Once again I have been purposefully slack in my blogging as my days at uni are pretty monotonous and I am in the thick of mid-term examinations, however I realised this morning that my days here are vastly different from how I would ever spend them in Australia and I thought I’d share with you a bit of a ‘day in the life of…’ story.
Every morning I am woken before dawn to the distance sounds of a mixture of Sikh and Muslim chanting and prayers at their respective Gurdwaras and mosques. Then the morning ritual of throat clearing begins! I initially thought this noise to be stray dogs fighting or choking every morning until I regretfully asked a friend who happily informed me that Indians have a throat clearing ritual of coughing up phlegm. He informed me it was a necessity due to the pollution and dust and unfortunately went on to demonstrate how to perform this task whilst urging me to take up the practice. Thankfully, the noise is soon drowned out by the university construction workers who seem to have no time constraints on when they can start and finish work.
When the sun finally shows its face I go and buy two cups of milk from the ‘mess man’. Every morning I practice my Hindi on him asking for milk. Yesterday however, I was rather embarrassingly informed by a mortified girlfriend that I have actually been asking for ‘a pair of breasts’ as I have been leaving out the all important word of ‘cup’. No wonder the ‘mess man’ is so happy to see me every morning!
Then comes a full day of lectures from nine to three, Monday to Saturday. I find this system quite torturous as the lectures are usually in Hindi and are very strict. On several occasions I have tried to use this time to study the small amount of English notes from a previous lecture only to be told to pay attention. Skipping class is also not an option due to the strict attendance rules. This also leaves very little time for any actual study or in my case working out what the lecture was about. I initially found it quite difficult going from being a top student to one that is just passing but it is probably a very good lesson for me and I am ever so slowly learning to appreciate the experience and ignore my pride and ego.
After class I meet up with a girlfriend at the gym for an hour and a half. India has to be the only country in the world where your gym trainer offers you tea and chocolate biscuits… whilst you are peddling away on the broken exercise bike.
After a few hours study and a shower out of a bucket I go and try to convince my ‘hostel buddies’ that 730pm is not too early to be eating dinner. I do this every night! Indians eat late, usually between 9 and 11pm and whilst I get the ‘when in Rome’ saying, I am just too hungry come 730pm. Every evening I am ushered into my friend’s tiny room and sit with her four roommates on her tiny bed that is squished between the wall and another tiny bed. Often she will very sneakily text her friends to “come and see the white girl” in her room and on one such occasion I found myself being introduced to 30 odd different friends before actually getting out the door to dinner. I should mention here that Brent and I eat separately because there are separate mess facilities for girls and boys. While we do have the option of eating out of the mess, we are the only people on campus with this luxury and I find eating in the mess to be a good chance to meet people.
Once I finally convince my friend to leave her room, we make the inevitable stop offs at several other hostel rooms to collect other friends to have dinner with us. Dinner is always the same, a vegetarian mixture of rice, chapatti, dhal and one other vegetable dish. There is often a ‘salad’ which is always simply sliced radish and carrot. Dinner is eaten with the fingers of your right hand and I love eating like this!
The process after dinner is much the same as before. We make several rounds of the hostel visiting different people and like a toy doll I am urged to try on their clothes, jewellery or make-up or told to repeat the limited Hindi I actually know while girls watch on and clap and cheer or take my photo. They love to see me in traditional Indian clothes and on one such occasion one of the lecturers took much delight in dressing me in one of her saris and positioning me in literally hundreds of positions whilst she took my photo. Usually getting back to my room is no mean feat and I usually have to lie and say my husband wants me back as this seems to be the only excuse that they will give in to due to being subordinate to their men. If Brent is away or out the girls will continue to text or knock at more door at all hours of the night. I really have no idea when Indians sleep.