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10/17/2016

Between mythology and reality: how much violence!

It’s Tuesday. It's Dussehra. A sweet festival celebrating the victory of the god Ram over the Demon Ravan, who had kidnapped Ram’s wife, Sita. Our society had organized a small commemoration for the occasion. We arrived during the battle of Hanuman, the monkey God, painted in red, terrifying, as much as his comrades or enemies with giant moustaches, all of them fighting. I took baby Samurai close to the stage (the only place where there was a little room to sit) but with these monstrous costumes and super loud music, he got scared and I couldn’t blame him. What an explosion of violence!

image1.JPGThen we moved away from the speakers and their noise pollution and patiently waited for the ‘highlight’ of the show: they were to set fire to a giant demon (at least five meters high), and to his brother and son! We sat on the grass, the ground was a quite sloppy. I was holding Baby Samurai tight in my arms. The demons were on our right, a few metres away, behind a safety rope. I was looking at the crowd on my left, quite absorbed in studying all these people who never get out of their luxurious villas. And then, all of a sudden, a massive explosion. I turn my head and see this giant statue on fire, burning debris flying everywhere, people running, and, to add to the confusion, bombs continue to explode. I panicked. Completely. I grabbed my little one and tried to get up. Failing to do so, I fell, and started to get out of there crawling. When I finally spotted my favourite Indian! I yelled at him to take the baby, used his help to get up, took my son back, and while sobbing of terror, I run for our lives!

Once we reached a safe place, the last demon was going in flames and crackers and it was still so loud, I had to block the ears of Baby Samurai. And this circus was finally over. It is only the presence of the nanny (one can not be weak in front of the staff, right, Madam) that kept me from screaming and crying my distress. Half an hour later I finally stopped shaking, took a look at my injured knee and started to relax.

8 years ago, during my first Diwali in Mumbai, a jerk had exploded me a firecracker thirty centimetres from me, leaving me almost deaf in one ear, and so vaccinating me against Diwali in a big city. Since then, I have always made sure I would be in a remote area of India during that time of the year. And now it is going to be the same during Dussehra!

The scene shot by my neighbors (not busy fleeing it):

05/23/2016

Helen's pearls 1

I love the sense of humor of the Baby Samurai’s nanny.

For example at 6 o'clock this morning:

  • Her: Madam the lawn of the park is all wet, dogs must have peed everywhere.
  • Me: Helen...
  • Her: Oh! So it is dew then?
  • Me: …

In addition to putting me in a good mood in the morning, sometimes she makes me laugh so much.

That day I was in the pool, and Baby on the deck.

  • She: “Baby, go pee on the lawn”. Then to me: “I’ve been teaching him to pee on the lawn, instead of the pool deck. But he doesn’t really know how to make the difference between peeing and pooping”. To him: “Baby, hey you, since you seem to be pushing, trying to aim well and make caca on the floorboard so that it does not get stuck between two boards!
  • Me: What will my parents think when they come visit and my son goes on the lawn to shit!
  • Her: Don’t worry, we will tell them that the train station is too far...

 india,toilet,public defecation,shitting in public(If you don’t get the ‘joke’, the surroundings of train stations and highways as well as beaches, at least in Mumbai, are usually packed with jolly shitters in the morning.) And she said it, not me!

By the way, one day we had a debate. As she had mentioned with quite some despite all these “dirty people” who defecate in the street, I tried to defend them by pleading that more than half of the population still does not have access to toilets (source). But her, daughter of the slums herself, is convinced that it is their choice: they are the ones who don’t want to use toilets and prefer to have company while pooing.

05/02/2016

A departure high in colours...

It’s Monday night. I haven’t eaten the whole day, too busy “closing” things at work (actually you never close anything but nevermind...). Luckily (smartly?) I have packed the bags the past weekend – it’s crazy how complicated it can get to travel with a baby, starting with checking whether winter clothes fit and finishing with folding the portable cot!

Now it’s 7:30 PM, Baby Samurai is asleep, the nanny on the train, the husband in the taxi, and I’m putting a final touch to packing (with a special focus on food). And suddenly I hear the baby call for me. And as soon as I lift him up he vomits on me profusely. His first vomit ever in 16 months, we are both stunned... Unable to take a step without walking on puke, I have no idea what to do. So I first clean him up, put him back to sleep, wash the floor then myself and get back to the luggage. I lost my appetite. And then he pukes again. I wash him again, he seems to feel better, and I am still running around in my underwear. I’ll take a shower at the last minute, you never know.

It’s 10 PM. I have to shampoo the cat. Some would argue that the time may not be perfect but I have to help the poor animal to get rid of his special guest (some kind of ringworm) and I could not find any other time!

10:30. The taxi is downstairs. I grab Baby Samurai to put some clothes and he barfs again, all over me, again. One more shower and we’re off!

And he empties his stomach again in the car, what nightmare! The 8-hour flight to Europe promises to be very long...

india,gurgaon,toll booth,jats,protest,taxiI notice that we are on a flyover, on the highway and there is traffic which is very unusual at this time of the day (or rather night) and also there are lines of trucks parked on the side. What the hell is going on? Suddenly two men bang the car, intimate my driver to lower his window, pluck his mouth/cheeks, strangle him with his seat belt. All this while I’m screaming to leave him alone, my baby is sick and I have a flight to catch; they ignore me superbly and eject the driver from the car, taking him away. And then nothing. After five minutes I call my husband and then I just blow a fuse. Total panic. I have in the background the horrifying stories of colleagues of friends gunned up at Gurgaon tollbooth – stories I never pay attention to but they obviously enter by one ear and don’t leave by the other. So fuck it. I get out of the taxi, covered in vomit, baby in my arms and start yelling on the truck drivers, demanding that my driver is given back to me. They seem to have no idea what is happening, well done in pretending they are not part of this hold-up!

A car stops, and then another, and another. A man in each vehicle. All come out and ask me “What is wrong Madam?” “What is going on?” Half sobbing half screaming I explain that my driver has been abducted. And they find him immediately, kept captive in a van just behind our car. He takes his seat and we hit the road again. No thank you for the rescue! And I have get the end of the story. What were these trucks doing there? Why this jam in the middle of the night? Why did these two men in civilian attire assaulted my driver?*

I arrive at the counter of the airline, stinking and still dripping with tears. I must look awful and out of place, especially at the business counter. And guess what? While things could hardly get worse, I can’t find my passport. Well actually I do. And then? Lufthansa just upgrade my husband. They could not have chosen a better time to do it I swear...And baby slept almost all through!

* I just found out, about two weeks after the event that there is a possibility that the trucks were parked there to wait for the opening of the toll between Gurgaon and Delhi which takes place at midnight. And that this racket is institutionalized for taxi drivers who do not pay the toll. So maybe I wasn’t after all in the heart of coup being fomenting a or a revolution or any other uprising – which have become quite common these days with the Jats protesting regularly (see this article). Pfff... I lost it for no reason!