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by Lawrence Bush
I GO CRAZY for the first 24 hours trying to hook into technology so that I can pretend I’m not that far away from home: searching for wifi signals and passwords, SIM cards, the charging cables and adapters that we brought, and so on. Plus I’m here with my teacher-wife, who has toted a 65-pound duffel bag of teaching materials — scarves, paper tape, dowels, posters, bluetooth gadgets, and more, for which she’s constantly searching, once we’ve unpacked our gear and settled into our room: “Where’s my . . .? Which bag has my . . .?”
I’m also carrying a chip on my shoulder, based on all the horror stories that people have told me about India. I’m alert to being robbed, burglarized, pickpocketed; to being overcharged, underserved, or having my identity stolen; to what I can and can’t eat and drink, and how to tell the difference. And the street culture is hardly relaxing: People are way too busy avoiding being run over by cars, motorbikes, tuk-tuks (3-wheeled motorized rickshaws), etc. to take a moment to smile at you.
Chase Bank won’t even let me use my ATM card in this country. Too much fraud, they say. (My long-time local bank, Ulster Savings, on the other hand, says no problem.)
But during our second short stroll in Delhi, I say to Susan, “Let’s stop feeling suspicious.” In most instances, the worst that will happen is that we’ll spend 200 rupees (about $3) instead of 100 rupees (about $1.70). We can swing that.
We’ve now been here for two nights. Susan begins her four weeks of teaching this afternoon as a Fulbright specialist at the Learning Matters Foundation, to which she was invited because one of their staff attended one of Susan’s weekend classes at Bank Street School of Education.
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.