Day 2: After forcing ourselves to sleep in, we were woken up by Payal brushing her teeth and screaming (we will explain her later) and went to the big room (the main bedroom with AC where everyone hangs out, even though there is a living room next door) and ate a two hour long breakfast. Nora already senses that there is a much slower and much more laid back pace of life, and people really value spending time with family just talking and sitting, rather than running from place to place all of the time. We had tea (every time we come home from anywhere we drink tea), biscuits, and Indian pancakes- doughy with vegetables inside.
Let us now take the time to talk about a little girl named Payal, who we are bringing back with us in a suitcase, how’s that for an interactive souvenir? Payal is the 3-year-old great granddaughter of Hiru Didi, Mohenna’s aunt and uncle have brought her to stay at their home to make sure that she can get a good education and open up doors for her in the future for professional careers that her family would not have been able to provide her with. Never have we seen a more energetic, beautiful, and affectionate little girl. The moment she walks in the room she instantly sits, or more like climbs, onto someone’s lap shrieking with joy. Her favorite word is ‘pagol’ which means crazy person – not a surprise considering she deals with Hiru Didi all day long. While Nora was getting ready after her shower, Payal stood next to her and watched with amazement as she put product in her hair and sprayed perfume. Next thing we know, Payal walks into the ‘big room’ with the same products on, “Nora didi” (as called by Payal) has now become her favorite person, opening her eyes to the world of… cosmetics.
It being a pleasant 114 degrees outside and Saturday (we do not start work until Monday), we realized that we should spend our time someplace with air conditioning, so we got ready to go to the mall with the family. First stop was a store where Nora could pick up some “Kurties” which are Indian tunics. After buying two beautiful pieces of clothing for 800 rupees which roughly translates into $17.00 we realized that our recent $40.00 purchase from Urban Outfitters, for the same type of top, might have been a mistake. We then proceeded to eat at the food court which is extremely different from any food court found in an American mall. Nora claims that her $4.00 meal was better than most expensive Indian food in America. After eating for the hundredth time, we went to the salon with Leepa, who dragged Aman away from FUN CITY due to the fact that it was too hot, the arcade. Bitter, he proceeded to leave the mall only to call her minutes later and say that it was “funny that she could enjoy time in the Salon in the heat while he could not play in FUN CITY.” She informed him that the salon was air conditioned, and he responded that she was already playing favorites with Mohenna (he is an only child…) He decided to come back to the mall from the house and wait for us at Looks Salon so that we could take him to FUN CITY.
Leepa insisted (kind of…) to get our nails done, and the experience turned out to be one of the wildest but most relaxing of our lives. A 200 rupee ($4.20) pedicure is an hour long ordeal complete with massages. But, unlike America where the beauticians may snickers about ones feet behind their backs, in India the male manicurists were very open about their distaste, disgust, and overall bewilderment with the state of Nora’s feet. Each time they would scrub them, they would proceed to present her with the dead skin that had fallen off, and say “do you like this pedicure?” and “feel your feet” in the most self-congratulatory manner. When they were informed that Nora had not had a pedicure in two years, he gave her a sick look and proceeded to point out how dry and coarse her hair was, welcoming her back to him next Tuesday for a hair treatment and scalp massage. She declined politely. Nora probably said “sorry” at least one hundred times throughout her “pedicure,” and by the end she felt very close with this man, who all she could really do was smile at and he would smile back at her. He closed by telling us he did not believe we were from America with the state of our extremities. Congratulations for whoever made it through that paragraph.
Once we were done, with Looks Salon, we met up with Aman and took him to FUN CITY. Walking around the mall together was a blast- we looked like an odd, odd threesome. Aman, though Indian, looks either Italian or like a Sephardic Jew, according to Nora. His hair looks like Ringo’s, and he refuses to cut it. The ambiguity of Mohenna’s ethnicity confused many also, but almost resulted in free Gulab Jamun- they were confused whether she was American,Chinese, or Indian. Nora, well, just sticks out. Aman led us to Fun City, but we only allowed him to respond to the Italian names “Leonardo” and “Roberto.” Poor child. At FUN CITY, we worked hard to earn Aman tickets for prizes (52). It was literally 100 degrees in FUN CITY, and Nora and Leonardo played DDR against each other, attracting an array of onlookers from the mall. Nora failed miserably. They also played a fun but twisted game that would not fly in America by its safety laws- you hold on to a metal bar for as long as possible while it electrocutes/shocks you until you must let go. Aman and Nora made it to 3000, whatever that means, and earned about 11 tickets.
Mohenna was melting and did not find FUN CITY as enjoyable as Nora and Leonardo. We made it home, leaving Leepa at Looks Salon to get a THREE HOUR long head massage. Back at home, Payal was very jealous of our nails, and we decided to give her her own manicure and pedicure. She got to pick the colors and was thrilled with her bright blue and neon pink nails. Hiru Didi looks on and just screams at no one in particular (for the Graham’s- she is Helen but 20 times more insane).
We have to go to sleep now- this blog is the result of two benadryls and melatonins.