Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

South Asian MILFs (Mosquitoes I’d Like to Flatten)

A couple things about mosquito nets: first off, they aren’t nearly as romantic as they look in movies where tropical lovers languish on white sheets veiled by the soft focus of the gently draping white net. And secondly, they work a lot better if the vile insects are trapped on the outside of the net …er, instead of the inside.

Mosquitoes love me ; the feeling is not mutual. Every evening around twilight I begin scratching at a new crop of bites. This is my own fault. A constant battle wages within me: do I put on enough repellent to ward off the blood-thirsty beasts, which means poisoning my bloodstream with DEET; or do I risk the chance that one of these days, one of these mosquitoes might poison my bloodstream with malaria, or something equally as bad. I can never decide which is worse, and in the meantime, do nothing. Last night this approach backfired, as it does nearly every night.

Normally we keep the bedroom as cold as a meat locker; mosquitoes don’t like the cold, but evidently in doing so we have used up all the electricity in the neighborhood. Last night, with no air conditioning, it was too warm to keep the bastards down, and too dark to do a thorough check before climbing into bed.

At 3 a.m. I awaken doing the Saint Vitus Dance. I have bites everywhere: my legs, arms, hands, forehead, toes. I slip my hand out under the net and switch on the light. Half a dozen swollen mosquito bodies cling to the mesh inside the net, barely able to fly. I clap my hands over the first body, it splatters, leaving stigmata on my palms.

“What the hell are you doing?” Phil growls, and pulls the sheet over his head. Mosquitoes don’t like him. I suspect that the nicotine and Cocoa Puffs that sustain him together create a natural repellent.

“They have my blood, and I want it back,” I say, and crush another midnight outlaw. Right now I am a naked, female, Dirty Harry, ready to make four more mosquitoes sorry they were ever hatched. Whack – I destroy another one. He falls to the bed sheet in a drop of blood. My blood.

“That’s disgusting,” Phil complains. “Mosquito carcasses on the bed…!”

“Disgusting? I’ll show you what’s disgusting,” and I display the angry red splotches on my arms and thighs, I pull back my hair and show him my forehead. “THAT’S disgusting. I could have malaria, I could I have bubonic plague, Dengue fever, yellow fever. I could be dying right now!” I slap another one for emphasis, blood sprays across my palm, and even Dirty Harry is grossed out.

Four down. I sit silently and wait for the two survivors to settle on the net. I move stealthily, crawling across the bed like a cat, and swat at the others until they are immobilized and flat.

“If you’re finished with your killing spree can you please turn out the light?” Phil says in a voice that is clearly untroubled by itching.

“Just a sec, I have to wash the evidence off my hands.” Ungracefully, I climb out from under the net, my arms and legs tangling in the fabric. I tiptoe to the bathroom and wash my hands and dot my skin with calamine lotion.

Wanted : One Ratproof Sari Basket

I dread going downstairs in the morning for fear that my day will be hijacked. I’ve taken to bringing a tea tray up to my bedroom the night before along with the electric kettle; this morning I forgot the honey and had to brave the confusion.

I slide open the door and the maid’s seventeen year-old daughter and twelve year old son are rolling up their bedding and leaning them against the wall near where the trashcan ought to be.

People sleep in our kitchen and we don’t have a trashcan. A couple times a day I set up a new trash bag, and a couple times a day it disappears. After 3 months, garbage here is still a mystery: the walkway outside the kitchen door has drying coconuts and papaya skins on every flat surface; there is a plastic bucket with a mixture of slop that I’m guessing is for the cow that is rumored to come when you call, and likes the trash we serve; but the slop is mixed with plastic bags and old razors. Even though there is no evidence of recycling, I always set the plastic and glass on one end of the counter, and eventually it disappears. I worry that our credit card statements and used tissues are being dumped in a nearby lot and have become part of someone’s slum tent.

“Ma’am,” she says – this word often marks the beginning of the end of my workday – “My mother is asking if you can buy her a basket for her sarees. Because the rats are making holes in them. “

I stop mid honey-grab and stare, letting the concept sink in. Rats are eating her sarees. I didn’t even know there were rats in India, let alone that they were populating our house. I resist shouting, “What the FUCK? Rats. We have RATS. And they’re EATING her SAREES. Is this the fucking MIDDLE AGES ????”

Instead I nod, as if I’ve heard this question before, as if ratproofing my wardrobe is something I’ve done hundreds of times. I don’t want her to read the shock on my face. I don’t want to let on just how far from my reality this statement lands. I don’t want her to feel bad. I don’t want her to know that there is a big world out there where there are no sari-eating rats. I want to protect this seventeen year old mother from the harsh reality of her own life.

I leave the kitchen, and climb back into bed. I snuggle up close to Phil and whisper, “Rats are eating the maid’s sarees.”

“Hmm ?”

“We need to buy her a basket for her to keep her sarees in, because rats are eating them.”

“Just gets worse, doesn’t it,” he mumbles, rolls over and goes back to sleep.

I spend the next two days looking for a ratproof sari basket. I don’t even know what this means.

“Where’s the Exploder?”

They say that Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India, and I might be tempted to believe the hype if it weren’t for the fact that no one appears to have a computer, and the ones who do, have no idea how to work them, or the internet.

After six weeks, countless hotel rooms, and two stabs at having wireless set up at our house I’ve dealt with probably a dozen “engineers” or “technicians,” none of who had the vaguest idea of what they were doing.

The language barrier doesn’t help.

“Mam, vhere do you hab exploder? Exploder mam, were is exploder?

“No explorer,” I say. “Safari. Safari same same.” I find it helps to repeat things. Unfortunately I can’t help repeating them at a higher and higher volume the longer the discourse goes on.

“Yes, yes. Exploder.” He pokes at a few keys on the keyboard with a vacant look on his face.

“Safari” I say, and move him out of the way before he breaks my machine. The fact that Phil and I roll with Mac’s makes the problem just that much worse.

Right now in India, innocence, tradition and history far outweigh techno savvy, and while it can be infuriating when you’re waiting for the little man to fill out the recei-PT for your purchase by hand and in triplicate with carbon paper pressed neatly between the sheets of paper, there is also something charming about it. It makes you slow down and remember things from the past, like penmanship, and math. It makes you realize that the world doesn’t come to an end if you have to spend another three minutes at the checkout counter.

If the Indians are able to meld their bureaucratic mindset, that is the lasting legacy of the British, with the efficiency technology can provide, they will eventually be a global force to be reckoned with. But that is still a ways off.

I grew up in Silicon Valley when it was still just beautiful California farmland, and there are similarities between the 1970’s Santa Clara Valley, and 2009 Bangalore. In Bangalore cows and camels and monkeys roam the streets, along with packs of wild dogs that we assume are rabid. In pre-boom Silicon Valley we rode horses and ponies, there were chickens and dogs, and we were chased by wild boar. Here, fruit sellers push wooden cards down the streets hawking their wares. At home there were apricot trees, strawberry fields, and walnut orchards everywhere and fruit stands dotted the sides of the road.

I’m guessing that in another 30 years or so carbon paper will fall into extinction in India as it has in the US, and nearly everyone will know the difference between dial-up and wi fi, Safari and Explorer.

“Would you pleash shtay on the line for just annatto turdy years sir, while I check with my superwiser to be connepting you with da footure.”