, one man did the "Helllloooo Madam!" thing to me, no idea what he was selling. But then another guy said right away, in English, "No, not her, she's Indian, she lives in Jaipur, she has Hindi." I looked back over my shoulder, and the guy was leaning out of the store, giving me the thumbs up sign. How did he know?

I may go to Sarnath on my way to the airport tomorrow, I haven't decided. I'm really tired, and I did go to Sanchi already, and how many stupas does one need to see in a summer? But, I'll probably go, even though I need the sleep.

At this time in a week, I will be hopefully sitting at O'Hare. I had a long post planned about multiple levels of homesickness, but that will have to wait for later.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Well, and I'm just generally in a bad mood. It's hot in here, I have a headache, and I'm tired of writing in Hindi. Plus, I got into two arguments at the Institute today. And, I have to say, I feel like I was in the right both times, but wouldn't you think that in 40 years I'd learn how to walk away from a losing battle? If someone says to me, "It's possible that women are discriminated against in academia, but don't you think it's more likely they're just not as capable or competitive?" you know I should just cut that conversation short, because there's no winning with that one. Likewise, if someone says "I didn't like this film, it was full of stereotypes and big budget scenery, and it was too serious," and I know that the person speaking was doing homework during the first half of the film, never once looking up from his paper, and then wasn't even in the room for the second half, is it even worth responding? No, it's not, and I know that, but still, I engage, then get pissed off when the other party continues to say stupid, completely uninformed things.

I seriously need a vacation, a week or two when I have permission (self-granted?) not to think about work, exams, Hindi, or anything else. Just me sleeping on the couch, reading books with which I'd be ashamed to be seen in public, watching Perry Mason re-runs, and talking to the cats. And maybe drinking Diet Coke, but I think I'm going to try and give that up since I've gone without cold drinks all summer.
Okay, here are the temps for my time in India, from June 8 through today, August 8.




So, you might understand why I am having no weather sympathy for anyone at this point. I feel like I've done my time in the heat. It's definitely cooled off with monsoon, but we're supposed to climb back up for the next week and a half to 104-105.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I suppose traveling is always like this: you know you're going to be in country for 12 more days only, so you run around and do everything you can think to do, just in case you never come back. But no matter how busy you are, you're really just enduring those last 12 days until you can go home. Nothing is really interesting during the last 12 days of a ten-week stay.

I survived the trip to Delhi, more or less sacrificing research to friendship (not sure if that was a particularly good idea, the repercussions will probably only be made obvious over the long term). Spent many hours today working on my final project, including a visit to the Jaipur jantar mantar, where I met--finally--with someone who actually, formally, permanently works there. It's not exactly a free pass into the archives, but it's a start, and that's more or less all I needed to make this summer (I hope). This means I have a contact in Ujjain and Jaipur both. I'm not so concerned about the Delhi site, since it's run by the A.S.I., and I can drum up contacts a plenty after I get home. Partly looking forward to seeing the Varanasi site, partly wishing I didn't have to travel to the other side of U.P. for one-day visit to what possibly might be the most exhausting city in India. At any rate, I get to postpone my exam on causative verbs until next week because of my upcoming Friday absence, so I guess that's okay.

I'm feeling a little cranky because I have a headache. I hit my head (again) on Saturday on a bar in a cycle rickshaw, exactly in the same place I whacked it last time. It was a much less drastic blow, but still, two days later, my head still hurts.

I've got a lot planned for the last twelve days, actually. Obviously, Fri-Sun will be spent going to Varanasi. But we've also got to fit in a viewing of Chakde India. My final project is due Friday, but I'm only going to turn in 3/4 of it, with the last 1/4 due when I get back from Varanasi. We have one final exam (the highly sanskritized one you've all heard me complain about), and we have final presentations (mine is on Tuesday unless I think of some clever way to get out of it). I suppose I should do some more shopping. I've done a lot better this year than I did last, but that's not saying much, since I brought nothing much home last time. Pack, socialize, run back to the jantar mantar two or three times, that should keep me out of trouble.

Wish the summer would end.