You might remember my first trip to India, and how miserable I was living with a host family in Jaipur. Or, you might not, because I didn't blog about it. Let's just say that at 39 years old, I was too old to have a host mother, especially a mother who didn't understand the concept of "allergic to milk."* I mention this now, because my experience living with, or at least near, families this time around has been much better. I really liked the place I was living in Delhi. My room was located in the front of the house, off the sitting room, I had a lot of privacy, and although I'm sure they would have fed me more, I only ate breakfast at home. I enjoyed my freedom, but I also liked it that there were other people in the house. The boys in the house were hilarious, and Mr. and Mrs. Host took very good care of me.
I like this place in Bikaner even better. I am living in a family hotel, so not with the family, but I eat my two meals a day in the main house, and I see and talk with the family members quite a bit. I have a lot of privacy and solitude, but I can also go down to the sitting room whenever I am bored and watch TV (but I have a TV in my room).
Nice things my host family has done for me:
Mr. Host was driving me to work every day, but then he arranged for a local autorickshawallah to take me there and pick me up in the afternoon. This is nice, because I don't have to walk out to the main road and try to flag down a ride in the afternoon.
I asked Mrs. Host if the local store would have soap (both Dettol and Pears), and she instantly called Mr. Host on the cell phone and told him to go to the store and get me soap. When he brought me the soap, he said I couldn't give him money for it, because family doesn't charge family for soap.
Mr. Host has been bringing me boxes of bottled water. Usually, I try to avoid bottled water because the empty bottles are bad for the environment, but I run out of clean water pretty quickly if I rely on the Aero water from the house. I am paying for the boxes of water, but only the marked price, not the "guest price" of 20 Rs. a bottle (which is how it is marked in my monthly budget).
Mrs. Host thinks that I shouldn't do my sightseeing in an autorickshaw, so she has volunteered Mr. Host as a chauffeur. He has taken me to the fort, already, and maybe this weekend we will go to the palace.
Mr. Host sent me a plate of grapes last night, and when dinner was slightly delayed today, he sent me a box of Tropicana orange juice.
Generally speaking, they are just very nice people. I'm trying to focus on this, because it is easy to get so irritated with all the unwanted attention on the streets and work myself into such a fury that I use twitter to declare that I hate all people except Roger Ebert. I often end up in my room at the end of the day just staring at the mattress (because I am flat on my face), praying no one else talks to me for the rest of the week. But, really, Mr. and Mrs. Host are being really nice to me, and it is good to know that I have friendly, helpful people just down the hall from me.
*In order to avoid this during my second trip to India, I stayed in a hotel, but not a family hotel. I really liked that experience, too, as my room became the "happening pad" where we all hung out, but I kind of like having a family nearby, too.