Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Other Random Concerns.

  • When I came home after a weekend away, my room had been thoroughly dusted. I often leave my books in stacks on top of the shelves or on my desk, but apparently the maid doesn't like this arrangement. This weekend, she stood the three books that wouldn't fit on my literature shelf upside down and on end, on the top shelf, pretty much out of my reach.
  • It is really frustrating that I can't read Panjabi. When I am reading it alongside the Hindi and Urdu on the signs in Delhi, it makes perfect sense. However, once the companion Hindi is removed, it all turns into Greek (except I could probably figure out more of the Greek than I can of Panjabi). If I ever get lost in the Panjab, I'm screwed.
  • How much do you suppose I'd need to pay for a hotel room in Delhi with an American bed? My back is killing me after this weekend. I thought I had become accustomed to my bed here in Delhi, but it isn't helping my lower back pain right now.
  • You know that Vodafone commercial were the guy buys a diamond ring, and when he leaves the shop, the entire city is staring at him? The point of the commercial is that with Vodafone's very reasonable price of 10 paise per SMS, you can spread gossip efficiently and inexpensively. So, by the time the guy gets to the restaurant with his ring, his soon-to-be-affianced knows exactly what's up. Well, my point is this: this commercial shows EXACTLY what it is like for a foreigner in a town where many foreigners don't go. Staring, gaping, following, everybody knows exactly where you are, every second of the day.
  • Slumdog Millionaire. Eh...not so much. Parts of it were brilliant (the organized begging, the spurious mineral water, the empty hotel/development project, the unfinished building in Mumbai, the pathways through the basti). Most of it, however, was just a filmi remake of Salaam Bombay. Such a shame, the movie started out so well, and then just dissolved into a story about how we don't have to worry about the fate of the poor chaiwallah because he was pure of heart and very resilient, and therefore would turn out A-OK. No need to examine our own roles in creating the slums and allowing organized crime and oppression to thrive.
  • I'm thinking about abandoning my Urdu lessons. For one thing, they are expensive, and I feel like a walking bank machine these days. For another thing, my head is too tired to add another language right now. I know it's mostly just learning the script, and in theory, it will help me with my Hindi, but it feels like too much for me these days. I'm not here to become fluent in Hindi, anyway, the time for that has past. My Hindi is good enough for daily life, and right now I need to create some more space in my cotton-filled head for thinking about my real work.
  • Speaking of real work, today I found something that will help me not at all with my dissertation, but could form the basis of a later article on the restoration of the Jaipur observatory in 1901. It's funny the things I'm learning about India without even trying, just looking at catalogue indices. Do you want to know what's really irritating, though? The indices for 1850-1859 Foreign Department (R-Z) are completely missing, as are the 1903 Foreign Department indices. How can I do research without an index? It boggles.

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