Learning more than language…

We are just finishing two weeks of India-living… and our first week of Hindi-learning.  As if acquiring all new verbs, adjectives and nouns is not a big enough bite to chew on, it is becoming quite obvious that living here in Chandigarh is going to demand that we learn many other lessons as well!

Like weather patterns.  We are learning which parts of the day merely leave you drenched with sweat… and during which parts of the day an outdoor excursion could lead you to your grave!   Lesson learned: we’re doing our “at home studying” during the oh-so-hot afternoon hours, where at least we can keep out of the sun.

And cooking.  After almost a year of not cooking regularly, I am again the primary chef for our household… in a kitchen I do not know, furnished with gadgets I do not know.  Do I use filtered water or amoeba water (from the tap) for this?  Do I have to make traditional chai for our friend or is milk tea okay?  When there is a floating blob of ants the size of a bouncy ball in our tea kettle, do I scream or just shudder and dump it out?  Ross daily finds me frozen mid-action in the kitchen, unsure of what to do next.  My old habits are no good – new ones must be invented!

And getting around town.  We require ourselves to stay on foot for language practice; but for errands and shopping we have purchased bicycles.  Not just any bikes… real, bona fide Indian bicycles… the ones with the huge sturdy frames, the high handle-bars, and the old-fashioned bells (which is my favorite part.)  Actually, my favorite part is the color: mine is hot (and I do mean “hot”) pink!  Hot pink bike with a hot pink basket!  Wow… I stop traffic with that thing…

At least I WISH I could stop traffic with it.  See, bikes are slower than any other wheeled form of transportation, so fitting in with the flow of traffic can be a challenge.  It takes much concentration….

… which is difficult when one is riding in a skirt!  My first day I rode the bike wearing a flowing skirt… which I continually had to keep from blowing up and exposing my kneecaps, which would be scandalous!   A bit later, when my seat started tilting backwards, I decided I’d better end the ride.  Too many things to think about while trying to protect my life on these Indian roads!  (Still waiting on the tailor to make clothes that fit properly, so I can make the switch from skirts to Indian saalwar kameez!)

We’re learning about maids, too.  We have one, or at least the couple we are house-sitting for has one.  She comes every day to do the toilets and floors.  She is lovely; we practice our Hindi with her.  So far she has come six days… at six totally different times!  Strangely enough, we happen to actually been at home every single time.  Guessing this luck wouldn’t last, we tried today to communicate to her a bit of our schedule, so she would know when we are gone.  Ross patiently used is few Hindi words to say; “Monday… Wednesday… Friday… 10 o’clock… we leave.”  And something to the effect of “morning is better.”  We just want to make sure she comes early enough not to miss us when we leave for our Hindi lesson!  Satisfied that we had done well, we sat back and admired our communication accomplishment.  Then she asked, “Friday… you will leave.  How many days will you be gone?”  Yikes.  Back to the Hindi lessons!

I’ve only brushed the surface.  Ross reminds me when I fall into bed exhausted each night… at 9:00 p.m…. just how demanding it can be to adjust to doing “normal life” in another culture… while learning a language, too!  Thankfully we can be certain that “His grace is sufficient” and “His power is perfected in weakness.”  We’re also glad that “with God, all things are possible!”

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