Tonight, I’m finally at home. I haven’t had my own place since I left Idaho in early August, assuming I’d go to the pre-departure orientation for the English Language Fellow program, visit my aunt for a few weeks, and then depart for Venezuela in September. It didn’t turn out that way. I ended up staying with my incredibly generous aunt, first at her home in Georgia and later at her winter place in the west Texas desert, until I finally left the States in February. So, I’ve been living out of suitcase for about six months.
Although I was constantly safe and cared for – even quite comfortable – the constantly temporary feel of things and the uncertainty of whether or not I’d actually get to be a Fellow was wearing.
I was reasonably certain I’d be so happy to be settled that it wouldn’t matter much under what conditions. Fortunately, however, the conditions are pretty awesome.
This is the view from the one of the three terraces (we call them galleries here). The buildings ahead are other faculty housing. To the right, out of sight, is the girls hostel. The hostel has a watchman whose little house is right at the foot of my building. I’m in a flat above the office for the hostel and if I have any problem, I was told, I can come out to this gallery and yell, “Watchman,” which does, I must say, feel a bit princess-y.
One of my students in my online writing class with the University of Idaho is from Gujarat and she told me, before I came, when I asked her about living conditions, that, “When they say unfurnished… well… ma’am… you’ll be surprised.” Even with the warning, I was surprised that unfurnished meant… walls. Yeah, pretty much. Although, the one I chose, very fortunately, already has toilets (the other didn’t have one inside), ceiling fans, tube lights (fluorescents), and one electrical point (outlet) in each room.
I’ve asked to have more points added so I won’t have to string extension cords everywhere. I’ll be adding a shower, hot water heater and faucet for it, washing machine, R.O. machine (for purifying water), and an AC for when it gets really hot here. The Director of the Institute offered a fridge, so that’s been brought in.
Today we ran around town buying things that I needed just to stay here: bed, fan, mosquito netting, bottled water, an electric pan to cook in, etc. We’ve strung nylon rope all across one whole room so I can hang up my clothes and plan to look for cupboards for them later. One of the faculty members handled the complicated part of helping me to order appliances and, then, coordinated the efforts of four students to help me shop for food and extras. Everyone was so generous with their time and energy, helping me all day just to get the place ready for me to sleep here, and they’ll be helping more as the appliances arrive, too. So, here I am. Happy to be settling down to spend my first night in my own place in this lovely little town in India.