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Inching My Way into India

Lawrence Bush
February 28, 2018

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.