Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June 3

Currently, Nirmal is folding my underwear. Well, now he's moved on to a sports bra. But I can't help but feel some type of way, even though last year I tried to get used to him and Juma doing our laundry and cooking us food and doing all of our dishes, etc.

The thing is, I stuck my basket of dirty laundry on top of the washer last night around 6pm, hoping that they would just do it this morning. Usually they like to do laundry in the morning, when the sun is hot and the clothes dry quickly. But by sticking my laundry on top of the washer, I guess it was a signal that I wanted it done ASAP, because when I got home from the New Alipore apartment, my laundry was washed and hanging out to dry. In the dark. Sigh. I didn't mean for anyone to have to do it last night, after a long day. And this morning I tried to fold the clean pile but I think instead Nirmal took it as a sign that I was unhappy that he hadn't yet folded it. Because he said, "Sorry, sorry." and then stopped eating his breakfast just to fold my load of clean underwear. 

e stopped and said, "You, any complain? Your problem, my problem. You any student this side, any complain." Which I can now easily interpret to mean, "If any of you guys have a problem or are unhappy with me, please come tell me and I will fix it." I think this may also be in response to the fact that last night we changed the water jug. We have one of those Deer Park type water coolers so that we can easily have access to filtered water. And usually Nirmal changes the water for us because it's heavy and kind of weird to do. But last night it was 11pm and we needed water and we felt bad calling Nirmal to come from his night job (as a night guard at another apartment) around the corner just to do it. 

So we did it ourselves. Which we've never done before. But he noticed. And this morning he apologized and I tried to explain that we just didn't want to call him so late and make him walk over here, but my explanation got lost in translation. Because body language and voice inflection and certain phrases do not have the same meaning here. And so I try to use short, easily understandable sentences. I speak in Banglish (a term we came up with for when we speak in part Bengali part English to each other)...but still my message is so often lost and probably I should just be leaning into it, allowing him to do his job in its entirety because that is what he is paid for, and that is the work he is proud of. But I can't help it, I can't help what's in my gut, that Nirmal's breakfast should not be getting cold because he has now moved on to ironing my sports bras. I didn't even know we had an iron here. He has never ironed before, so I hope this is not his attempt to make up for not knowing that we needed the water changed, or not folding my laundry fast enough before I woke up. 

So many conflicts. SO much difference in culture. 

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Today we go to Durbar so that the students can meet with Dr. Jana to talk about the research proposals that they have come up with. I'm pretty pumped for the four groups. I'll write soon about their project proposals and what they want to research while they are here. 

Tomorrow I leave for Bariupur, which is a small town on the outskirts of Calcutta. I'm heading to a sex worker conference for sex workers and sex worker groups from all over India. It should be REALLY interesting and definitely an adventure! 

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