Do you have what I have?

Do you? Well, we’ll find out soon, won’t we?

I’ve known most of you for a year now, and there is so much I do not know about you. Things that can change the world in ground-breaking ways, if only we were to know about them. Take, for instance, your tongue cleaner. You do clean your tongue don’t you? If you were to imagine a tongue cleaner, would you think of something like this? Β 

The image that came to my mind was something like this

Come now, if you did not get any image in your head, that’s okay, too. We just won’t talk about it, all right?

But still, do you see? We read each other, but do not know the essential parts of each other’s lives yet!

It will please me immensely to know that despite the location of your neighbourhood, and the distance between me and you in this village with an absurd name, we might have some things in common, after all. We might use different tools to keep bacteria off our tongues, but we do keep our mouths clean.

Well, I do not expect you to have everything I do, but it’ll be worth my while to probe a little and find out that things that ail my day ail yours too. There is strength in empathy. And yes, there is joy in sharing.

I dream of a fairytale life. My favourite stories were the ones in which fairies or elves or some tiny, invisible fairyland beings came and cleaned up the house at night, before the heroine woke up. You sleep at night, without a thought about the spiders weaving webs with a ferocity to shame the growing smart phone industry,Β  and wake up to a spiffy house in the morning. Only because you have fairy godcleaners. Sigh.

But it was not to be. I do not have a fairytale life. I clean up, or sleep at night with the dream that I do deserve godcleaners, dammit. That takes away most of the heart wrench at the sight of another mucky corner in another room the next morning. I did attempt to rope in B to help me clean. Or, being the man of the house, to assume the entire burden. But no, that wasn’t destined either. I hope you have what I have. Some shared pain would be good right about here.

Plus, it’d please me to know that your books, if you read them, do not fly back to their orderly places on their own. And that your attempts to help them get there are as sporadic as mine are. Also, please tell me that the CDs you’ll probably never look at except to throw them in a bin 10 years later go into the shelf along with the books. And the wrappers of candies you must not be seen devouring. If the CDs are wrapped in horribly rustling polythene bags from your last shopping at the grocery store, then it is even better.

Dust and I are good friends. The friendship grew because of my irresistibility, I think. Dust comes wherever I am. If I do wipe out the last trace of it in a fit of an occasional need to be alone, it drifts in at the next opportunity, and stays. Please do not tell me you have not befriended my faithful buddy, too! Well yes, that’s one of the cabinets from my house you see on the left. And no, it does not have any dust on it, because I just got rid of it for the picture. (If you spot any, hurry and take a quick look around yourself; it just might have decided to jump in through the screen to help me avenge the insult.) I could have allowed you a peek inside my wardrobes and linen cabinets, too. But I do not like shocking people too much.

Speaking of which, I’d be shocked if you do not know what dalia means. And that it is the tastiest breakfast ingredient ever. You do not? Oh dear reader, you disappoint me so.

It is broken wheat. People usually make dalia porridge, but we prefer making a savoury thing with it, B and I. It has vegetables like peas, cauliflower, carrots; or at least just onions and tomatoes. Not aubergine, though. The ones featured in this picture are here with an intention to add some colour, and for all vegetable haters reading this post. I ask you, how can you not like vegetables? I also ask you if you have noticed that the supermarkets offer all sorts of vegetables and fruits in all seasons? Does it happen where you live? I think it is a shame. It takes the joy out of the wait, not to mention the taste out of the fibre.

I’ve noticed that many people in my country have begun using tacky tiles in their living rooms and sometimes bedrooms as well. I am told it is to simplify maintenance; but I say, if you assassinate a home, what is left to maintain anyway? Tastes are subjective, of course. If you live in a house that has ceramic, glossy wall tiles, and wish to invite me over for muffins and lemonade, please be kind and cover the tiles with something tasteful, like a blanket, while I’m there.

You did notice the plastic chair in this picture, didn’t you? That’s also become an epidemic. I hope it is there, too. I can’t survive it alone. Easy to clean, easy to lift and move, and generally tubs-of-flab-friendly. All of that, plus abominably ugly. I have seen some really smart ones, I agree. But this one time, I choose cumbersome maintenance over ugliness. What do you think? And do tell me this is a common sight where you live as well.

All right. That was the last time I requested you to find a common pain. All I am going to do is shoot facts at you, and challenge you to deny any knowledge of their existence in your surroundings. If you really do not encounter some of the things below in your surroundings, please tell me what an equivalent would look like, won’t you?

