Hindu’s value conversation and having lived with a family in Dehradun, I re-learned how to sit without fidgeting, sip tea and talk. We did this just about every afternoon at 4. What a pleasure! Mealtimes, and tea, happened at the same time, every day, each sit-down spaced 4 hours apart. (Breakfast at 8; Lunch at noon; Tea at 4; Dinner at 8) I had my own apartment, with a big porch, on the second floor of their house. They stocked my cupboard with cornflakes and saltines–what the Brits they knew liked to eat. To them, I think Brits and Americans were indistinguishable. Like Jews and Christians, who were also the same in their eyes because both read scripture from the same ‘book.’
I was invited to live with the family because I had hosted their daughter, Anjula, during her year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Anjula and I grew to be great friends and initiated a non-profit project together called “Project Pencil”, which I will write about in later posts.
On July 4 2007, Anjula and I flew to Delhi together. At the airport a man picked up her suitcase by mistake and Anjula had to take a 5 hour bus ride west to retrieve it. This was my first expose to the man/woman imbalance in India. The man would have never gone out of his way to return the suitcase. It was the woman’s duty to shoulder the burden of inconvenience. I went north, took a five hour train, solo, from Delhi to Dehradun, the town where her family lived. Oh my! I have never seen so many people in one place as in the Delhi train station. Everyone shoved. If there was a door, people jammed into it; there was no such thing as a line
Dehradun, is a boom city located in the foothills of the Himalayas, nestled in a valley between the rivers Ganges and Yamuna. There is lots going on — construction, schooling, shopping, immigration, — and it looks like a good future in store for this smart town since there’s a large youth population that is well-educated. It’s in a tourist district close to Mussoorie and to the Hindu holy cities of Hardiwar and Rishikesh; it is the capital of the State of Uttarchand, therefore many government offices; and the best Basmati rice in India comes from Dehradun area (you can read my story “The Brown Rice Scene in Dehradun”).