Friday, July 3, 2009
Suniti's Apartment in Delhi
Visiting in the homes of Indians from various ethnic groups and social classes was one of the promised features of this study trip.
On arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport, we were driven to the apartment of Dr. Nita Kumar's mother, Suniti Naresh Kumar, in Janakpuri, a neighborhood in south Delhi. The Aditi Apartments are several towers of about eight stories.
Suniti wasn't there--her main residence is a colonial-style bungalow in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Nita met us at the door with a man she didn't introduce. He turned out to be the cook, sent from Lucknow to cook for us for three days until we left Delhi.
(See photo of him--see also Nita Kumar with Dr. Karen Torjesen, Dean of the School of Religion at Claremont Graduate School for the last ten years, now returning to teaching.)
A dining table elegantly set for eight was the main room, next to a large sitting room, three large bedrooms, and two bathrooms. With three sleeping on mats on the floor, one on the couch, and two sharing two of the large beds, the apartment accommodated all eight of us.
The only drawback was the bathroom. I cut my hand on the rusty sliding bolt-type lock there the first night. There was no hot water in the shower... and I wondered what the two plastic tubs sitting by the water spigots were for. There were two small plastic pitchers too.
This turned out to be one method of taking a shower: pour water over yourself, soap, pour more water to rinse, but I didn't learn that until I reached a bathroom where the shower nozzle didn't work.
Next to one bedroom was an enclosed patio with an exercise bike in it.
Two rooms were air-conditioned. My bedroom was cooled by a large ceiling fan, but a couple of mosquitoes found me (fresh meat from another hemisphere) and I stayed awake itching the bites.
In the morning I learned why wire screens protected the patio: monkeys were in the garden and climbing up to apartment balconies.