The faces in the frames would not be so merry and gay if they knew about the wires that coil in their proximity. Is there no escape? Why don't electrical goods come without wires? Do you love them? If not, where do you hide them?
I bet you don't know what this ugly contraption is. It is an essential in an Indian home, though. It's called a water purifier. I was tempted to buy the beautiful one with blue, serene exteriors and no ugly tubework because of all of its aesthetics and the fact that a classic Bollywood beauty, also called The Dreamgirl, comes often on our television to sell it. Our real-life salesman, however, gave us a choice -- buy the one that works, or the one that she asks you to buy, just because it is she. That was then, and this is now. The ugliest part of my kitchen. I suppose you get usable water in your taps. No?
No self-respecting Indian kitchen is without a pressure cooker. If you are an Indian, and you do not have this, please provide justification for your traitorship. It cooks evenly and quickly, retains nutrition -- best for pulses, mutton, shelled beans, boiling potatoes. And a lot more. Ask me, I shall tell.
Inverters. To convert DC into AC. The inverter is featherweight. Its battery -- hidden behind that swanky, dusty cabinet -- is Goliath-weight.
Tube light, one of the Ugh-est things. Do you have to put up with these naked pieces of ugly white light? I am waiting for freedom from them. Husband dear is a great fan, you see. No, no. I'm not dreaming about getting rid of him; I am just dreaming of putting some sense into his deluded sensibility.
I've always wondered, what do the curtains and the curtain rods and the pelmets (or the lack of them) usually look like in your homes? Would you help me?
Ah now, this is something you won't see. It's called Dispatching the Undispatchable in my dictionary. There are some things you cannot throw in the garbage bin, because they are either too close to heart, or too close to God. So, they get thrown into a water body (yeah, yeah I know) or, if it is a small, biodegradable thing, then it is put under a basil plant to go straight to the Gods from there.
This is one of my favourite parts about living in India -- use adversity to have a bit of fun. The canal overflowed this monsoon; the water covered the road. What did the boys-who-never-bathe do? They turned it into a water park. Some boys jumped and let the gushing water take them with it up to a few meters. No need to swim, year's bathing accomplished. The ones on the extreme right -- the ones who almost got cut out of the picture, because my father wasn't holding the umbrella over my head and the camera properly -- found ample fish to take home. A makeshift fishing net made from mosquito net, and a lot of patience was all they needed.
How are your registration numbers made? Ours are made of two letters of the state where the vehicle is registered, number assigned to the city where it is registered, and the vehicle registration number. I've seen car plates like KOOL KAT on your cars in Hollywood movies. Is there no registration authority?
Oh, and do birds drop droppings on your cars? Do you clean them, or wait for the next monsoon shower like we do?
Please, please, please tell me you are as dirty as we are. All right. This was the last plea.
Do the citizens of your country keep cows and buffaloes at home? This pair is tethered in the middle of a posh colony. Is it even possible where you live? Will you be arrested? Are the buffaloes allowed to have attitude like this one on the right? Do you drink buffalo milk? It is yum.
They said clothes lines and drying laundered clothes is a style sin. I feel the cables on and above the horizon are more sinful. Is this a common sight where you live? You can of course disregard the salwars and kurtas. And the style of hanging the clothes? Is it the same?
The municipal corporation decided to dig channels to put in sewage lines. They've been digging and mucking the entire colony. Does this ever happen to you? For once, I hope it does not. Oh, and you're wondering what happens to the sewage stuff if there are no sewage lines? The residents have been using septic tanks. All houses have at least two.
πŸ™‚ This is the only channel I've seen, where the presenters cough, sneeze, clear their throats. Do you have such shows and channels in which humans do not act like mannequins, or employ the other extreme -- become evil-witted dimwits?
Tell me, though. How do you receive the signal from your satellite TV? Do you get a set-top box like this to enable dimwit-watching?
We have respite ready, never fear. There's nothing better to quench out dimwits from memory than sugarcane juice. Ganne ka ras. It is divine. Oh, but if just the sight of the machine, and that of the juicing guy's hands (I've spared you and cut it out), will give you the infamous Indian tummy, then you might never know this heaven. Have you ever tasted it? With lemon and ginger, it is heavenlier.

There were many other things on my mind, but I am a gentle, caring person. The word count has reached 1986, and you’ve read enough. (That is if you’ve reached this far.)

Have fun today, then. And think of all the things you have in your life, even if it isn’t a fairytale.


47 thoughts on “Do you have what I have?”

  1. Your post cracks me up, Priya. Okay, so here are my answers:

    I tried a tongue cleaner and hated it. I prefer to use my teeth to clean my tongue (all assuming my tongue needs a clean. Isn’t that what saliva is for?)

    You must read The Borrowers (if you haven’t already. It is about tiny people who live under the floor and come out at night to ‘borrow’ things. Yours are obviously Borrowers who clean instead. And no, like your reality, I haven’t any. I wish I had. However, what I do have is a husband who is much more into cleaning than I am, so I let him do what he does well. (The ones that don’t have an aptitude for it have to be trained, you know.)

    Mm… I wish I could say that Dust and I are good friends but he (Dust) makes me sneeze. However, he does have his way and stays around a lot more than he needs to. (He’s quite a layabout, have you noticed?) And yes, books remain off their shelves, ditto CDs, though they don’t usually end up with the books or they’d get squashed flat (not to mention dusty).

    The only Dalia I know is the Dahlia which is a flower. I am familiar with bulgar, which is cracked wheat, so maybe it’s the same thing by another name? I like mine with butter and garlic.

    Our bathroom is tiled from ceiling to floor which makes getting at pipes and wiring very difficult if not impossible but we haven’t any tiling in the rest of the house, thankfully. I’ve only ever seen it in kitchens and bathrooms in the UK (I think).

    We haven’t plastic chairs in the house, but sometimes put folding garden chairs (metal and canvas) in the rooms if we’ve a lot of visitors and have run out of normal chairs. My dad had those plastic chairs in his garden (think long thin concreted yard – not American ‘yard’ – with astroturf and hanging pots). Oh and in London our neighbours had them in their tree… why, I don’t know. Maybe they blew there and stayed put!

    Me and mine don’t have photos in frames… my outer family do that, certainly, but we never quite got into that, I prefer to look at people in photo albums. But you can be sure that everything here – particularly in my room – is in the wrong place. I am, after all, an artist. Not the tidiest person, me.

    My mother had a pressure cooker, it used to scare me witless, so I don’t have one!

    We’ve a strip light in our kitchen. It’s okay. It lasts longer than normal lights, but I hate them in living rooms or bedrooms – my parents had all our normal lights replaced with strip lights and they were dreadful. Tell your hubby they are not healthy: they can cause migraines, they can make paintings and photos fade faster than normal lighting, and they are soulless.

    Urgh… curtains. We’ve still got the curtains that came with the house and I’ve not replaced them yet. Some are fine, dark blue or deep red fake damask, which I can just about live with, but the others… yuk! In our previous house, I overwhelmed the sitting room with three full length red and yellow curtains that I made from Indian Tree of Life throws. All eyes were on the curtains, none on the room. Which was just as well, as it was usually messy.

    On occasion here, the local farmers’ boys rush up and down the slopes of the sheep and cattle pastures in quad bikes, standing up in them and waving their arms wildly in the air. Not a great experience for us or for sheep or cows.

    Bird poo on cars? Of course. All the best people have bird poo on their cars. And if you’re unlucky to live in a place that has lime trees outside your home (as my parents were), you can get lime gunge dropping on it too.

    No buffaloes here that I know of, but cows certainly. Indoors? Oh there will be a few who do, I’m sure. I’ve seen goats indoors (not in my home though, the things eat everything).

    Cables on the horizon – everywhere. Even here in the wonderland where I live. But it could get worse… I won’t go into that.

    Clothes outdoors, yes, lots of people still do that, though the slung across the street stuff was more in the 1950s than now.

