L.O.V.E.ing Dehli. Still Day 1.
They say the body travels fast but the soul takes her time to catch up. Today has definitely been one of these catch-up days, my soul is still making her way through Western Europe, the Black Sea, the Dead Sea while the rest of me was taking the plunge into an ocean of sensations and thoughts.
Delhi traffic is a symphony. Maybe because I have the time to actually listen to it, but the honking, the breaking and the accelerating are meaningful. They make sense together. When the driver starts the car, he gives a little honk, so as to attract everyone's attention to the new moving object - I believe. When he wants to overtake a car, he honks: the car obliges, shifting a little to the left so that we can overtake without annoying the cars and motorbike coming from the opposite direction. When it's time for parking, another honk makes everyone around aware that we're going to need a bit of space. Taken together, all those honks respond to each other. Nothing to do with the honking in my homeland, which is usually accompanied by a sharp rise in the driver's adrenaline level and heavy swearwords... or maybe it's just that I am happy to take it all in rather than fighting it off, as I would do back home. Who knows? There is no such thing as purely bottom-up processing after all.
Smells are interesting too. Definitely a much wider palette than I am used to: from delicious incense to far less delicious odours that I am not that keen on investigating further if I really don't have to. And then there are the tastes: I am not sure what I had for lunch, but there was a big explosion there... and I am now going out for dinner with Georgia and Amy, two #BRAINTOOLS researchers stationed here for a few months. I know I am going to be blown over.
My sense of touch is a little overstimulated too, as people don't seem to have the same notion of "personal space" I have grown accustomed to in the UK. Lots of bumping into each other and coming really really close. Lots of smiles too. Two ladies insisted to take a picture with me at the India Gate, posing as we were the closest friends. Oh well, why not?
I am not even going to start to describe this incredible abundance of colour: the buildings (lots of red!), the plants (lush green!), the clothes (the whole rainbow!) all shout out their colours. But its as if the thick layer of gray smog was trying to contain them all. The sun managed to make it through it only for a couple of hours this afternoon.
My mind was actually the first to be solicited this morning, as I presented BabyBrains to the Sangath amazing team. They are doing so much to raise awareness and actually support people in the field of mental health. Most researchers I talk to are working on autism projects, but there is also some amazing work on depression going on.
We put together a schedule for the next few days. I will be meeting community mobilisers, ex-teachers, early care workers (something like a midwife + visitor in one person, if I get that right), and parents. I am going to meet people in urban and rural setting, of higher and lower social and economic status. Can't wait to tell you more about them all starting from tomorrow!
For now, I look at the families around me. They seem so different from what I am used to. One thing I noticed today (and let's see if I will keep noticing it or whether it's a coincidence) is that dads seem to be very present, caring for the children together with mothers and grandparents.
The Big Absent is the stroller or the buggy. Kids tend to be either in the parents arms or walking... or riding a motorbike! At least that's what I saw today around the India Gate.
I had a feeling that I heard less shouting or telling of children, but maybe its because I visited a place where people go to spend their free time and everyone seemed in a good mood.
Only light mental notes for now. I am stepping back and observing. I am trying to take it all in before I come to rushed conclusions of any sort.
It's a time for being overwhelmed and enjoy it. Good thing that the last 7 years as a mum have been excellent training in that!