Wednesday, 11 June 2014


Threading is an ancient method of hair removal that has been practiced in India for over 6000 years, but for me it was something unknown. I'd seen it ina a documentary on televisión (if you haven't, take a gander at the ling at the end of the blog), but I'd never tried. It's hever crossed my mind. But one day, I was at a hairdresser's in Hyderabad and the "hairdresser" began doing it to a client. I wrote hairdresser between quotation marks because she was not a conventional one. She began cutting my hair without even wetting it, let alone washing it! When I nicely reprobated her method, she just sprayed some water on my hair to moisten it. It's fair to say that some months later I went to another salón in Bangalore and there the hair stylist did cut my hair Western-style.
As I was saying, a woman was having her moustache done. Seeing that she didn't seem to suffer much, I decided to give it a try, but not without first asking for the price. As I mentioned in another post, tariffs are usually different for Indians and for foreigners. I was given a reasonable figure so I ventured to have my eyebrows done. The beautician took a long piece of thin thread in her hands and mouth, doubled it and then twisted it. She then rolled it over my eyebrows, plucking short lines of hair. It was fast, precise, cheap and painless.
Later on, I went again with my friend Leena to a salón in Punganur. That time it was also OK. Not that fast, but at least it was painless. But the last time I went (even though it was the same specialist) it was as painful as hell. Had it been that excruciating the first time, I'd never have had it done again. That day I learnt to say 'pain' in Telugu, which, by the way, I still remember: NOPPI.

Sunday, 8 June 2014


At this stage of the game you must have realized that everything in India shocked me. Another thing that startled me was the Swastikas.
I saw Swastikas everywhere, on cars, buses, buildings, autos, clothing, business logos and even on cakes. Swastikas seemed to be ubiquitous! I've even read that Swastik and Swastika are common first names for males and females respectively (I didn't meet anyone called like that, though!).
Of course, I (biased by the western stigmatized idea of being associated with Nazism, anti-Semitism, hatred, violence, death and murder) immediately thought that Indians were crazy and had all been abducted by Hitler's spirit! I actually freaked out! Surprisingly, I don't have any anecdotes to tell you. I didn't insult any Indian calling him Nazi or anything of the kind.
Later I learnt that before the Nazis used this symbol to show racial purity and superiority, the Swastika was used my many cultures to represent the sun, life, power, strength and good luck.
The Swastika, in case you don't know,  is an equilateral cross, with four arms of equal length with the end of each bent at a right angle, all in the same rotary direction. sometimes dots are added between each arm.
Jainas use it to remind the worshiper of the four possible places of rebirth (in the animal or plant world, in hell, on Earth, or in the spirit world).
In Hinduism it represents the principle originating the universo of life, with the four swirling arms representing the four faces of Brahma. The right-hand Swastika is a solar symbol, while the left-hand one (called Sauvastika) stands for night, the terrigying goddess Kali and magical practices. In Sanskrit it means literally 'well-being' or 'everything is well'. Hindus draw them on the doors and entrances to their houses during festivals to symbolize an invitation to goddess Lakshmi. In Indian custom, new cars are sometimes painted with a Swastika to signify blessing for road safety. It also represents the natural order, wealth, desire and liberation.
And Buddhists refer to it as the Seal on Buddha's Heart.
So, the moral would be: before judging (assuming, for example, that an entire country is nuts), get informed!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Exactly one year ago I left India. It might seem silly (what's the big deal of leaving a country in which you've only lived for just one year?), but for me it was quite tough.
I left the little adventures that filled every day.
I left a new routine which made me feel comfortable. I had finally got used to the Indian set of values (the complete lack of personal intimacy, the flexibility of truth, the sheer volume of life and their totally bizarre concept of taste included). I simply learnt to roll with it.
I left the freedom of not having to worry about things. Having a look at the problems some people there have, your bills, your divorce, your... seem trivial.
I left the fact of being busy (which I love and need). Either helping in the boarding school kitchen or listening to the children's crazy stories, I constantly had something to do.
I left...
I left...
But above all I left some friends. I feel brokenhearted as day by day it's clearer that things will never be the same. With some of them I can barely speak, since they don't speak much English and I've forgotten the little Telugu I picked up. There the non-verbal communication replaced our language barriers. But on the phone (apart from being extremely expensive) it's a horse of a different colour. And the people I can speak English with are so busy they don't have time to share with me. (It's not a complaint). I just feel I miss them more than they miss me, which, on the other hand, is completely acceptable. But I can't help feeling stranded. I miss spending my time with them. Last night, for example, I slept on the floor and that reminded me of the times my friend and I did there. Again it might seem silly, but... I feel I was part of their lives and now I'm part of their past. I'm only some 'nice' fellow they met. Everybody seems to be moving on but me.
What I feared would happen has happened! But I guess it's the same as what Paulo Coelho wrote about love: It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Living in India was worth it!

The tone of my blog conveys that I'm feeling quite down, so to cheer myself up I've written a list of all things I won't miss about India:
-The lack of toilet paper
-The lack of Western manners ('please' and 'thank you' for instance)
-Practices such as shoving, poking, spitting, littering, and public urination and defecation
-Overly persistent salespeople who descend on foreigners like vultures on a fresh carcass
-Bureaucracy and snappy, unhelpful, corrupt authority figures
-Needless paperwork
-Illogical and inefficient ways of getting things done
-Painful slow internet connections
-Inadequate infrastructure
-Cramped trains and buses
-Small, bumpy, and crowded roads
-Hearing the same Bollywood, Tollywood or similar songs over and over again
-Not being able to understand most conversations and not being understood
-The fact that people rarely explain what's going on (even if it affects me directly)
-The lack of clear, useful information when it is needed most
-Streets filled with garbage, excrement, and every other type of filth imaginable
-The prevalence of firmly entrenched, old-fashioned gender roles
-Living in a country where women are often restricted from everything
-Being asked when I intend to get married and why I am not
-The cast system
And maybe you're wondering: with that long list, how is it possible that she misses chaotic India?
Well, I do!