Friday, January 18, 2008

Santa Cruz or Lex's OCD in pictures

I hear a collective whoosh as everybody finally gets what they have been eagerly awaiting: a picture of my room and the contents of my bag.

In the first shot of the room, you can see my book shelf (low wall), my dresser (pole), my sister (making much more money than me), our beds (10 USD and still bed bug free after 2 days), our urinal (behind the low wall, flush with bucket of water) and outside porch (6 feet square and enclosed by metal grate with a view into everybody's windows, a good spot to sit, read and smoke beedies (cheap indian cigarettes, really just a dried leaf rolled and tied together). You cannot see the tin roof (aka the oven maker), the open stairwell to the bottom room where Mandela and the shower live and the constant trail of ants going down our wall to Mandela's food (i love ants and will post on them soon, something else to get excited about).

Here's the downstairs shower/bathroom (that's right we have two bathrooms, I am aware they are just drains in the floor but while trying to impress women with my wealth, I always mention the two bathrooms, girls love that stuff). I'm sorry the picture is sideways. I literally have found only one computer in the country that can rotate an image and its not connected to the internet.

To shower:
1. Fill the bucket from the big water barrel
2. Fill the two small containers with water (green and red/green in the middle of the bottom shelf)
3. Use the larger container to pour water over yourself until soaked, usually 2 or 3 should be enough
4. Use the camping soap as shampoo.
5. Wash hands to wipe soap off forehead so it doesn't get in your eyes. Some of you who have showered with me (colin, ryan) know that I'm amazingly OCD about shampoo in my eyes.
6. Lather up whole body. Save asshole for last (tends to be a little bit more of a job here with the whole no toilet paper thing). Wash and rinse hands thoroughly.
7. Dump a few containers on you to remove all the soap.
8. You should have a few inches of water left in the bottom of the bucket. For a refreshing finish, tip the entire thing over your head for a deluge.
9. Put on your athletic shorts and air dry by the window because you are too cheap/lazy to buy a towel when in the middle of winter, you are dry in 5-10 minutes.

Here's the kitchen. I don't have much to say. We have to fill up the big blue barrel of water from five to six in the morning. It doesn't take long because we only fill it half full. We don't use much water. My roommate bought a little gas stove and some kitchen stuff. I have yet yo touch any of it. I have the same philosophy I did in NYC: If I tried to cook a meal as good as a cheap mexian/indian/chinese place, it would cost me more money and taste terrible. This means I will never woo a woman with my cooking so I am counting on the fact that I have not one, but two bathrooms (and yes ladies, very very very single).

Now onto the part that excites me the most and probably bores everyone else but family members (and only a handful of them): what I keep in my pants (ignoring cheap joke, i know, it's rare). Everything important, I keep in my pants. For some reason (possibly all of the prison books I've been reading), I am always prepared to run and never come back. From left to right, I have:
Hindi flash cards (elephant is hat-tea)
fine point pen (I'm a fine point fiend, 0.5 or nothing)
pack of beedies
digital camera in modified slide box (thanks NewYork Medical College) to protect it (Colin, this means you)
Moleskine 18 month calendar with daily planner on left page and blank page for notes on the right (scoured high and low for this perfect design, out of stock on moleskine website, had to buy from some strange little chinese company)
lighter and matches (both deceased since picture was taken)
US passport (powerful, no stupid, easily hacked RFID tags yet)
wallet with a good bit of hidden money
change for cripples and old women (never children, you can't encourage them to be out there, it's easier when they pinch you or throw rocks at you when you don't give them money, doesnt happen often but tessa gets it some)
a small glass pink pig that showed up in my pocket on new years where i didn't even get that drunk, just slept on a sand pile right next to the big party