    Channels to put in sewage lines. Been there, done that, got the Tshirt. Trouble is, here, the authorities wanted to charge people for the privilege of having mains sewerage instead of septic tanks, and most of us chose to forego that pleasure. We have a septic tank. We cope. Except when it decides to get blocked.

    We’ve got a satellite dish but opted not to have satellite. As for set-top boxes, yeah, people here have ’em.

    Sugar cane juice, sounds brill. How do your dentists there feel about it? πŸ˜‰

    After this will you be coming over to my blog to answer my weird questions? (And watch my video of my answers in a later post?)

    Oh, and by the way, my ‘gemstone pool’ like post is waiting for you, it’s called Ferryman.

    1. No one has ever said my anything cracks them up, Val. You are today’s topmost on my list of favourite people for a lifetime.

      But no, wait! You do not use a tongue cleaner/scraper. Oh Val, why? Do your teeth do justice to the scraping? And just so you know, my saliva doesn’t scrape off the morning-fuzz on the top of my tongue. And I use my teeth to chew, bite, stick sticky fudge longer in my mouth.

      I am beginning to feel just a little brighter with the thought that Dust hasn’t just chosen me. But the fact that I have chosen a not-yet-even-a-trainee for a husband downs my spirits further. I suppose we’ll have to live with it, or develop disposable hands for the comfort that after every contact (okay 15 for my dear husband) with an exposed surface when our friend comes to shake us by the hands (disposable ones), we can simply take them out and chuck them in the bin without having to go to the wash basin, squeeze out dabs of handwash on our hands, drop most of it on the washbasin (to let it rest with spots of toothpaste droppings from last year), and let water wash it all off. Or at least pretend it did.

      Strip/Tube lights are soulless. Yes, that’s the word I’d use for them.

      Why will dentists have anything to do with sugarcane juice?

      Dalia could be cracked wheat. Perhaps it is. I am happy you like it with butter and garlic. That takes you a notch higher on my aforementioned list.

      I will answer your weird questions. But only if you consider using a tongue cleaner.

  2. My Dear Priya,
    A wonderful piece! – I really enjoyed learning about your world.

    I think what surprised me the most was that you have DC mains electricity, and have to convert it to AC.

    Me, I am dusty, but organised. I vacuum every two months whether the place needs it or not!

    No cows or buffaloes round here, but I do have a ‘set-top box’.

    I don’t have a car, but if I did, it would get shat on by the birds regularly.

    Gosh, do you think I should get a tongue cleaner? I’ve never even thought of one of those!

    Best wishes P. Dave.

    1. I guess I didn’t explain well. The inverter has a battery to store electricity as DC for the times when there’s a power cut.

      Psst. I am beginning to worry that someone might be listening to our conversations. We talk of inverters, wallow in misunderstanding for almost a day, and someone gets angry and takes away our electricity for 10 hours. Yes. We lived without direct AC yesterday, so our inverter had to work overtime; it’s battery was about to die, before someone took pity.

      I am happy a set-top box ails you as well.

      But no tongue cleaner, Dave? God, what is the world coming to?

  3. I almost turned away, dear girl, at the sight of the tongue scraper. Oh, I can barely tolerate the words!

    This is for me the best post you’ve ever written. This is you, Priya, anxious to know how others live in the tedium and quiet and excitement of their lives. I am so in love with this post, I’m going to print it out.

    Now – a couple of answers for you:
    Of course I have dust, girl! And mixed in with it are copious amounts of dog fur, which always makes me scold them – as if they could stop it.

    I have seen tacky tiles used on the floor, but not so much on the wall. I imagine they’d be easy to wipe clean. The ones pictured in your photo made me shudder a bit. I don’t think I could concentrate in that room.

    No plastic chairs inside my home, but definitely outside. I know that furniture is expensive so I imagine many people have to resort to using it. I have seen some very attractive plastic furniture. When I was in my 20’s, I had oodles of it that I would spray paint. It was still plastic in spite of the cosmetics.

    Yes to the wires, no to the water purifier. Oh, those wires.

    I want a pressure cooker. But I fear the pressure cooker. The two words together spell certain disaster and a ceiling splattered with beans.

    I put little things I can’t stand to throw away in my garden among the plants. I like the textures together and the memories mixed with flowers.

    I will wipe bird poo off if it is on my windows. On the car body, well, I just pray for rain.

    We are dirty here! We litter! We live in houses that have a coating of dirt and dust and windows that are smeared by puppy noses. We are really a lot alike.

    1. Et tu, Jean? No wonder the world is disintegrating. It must be all that tongue-fuzz invading our world invisibly.

      This is me, yes. And a lot more. For instance, I do not scold my dogs for shedding hair. I wrestle with them, in turn covering myself with almost half of their hair, I am sure. It is uncertain whether they enjoy it all that much (they look at me with suspicious eyes thereafter for at least 2 1/2 minutes), but I pretty much forget the balls of dog hair finding their way behind every piece of furniture.

      I have seen attractive plastic furniture, too. My parents have just got four great-looking brown plastic chairs they like to keep handy when many visitors come (which is often), but still, I’d prefer wooden stools. If my visitors do not like them, they can stand. Or bully the sofa-sitter out.

      “…the memories mixed with flowers.” How very wonderful! Yes, that’s a wonderful thing to feel.

      You litter?! You litter! Wow.

  4. Yes — plastic chairs, wires, dust, water filtering contraptions, hideous light fixtures, and the occasional flesh-and-blood newscaster. It’s all here, too.

    I like this post, Priya. A lot. Especially this: “Our real-life salesman, however, gave us a choice — buy the one that works, or the one that she asks you to buy, just because it is she.” Honest salesmen? I’ll have to get back to you on that one. And people who don’t like vegetables? That must be unique to India. I’ve never heard of such a person.

    1. Good you said you like it a lot. If you’d left out “a lot”, I’d have been forced to roll you off a mountain.

      It’s all there, too. How do our worlds become different, then, Charles?

      1. Oh, and you really do not know any vegetable disliker? How curious. I am sure I overheard someone saying the world’s fussiest eater lives in PEI.

  5. I’m amused Priya, because I cannot get this post out of my head. Every time I get up to get something or do something in the house, I am reminded of the pictures you shared, and I notice the things in my house. I find I am deliberately looking for the ‘unsightly’ items.

