dirtbag (n,v) A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communaly and generally non-hygenically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle.
Last week, my classmates and I started to realize we are
halfway through our semester. While it feels like I just arrived, I have
also been here long enough for it to start to feel like home. I finally have
settled into a "routine" of classes, family dinners, tea, and weekend train rides
to explore far away towns and ancient temples. In that routine there has been
some extremely non- routine things as well, mainly the birth of a baby.
gave birth to a healthy baby girl two weeks ago! Life was very busy here, with
even more family members coming to visit and everyone caring for baby and
mother. Kavya and I became very close in the time that she stayed here, and she
told me “Mike, you better be at the hospital the day my baby comes.” Being
there waiting anxiously with soon to be grandparents and Kavya’s pacing husband
was an intimate glimpse into their lives. It was not a situation I have even
been in at home, and I think it will always pop into my head when I meet new
babies. The look on everyone’s face when they pulled the curtain aside to give
a peek of the clean baby girl is impossible to explain. Listening to Kavya say
“Hey, hi!” to her baby through the window (she had to be in the ICU for a day
after she was born due to some complications) was the most amazing sound. I
never really understood parents when they talk about how it feels to see your
baby for the first time, or why the hell Brenna wanted to be a midwife, but
being in the hospital that day I got a little glimpse.
The host dad!
About a week before the baby was born, we had a special
religious ceremony to ensure a safe and painless delivery. I thought I would
just sit in the corner and watch, but my host dad pulled in me in. As my host
aunt put portu on my head, they
laughed and said “Mike, you are part of the family now!”Being part of an Indian family who welcomed a
new member was an experience I’ll cherish. First of all, it was amazing to see
how my host parents welcomed Kavya and her mother in for almost two months
without batting an eye. The baby didn’t seem to even cause a disturbance. Rather
than baby proofing the house and stockpiling toys and clothes and god knows
what, life went on as they patiently waited. Bringing her home was an ordeal of
course, but at the same time, the baby was simply laid in the bed next to Kavya
with a blanket and everything continued, the same but so so different. After
the pregnancy, Kavya’s mother and mother in law, and whatever aunties were in
the house that day kept a constant vigil in the room with mom and baby. My host
mom cooked for 7-10 people every night without a worry, relatives came to stay
the night with a bag of flour, whiskey, or some oil to offset this cost (I assume).
I forgot how tiny babies were, and that stupid wonderful feeling you get when
you hold them. They were surprised I knew how to hold a baby “Even I don’t know
how to hold her Mike” Kavya whispered to me one day. She seemed to care for her
baby so naturally, I was glad to find out even she had moments of cluelessness.
Babies terrify me. I’d say I don’t like babies, but I’ve never had a
friend who had a baby until now. It was pretty exciting. We were very sad when
Kavya left last week, but happy for her because it meant they were both healthy
enough to go back to their hometown.
With the quiet house, I started to focus on how I missed a
full house and my own family (whether it be five sisters or the house full of
guys at PLU). For some reason, I fancied myself as a world traveler, and thought
I wouldn’t get homesick. I thought since people go off in the army for
years, they immigrate, they live as refugees, so
I shouldn’t get homesick. My host family’s daughter, Divya, got married in
December and moved to New Jersey. Every night they Skype her to say good
morning. Some nights I hear her crying, talking rapidly in Telugu about how she
misses them, misses India. My host parents tell me it makes them less lonely to
have me here. They make me feel like I have a home. The other weekend, my host
mom and some aunts spent two days preparing snacks to mail to her. I’m awaiting
my own package of American snacks (mainly peanut butter). Though my homesicknesses isn't permanent and I can't compare it to Divya's, I do miss Washington.
I find myself getting homesick for weird things like the
nasty salty smell when the tide goes out, a rainy walk to class, an oatmeal
packet for breakfast. I wish in the evenings I was watching Parks and Rec or
Office reruns with my sisters rather than the really awful Telugu series my
host family watches. At forst I thought I’d use it as language practice. By now
I have developed an unhealthy hatred for all the underdeveloped characters and
sad plot line to use this as a learning opportunity. , so I sit and make highly
offensive and inappropriate dialouges for what I wish they were saying and
incorportate the few Telugu words I can decipher.
My host family makes me feel at home and homesick at the
same time. There’s nothing like getting ill to make you miss your mother and
sisters. After a trip to Hampi (where I found the real dirtbags, more in next
blog post!) I had a little food poisoning, and my host parents ensured I was
well taken care of with a highly specific regimen of how to get better.
the couch so we can watch you Mike!!” “Now eat these because vomiting on an
empty stomach leads to dehydration" “Now sit for 10 minutes. Drink some water”
“Now sleep for two hours” “Ok now eat
some curd rice with salt” me: *vomits* “Ok now eat the rest of the curd
rice slowly” “Take this tablet” “Sit for 1 hour, then go to bed.” Curd rice
is what it sounds like; a delicious combination of curdled milk and rice, with
a little salt sprinkled on top. Try it next time you feel like vomiting.
Hampi sneak peak
I'm going to miss this food
It was different than how I would get better at home, but it
worked. When Igot back from Hampi, walking up to the doorway felt welcoming.
It was a relieving feeling, like I was actually home from a trip. While I’m
homesick for Washington, I also know in just a few months I will be homesick
for afternoon chai, samosas, my host parents, India Time, this bathroom I have
to myself, the neighbors’ 11pm music jams, hitching motorbike rides on campus,
even curd rice. I know I will miss the family I made here and the amazing friends I can hop on a train with, eat ice cream at all times with (Enrique), and take way too full rickshaws with to unsure addresses. So I will "full enjoy" every day with them as best I can.