I have been here a week and it has been very different from what I know; from the shower being in the middle of the bathroom with no stall, cows, pigs, and goats on top of carts stealing food, rickshaws all decked out with tassels and music blaring, dogs sitting on park benches taking naps with old men waking up next to them. I have to admit I had a good start to the week, but going from spring weather into mid-summer heat has been a little tough. We do not have washing machines so we all went out and bought detergent. What we didn’t realize is that the detergent is in the form of a bar of soap and it has raised lines like a make shift washboard, so I have been taking a shower with my clothes and washing them and then drying them on cots in the hot sun. I have to say my clothes feel like they are hot out of the dryer but stiff as a board.
The heat can be a bit unbearable. Yesterday it was 104 degrees in the shade and the Indian government turns off the electric once a week to purge the system and conserve energy, so needless to say it was one of the hottest days I have ever experienced. The best part is that I started the day with yoga and by 10 a.m. I was dancing with no fan. It was rough! I ended up spending the rest of the day at the palace and relaxing and went to bed very early. The nights are beautiful and dark. There is a cool summer breeze that is so enveloping you would think you were sitting on the beach rather than the middle of a desert, and the smell of flowers from the trees make you think honeysuckle is wafting right into your mouth all while I sit and listen to Bapa talk about the origins of his family and how they conquered over the rulers before them. Bapa is a prince of the town and his family has ruled the area since the 1700’s; he talks to us about how we should make our projects wild, and do something we have never done and encourages us to use our imaginations to take us where we need to go. The discussions are interesting and helpful and make you want to get up and try something new. My only problem is that the doctor I would like to interview is very busy and I have not been able to get an appointment with her. Hopefully I will be able to get a hold of her today and set up time for an interview.
We were all invited to a Muslim wedding this Sunday, but it did not happen. There is a custom to have meat and alcohol at this event and being that we are not to eat meat or drink it was decided that we should not go just in case something were to happen. Instead we all spent the weekend doing yoga and dancing. Well let me rephrase that; the women spent the weekend doing these things, the boys were able to go about as they pleased. Apparently it is not safe for women to walk around alone and we are to have a chaperone every time we leave the palace grounds. This is a hard custom for me to grasp, being that I have been living on my own for the past 16 years. For example, last night a few of the girls wanted to go to a performance to see one of the cooks play drums, but we were told it was too unsafe and were made to stay in. I didn’t mind having accompaniment the first few days, but I guess I figured that once I got comfortable I would be able to leave when I pleased and I still cannot. I guess I will just have to get used to being catered to and living somewhat like a royal person or in the least a guest of the royal family. There are ups and downs to this whole experience. Living like royalty: perk. Being an independent woman: not so much a perk.