11 November 2010

Some Shopping, etc.

Pay no attention to the electric hot water heater plugged in below the shower head.

Actually, I can't complain too much about this place. For one thing, it's temporary. Hopefully in two or three weeks we'll be in our permanent house. And despite my fear that the electricity and water will mix in a number of ways--the hot water heater in the shower, the washer and dryer being in a semi-enclosed outdoor cubby, the way the power goes out when it rains--I'm able to thank my lucky stars that we have a good place to live.

Yesterday our driver took Muffin and me to Hyper City, a Target-like store on the outskirts of the main part of the city. We had to drive through some depressing neighborhoods to get there. The cows were living in cement bunkers while the people were living in shacks of corrugated metal with tarps for roofs. Both cows and people were sifting through garbage for food. As depressing as it was, I wasn't hit with the crushing sense I was expecting. Everyone told me the poverty will be unbearable in India. I always respond that I've been living in the third-poorest country in the world so I can probably handle it. Maybe I'm hardened, but I suspect what I saw yesterday wasn't anywhere near as bad as I'll see another time. However, the small bit of urban poverty I've seen here seems worse than the provincial poverty you see in Burundi. Maybe it's the sight of cows eating garbage by the side of the road. Cows are by the side of the road in Burundi, too, but they're eating a fair amount of grass.

Hyper City was hyper indeed. A number of shiny, clean shopping malls have sprung up in Hyderabad and Hyper City is in one of them. All of these big modern malls have metal detectors and on top of that, each person coming in is also wanded. Women have to go behind a little curtain to be wanded by a female security officer. This confused me at the airport, but I'm getting the hang of it now. Once you're in the store, though, you'd never know you weren't in Target or Wal-Mart, especially since there are so many American brands. I wanted to wander around the store and browse, but the driver took my list out of my hands and found everything within a few minutes. I don't know if that was because I'm an expat, a woman, or I had a baby with me, or maybe since it was his first day working for us he wanted to give me a good impression. I loved the efficiency and Muffin needed to get home for a snack and a nap so I appreciated the speed as well. But maybe next time I'll assert myself a little more and do some wandering.

Our first shipment of belongings from the United States arrived last night, much sooner than expected. So we now have another whole room full of stuff to avoid unpacking until we move into our permanent home.


Nick said...

Ah, the old 220V-socket-in-the-shower trick...you must have a Liberian electrician! Glad you made it safely...plan on a visit to Istanbul in 2012!

wereposa said...

Had the same set up in Costa Rica in the early 90s for hot water in the shower. After an unpleasant experience showering with sparks from the heating contraption attached directly to the showerhead, I learned to enjoy "cold" showers.

On the flipside, you can't find any outlet, anywhere, in any bathroom in Oman. So to use a blow dryer, a waterpick, or any electrical grooming gadget you needed to find an outlet in a different room.

Your adventures in India sound awesome. I got to travel there as a tourist and enjoyed it very much, but the urban poverty is a bit overwhelming. It makes you appreciate every comfort and kindness you are blessed with each day.

Love your insights and observations and I look forward to reading more.

Steph said...

Thanks for the word-snapshot into your life. I'm so excited to have stumbled over your blog (through sew retro) and look forward to digging around. (From another Stephanie Expat)