Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Casa Mia

This is the last thing I see before I go to sleep, and the first thing I see when I wake up.

This is the ceiling of the room I rent as a paying guest in Delhi's Greater Kailash I. It's been a year since I first set eyes on this ceiling. It was upsetting, I remember. I had been struggling to remain optimistic about my newest adventure in India, but the sight of the matte orange and disco yellow ceiling was the straw that broke the dam that was soldiering my tear glands. The colour combination made me cry. It was atrocious, aesthetically outrageous, the most depressing thing I'd ever seen.

Moving to India, that too New Delhi, was highly disorienting, but I had heard that the GK1 area was posh. It wasn't. It had potholes like the rest of Delhi, untrimmed trees, and dogs, dogs everywhere, wandering about the colony, peeing and pooping all over the place, snarling and barking at you until you felt your insides vibrate. This was not posh. The dogs chained at the entrance of my PG urinated and defecated all over the entrance to the building, and we would all have to begin our day (and end it) by playing hopscotch around excrement. It was not fun. That made me want to cry, but I used to be fairly decent at hopscotch when I was a kid, so I was able to manage. But I could never forget that under all my shoes would now remain layers of animal excrement that I would be tracking along everywhere I went.

Over the past year, I have shared my room not just with my roommate, but with lizards, spiders, rats large enough to be teenage rabbits, and airborne cockroaches. There used to be a couple of roosters who'd crow all day and night long outside our window, but those were taken care of some time ago, hopefully with delicious sauces. Last week I screamed a purely instinctive scream when I encountered a rat scuttling up the bannister of the staircase I was descending. I am not a screamer, so I wondered about that experience. A few days earlier, a friend had screamed as another rat (or maybe the same one?) had fallen off of the clothes that were hanging on the clothesrack behind her door, just like that, like it was the most normal thing to do, like rats plop off of clothesracks all over the world all the time.


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