Don’t Be Nice to Me or I’ll Cry

Subtitle: In Which I Vomit and Then Burst into Tears

I’m writing this at the moment because (a) it’s therapeutic and (b) to let you know that while what I’m doing is awesome and amazing, there are still times that suck.

Ok, I’m going to name-drop. Before I left on my trip, Carol Off of CBC Radio told me there would be good times and bad times, but that even the bad times would be good. And this has proved to be true. But at the same time, it often only feels true in retrospect. When the bad times are happening, they really feel bad. So while the past 2 months have been filled with incredible experiences and people, this is what’s also been happening over the last couple of weeks in India:

1. I continue to only be able to get money out of 1 or 2 types of ATMs, while all the other tourists seem to have no restrictions. I’ve been told by my Canadian credit card company that this is because of fraud in India. But it is SUPER annoying especially when you’re trying to send something home via the India Post Office and they don’t accept credit cards (people: you’re a NUCLEAR POWER!!), supply boxes, or have the ability to photocopy your passport even though you can see a photocopier behind them. Ok, so #1 could really be 2 points, one about ATMs and one about the bureaucracy of the mail system, but I digress….

2. Indian men continue to stare and try to take photos of me and other tourists I’m with, even when we say no. Though to be fair, this has dissipated in the South. Only to be replaced, though, more with women trying to put bindis on me or splash colour on me during Holi and then asking for 200 rupees, and women who seem to enjoy insulting me. One poked me and called me a “white chicken” (side note: what?!? There are ads on TV for skin lightening creams, which is hugely problematic and a whole other issue, and people want to take photos of me because I’m white, yet this can also be used as an insult?), and another told me to “Get out of the market!” when I said I was just looking at the moment. Right. I told her I certainly wouldn’t be buying from her. (I know, I know, I should be nicer – but sometimes things just start to get to you and you feel the need to jab back)

3. There’s been virtually zero good internet making it impossible to do anything besides post the odd Facebook update (hence the lack of a blog, which was also a result of #4).

4. My laptop started malfunctioning in Varanasi, about 3 weeks ago. I managed to keep it going for a week, then it really died, so I had to trek around Mysore trying to find Apple stores and service places only to have to buy an $80 thunderbolt cable, get the last few things I hadn’t backed up onto my external hard drive, and then reformat the hard drive. Then about a week ago it really died. Like, for real broke. Like, the keyboard shortcuts to bring up Disk Utility or safe start up or any of that no longer work. So I was without a computer, my lifeline.

5. My Indian sim card also expired, something I was told wouldn’t happen for 3 months (it happened after 1), leaving me internet-less that way and without any way of talking to the parents back home when I needed to vent or to just hear their voices.

6. After nearly 40 days (wow, that’s Biblical! 😉 of being with an awesome group of mainly Australians – yay for having a tonne of places to stay in that country now!! – I find myself alone, with no one I know well to talk to in the flesh.

7. I got sick. While on my tour around India, a nasty stomach bug was making the rounds. I managed to avoid it, though did have to put up with an annoying cold. But then, a few days after coming to the South, it hit. And so I found myself throwing up in the bathroom, which makes my eyes water, and then that just naturally led to a full-blown sob fest. I got better, and then fast forward to last night when, after a traditional Goan meal that was actually quite nice, I tried to go to sleep while feeling super bloated (and I hadn’t eaten a lot; the meal was quite small). Queue not being able to fall asleep and then at 2am having to run to the toilet to upchuck all of that food, making me feel a bit better, but still unable to sleep. Seriously, I woke up every hour. So then today I’m sick, overtired, feeling lonely even though I finally have a computer, internet, and sim card again, and just wanting to be home. The tears come a lot – I’m not ashamed of being sensitive. Better in than out, right? – and the lady who runs the guest house where I’m staying was being super nice, causing me to rush upstairs after talking to her so I didn’t start crying in front of her. (What was that I said about not being ashamed?? hmmmm….)

8. I’m pre-menstrual. And for those of you who know me, that alone can send me into a huge spiral of emotional yuckiness. Which also probably explains why I find myself beating myself up sometimes about being so upset about these “First World problems.” But I need to remind myself that I need to be kind to myself, and let myself rest as well. Being emotionally and physically exhausted takes its toll. And that’s ok.

So there you have it. It will get better – things will pass and I’ll be back to my chipper self, hopefully soon. But I think in the meantime I’m going to stay away from any spicy food…and get some sleep.


About kbardswich

Writer. Photographer. Activist. Lesbian. Feminist. Traveller. Voracious learner. Part-time shit-disturber.

Posted on March 12, 2015, in India. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Things that may amuse you/be useful:
    1. No one I know mails things from India – including all of my vast family members. If you’re sending anything larger than standard letter mail, it’s likely worth finding a courier company/a shipping broker. My cousins in Mumbai should be able to advise.Also – you never think you’ll be grateful for CanadaPost, until you don’t have access to it.
    2. Whiteness in India is such a post-colonial mess. It’s further complicated by body size and SES. Bring on the snark – there is no good reason to be nice to people who are needlessly cruel.
    3. Every time I travel through India it’s radio silence. For a country that is otherwise quite technologically advanced, they don’t seem to find the internet essential to life.
    5. How ridiculous is it that you’ve to provide a copy of your passport to get a SIM card in India (or is that just Mumbai?) My head nearly exploded when the guy at the airport told me that was the case. I don’t think he took it well when I exploded into somewhat hysterical laughter.
    7. Travelling is exhausting at the best of times. And downtime can be the best part of travelling. I’d say find a beach and do some yoga – but that’s just how I find my zen – I know you’ll do what you have to to find yours.
    8. While avoiding spicy food in Goa, try their fun desserts. The combination of Portugese influences with a strong coconut/rice based cuisine makes for really neat sweet treats.

  2. Louise Bardswich

    I love Niya’s advice. Wish I had something useful to add. But, you’re a strong independent person Kaitlin. Nothing wrong with the occasional breakdown – we all get there from time to time. Hang in. Remember that you are loved.

  3. Hi Kaitlin: Haven’t been here for a while. Hope you have found yourself again after your necessary moaning, groaning and crying. Yes, all these things are annoying, humiliating and depressing and it’s good to get it out. As you know some of these problems are the reality of living in the 2/3 world even if you are a nuclear power.

    Every depressing experience is a story waiting to be told and a social/global analysis waiting to be shared – fodder for your career in journalism!

    Anyway, it’s not fun when it’s happening I realize. My sympathies.

    We are fine at GCO as we watch the slow deterioration of this institution. An extension of the Unsettling Goods campaign has been granted by GCE so that is good news! As well there are signs of spring – intermittent and fleeting- but we know new life is coming. Happy Easter!


  4. Elaine Gaber-Katz

    I am sending you a dozen hugs. I love your blog. You are an amazing writer with a wicked sense of humour and I admire you. Love Elaine (your aunt Margaret’s friend)

  1. Pingback: India Explained Through Proposed Book Titles | Kaitlin Bardswich

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