My wonderful Chrome messenger bag never ever leaves me. If I have this, I can live on the run easily for a few weeks. It always has a change of clothes and in addition to the items pictured, it also has a Taiwanese good luck charm from Candy Kuo, a string of Tibetan prayer beads from my friend Wen-jay Ying (why are you waiting? just come now) and a small Ganesh (god of travellers and writers) statue I "acquired" at some point in college. With no further ado, from left to right:
The Argumentative Indian - a sociological study of the history of dialogue in the subcontinent, not really my cup of tea and his arguments get repetitive
My notebook (bought for a meeting with GE for their internship program, never heard back from them, maybe I shouldn't have told the dirty joke to the prim and proper korean woman) containing plans for world domination via the blogosphere
an emergency bag of Pepto Bismol, electrical tape, gauze and other medicine
toilet paper (not for me, i've evolved beyond or devolved back from depending on your viewpoint)
notecards for Hindi words/ransom notes
never used deodorant because it attracts mosquito and they currently love tessa much more than me, she's like a mosquito motel, they check in and they don't check out because they're so delighted with the view, the good music and easily available blood
my Let's Learn Hindi book, a present from my friend Bobson. Unfortunately, it's in sankskrit so I take it to my Hindu baba near my house. He's an older guy who translates the lessons for me into phonetics as his family sits around and laughs good naturedly at all of my mistakes. Lessons end when he puts paan in his mouth. If I haven't described it before, it's spices, fruits and sugar mixed up in a leaf. You can get it with or without tobacco. My baba puts in a huge slug of it and subsequently becomes incomprehensible.
International driving permit. I'm getting a motorcycle but I will wait awhile. I'm very excited. I started with a simple fantasy when I came to India. Me and good hearted orphan boy travel the country on a motorcycle with a sidecar and have adventures. My fantasy has grown to include a monkey and a great dog. Last night, along the sea wall at the Gateway of India, I mentioned my dream. A girl decided we should try to imitate what that menagerie would sound like. Each of us took a part and made our noises. It wasn't pretty.
A decent street map of the city although it can drive me a little crazy. Why would you have a map with no overall view of the city with labels for which page has the detailed view of that section? And why would you not label the edges to tell where you go to see the map in that direction. Arrgghh.
Nintendo DS charger, camera charger, flashlight, camera cable, power adapter
business cards, playing cards slightly marked to give Tessa and I an advantage
length of rope, i don't know why I have it but when it comes in useful, i will be very proud (of course, usually, the one time I don't bring my bag is when I need something in it like a length of rope)
booklight, contacts, glasses
Time Out Mumbai - a biweekly guide to city events, not a great magazine but its the best they got
the Economist - I miss good english writing, especially the New York Times, it's nowhere in this damn city
giant box of condoms (unused) - as usual, my eyes were bigger than my luck
portable hard drive with all my pictures, music and most importantly: every Monty Python's Flying Circus
Nintendo DS Lite - a great little portable game player that Nintendo encourages you to hack (Hey Sony, you evil son of a bitch of a corporation, I know you're PSP is amazingly powerful but I can only use it for exactly what you allow me to use it for and will shut me down if I try to add anything I might find useful but you didn't approve, and apple, don't slink away, you're on my naughty list too). I got a card from China that you plug into the regular game slot. This card takes camera/cell phone memory chips and you can load them with whatever you want. You can download programs to read ebooks, listen to mp3s, watch movies and even do wireless web surfing. I bought this because instead of just a game player, I could hack it and turn it into an all in one portable entrainment system for about 130 bucks.
eye drops and hand sanitizer - for others, i think never washing my hands and eating things off the ground all of the time is one of the sames reasons i only got a little sick when i got here

Wow. That's a lot of little rants in there for a pretty mundane topic (and mundane is putting it nicely). I am scared to go back and read it so I hope it's good. Enjoy.


Mikolaj said...

I think your so-called "room" and "bathroom" are the very definition of "squalid living conditions."

Lotz said...

Amen brother... 0.5 or nothing. If I wanted to write thicker, I'd use a paint brush.

csully said...


Debby said...

Too late, their mother did see this and yuck is an understatement!!! However, I am very proud of the fact that they can be content in all circumstances.This is a very great, useful gift in life. That makes me happy.

anna said...

This seems a bit fancy. It wasn't too long ago that all you needed to sleep were five blankies and tessa was satisfied with a wheelbarrow under the stars.

Goody said...

#1 - Is your sherpa drop dead tired from carrying your pile of books everywere?

#2 - I can't believe I took that much interest in your stuff. Please tell me that your wallet with hidden money is some sort of typo. You do realize that if someone takes your wallet, you still have no money regardless of if the thief knows they took it?
Don't get defensive..Just trying to help.

.x said...

Goody. That's a valid point of the wallet but theft by snatching is not my major concern. Theft by the powers that be is always lurking around the corner. Cops frequently stop foreginers (it's already happened once to me) and demand money for some trumped up reason like not having a valid train ticket or urinating in public on their station. If I open my wallet and they see a few 500 Rs notes, the fine will be just about as many as I have. If I open my wallet and a few moths and 20 Rs notes flutter out. They might not bother with me and probably won't chase me down when I take off running (assuming I didn't kick somebody in the balls).