After many months of maddening boredom and pettiness while living in a prison/convent/sorority house-like situation (I am still outraged by the 7 pm curfew and the backstabbing), I was ecstatic to be sent by the International NGO where I was doing my graduate practicum to Pune for a week. Pune (also referred to as Poona) is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, India and I was eager for the anonymity to enjoy a drink. My field advisor, for probably the same reason that he had placed me at the convent, decided that I should stay in a service apartment while in Pune. A service apartment is literally what the name implies — you are housed in an apartment and you get services… provided by an in-house manservant. Being a woman (and considering that this was only the second time I had been out of the nunnery) and the daughter of a Chinese proletariat (I felt miserable when the dude cleared away the dishes and began eating the leftover in the kitchen), the situation was INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. For most of the week, I was miserable, hiding in the bedroom, while Prakash was throwing dinner parties for his bhais.
On the weekend, I had the opportunity to explore Pune. I was crossing a bridge when I took this photo of a carbon-free (solar) “dryer.” I felt so grateful to be in India at that moment, to see this man carve a living from what is naturally available and daily affirmations that most Indians can survive in a sustainable and responsible manner without destroying the planet.
I did manage to get a drink during the break from the convent. On my last day in Pune, I went to the neighborhood liquor store and bought a small bottle of gin to share with the girls. I had it in my carry-on when I was stopped by airport security. The officers gave me three choices — check it, chuck it or drink it. For me the choice was obvious. I bought myself a juice box and went to a corner of the airport – I realized in hindsight that it was probably illegal to consume alcohol at the airport. When I went back to security check, the officers asked me where the bottle was and I pointed to my stomach. Security thought I was adorable but soon I was just a drunken mess. Subsequent events were a blur (and a terrible embarrassment) but somehow I managed to make it back to the convent alive.