aqua fortis

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I'm trying to fight one of those funks where I keep thinking to myself, "Geez, I'm not really that great at anything." Part of the rumination that keeps bothering me has to do with the role of difficulty of a task, or perceived subjective difficulty, and whether and how that relates to ability, aptitude, potential, success, etc. That is: if I feel like something is difficult, does that mean I'm not really that good at it--that I don't have a noteworthy ability or aptitude for it? Or does it mean that I am actually good at it because I'm trying to struggle through problems that others aren't willing or able to tackle? Or are the two completely independent, nothing to do with one another at all? [Something is difficult] AND/OR [I'm good at it or not good at it] but there is no causal relationship.

Mostly, though, instead of tackling the why and the self-analysis, I end up going through this list of things I like to do (or even things I don't like, just things I have to do or could do) and sort of checking them off, like, "Nope, I'm not all that great at that; oh, playing the ukulele? not so good at that; singing is fun but I'm really not that great at it; I could go back to working in a corporate environment but I'm not so great at stuff like meetings and getting to work on time and grown-up shit like that; I used to be pretty good at picking up languages but I don't think I am any more and hardly ever have time to practice;" and on and on.

So I decided to try to list a few things I am good at, to make myself feel a little better.

  • I'm really amazingly good at sitting on the couch with a purring cat on my lap. Making the cats happy is something I can do.
  • I can kick ass at cleaning out the refrigerator. In fact, I did that just yesterday. Now it's cleaner than it's been in many moons. (Of course, I don't know if this counts, since I was also at least partly responsible for failing to clean it for many moons...) 
  • I'm generally pretty good at things related to our household food management: grocery shopping, putting the shopping away, cooking or otherwise assembling the food into yummy form.
  • I am amazing at filing. You wouldn't really know this from the current state of *my* office, but while working as a temp, I once reorganized an entire file system for the City of Modesto Wastewater Treatment Facility--at least a half dozen large filing cabinets that had last been sorted sometime in the 1980s. In fact, that's how I met Joe Barretta, although he probably doesn't remember me. We had a long conversation about how he was taking his son to a Green Day concert.
  • I am good at consuming mass quantities. 
  • I am good at fading into the background (except in India, where I apparently stick out like a sore thumb--hence the many photo-ops people insisted on having with us).
  • I am good at being quiet. Too good, sometimes. In fact, sometimes that quietness extends to this blog, for which I apologize, because I do go through vast epochs of silence from time to time.
 I will try to be less silent. Bust out of the box! We'll see how well I do...and whether "busting out of the box" is one of the things I'm good at, or one of the other things...

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Observations on India So Far

A monkey-cow traffic jam. This was out on a country road,
to be fair, not in the city.
One thing I've learned so far while I've been in India that I didn't fully realize before: you will find everything on the road here. EVERYTHING. Cars. Trucks. Bicycles. Bicycle rickshaws. Autorickshaws. Tuktuks (a slightly larger autorickshaw with a meter, like a taxi). Actual taxis. Pedestrians. Cows. Goats. Dogs. Camels. Monkeys. (See photo.) Even, when we were driving back from Galta Ji (the monkey temple), a monitor lizard. (I'll post a photo of that later.) And somehow, all of these people and vehicles and animals weave in and out of traffic and pass through one another's space with mere inches to spare without anybody getting hit or freaking out.

Also, lane lines are mere suggestions, like in Mexico, and honking the horn is polite and expected road etiquette, not a sign of impending road rage. That one was hard to get used to. (I spent at least the first few days thinking OHMYGOD EVERYBODY IS HONKING AND ANGRY THIS IS VERY VERY BAD.) They are not angry. In fact, most trucks have "Honk Please" painted on the back.

Something I have learned about myself so far while in India: I really dislike haggling over prices, and being constantly pestered to buy stuff. Okay, so I knew that about myself, but I have had the near-daily opportunity to refresh that knowledge.

Over the past 6 days I have sweated more than I ever thought possible.

Delhi is an awe-inspiring city. Agra is kind of an unimpressive city (and our hotel had bugs in the bathroom, because basically it was a very buggy locale) but its monuments--the Taj Mahal, the Old Fort, Fatehpur Sikri--are incredible. Jaipur was a gem and may have been my favorite overall experience so far. Last night we arrived back in Delhi after our 3 days or so exploring the Golden Triangle, and today was a museum day. Tomorrow is our last full day in Delhi before flying to Khajuraho.

And now I need to conclude this digital postcard and write a few actual postcards...