    Like you, I have dust, wires, etc. I suspect I’ll grab my camera at some point and write my own version of “Do you have what I have?”

    I enjoy how your posts linger with me. Funny how – with this post – think of you, and your words, as I see the ‘ugly’ things around me, because you and your posts are far from ugly.

    1. Do that, Lenore! Reading your version is going to give me even more satisfaction. I will spy out all the dust, wires, and feel a devilish pleasure — that one thing that makes the world move – The Feeling of Not Being Alone. Well, I will spy out all of that, but not ugliness. I am positive there cannot be any around for long where you’re present with your I’ll-make-amends attitude.

      Glad I could amuse! I see myself as this drab bore most of the time. Hearing this gives me pleasure. But be careful how much you say that — I could get out of hand with the sheer joy of it.

  6. How nice it is to get a glimpse into your life, Priya! I loved taking a peek around your home and neighborhood. And yes, how amazing it is to realize even if you live so far away, there are certain things that connect us to make the distance shorter.

    Like dust. I think I can relate with this subject. Have I made friends? I have, my husband hasn’t. I’ve given up a long time ago trying to keep it away. Every blue moon I’ll run around and frantically start “cleaning” but really, all I am doing is pushing it around only to resettle again. I’m more of the belief that a little dirt is good for you. Builds the immune system or…something. My husband read that dust is mostly “us”–our dead skin cells–so he thinks maybe we need to polish everything in sight all the time.

    Plastic chairs. We have two. We don’t have them inside much, only if we run out of other chairs at a party. My son sets them up outside in our backyard and he and his sister pretend to have a tea party there, but inevitably the howling wind that blows through (we live in a giant old cow pasture with no trees) will take those chairs and toss them around the driveway. We’ll find them sometimes upside down or resting in the tall cat-o-nine-tails or even out in the road.

    Electrical wires. My husband is a technology freak, so yes we have zillions of ugly wires poking out every which way. I try to put a giant plant in front of them to hide them. My kids used to yank on them all the time when they were small, so we had to bundle them all up and attempt to baby proof.

    Vanity license plates. My dad had a few of those: GO N UP and HI HOPE My older brother had: ROCKIN and his best friend had: ROLLIN They thought they were so cool.

    Bird poop on cars. Never bother cleaning it. This reminds me of the time I had a bird poop on my head while I was riding a bike next to a boy I liked at the time. I don’t think my screaming impressed him much.

    Cows and buffalo. We have lots of cows just beyond our backyard here. There’s a farm on the hill behind my house and I am constantly taking pictures of them. We know it’s getting cold and the winter is coming by noticing where the cows are grazing in the field. Once they are close to our house, autumn is almost over. Here people have lots of chickens in their yards. More and more are realizing the benefits of having fresh free eggs. This time of year we’ll always see a bunch of turkey crossing the road. Once a few of them FLEW across the road. I didn’t know turkeys could fly, but they sure did. Not very far or very high but it was amusing to see! Oh, and moose. We have lots of moose here. And they’ve been known to dart out of the woods or walk through a yard or two. I hit one in my car when I was 27 and was lucky I wasn’t killed.

    Thanks for letting us see a bit about your life and world, Priya!

    1. Vanity license plates. That’s what I wanted to know about! If there are 20 sets of best friends with ROCKIN and ROLLIN as their license plates in the entire US, how would the police know how to track the car(s) if one of the sets of best friends decided to pluck out, say, the picket fence from a nice old lady’s garden, and drive off ROCKIN and ROLLIN? I’d really like to know about this.

      Did you close your eyes when you were screaming? If there is the slightest chance that he saw your eyes, he’d be impressed for sure. Your scream must’ve sounded like a call to the gentlest aliens. If he was imaginative.

      The description of your neighbourhood makes me want to come and visit. Maybe live in such a place. I am sure my husband would feel all woozy with the idea.

      Thank you for taking time to read this bit, Darla. I know it can get tedious.

  7. Gosh what a fun post Priya. I can now honestly say I’ve been in a home in Northern India.

    I think anyone who writes and blogs cannot have a tidy home. Blogging takes up so much time there’s no time for tidiness!

    I’ve never used a tongue cleaner. The thought of using one makes me want to gag. Not one of the dentists in the 3 countries I’ve lived in have ever suggested a tongue cleaner…

    Yes to a water purifier. Ours is a small cartridge that fits under the sink and removes sediment and heavy metals.
    Yes our bathroom is tiled.
    No to plastic furniture
    Yes to photos in frames. How can you avoid them?

    Yes to dust. There are hills all around here so of course the dust flies in and coats everything.
    Yes to bird shit. We have lots of trees and birds so if you park under a tree, hello…

    License plates- I’ve been photographing them for a few months now to get a collection to make a slide show on a blog. Because we have so many cars in California they set up a new system around the year 2000: “a number three letters and three numbers”. we are on #6 now.

    I love drying washing on the line outside – they smell so fresh and I sleep so well on the sheets – but we live in a townhouse and are NOT allowed to put washing on our patios.

    I got a pressure cooker for a wedding present because my mom had always used one but it somehow got left behind when we emigrated.

    We had a power failure last night – but it only lasted a minute or two.

    Val my daughter loved “The Borrowers” and we read all the books several times.

    1. Tidiness has become a moot point here in my home, Rosie. We’re having a daily dose of How To Wriggle Out Of Cleaning Responsibilities everyday. We’ll find a solution yet, I trust.

      Why aren’t townhouses allowed to hang the washing in a line? Is it because of the aesthetics? How unfortunate. The smell of sun on freshly washed clothes is incomparable.

      I am happy you took time out to read such a long post, Rosie, and that you found it fun. Thank you.

  8. -Book I’ve read a hundred times: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    -No to dust. I’m pretty much of a neat-freak.
    -Have a vanity license plate myself
    -Take my car to the car wash at least once a week; no to bird poop too!
    -Yes, bathroom is tiled.
    -Yes yes to photos in frames, although I recently put about 20 of them away – the shelf felt cluttered!
    -I brush my tongue with my electric toothbrush; upper roof of mouth too!
    -Cable television and internet
    -Plastic chairs a must in Rhode Island. Slat water off the ocean rusts metal in a nanosecond!
    -One and only experience with pressure cooker was my first year of marriage – didn’t know how to use it; it exploded, the lid went up and then through the kitchen window. Nearly killed the cat, sitting on the window sill. Haven’t used a pressure cooker since.

