23 September 2009

a walk on the brighter side

much better now.
okay, first of all i have to stop being a martyr when i’m sick. i have the instinct to ride it out alone, but really i could have called any of the people at my NGO, they would have brought over anything, i could have showered at dee's house, truly there were options. i was depressed as well as sick so i didn’t do anything. but i did start taking cipro, the antibiotic of choice in these situations, and on day 4 i went into the office and they were so sweet, they showered me with love and that helped. then they took me to a little grocery store where i found campbell’s tomato soup, mm mm good, and goldfish crackers, a comfort food of my childhood, and i went home and cooked it, the first thing i’d had in a couple days, and it really helped. the next day, today, i woke up feeling much better, between the soup and the cipro, love from the folks at my NGO, and phone calls to my wife and my mother, and everything looked different. i had a great day today. spent the day with my landlord, Viqar Kahn, doing stuff for the apartment that needed doing. we called to get my internet turned on, there’s already a cable installed, they just have to activate it, should take a couple days. then we went to find a refrigerator. we went to a shop he knows, and found one, about 3/4 sized, in good shape, used, and i gave a down payment for delivery in a couple days (everything takes a couple days). the same guy in the store said he could fix my air conditioner when he delivers the refrigerator. then we went to the police station to register with them, all foreigners must register when they rent an apartment, it’s an anti-terrorism thing. there were some hoops through which to jump; copies of my passport and visa, a passport-sized photo, a form to fill out and then xerox, then back to the station to turn it all in. but we got it done.
everyone’s trying to feed me today. i met some downstairs neighbors. they had a bunch of musician’s stickers on their door, marshall and shure, which i had noticed earlier, and their door was open, so i said hi, they invited me in, and we talked. their mom (i presume) quickly served me tea and cookies, and who am i to refuse, so i partook. the guys said they were DJ’s, playing at local parties and discotheques, DJ Sam and DJ Sachin, they were very nice, we talked about music and bands and i told them to let me know when they are spinning so i can show up and dance. we’ll see about that. great to meet the neighbors. then, later, when i was out with Viqar, he took me to a shop he likes and bought us little chicken sandwiches. it was great, i have to say, white meat with mayo and lettuce on a little roll. just a snack, and i ate some, but not all of it. i stopped when i thought it was time to stop, and he didn’t mind.
Viqar is great. he’s so sweet and such a good and honest person. he doesn’t like to lie because it twists him up inside. he’s muslim, and i wish more americans knew muslims like him, a real muslim who is a good person. we’ve talked a lot. he doesn’t consider the taliban or any of those people to be really muslim. he doesn’t like the burka, because often it’s misused, and men climb in there so they can smooch in public. (that’s one use of the burka i never thought of.) he said that he doesn’t like when men force women to wear it, that in islam women should obey their husbands, but husbands should honor the wishes of their wives, and not force them to do anything they don’t want to do. and he thinks it’s ridiculous to commit any act of violence on any innocent person, he is very emphatic that such a thing is not done by a muslim. he’s gentle and when he does lose his temper, as he did once in traffic, he is very hard on himself, apologizing profusely after. as someone who also beats himself up when i don’t meet my own standards of patience and compassion, i was able to offer him words of consolation, reminding him that we all make mistakes, but only good people care about it and try to do better next time. he’s a little harsh on hindus and their polytheism, making fun of them praying to trees and the ocean, and their reliance on holy men to say prayers for them. i told him today i was jewish, because we’ve been talking a lot about religion, and he keeps talking about one god without form, without duality, without distinction, and i keep agreeing with him. i think he assumed i was christian. so after knowing him a while, and coming to trust his broad-mindedness, i told him. he didn’t care at all, although i could tell he had little experience with jewish people, but he was trying. it didn’t seem to faze him at all, he judges people by their hearts, and not even in that way, for only god can judge people. at this point, we call each other friends. it was fun to ride around with him. i saw lots of things around town, a couple really nice looking bakeries, a couple nice independent caf├ęs, a tempur-pedic mattress store, another grocery store near our apartment. my circle of familiarity is growing larger, and i have faith now that i will get to know this city and be able to find my way around. i’m back in my apartment now, the sun just set, and the skies have opened up. it’s pouring, first time it’s rained in more than a week, and it’s really coming down. the streets are flooding and the lightning is flashing. i’m glad to be indoors and i’m thankful for the downpour, because for the first time in a long time, it’s not unbearably hot. the rain really cooled the air, and it’s a little breezy too. my spirits are in much better shape, i don’t feel so lonely, meeting neighbors and local shopkeepers (my local shaving-wallah waved hi to me today). wow the lightning and thunder are outrageous now. beautiful. i’m waiting for the power to go out...
haha, only 5 minutes later, a big strike of lightning, and the power went out on the whole block. it’s okay, i’ve got candles.

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