Sarah continued with her massages and treatment as I lounged around. Plans for today: spend time with Arthi and her family. I didn’t eat breakfast, but accompanied Sarah as she ate. At 9am, my ride arrived, and I was off. Dad arrived on the pink scooty (2 wheeler, motorbike) to pick me up. We stopped by a temple to snap some pictures before arriving at Arun & Sidnu’s house. Sidnu had prepared pongal, drumstick sambar, sweet pongal, paniyaram (dosa batter mixed with carrots, onions, chilis), coconut chutney, gulabjamoon (very sweet fried dough drizzled with sweet syrup), one of the family favorites. The amount of fresh food prepared each and every day blows my mind. I wish I could eat this fresh everyday, but I’m too lazy to do that living alone. However, I might have to look up a couple of these simple recipes to create back in the states. Many of their foods are cooked fresh daily, not to mention street vendors down the way sell produce daily. The fridges here are much smaller with an even smaller freezer.
After breakfast, mom presented me with a beautiful black/pink sari, which she wanted me to try on. We attempted to apply the blouse, but my rib cage (or boobs) were too big, so it didn’t work. We returned to the tailor with my punjabi set for alterations and with the sari blouse to alter to fit me. Sidnu and I took off in her scooter. We returned to the same tailor down the road who had a small building (shack like) on the side of the road. Sidnu explained the issues with the punjabi and the blouse for the tailor to custom fit them to my body. After that, we were off. We went over to Sumathi’s house to pick up a ready made lunch her friend made. Then we returned to Sidnu’s house.
Back at Sidnu’s house, dad was waiting for me to take me to the dental college. Sumathi is a professor or biochemistry at the dental college for the past 25 years. We ate the lunch of chapatis, rice, and chutneys with a few of her colleagues. We chit chatted about my travels and the different subjects at the dental college. Most of them had asked me to find them a job in the United States which I replied ‘I have to find one for me first’. After lunch, Sumathi toured me all around the college- the labs: biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, etc. We walked up stairs and down stairs, viewed the classrooms and classes in session. We met lots of people along the way too. On the ground floor of the college, they have a full dental office with a place for extractions, fillings, teeth cleaning, polishing, and more. One of Sumathi,s prior students checked my teeth. She gave me a good report, and we were off again. As we walked into one of the classrooms, the students stood up to greet Sumathi. I asked Sumathi why they stood up, and she was surprised to learn that students in the states do not pay respect to their students by standing up as the professor enters the room. At 4pm, it was the end of the day. Sumathi and I left the college. Before we off the college, one of her students (I’m assuming) came and got her bags and loaded them in her car. Sumathi went to the ground floor where she had to hand write her ‘clock out’ time in a book as well as a time card read (I’m assuming) that identified her by her eyes. To me it was strange to see an old school method of a handwritten clock out time and a technologically advanced method of scanning her eyes.
We stopped at Sumathi’s friend’s house, Hasmeth. Sumathi told me that Hasmeth and her family make the best biriyani. Hasmeth’s mother runs a small business among relatives and family friend’s as she is the best biriyani cook. As we were waiting for the last little bit of the biriyani to be ready, Hasmeth served us vadai (a small patty like filled with veggies), veg gravy of minced lamb, veg porridge, and finally coconut pudding. The coconut pudding served in small ice cream like dish and cold with ingredients of coconut water and milk.
The next house we visited was Vani’s house who had her daughter and granddaughter with her. She served us mango and vakai. I started to nibble on the tea until they told me to dip the vakai in the tea. I did for a bite or two until I started on the mango. The mango was so rich in color and juicy and delicious. She cut up another mango and served it to me because it was that good.
I’m learning that whenever you go to someone’s house, it is customary to serve the guest tea along with a small bite to eat. The time the guest stays at the house doesn’t matter, but the tea is mandatory. After visiting all of these friends, I won’t be hungry for dinner. At some point, we made our way to back to Sumathi’s house where I just swung on her inside swing. Many of the houses in India have this homemade swing that is suspended from the ceiling. It’s very relaxing to sit in and swing while waiting for the time to pass. Her husband arrived at the house about the same time and we ate biriyani. Yes, the biriyani was good, but I’ll admit, I was full from all of the tea & goodies at the friends house. The husband comment on how I am a poor eater.
Sumathi and I went for a small walk around the ‘neighborhood’ where she introduced me to her neighbors and. . . of course – snapped some pictures. We continued to walk around where Sumathi told me which threes vendors she purchases her milk, her produce, and her everyday items. I enjoyed learning about the small community created by living in this set up.
Sumathi returned me to Sidnu and Arun’s house for the night. The tailor had altered the tops, so mom wanted to see me in the altered tops. I changed into the punjabi set, which fit so much better now that it had been altered just a bit. Sidnu also helped me with the sari. The fit of the blouse with the sari was perfect. Granted, it was tight, but that’s the way is suppose to be.
Around 10:30pm, mom asked if I was tired and ready for bed. We sat for a bit longer, then retired upstairs to the bed. As I stayed at Arun & Sidnu’s house, they provided me with a mattress on the bed. Even though the mattress made for a more comfortable bed, I couldn’t sleep. After an hour of lying in bed and listening to mom sleep, I finally fell asleep.