I have written before that India is a complex place. Frankly this is what makes India India. Elise and I agreed this past weekend that India is confusing. It messes with your mind. One instance you’re saying to yourself, “India is amazing! It’s wonderful!” The next you’re muttering, “What the f---!” Only to wake up the next morning, the morning call to prayer carrying over the river, the man with the warm smile at his vada cart on the corner, and think, “This place is amazing! It is wonderful!” all over again.
We just returned from a weekend voyage south to the old French colonial town of Pondicherry. It was only our second time out of Chennai, and a long time coming. Elise and I have also collectively decided we need to get out of dodge more…for our own sanity, if nothing else.
Our last morning in town we had breakfast at a quaint Parisian style, outdoor café called Café des Artes. Elise ordered a crepe. I tried to order a croquet, but got a crepe instead, but remained equally pleased. We both ordered cappuccinos.
I was going to order waffles for the kids, but didn’t know if two would be sufficient for three kids or if each kid needed their own waffle. The kids’ appetites are growing prodigiously. I honestly never know how much food to order for them. We alternate between meals out where they barely eat a thing, between meals out where six orders of buttered noodles barely make a dent in their hunger.
I asked the waitress, “Is the waffle big?”
“Is it enough for two kids?”
“Or is it enough for one kid?”
“Is the waffle small? About this size?” I held up my hand to approximate the dimensions of a brick.
A week or so ago, I went to the canteen at work for breakfast. The canteen starts serving breakfast at 8:30. It was 9:20, and they were out of food. I flew into a rage disproportionate to the circumstances, but indicative of the level of frustration that can be experienced on a daily basis, alternating with equal doses of amazement and wonder.
I came back to my office and erupted, “This is bull$h!t!” It is unlike me to show my frustration in public, and much rarer to do so among my co-workers. It showed me that I had been simmering longer than I was consciously aware…and that I was more comfortable venting to my co-workers than I knew.
That being said, I live a sheltered existence compared to Elise. I get up, race around the house for an hour making breakfast and getting school lunches packed, but after that, I spend most of my day in my sheltered office, far, far away from India. Elise spends her entire day navigating through pockets of wonder and frustration, and I need to give her more credit that I do.