Masala is a spice mix. India is all about masala. And now I’m going to write a post that’s a mix of topics.
First off: the ironing lady. I don’t have a picture of her at work, but I do have a picture of her workplace:
See the little shack on the right side? The front folds down into an open window, and the ironing lady stands in the shack and irons and listens to Indian music. I didn’t have my camera last time she was working, but will try to get a picture next time she’s there. I’ve never seen anyone approach the window while she’s there – it seems like she brings the clothes she’s ironing with her, but I’m not entirely sure how it all works.
Next topic: Indian color matching. In India, all colors go together. I *love* wearing outfits that don’t match (particularly red with pink and/or orange). I have been having a blast with my clothing: burgundy pants with bright red top and pink scarf (wheeeee!), green pants with maroon top and purple scarf. The possibilities are endless. Red and green is a very popular color combination here – it holds no association with Christmas. I get up every morning and feel free to wear whatever colors I want. It’s awesome.
Next: Just got back from a cooking class and the cleaning ladies are here. The smiliest of the ladies speaks very little English, and loves to take the trash. She is very unhappy if I say the trash does not need to be taken, so I let her take the almost-empty bag any time she wants. This morning, I ran into her as she swept the hallway and she smiled and asked me a question I couldn’t quite understand. Then she said it again and brought her hand to her mouth and rubbed her tummy.
I realized she was saying, “Breakfast?"
"Yes,” I said. “You?” She nodded.
Then she said something else I couldn’t quite understand. She smiled and said it a couple more times before I realized she was saying “White House.” White House is the name of the apartment building where I stayed last year.
“Yes! Yes! White House,” I said. Good memory.
And then she said something else and I knew it meant she wanted the trash.
Next: School children. School kids wear uniforms here and are taken to school in little vans. You see the vans packed with kids, and all their knapsacks are loaded onto a rack on the top of the van. I was near the local school this morning when the van was dropping off kids. You can’t tell from the picture, but about a dozen kids had already gotten out of the van and had their knapsacks handed down to them by the driver.
After taking the picture of the kids, I stopped into a cafe for fruit salad and chai. The salad was primarily papaya, with pineapple and apple and bananas and pomegranate… and brownish chunks of a fruit I’d never seen before. It looked like oxidized pears, but tasted like caramel or burnt sugar. I asked what it was and learned that it’s chikku, a local fruit. I kind of love it.
Finally: I am taking note of the cleaning ladies’ outfits. Neon pink and maroon; blue and green and yellow; green, white and red; red, pink, blue and green.
One of the ladies mentioned the picture hung just inside the door of my apartment. It’s the paper backing of what used to be a calendar. She came in the door, gazed at the picture and ran her hand over it. “Sai Baba,” she said.
“Sai Baba,” I said, nodding. (Here’s something about Sai Baba.) It was pretty clear from the get-go that I wasn’t going to be able to understand a lesson on Sai Baba, so instead she gave me a simple lesson on Kannada. We went over the Kannada words for “apple,” “papaya,” “coconut,” “egg,” “breakfast,” “lunch,” “good morning,” “good night,” and “green.” Also all of the names of Indian breakfast foods (she thought it was funny that I have favorite Indian breakfast foods). She said, “Kannada people breakfast: idly, vada, parotha, puri, bisebele bath, kesari bath, dosa. English people breakfast: papaya, banana, apple – that’s all! Hahaha! Kannada people big; English people small."
India makes me love people.