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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jan 23, 2009

Watching the Watchman


Before I left for India, I wondered how I would handle the noise level. I had been told that it is LOUD here. My home, even with two teenage boys, is usually fairly calm and quiet.

Now that I'm here, I can verify the rumor: India is LOUD. As I sit writing this, an Indian woman is having an extended conversation on the phone. She is actually shouting on the phone. Maybe it's a bad connection or maybe she is talking to someone who is deaf – but more likely she is just talking. In the states we would call it shouting. OK – now a new voice has started up – a man's voice. He is shouting at the woman who is shouting into the phone. If I were at home I might conclude that he is angry and is shouting at her to make her stop shouting. But being here, I think probably he is just talking. The decibel system in the states goes to 10 but here it goes to 17......joking – sort of.

(I'm happy to report that the noise level has not been bothering me).


The electrical outlets here are mysterious. For example, in the picture – starting on the far left....the round nob and switch next to it seem to do nothing. The second round nob and switch work the ceiling fan; the next 3 switches work 3 lights; then the next switch does nothing. The final switch turns on the outlet. (The outlet is, of course, Indian style. We have a great adapter – see second picture. It's called the universal power adapter. Eli found it on-line from a company called Tripshell. It cost about $30.) All of these switches have been good for the part of my brain that has to memorize things. Each new place we stay I try to memorize what the switches do rather than running through 6 or 7 switches every time I want to turn on one light.

A Watchman, a Wife and a Dog

Outside the gate to the place we are staying, there's a watchman. He is always there. He and his wife live and eat and wash and do their prayers in a small closet-like space under the stairs. (see photo) He is very thin and she is fairly plump – by Indian standards. They have a dog which must be the watchdog but doesn't play the part very well The minute this watchdog spots someone coming he RUNS the other direction and hides. But every so often he stands his ground and barks at nothing. This schizophrenic dog eats out of the same bucket that the man and wife eat out style, sort of. Sometimes the old couple feed the dog delectable tidbits and other times they kick him and yell at him so it's no wonder he's schizophrenic.

The watchman is almost totally blind and deaf. (Good qualities for a watchman). He and his watchdog sleep on the cement just inside the gate, I've been imagining how it would feel to be so thin and sleep on concrete. He covers himself with a very ragged cloth and covers his dog with another ragged cloth. He keeps a full size clock – the kind you hang on the wall – propped up next to his face......presumably to avoid oversleeping?

Randomly the watchman flags me down as I pass, pulls out a piece of paper with official looking Hindi writing on it – and demands 100 rupees. ( I finally figured out it's a copy of a medical bill and so pretty good leverage for begging).

Crazy dog, blind and deaf watchman and wife who stays pretty much out of the say........that's our building security system.

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