Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chameleon Days

In amongst the chaos that seems to have accrued to me after a mere 5 weeks in India (my stuff scattered across the city in the midst of a transit strike, no key forthcoming for my "pre-arranged " sublet, the Ed Ward Shower Fiasco, and my mother/sister canceling their visit next week on which I'd spent 500+ euros), I find myself slowly making peace with Berlin once more. It helps that today we had NINE WHOLE HOURS OF SUNLIGHT, as opposed to the average 2 per day! Between lugging suitcases down 3 flights of stairs and up 4 (yes, boys and girls, I'm on to my third sublet on the 4th floor), I had a bit of time to check out my new 'hood, Neuk├Âln, considered one of the worst areas in Berlin, but so far looking quite nice to me. I hope I like it as much as my previous Kreuzberg flat in Graefekiez.

Intercontinental flights are nearly always emotionally difficult for me -- leaving one culture in preparation for another inevitably throws me into a sort of bitter-sweet limbo. This time I feel like I really cracked the hard nut that is India. No more getting ripped off by rickshaw drivers with dollar signs in their eyes; no longer the target of unscrupulous "touts"; and seasoned enough to mix-'n'-match any salwar/kameez. I experienced Indian hospitality at its best (and worst). I experienced a full range of being hit on, Indian-style (believe me, at 42, the fact that this still happens is very gratifying, particularly after the sexless wasteland of Berlin). I established that that oh-so-confusing shoulder-to-shoulder head shaking indeed means, as I had divined, both "yes" and "no". What's not to love about a country where a shake of the head can mean exactly what one hopes? For a Catholic girl, what could be better than yes meaning no and no meaning yes?!?

I used frequent flier miles for this trip (60K), and my account has only 40K left so it's not clear to me when I can go back. But I tell you, I'm dreaming of it. Forts, palaces, lakes, mountains, glaciers, sumptuous textiles, some of the most physically beautiful people in the world, and engaged/interactive/lively enough to give Nicaragua (the friendliest place on earth) a real run for its money. I think it's love...

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