Flo Carson

Flo Carson - Social Anthropologist, studying International Development at Sciences Po, Paris. I am slightly obsessed by gender, politics, media, human rights and global health. I've worked in Asia, Africa and Europe and keen to explore more of the world we live in. Take a look at my Twitter & Tumblr for my most recent posts. tly

Monday, 27 January 2014

In the Underbelly/Delhi

So far, every dream I have had whilst I've been here has involved dogs and cars. This is because every night I go to sleep to the sound of rabid dogs barking and auto's honking their horns. Honestly, my dreams have just been variations on the stories of dog is run over by car, dog drives car, dog becomes car (or vice versa). Whilst this is quite hilarious, I would appreciate a bit more diversity.

I'm finally settled into a place, where I can comfortably sleep and dream of pooches and Peugeots at the Saini household in South Delhi. Apne Aap, all credit to them, helped me find my place to stay within a few days of starting out with them. To be fair, they probably appreciated having one less aimless wanderer in the office asking them long winded questions about the history of prostitution in south Asia, or where exactl the programmes department had disappeared to.

I was showed one other place which was basically a building site off a main road. So when the Saini family welcomed me into their apartment, offered me chai and said they could make their already cheap rent even cheaper for me, it didn't take me long to agree to their offer (being a sucker for chai and bargains, I couldn't refuse).

I will always remember my first night with the Saini family (Ruby, the mother - a round small person, quick to describe the wonders of her last foreign guest, Chandhi the 20 year old daughter, and Hyatt, the 18 year old son) . After awkwardly trying to work out the house vibe and ascertain how much I should leave my door open when I wanted alone time and conceding to the fact that  I was to do no washing up throughout the duration of my stay; I waited for dinner to be served.  At 10 o'clock. At night (for those who know me well, 10 o'clock is the sort of time that I go to sleep).

When 10 o'clock came I was invited to sit in Ruby's bedroom, on her bed and eat my food with the family. We all sat on Ruby's bed, eating chapattis and chutney, watching The Hangover. It was surreal, but I loved it. I had gone from being homeless to snuggling up with everyone in a bed, munching away, watching a rubbish Hollywood film. A classic example of the unexpected extremities of life in this culture.

However, when this happened the following night, I had predictably fallen asleep at 9pm. Ruby, audibly filled with panic knocked continuously on my door at 9.30, despite the fact that I had pre-warned Hyatt I wouldn't be taking dinner that evening.

'Hello, hello, Flo, hello?' came her Punjabi accent through my door. I got out of bed, in the dark and opened the door. 'Yes?' I mumbled back in reply. 'You take your dinner now.'  she insisted. I explained how my exhaustion had overtaken my hunger and that I wasn't up to eating dinner that evening. Ruby sheepishly reversed and I could tell I had committed a great sin by shunning her food that evening.

The next day I woke to her knock and I instantly apologised for last night, she admitted that the incident had upset her, but turned and gave me a tray of stuffed parathas and paneer for breakfast and my lunchbox for the day. The incident was obviously forgotten but I definitely learnt that I should never miss a meal at the Saini household. I also asked whether my dinner could be served at a more human hour.

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