Finally! you’re thinking. A picture of the people she’s been living with for the past god(dess) knows how long.
From left to right:
The guy in the green shirt is Mamta’s younger brother. I don’t know his name because they’re not too formal about introductions and I forgot to ask. He’s twenty six years old. I think at one point he called me “fattie” but I also think he was flirting with me so I marked it up as he likes that I have meat on my bones? He and his father (the older man next to him) are both very interested in how much things cost. He has drilled me several times on the cost of rent in the US, the cost of food, the cost of beer, etc. Except he doesn’t speak English and Mamta says he has no interest in learning so I don’t know why he’s so curious about the US. He’s nice enough, but seems like many twenty something younger brothers I’ve encountered: unambitious and unmotivated to move out of the family home. He’s also cooked the only Indian dish I have ever had that was flat out inedible.
The older man is Mamta’s father. He’s very friendly, but also interested in how much things cost. How much my airfare was, how much my cell phone cost, etc. He pats me on my head occasionally like he would his own grandchildren and chats at me in Hindi even when he knows I don’t understand it (I rather like this, actually). He has complimented me several times on my chai-making-skills. He has also accidentally put his dirty laundry in my laundry bucket so I’m more intimate with his underoos and socks than I ever wanted to be.
The next brother is Ashish, who came here a few weeks ago to help Mamta cook and keep house while Mamta re-started her physical therapy from when she injured her arm a few months ago. His English and my Hindi are about on the same level so we can actually sort of communicate. He’s a professional cook and his food is pretty tasty.
Then there’s the two boys, Vanche and Varoon. I’m sure that I’m not spelling their names right. I can tell them apart by this: Vanche is the one with the wicked smile. He always looks like he’s about to do trouble, and his name is the one his mother yells the most. Varoon is a little more serious and quiet. They’re very close and are pretty typical nine year old boys. Complete with the fighting, waterguns in the house, and whining.
And finally, Mamta. Mamta has a degree in Sociology (I think) and is a widow in her early thirties. Her husband died three years ago when a large truck hit him when he was on a motorcycle and she’s currently battling the insurance company of the trucking company for payout for wrongful death. Her husband’s family apparently shut her out / were not supportive of her or her children after his death, so she moved out of Delhi to Faridabad where the rents are cheaper. Her English is good enough to have a conversation but bad enough where she doesn’t always understand you and won’t let you know when she doesn’t. She’s also a good cook, but fanatically vegetarian-near-vegan so the food is only periodically balanced (as noted in a previous entry).
It’s usually just Mamta and her boys at the house, the other three are temporary visitors. While she genuinely wants to help the women and do the work that she is doing, her income is the volunteers, which is a dynamic I find awkward at times.
The only one missing from this photo is Mamta’s mother, Vasha, who was here for the first month or so of my project. She is very friendly and an excellent cook, the reason why one of the first Hindi words I learned at my host family was “bus” or “enough“. When I told Ashish this, he laughed – so I think it’s a common Vasha trait.
Note: Updated the “People” page.