You know your lifestyle has changed drastically when walking to the corner ice cream shop at 9pm feels like a cathartic act of brash defiance...especially because you were wearing pants!

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If you don't know about Dinkan, my advice is that you find out asap. It will really come in handy the next time you face tigers, lions, elephants, poachers, or high-leaping crocodiles.

Third day back in India. I am happy to read online that I probably won't die from the mold that gilds my post-monsoon home. I don't know how many days it will take me to clean the place. There is mold and dust everywhere. I'm talking inside my bed frame, under the sink, in the curtains, on the outside of glass jars. I never rented an apartment during a monsoon season before. I'm hoping the money I have is enough to buy cleaning supplies. I've been waking up barely able to breath from congestion. Woe is me, I'm having such an awesome time that all this is worth it. This is also what adventures are made of.  :)

This post is to celebrate the mazha, or rain, that croons to me while I work through the night. I am very happy to realize I have adjusted to the climate so well that 81 degrees feels "cold" now.

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Me at Asia's largest mall: Lulu

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Welcome to the Hotel California... (spoiler alert)

I saw a Malayalam film today and my mind exploded from culture shock. Maybe it was just the last straw after 3 months of constant exposure outside my norms, but by intermission my brain blew a fuse.

Early in the film, there is an uncensored BDSM scene which shows a woman in a leather miniskirt flogging a half-naked man who is chained to the bed. No censorship. Later in the film, a man goes to kiss his wife on the cheek - not sexually, just a "honey I'm home" kind of mood. CENSORED. The kiss was censored. I think the juxtaposition is what made my brain explode.

Top it off with a nice dollop of excessive slow-mo, zooming, panning, and crazy-awesome music over seemingly unimportant shots....and you've got yourself a genuine Mollywood film (that is its real name). All it's missing is more choreographed dance scenes.

Okay, okay...sarcasm aside, I actually loved Hotel California. This film pushes its own culture's buttons on purpose and has dubstep in the soundtrack...I couldn't help but get into it.

Hey Californians, you have never seen so much sinless eroticism in your  life. I dare you to do more with less; Indian filmmakers know how to make you think "sex" without showing you anything.

And I love (don't understand) how they show the "smoking kills" warnings on-screen during any scene with a cigarette, but no comment when a guy brutally slits open his cohort's throat, kicks him to the ground and lets him bleed to death. Because that's not dangerous.

Thanks India! Your cinema brings me to life in whole new ways. I wish my country had more dubstep in its films. I can't wait to see my next Malayalam film later this week.

PS: much of the film was shot a few blocks from my home here. I walk those streets every day.


The fireworks started at 7pm on Saturday. At first the startling bangs were only annoying. Very quickly bigger fireworks were introduced, until one was so loud I felt it pass like a shock wave through my body, and heard the walls rattle more than I heard the boom itself. It’s a violating feeling to have a sound go through your bones and organs and threaten to push you off your feet. I have never felt such a loud sound in all my life. It erases everything from your mind and ironically when it’s happening, everything seems mute and slow-motion. You hardly hear it at all, you only hear things shaking when it’s over. When it moves past your skin, the moment it hits your stomach or inner core feels like that “lose your stomach” feeling when you go on a log ride or a drop-down ride at a theme park.

Most of the bangs were not as loud as the worst ones, but every bang was uncommonly shocking. Every one was enough to make my gut clench, my shoulders flinch, my heart pound, and my breath stop. This happened continually with 3-5 second gaps for 2 hours nonstop. After that there was a small break, but then it resumed and continued through the night.

It never occurred to me that involuntary flinching uses muscles, and that those muscles can cramp, spasm, and become sore when overused - especially since they aren’t used that often. I felt nauseous, I had overwhelming abdominal muscle pain, and as a result I could not eat. Since the fireworks continued all night and throughout the next day, I was unable to eat or sleep for 24 hours straight. I laid writhing in my bed hour after hour, feeling so weak I preferred to stay where I was crying than to get up and get water when I was thirsty.

The pain and panic was so bad I thought of going to a hospital, but I couldn’t imagine how they could help me, especially since the booms were still happening. I called a friend but I was too incoherent to explain what was wrong. I repeated myself through sobs many times until I finally thought of analogies to explain what was happening to me. Eventually we were able to talk through it, and as the booms became less frequent in the evening I relaxed enough to feel able to eat.

The bangs are still happening but they are smaller and less frequent now. I will be very glad when this is over.

In my home growing up, loud noises signaled danger via terrifying violence. This became part of my neurological response, solidified in my formative years. I am not afraid of fireworks, but hearing loud bangs triggers a panic response in me. Despite telling myself that this festival is normal and I can relax, and despite having no conscious worry or fear, the physiological response of a pounding heart, clenched muscles, feeling of suffocation, and sense of panic were not things I was able to reprogram overnight through positive thinking in time to enjoy Vishu 2013.

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This new Malayalam dictionary will help a lot! (I thought)...
I will FINALLY know how to say "cinnamon" so I can FINALLY find it and buy some!!

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Me practicing my Malayalam writing...

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Mom, in answer to your question: how common is jackfruit? Do most people enjoy it?
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