    -Sometimes LIFE is a pressure cooker though!! πŸ™‚

    Love the people swimming photo the best!

    1. How do you keep the dust out, EOS?

      Does the roof of your mouth not feel like it’s been scrubbed off its cells?

      Ah yes, life being a pressure cooker sometimes — we’ve all felt that off and on now, haven’t we?

      I must read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ve heard so much about it.

      Thank you so much for your time. I was worried the post was so long, no one would read it!

      1. I don’t keep the dust out, I just keep AT the dust. Keep it under control. Who me, obsessive compulsive? πŸ™‚ I’m not really, but I am a fan of a spic ‘n span home. I find it soothing to know my surrounds are in order when life may be swirling out of control!

        As for my mouth, the worst offenders for bad breath are the roof and tongue. I religiously brush both. It does feel a bit like scrubbing off cells, but I still have taste buds, so I suppose I’m okay!

        NO POST OF YOURS COULD EVER BE TOO LONG. Trust me on this.

        1. I am going to try to put this into practise, EOS. To keep my surroundings in order when life may be swirling out of control. Gosh, do I need order somewhere! I am also going to tell myself to not count on it, though; for it is quite a task to keep at something, especially dust.

          As long as you appreciate coconut cakes like the one you made for that birthday (was it?), I am going to believe that your taste buds are intact. But I’d advice you to not count on it either. Remember the cheek cells we plucked out to look at them under the microscope (well, we did that at school in Biology classes)? Did it not feel after a few trials as if the toothpick was going to get through to the other side of the cheek? Imagine all those years of tongue and palate brushing.

  9. Priya…I am not supposed to be responding to this posting right now. I am supposed to be at work, do not tell my boss…shhhh…(I am self-employed!) I just came across this posting and loved it so much I simply had to say something. I have written 6 books, read through lots of blogs…but yours is the first one I have ever subscribed to. You are an incomparable illustrator, painting with humor, humility and playfulness. I am so glad to have found your blog. I am going to read this to my kids. Oh right…you wanted answers. I am blessed with fantastic teeth…once I I went 5 years without brushing and no one knew, or at least-no one said anything. I was saving the world and being “spiritual” by not bathing, using deodorant or brushing my teeth. Also, I thought I was personally saving the world’s fresh water supply. That was 20 years ago though. I now brush but have never used a tongue scraper. They look violent and unkind. Plus I bit my tongue nearly in half in a high speed car collision in a vehicle that needed washing (think “lots of bird poop”). The vehicle didn’t see the light of day after that but since then my tongue looks sort of funny no matter what I do. My son wants to do a scientific study of how wires become entangled, he sees something intrinsically metaphorical in it, a statement about how humans live. I agree. We have enough wires here for a phD. However, in the evenings I mostly just do yoga by candlelight and meditate by the same. I do not like indoor lighting. And we have internet but no satellite TV. I am a photographer and put pics of my kids and other favorites on the walls, but do not have enough money for frames most of the time. Do you have push pins? I love them. My kids consider it a ritual of adulthood when they can actually push them all the way in without my help. When we move out of our apartment someday, they will see so many push pin holes that they will think there was some sort of miniature pellet gun war waged here. Whenever my kids do something artsy…on the wall it goes, doesn’t matter where or how big…or how small. There are no cattle rambling about, all fenced in I am afraid. Most Americans eat them, so it is convenient to have them where we can find them. My daughter and I do not though. I eat raw vegetables, nuts and fruit food…with a few cooked Indian meals thrown in. I used to work with a woman from Punjabi who taught me how to cook her way and so my kids eat that fairly often. I do not have a husband who lacks decorative sense and never have. I may look for one though, it beats living alone…but I think I will look for a female version. I shower every 3rd day or so…still trying to save water.

    Well Priya. It was a pleasure reading your post and it was good fun to respond. Take care today and be blessed in all that you do.


    1. I can’t make up my mind whether I really, really like you, or whether I should reconsider that. No bathing and brushing teeth for 5 years… Hmm. But what makes me want to give you a big hug nevertheless is that you do not use a deodorant (I think it is mankind’s invention to promote laziness. Figure that), you bit your tongue in a top speed collision (I think I’d be too petrified to do that), you have a son who wants to do scientific study on wires (how cool is that?), I love push pins too, and if I had kids, there art, however, big or small, would go up on the wall, you eat Punjabi food at times (wow). Looks like this list is longer.

      Thank you for coming here and giving me a peek into your world with just a few words. I would love to read your book.

      Namaste. And I wish you all the blessedness, too.

    1. Do it, KIran! It is a lot of fun, as you can see. I wish I could ask many other questions, and show and see more! The similarities in dissimilarities are immense, and they make one feel better somehow.

      Your blog is beautiful. I can say that again, and again. And then some more.

  10. Hi Priya. What a great way to learn about how we are different and the same! I am sorry to say that my house is so cluttered, it is rediculous. This is because I have so many things to do and cleaning is usually at the bottom of the list. Not putting things away at once is my biggest problem. Also, we seem to be drowning in paper all the time (a lot of our mail is called ‘junk mail’). My curtains look like yours only they are patterned because I made all my curtains out of fabric I fell in love with. I like your ideas on ‘dispatching the undispatchable’. I had a lot of broken dishware that was my Mom’s or is special in some other way. I did a very bad thing and started a small ‘midden’ in my woods. It is a little pile of broken china and I can go there any time I want to and look at it. Having your own garbage heap is frowned on where I live. Jane.

    1. Finally! Someone who’s like me! Clutter, disorganisation, not putting things away. Lovely.

      And I confess I now find your beautiful poetry slightly less beautiful than you. You’ve made a pile of broken china! You are the best my-kind-of-person, Jane!

