November continues without a clear answer from any of the workshop leads. The ambivalence leaves us wondering and waiting, even from those who actively pursued us for our experiential, discussion-based approach to gender issues.
The first week of November is electric. I’m writing, filling in the blanks in both the project and my education, reading some relevant material procured via a professor back in the States. I’ve tried most restaurants in the neighborhood, and have established which dish at which spot are the best — finding the nuances of quality and flavor across similar menus of noodle soup and steamed dumplings. The local cafe has wi-fi, couches (!), real coffee and muffins; the staff recognizes me now.
But the ambiguity saps my focus, and I slowly slip into darkness.
Something feels “wrong”… an unsettled feeling, an inability to truly engage. I often take an auto (rickshaw) to Charnita’s to meet and discuss the workshop — the drivers are starting to recognize me and they don’t waste time doubling the price — but I am realizing that it isn’t the workshop anymore.
Anything is overstimulation. Taking the footbridge over the six-lane traffic to the Punjabi side of the neighborhood is a nightmare of human misery. The impoverished moan their agony, stretching out stumps and wasted limbs for ten rupees — not enough to solve their problems, not enough to change the system. The streets on the other side are packed with tiny specialized shops selling dishware, snacks, sweets, clothes…piles of vegetables and fruits wait to be weighed and bagged. The scale reminds me of Egyptian hearts being tested for quality, the seller holding it up and tossing metal blocks into one concave dish until it nears balanced. Back across the footbridge whose population has multiplied as we near dusk and the shoppers return home.
I hide from everything, even the quieter Tibetan spaces, and let myself slide into depression. Half the day is given to sleep, consistently not leaving bed until 2 p.m., and then only to roll downstairs for a single meal somewhere before retreating to my now-somber room and deeper into my shell. I fall into the old bad habits, developing an emotional dependency on a particular Indian brand of caramel candy.
Sitting on the top step of metal suitcase, near the water tanks which are responsible for the water damage in my room below, I exhale cigarette smoke into the hazy Delhi night sky, gaze out over the smog and lights into the quiet chaos below, and wonder at my own pollution.