Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Marry Life

It has been a few weeks since my last post and what a few weeks they have been. Let’s see, to sum up, Manuel left for Scotland, I moved house and started a new job which is so busy, I feel like it might be more relaxing if I were picking cotton in the fields at Tara. I have also not really had any time with my friends… That is pretty much it. The power comes. The power goes. And life in Delhi goes on as life in Delhi does.

Since living abroad, I have become used to the daily question of “Where are you from?” and “How long have you been here?” After that, the curiosity of people tended to wane and conversation goes down what for me had always been a pretty normal path. Since living here, I get the daily question of “Are you married?” and when I answer in the negative, I get looks that suggest I might be a serial wife killer on the loose and the question “Why not?” It is a question I have become used to, along with “How much did you pay for that?” which is always followed by a “You got ripped off man!”

My new neighborhood is a little village locked in the middle of Delhi. Yes, Hauz Khaz Village has but one street and it dead ends. That means there is no through traffic. It is also surrounded on all sides by parks and ruins which give the illusion that Delhi is nowhere around. Full of tiny antique shops, designer clothes stores and dotted with a few restaurants, the place a has a dusty and run down charm. I have moved into a temporary place while my final place gets finished. That was supposed to be yesterday and I discovered yesterday that it will be one more week. Right now I am staying on the second floor. No light. No breeze. Walls painted a mustard yellow. One can easily forget there is a word out there. My new place is on the top floor with two terraces. It sounds grand, but tiny is more the word that comes to mind. More on that in a later post.

My work schedule has left me little time for anything but sleep and work, and in spite of living 50 meters from gym, I have yet to step inside. I leave first thing in the morning for the roughly hour-long commute to the office, work until at least ten at night and then commute back, stopping in one of the cafes for some take-out before heading the last minute or so home on foot. I eat, I sleep and I start it all over again.

Living in a place like Hauz Khaz Village is like living in an actual village. Everyone knows everyone and everyone likes to be involved in everyone’s business. There is only one flat per floor, and to get to my flat, I have to pass the landlord’s place. They live on the ground floor. The door is always open and someone is always keeping watch. My landlords also do not speak English. They have a son who speaks a bit of it, but a real conversation is out of the question. Every time I go to or from my house, the usual offers come out of the house “Khanna? Khanna?” Khanna is the word for food. I was sure she was looking at my thin fame with pity and felt it was her duty to fatten me up a bit. But now I suspect there were other motives in play.

It all started last week on a Wednesday night when I did my usual stop by “The Living Room” to pick up some food. I got home only to realize the power was out, so I ate my dinner by the light of my laptop and was just about finished when the son with the broken English came by and invited me up to the roof terrace. The terrace that would one day be mine. As I said, there are two terraces in my soon-to-be place. One right in the middle of the flat, and one on the roof of it all. It is on that roof that there is evidence of total surroundings of trees and from there, I will have a stunning view of nature and history. But that night, I was met by a gentle breeze, an almost full moon and most of the landlord’s family. Suddenly they had me.

There was a lot of Hindi and then I was asked “You marriage?” and I replied in the negative. There was more Hindi and suspicious looks. “Why not?” I replied that I have not had the time, that I work too much. More Hindi and then the big reveal. It seems that landlord has an unmarried daughter, who just happened to be on the terrace and who just happened to have positioned herself so that the light of the almost full moon was showing her off in the way she obviously felt was most flattering. There was more Hindi, giggling among the girls and then “Me also no marriage. You, me marry” I gave him a strange look. “Oh, you and I need to get wife?” which was met by a big smile. “My sister no marriage. Good cook. Very nice the khanna!” They, like so many others are under the opinion the only thing I am missing from my life, and the only thing that will make me truly happy is a nice Indian wife.

Suddenly the power was back on and I excused myself, paying my respects to the mother before heading off to my little bachelor pad to sleep. Since then, I have been trying to keep a bit of distance. I am almost scared of coming home one evening and running into the cold steel of a Punjabi shot gun wedding.

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