  11. What a hoot this post and the responses are!
    A few answers:
    1. When I moved into my house about 7 years ago, I was pleased to thin my book collection a bit and then assembled bookcases in which to house each book, arranged by my own strange system. Same for the CD’s. And now? Both books and CD’s are a rumpled mess!
    2. Dusting is highly over-rated. I may get around to it once a month…if I’m energetic. SDS fights dog hair…for me it is cat hair which is EVERYWHERE, including imbedded under my laptop keyboard.
    3. I love nearly all veggies as I love all of the Indian Cuisine I’ve ever tasted. But I’ve never eaten or heard of Dalia porridge. Being not much of a breakfast person, I don’t think I’ve missed anything of importance.
    4. I am sitting on my porch as I read/write in the most comfortable plastic version of an Adirondike you could imagine. It is way to easy to fall asleep sitting upright in this plastic chair.
    5. I inherited my mom’s pressure cooker which she used nearly everyday, especially for potatoes. Unfortunately, the microwave oven has mostly replaced the need for the P.C. so I rarely use it other than as a soup pot.
    6. I don’t like clutter, so I live in a drape free house…aside from shower curtains. I have folding blinds which I fold up whenever I can to reduce my tendancy towards claustrophobia.
    7. License plates have become totally bizarre. I was just talking to a friend from another state about this recently. The US used to have a specific plate design for each state. The states numbered their plates individually. My state had a code for the county in which the plate was bought, followed by a series of random numbers….people with the lowest numbers felt snug because you could retain your number for life. But now, the states have begun to use license plates as a money making proposition. There are multiple designs available (at an extra charge which goes to whatever organization that design benefits). Traveling across the country, one can no longer instantly recognize the “cowboy” state (Wyoming with a bucking horse) or the “potato” state (Idaho with a spud on the plate) because there are all sorts of versions of each plate…not even holding true to original plate colors. Then there are the vanity plates…I had one for a while, but no longer.
    8. In a near desert environment, I clean bird poop off my car. Otherwise it would bake into the paint.
    9. Yes, unfortunately, trash is ubiquitous beside our roadways. Sometimes organizations or families “adopt” a stretch of road and volunteer to clean it up once or twice a year.
    10. Buffalo milk? Never had it. In rural areas, you may find your way blocked by a cow, a chicken, a pig, a horse, or a herd of sheep. But rarely ever in the city.

    1. Aha! My post’s a hoot! Yippie! You don’t know the extent of joy you’ve given me, Linda.

      2. Of course it is overrated, friend. Join the club! My house is full of dog hair, too. Under the keys, in the air, behind the furniture… And dust. Well. All I can say is that I won’t say anything more, lest I ruin my (hopefully) unblemished impression with all of you here.

      4. I shall look up Adirondike and tell you whether I like the image of you sitting on it, or not. But if it is really as comfortable as it sounds, and it is kept strictly outdoors, we’re friends.

      6. How do curtains cause clutter?

      7. I still do not understand how the plates work! Thank you for taking time out to explain it, though. If you can purchase license plates, you can con the authorities, no? About spuds and bucking horses: Wow. I think I’d have psychedelic bubbles on mine. That’d be fun!

      1. 6. Curtains cause clutter by getting in the way of my view of the world.

        7. License plates: They have become so complicated here in the US that perhaps I should do a post about them….I have no yet seen psychedlic bubbles on American plates, though. …an idea germinates…..;-)

        1. Regarding 6.: I quite like your point of view here.

          I look forward to reading your post about the plates, and the education it’ll bring. This is one of the most intriguing things about the US in my mind, I confess.

  12. What a wonderful post. First, we have a house guest from Europe and I am continually reminded how alike people really are when you get past the superficial differences.

    But more important, your pictures brought me back to my visits to India where yes, I’ve seen that style of tongue cleaners and the water purifiers and dozens of other little things in your pics that make India a place where regular people do regular things in just a little different way! Thanks.

    1. …regular people do regular things in just a little different way.” That’s exactly how things are, if we choose to see them that way, Thomas. Thank you for coming here and appreciating.

  13. This is an endearing post.
    Of course I am a neatnik πŸ˜‰ Wouldn’t you know it!
    I love this: “if you assassinate a home, what is left to maintain anyway.” This speaks volumes.
    Love the way you weave a story about everyday life.

    1. Good to see you, Bela! I do confess, though, that your neatnik-ness makes me a little uncomfortable. When I come to Hawaii, will I be allowed to keep a glass of lemonade on the peg table, even if the condensed water on the surface of the glass leaves a circle of water on the table? Or will I have to make sure there’s a coaster? Or must I keep the glass in my hand? Ooh, such things make me very, very nervous.

  14. Are buffalos allowed to have attitudes? πŸ™‚ LOVE it! What a great read this was, Priya. You shared your Partial View with open arms, and I am grateful for the glimpse into your life.

    “There is strength in empathy. And yes, there is joy in sharing.” What wonderful and powerful lines. I think you just struck the core of why we blog, and why it’s important to talk to our neighbors.

    And I laughed out loud at your “fairy godcleaners.” That’s what Cinderella should have wished for! Wouldn’t we all love that? My sister’s husband is from Brazil, and a good portion of his family still lives there. Where they live, almost every household has a cleaning person. It’s almost part of the culture. Even the families who don’t make much money still employ a cleaner. It’s become an economic necessity for job sustainment. I was surprised to learn that, knowing also about the shocking poverty that pervades so much of Brazil.

    As in any country, the classes are divided. But this particular aspect seems to transcend social status. (To a point.)

    Here in America, if you have a house cleaner, especially in the Northeast region where I live, it’s practically a sin. No self-respecting woman would give herself the luxury of a cleaner. But of course we all want one! But we’ve been raised in homes where our mothers and our mothers’ mothers scrubbed the table after every meal, hung out the rugs on a clothesline to beat with a broom, and seasonally washed the curtains. Washed the curtains? I try to keep up with the standards my grandmother set — but it’s next to impossible.

    More often than not my kitchen counter looks like a Rube Goldberg project in the making.

    I also enjoyed your line about the endless availability of vegetables. You are right. It does take the fun out of it, having perennially available produce. I remember when I worked as a reporter in Washington state (one of our country’s leading producers of apples), I learned that before an apple even gets on the shelf at a chain grocery store, it’s already a YEAR old. The apples are kept in giant domed buildings, with temperatures just above freezing, and then rotated through and thawed as the year progresses.

