In an attempt to make your morning a little bit brighter, here are some silly (but all too true) stories that have happened to me since I arrived in India (which was two whole weeks ago, by the way!).
- Frishta own two buffalos. Or Buffalo. Whatever. Anyway, there are two of them – a mother and a baby. They’re huge and very smelly. But they are here. And for that, I’m trying to be grateful. But anyway. They’re pretty much free to roam around the site (which, by the way, is the same site where the children play. Remember this. It’s important). So. I was minding my own business, playing with the children and trying to convince them that I really was too big for the tiny see-saw. While I was trying to explain this to them (complete with crazy hand motions and trying to get them to understand English), I could feel something behind me. You know like in the movies, where you know something’s behind you, but there’s no way you’re gonna turn around and see just what is breathing down the back of your neck? Yeah, that. Next thing, I hear a grunting noise and turn around to come face to face with a buffalo. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much in my life. The children thought it was hilarious. Until said buffalo took a step closer to us. Then they screamed too (and somehow thought it was perfectly acceptable to use me as a human shield between them and the buffalo. Delightful). I’m now convinced that the buffalos (or buffalo. Whatever) give me dirty looks every time they see me.
- Taking advantage of the buffalos, the milk we have here at Frishta is buffalo milk, not cow’s milk. I’d had it in tea without really knowing any different, so I wasn’t too worried. I’d been told it tastes just like whole milk we get in England. Fine. On my first morning of having breakfast at Jasmine House, I was offered a glass of milk, and then being given it before I could really say anything. Let me tell you, it tastes nothing like cow’s milk. They have to really heat it up before you drink it because it hasn’t been treated in the same way that we treat milk in England, and it smells like a farmyard. I’m not kidding. It’s not pleasant. But, out of politeness, I manage to drink this glass of buffalo milk. No problem. The next morning I go for breakfast, I’ve been promoted to a huge mug of the stuff. Problem. I can’t seem to communicate to the people making breakfast that I’m actually lactose intolerant either. Four days straight, I show up for breakfast and am expected to drink this huge mug of ‘milk’. Thankfully, they finally get it, and I get to switch to soya milk. I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief right now (and I also get cornflakes for breakfast now, too!).
- I was helping one of the children with their English reading (which is always fun – I spend most of my time wanting to correct what the author of the textbook has written!) and I came across a word that definitely does not exist in England – we have wardrobes – the people who wrote the textbook is convinced we call them steel something-or-others. So I had to ask one of the Frishta children what this ‘English’ word was. They all thought I was crazy (until I explained that whatever that word was doesn’t actually exist in England…).
- I got to help with the veg shopping at Dera Bassi market last week. This was definitely an experience. Dera Bassi is a little shanty-type town, with very few buildings and lots of stalls, all crammed with really bright coloured vegetables. Oh, and the sewage runs down the middle of the street. Dera Bassi never sees any tourists, so I got a lot of strange looks (even people driving past us would slow down just to stare at me. Another way to tell I’m not in England). Anyway, to get to said market, we rode in the Tata Magic. The thing about this car is that it technically shouldn’t be on the road. I was sat in the back of it and the metalwork sounded like someone torturing a herd of piglets. I was convinced the whole back of the car was going to fall off before we even made it to the market. But that is not why this is considered a ‘funny story’. Oh no. The funny thing is – I was halfway to Dera Bassi when it dawned on me that out of the three of us in the car, I was the only one with a driver’s license. And I wasn’t driving.
Welcome to India, folks!