Is doch normaaaal!

Jan 24, 2008 in

I think the reason why I seldom write something about Chandigarh and the life here, is that there is really not so much going on here. Chandigarh is famous for it’s boring nightlife. Regrettably, the AIESECers here are not putting to much effort in communication with the trainees. Only a few are coming to our parties and women are not allowed out anyway (“Because they have to prepare for marriage”).
I’m one of the first people to leave the house in the morning and definitely the last one who returns from work at around 7-8 PM (my work is far away from the house). So on weekdays, we have only few hours in the evening together. I introduced a variant of the old chinese boardgame Noodle-Go which we play rather often.1 But sometimes when I am really late, most have gone out somewhere when I return. The real life is going on on the weekend, while we traveling India!

The daily life and the way to the office is such a routine already, that I don’t notice all those things anymore which were totally shocking and exotic to me when I arrived here. Perhaps that’s why I don’t write about it (anymore). It is normal to squeeze in a bus where the people are hanging out of the doors or travel on the roof, it is normal to see car accidents almost every day, it is normal that people glare at you and treat you like some kind of superstar and even the rickshaw-drivers who want to bring you to a “cheap hotel” every day when you return to the bus stand from work are normal. I’m used to get attention from people just by looking at them (“Hanji? Yes, Sir?”), I already gave up to argue with people that “Sir” is not the right word long ago.
I guess when I am back home I’ll walk through the streets, baffled and irritated, and at one point shout “Hellooo??! I am HERE! LOOK at me!!!”. ;)

Only the day before yesterday, when I walked through a herd of cows just in front of our office, I stopped, thinking “Hey, wait a moment…o_O”. I stood there for more than ten minutes, watched the cows lazily lie on the grass verge, munching. Then I looked around. As if I have awakened from a dream, I suddenly saw all those things again that I learned to ignore (like in a SEP-field): Also on this small verge between the two streets I saw a barber shop whose shop mostly consisted out of a mirror that was pinned on a tree and a chair in front of it. A rickshaw repair-workshop of the same type and close to it, a group of rickshaw-drivers cooking their dinner on a small campfire. Auto-rickshaws were parked everywhere, waiting for their turn to substitute buses going to the main bus stand (if the people grew tired of waiting for the bus that wouldn’t come or is too overcrowded2). The story that Lena told me about India – that people live and sleep on the pavement and get their water from (a tub) in the gully to make tea – are true. It seems to be so normal that I almost forgot about that she told me that, still having some other pictures of this in my mind which appear less normal and more shocking.

This night I stayed at the other trainee house in Panchkula. Panchkula is another city that is closer to my work than Chandigarh. In the evening we played Moneyply (a bad Indian copy of Monopoly) and I remembered how boring Monopoly really is.
Anyway, I walked past some slums today morning and nearly failed to notice it: There were some new showrooms (shops) near our house and between the showrooms were spaces of about 6-8 metres where no showroom has been built yet. In those spaces, there were some huts and tents built out of rubbish, using the walls of the showrooms as supporting walls. These are the places where all those cycle-rickshaw-drivers, cleaning ladies and barber-shop-owners live. I peeked into some huts and was surprised: They had a TV and electrical light, but lived in a very small space and used a campfire as their heating. Inmidst all these rubbish-huts, there was a very small temple (or a big shrine) of Durga. Actually, it all looked pretty cosy, really like a small village community.

The longer I live in India, the less I am shocked about the possibility of just sleeping on the pavement or anywhere else – as long as it’s warm enough and not raining? So, “cosy” and “homely” were really the first words that came to my mind when I walked through the slum.

1 I built the first version of the game out of the backside of a cheesy Hindu poster and a Kellog’s Cornflakes pack. It would not be black vs. white but cardboard vs. kellog’s ;). Now, I made a board out of proper cardboard and bought different colored noodles. The rules of Noodle-Go are basically the rules of Multiplayer-Go.

2 Actually, this word doesn’t seem to exist in India ;)

The Noodle-Go board. I played more than a dozen games now since I am here. :)
Backside of our first improvised Go-Board. It shows Shiva with his wife Parvati and her son Ganesha.
This is the bazaar which can also be seen in this post. After rainfall, it needed some reinforcements ;)
Computerized hair style!! Possibly means that they have an electrical shaver there ;)
A tea shop which is NOT computerized (see the difference) :D… in front of a shop that is possibly computerized by the looks of it.
Bus stop near my office
Showrooms near my office