On Monday, I moved in with the Dani family and into their social whirl. I spent most of the day either at Maxine's getting ready or shopping for little things like anti-mosquito cream (called Odomos). By the time I got to the Dani's, it was almost six, and Madhuri (my host mother or "Aai") informed me that we were going to a party at 6:30! It was a house-warming party for the new owners and I was, again, something of a spectacle. Madhuri was very sweet and considerate, introducing me as "my American" and making sure I could eat the food, but I couldn't help feeling like a kind of pricey fashion accessory. Work hard, and you too can have your very own foreigner!
The house didn't have any permanent furniture yet. Instead, one room was covered with pictures of gods and saints, garlanded with flowers. In another, bowls of different colored grains filled the floor, as gifts for the gods next-door. In the center of each wall, someone had planted two red handprints, symbolizing the gods' universal protection. I kept doing double takes as I noticed what looked like a bloody handprint by my ear. Any space without a god or a gift was occupied by food and people eating it. Bowls piled high with syrupy sweet ladu's or spicy green chilies came around again and again, and their carriers looked almost heartbroken when I had to start saying no to "just one more." India is going to kill me with wonderful food.
I also got to meet most of the English faculty at the local college and they've asked me to give a lecture! I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'll go visit a class first and get a sense of what they would like. Any ideas for what I could tell Indian undergrads about America?
Since this first day, I’ve also been to a party for the entire female faculty at Madhuri’s college and to see a newborn baby with six of her former students. [I'll get some pics up as soon as possible.] India is turning me into a social butterfly.