    Yes, it’s a pain to clean. And yes, it’s frustrating that berries are only around in the summer. But — you are right. It’s worth it. Just like you said about houses, “if you assassinate a home, what is left to maintain anyway?”

    Some things are worth the extra trouble and the extra wait, to be especially enjoyed. Now. Since you offered, what are your favorite things to make with your pressure cooker? πŸ™‚

    1. I know now how you look! And you look happy, and just as sensible as you seem through your words. The gravatar is beautiful.

      We have godcleaners in India as well. Well, at least the cleaner bit of it. In India, it is challenging to not have a house help. I can give you a list of helps that visit an average family — cleaning maid (for the utensils, and the house (sweeping, mopping, sometimes dusting), washerwoman for the clothes, sweeper to clean the bathroom, gardener (sometimes). That’s all. πŸ™‚ Some households keep separate service providers for different chores, some maids do all of these chores themselves. But the basic fact is that all households, with just a few exceptions, have helps. Oh, and new mothers also keep ayahs (nannies) for the kids — massaging of the mother and child, general tending etc. Such luxury, eh? Social discrimination comes with it, especially for the sweepers, who do the dirty job. But of late, the helps have realised their importance, and the house owners have accepted their dependence, so things are better for the house helps. Small things like sharing the same utensils if you’re giving them something from your kitchen, or sharing the same furniture to sit on and so forth are still in primitive and discriminatory stages, and people will give you almost believable reasons for it. Who knew this (the concept of getting help) could be a Rube Goldberg project? (I had to look the term up)

      Apples that are a year old. So very sad.

      Pressure cookers. I wasn’t a great fan until I got married. My husband comes from the mountains, where it can take ages just to boil potatoes, and so, a pressure cooker is an essential part of the kitchen. That’s where I learnt that mutton (goat meat) is best cooked in a pressure cooker. It retains the juiciness and the spices get mixed very well with the flesh. If you’re a vegetarian and appreciate Indian food, and want to avoid canned products, use a pressure cooker to boil stuff like kidney beans, chickpeas, and other shelled beans. It’s like eating apples fresh off the branches.

  15. Dear Priya, Forgive me, but even with my long reply above, it struck me tonight, while I was making dinner, that there was another point in your post I truly enjoyed. And I wanted to let you know.

    Your post was very centric on our similarities. “Tell me how you and I are the same,” you offered. But at my kitchen sink, I realized just how lucky and blessed I am to have the basic necessity of water at my beck and call. I do not need a purifier (from a Bollywood starlet or otherwise!) πŸ™‚ And actually seeing the photo of the one in your home really impressed upon me just how fortunate I am.

    And for that, I wanted to say thank you. You drew me in with our similarities, and kept me thinking long into the day about our differences.

    1. Melissa, thank you for remembering my post at your kitchen sink. It makes me happy to know that what I’ve written stayed with you long enough to recall it to remember your blessings. For it is indeed a blessing to get clean water. The purifier I have is among the best in India, so, the water we get has a refreshing, fresh taste — by Indian standards. But it comes with a heavy price tag for an average Indian. When I go to some other houses, the lingering taste of minerals and impurities makes me realise the blessing I have. That of money at my disposal.

      Years back, we were visiting a very small town in Rajasthan, India’s desert state. The people there challenged us to drink the water they got through the municipal corporation’s supply. It was a steel tumbler of average size; even before it reached my lips, I could smell the intensity of the salts. I sipped a few drops, and was ready to puke — it had a month’s supply of salt in it! There’s hardly any rain there, and whatever water they save through rain water harvesting is not enough for the entire household. The discrepancies in the standard of living just within this country is enormous. To speak of a comparison with the entire world would be disturbing.

  16. Priya, I don’t know why I only received notice now of this post. It’s brilliant. I, too, like it A LOT!! πŸ˜€

    By now you have a pretty good idea that we simply are not all that different. The tongue cleaning? My dental assistant is forever reminding all of us to brush our tongues. If we don’t she starts describing what get’s jammed into all those deep crevasses! Ewww…

    I like my home organized and tidy because I lived with a mom who had not one ounce of domesticity. She loved people. My friends always wanted to come to my house because they really loved talking with my mom. I would be horrified that they’d see the state of the house. They never seemed to notice! Mom kept them too tied up in conversation.

    I agree about the wires! Thank goodness for more and more wireless, but the plug-in behind my desk would probably give my insurance agent apoplexy!

    The license plate information on vehicles are radioed in by police. They are given the information of origin at that time because we are all duly registered. Thus we have the freedom of picking weird things to put on “vanity plates”. Maybe I ought to get SOUL DIPR.

    I love veggies and think I would enjoy eating in India A LOT. I like trying different grains and rices – currently I am on a Quinoa run. I went to a Pot Luck (where everyone brings a dish so everyone shares each other’s contribution to the meal) and made a casserole that was very different from typical Canadian dishes. It was well received – it may be from a Muslim home:

    I’m going to spare your eyes. Priya!!! These are very long comments. Proof of this being a great post! Bravo’1

    1. “They are given the information of origin at that time because we are all duly registered.” Does this mean that, for instance, at the site of a hit and run incident the police will know the license number of the culprit white Honda Civic with a vanity plate saying GIRLY SHOOZ (oh, is it just 4 letters a word?) without any other information?

      I am not a great quinoa fan. But that might be because the one time I’ve eaten it, it was made by an atrocious cook. So, I am reserving my opinion about it. I just surfed through the net to find some Indian recipe. Here it is:

      You needn’t like it, though.

      You’ve almost revived my eyes, Amy. And filled my heart with pride with your comments.

