As Johan mentioned before we live in a guesthouse close to the hospital so we no longer contribute to the horrendous congestions and air pollution in this city. Our bikes are parked on our balcony getting dust-covered from the smog and we are afraid that we will need a shovel to dig them out of the dirt once we leave this place.
As always we first checked the cleanliness of the room and the bed sheets, we are getting almost paranoid about this. This time they tried to sell a used bed, but were willing to change sheets when we complained. Then we bought detergents to properly clean the cupboards and the bathroom so we could unpack our few clothes and cooking stuff. The dirt here is amazing, I think the cupboards have never been cleaned before, they just put newspapers on the shelves to cover the dirt.
The guesthouse is run by four young guys who also sleep here – at around 11pm they bring in their mattresses and make their camp for the night in the joint dining/living area. These boys – they look really young, I would guess they are in their early twenties – are responsible for everything: cleaning, arranging taxis and fixing whatever needs fixing. Always helpful, friendly and real cuties as well! However the way of cleaning is slightly irritating (what else would you expect from male tweens?): first they sweep the floor with a broom that looks as if it was made from horse hair and smells like a wet dog to make sure the dust gets everywhere. While sweeping they are usually on the phone, talk to someone in the living room, watch a Bollywood soap on TV or clear the table – this takes veeeeeeeery looooooooooong. Did you by the way know that an Indian never does just one thing at a time? Never, I swear. But that’s a different story. Once the dust is everywhere and you think the smog has finally come into the house they return with a bucket of already black water and wipe the floor. Then they switch on the fans to make sure the dust stays a bit longer and doesn’t immediately cover the wet floor again. Next thing they do is cleaning the tables and the kitchen, because we are actually the only ones who clean up the cooking mess right after cooking.
Despite the cooking mess and the burping at the dining table during meals it is very interesting to live with locals and other foreigners, the best way to get in touch with another culture. We had the opportunity to get some cooking lessons from the Indian woman who was cooking more or less all day long (I always tried to find a slot in between, but failed most of the times and had to use the other, even dirtier kitchen), she made chappatis (some kind of pancake Indians eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and other fancy food which she also shared with us a few times.
Indians however are difficult with eating other than their own food. I once made a delicious apple sauce and they were curiously watching me and asking questions. I of course also offered them a bowl, which immediately got a place in a far-away corner of the fridge to be thrown away as soon as we had disappeared in our room. I am sure about this!
Our Iraqi neighbors are nice but very noisy fellows – mainly in the evenings and at nights – and heavy smokers.
When our new Indian friends moved out this week we enjoyed a day of a clean kitchen, cooking whenever we liked to cook and the calmness. Returning from an afternoon out at the shopping mall we were in shock: new families moved in and occupied the whole place, wouldn’t even say a word to us or leave a bit of space for us, also not in the fridge (they are storing empty plates in the fridge, which we immediately removed, orderly as we are). At least they cook less and are quiet during the day.
In the meantime we discovered an Auchan hypermarket with European products and we now have French Bonne Maman strawberry jam, Nutella and bread for excessive breakfast feasts the next days. Indian jam is for us uneatable with only artificial ingredients. So far it has been anyway challenging to find non processed food or food without a million ingredients we never heard of. Even butter has added flavors and color! Great are the many fruit and vegetable stalls or markets where you can buy every day and all day long until the late evening. We love the fresh peas we still have to shell, reminds us on our childhood, haven’t seen them in Europe anymore, not even on the markets. And we love the choice of vegetables – it’s vegetarians’ heaven in India, while we are not even vegetarians, but even the Auchan meat didn’t really look appealing to us, so we decided to better stay safe and continue eating vegetables and fruit!