  17. Dear Priya

    We have not met and only just encountered each other on here. Delightful and insightful and funny. Reading your post is timely for me. I am packing up my home as we are moving in a few weeks. Oh, the dust and oh, the unwanted clutter of things forgotten on shelves, in drawers and in the shed outside!
    My set top TV box must be packed carfeully and a new home found for it when we move. Wires? Yes, everywhere and they are unsightly.
    Plastic furniture? I share your disdain of it and won’t have any in my home. As for strip lighting. It’s horrid and cold and, you can tell your husband, does not do your health any good. It doesn’t have the full spectrum colours in it that humans need. Here in my country that matters, especially in winter when our light levels and number of daylight ours are too low.
    Tongue scrapers? Yes, we have those, though they’re not my favourite objects. As for Cds, books (my partner is a writer and can’t bear to part with books) we have far too many and he is not the best at returning them to thier alloted homes. He also thinks at least four should live by his bedside.
    We have a little camper van. The birds regualrly put presents on its bonnet, but usually the rain moves them for me. Wood pigions are more of a problem, as they peck at my vegetables and squash my flowers.
    My new garden will be much bigger than my present one, so we will grow more crops, more flowers and less time will be spent on evicting the dust and hunting out rubbish, but we will be healthier and happier when the harvest is gathered. And we will eat more seasonable fruit and vegetables. I like your remarks regarding this. Food from the supermarket robs you of that sense of season, doesn’t it?
    Please keep writing. your world is not so different to ours.

    1. Unpacking! I enjoy it as much as I do collecting bric-a-brac. But packing? Ugh. Tell me, do you hire packers and movers? I did that twice, and regret it to the day. Well, no broken china, but they almost succeeded in denting my pride. Why can’t I pack my own house?, I asked myself.

      I am going to like your partner, I am sure. Just because his bedside table probably looks quite similar to mine. Do you not read books?

      What is a camper van? I think I know, but something specific will help me imagine it better.

      I do like the sound of your new garden! Fruits and veggies in their season, just when they’re supposed to be worked in your kitchen — not at any other time.

      I must tell my husband now about the hazards of strip light/tube light/ rod (as he likes to call it). Our too loud-a-light-filled days in India might not need the missing bits of the spectrum so much, but we might die of the sinful ugliness of it.

      Thanks, Chris. Your comment made my day brighter.

  18. Thank you again Priya. Yes, we’re getting in a removal company, but I am doing my own packing. It gives me the chance to throw out all the clutter we no longer want and means less work once we move into our new home!
    Yes, I do read, but one book at a time and leave room on my bedside table for my morning coffee!
    I do hope you don’t die of the ugliness of your lighting. The world would be poorer without you!
    A camper van is a vehicle like a caravan that you can sleep and cook in. Mine is a ‘vintage’ one and there are less than 100 on the roads today. It is very small, so I can park it in the supermarket car park or my parents driveway when I go to visit them. We go away during the summer so I can photograph this beuatiful country of ours. Like my very own snail shell, I always have my home with me when I travel (well a bit of it anyway). Here’s a link to my website so you can see a picture of it. It’s called a ‘New Venture Baby’ and it’s very sweet. I have a sink, water and a little cooker and fridge, so we don’t go hungry or cold. You might consider escaping in one- there is no room for strip lighting in here!

    1. New Venture Baby’s beautiful! I could almost see it waving.

      But don’t speak out in the open! The camper van escape is supposed to be my secret last resort. Shh!

    1. Hmm. You do have workable ideas, don’t you, Chris?
      Now all I have to do is to wait for when he isn’t looking. Which is going to be a long wait, surely, for he coddles tubelights like little girls coddle teddy bears.

  19. This really sets a scene. I can only imagine what your screenplay would portray. As cluttered as you may think things are, I “see” a quiet household that holds a lot of reflection. Your comments make me think about similar things here in TX half a world away.
    1. License plates – When I drive I do like to try and make words out of the consonants that precede the numbers, i.e. GLB = globe; MLK = milk or Martin Luther King; LSN = lesson – I am a teacher.
    2. Photo frames – Guilty. We have many, but I’m in the process of putting the “ancient” ones in a photo album in an attempt to clear things out. My mother’s home has even more than me. She says she wants to be sure that when family comes to visit, they can feel welcome when they find their picture. She finds that when they do come, they gravitate to the picture of them, she has framed around the house.
    3. Wash on lines – When I have a heavy wash like jeans, towels or large sheets, I set the dryer for a regular cycle. Then I take those things out to dry outside. Why should electricity keep working so hard to get the last ounce of dampness out? Besides, I love the crisp feeling of these things that sun drying adds. Since we don’t have a clothesline – they are forbidden in our deed restrictions of our neighborhood, laughable I know, but so American – anyway, I lay them over our patio swing, or over the “plastic chairs”, or hang them from the branches of our tall ligustrum bushes. ha-ha- this makes me laugh. If only the deed restriction people knew!
    4. My mother had a pressure cooker. Then I claimed it for a 1940’s play my students put on. I was dismayed that when I went into school one morning, it had disappeared. I think the cleaning people at night spotted it and understood right away its value. I think of it every now and then as it must be used for its original purpose and not just a prop for a play. Shame on me for accusing the night staff for taking it…but really, I only do it to point out they understood its value. Why should a perfectly good pressure cooker sit in a classroom…it belongs in a kitchen!
    5. Dalia porridge – no, I’m sorry to admit I don’t know about it. But like it, I have learned so much more about you through this post.
    6. Back to license plates – I’m originally from Mexico City, so when I’m not discerning words from the consonants on the license plates, I search out plates from the various states of Mexico…did you know Mexico has 31 states +DF (their federal district)? Jal = Jalisco; Guan = Guanajuato; NL = Nuevo LeΓ³n; Tam = Tamaulipas; Son = Sonora; Guad = Guadalajara. I love those states and more than I list here. I am sad that corruption as invaded my original country and sends people immigrating from there. It’s so sad what is going on.
    Enjoyed getting to know you better, I look forward to reading more, gs

    1. Oh, but you pull my leg! Pressure cookers do belong in kitchen, but if you use it as prop to depict the 40s, you obviously assume it is an ancient tool, Georgette! Let me assure you, however, it is pretty much pertinent in today’s times. Especially in today’s times in fact, because they save time, and fuel. And take you away from canned food. All at once!

      Corruption is a sad thing to happen, yes. Unfortunately it is everywhere. The good thing is that there is still an option to go to a place with a lesser percentage of it. I am assuming TX is for Texas and you are in Texas. Do you wear cowboy hats and wow boots and tasselled chaps? Wow. You’re my latest hero already! All of this, and then drying out clothes outside. This is the best thing I’ve heard in a while! Nothing beats the smell of sun and warmth on freshly washed clothes!

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