You’ve just accepted this Martian Brain Bake!

Yes, I know…it’s also a food from an addictive little game on FB called Café World.  But I felt it fit pretty perfectly with how I’ve been “FEELING” lately rather than what I’ve been eating.

I admit that I’m occasionally an “emotional” eater.  I don’t indulge in it often, but I do it often enough for the term to sometimes apply to me.

Moving to India has somewhat hampered that impulse, or thwarted it, or downright killed it in it’s “but I want Fried Green Tomatoes from Lucille’s BBQ” tracks.

Great…now I’m craving those damn things….sigh…ok, back to the issue at hand (must stop thinking about the fried green tomatoes…especially Lucille’s spicy ranch dressing…or their fried dill pickles or the…STOP IT!).

There were so many things that I was prepared for when moving to India.  But one of the things that I was NOT prepared for was the issue of how to deal with little every day depressions (or occasional depressions).

Take for example, back in the US if I were feeling blue or under the weather, then I would just hop in my Durango and head out to my favorite park with a favorite book.  I would stop on the way and pick up some random (but favorite) food and a large iced tea to go with it.  Then I would sit in the park, eating my impromptu lunch, reading my dog eared book and enjoying the sights and smells and sounds of the park around me.  And it didn’t have to be the SAME park, any park would do (even though I did have my favorites…it’s the fact that it was a green place to go that mattered).

Or another example, I would hop on the internet and find some interesting thing to do in my area, use Google Maps to locate it and then GO BABY GO.

I guess what I’m saying is that in the US, I was well equipped to deal with those every day, got you down, blues.

Here in India, I’m up shit creek without a paddle.  And my boat is sinking.  And it’s like a really OLD creek so it’s reeking.  And the battery has died on my cell so I can’t freaking call for help.  And I’ve lost my voice from screaming and now no one that passes by can hear my meager squeaks.  Got the picture?

Essentially what this boils down to is that I wasn’t prepared for it, didn’t know how to combat it, and didn’t even think about it till it hit and then I was lost to it.  In other words, I got depressed and didn’t know how to get back out again.

I can’t try any of my old tricks as I still can’t drive here and right now I’m not sure I would want to.  Well, at least not past driving across the road to the Reliance Mart but I know that would get old QUICK.  But that is a mute point as I don’t have anything to drive right now anyway.

My husband, bless him, works until 6:30 and then rushes home as quickly as he can and gets me out of the house if he has the energy and temperament to do so after driving in India traffic twice a day.

I’ve been sick off and on so that kind of cramped our style and didn’t allow me to build up immunity to certain outside foods.  This in turn has made him weary of us going to any “touristy” spots as what could he feed me?  And would I have the strength to make it on the back of a motorbike?  And just when we would think “Yep, she’d make it” some family obligation would come up and we would need to go or I would get sick….AGAIN.  (This last time it was the normal flu virus).

And let’s not forget our personal obligations in getting me registered here.  That’s a whole other blog that involves some MAJOR “biotching” done primarily by me but somewhat by my husband as well.

Then of course, there is the obvious….the food.  It’s different.  I can’t just get what I would consider something US oriented here without it having an Indian twist.  Which is TOTALLY cool and I love it….don’t get me wrong.  But somehow it’s just wrong if you can order garlic bread from Pizza Hut and it NOT come with marinara sauce.  Instead they send curd and/or ketchup.  And it’s sweet and thin ketchup too.  Not the garlicky thick stuff from the states that has that vinegary twang to it.  Oh…you CAN buy that in some of the local grocer’s but those are the ones that cater to foreigners and you have to drive for it.  It’s not a regular thing that’s available.  As well as mayo made with eggs.  Or milk that you don’t have to boil (and doesn’t taste/smell sweet afterwards).

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a bowl of cereal?  Or hot pancakes with syrup?  Or French toast?

It’s not all bad, I do have a little oasis of American food in my kitchen cupboard and I do sometimes prepare them to make myself feel better.  But if I run out…it’s a chore and a half to get that stuff, and I have to wait to get it.  I can’t just pop into my car and run to the local store.  I have to wait for the weekend, so my husband can drive me through insane traffic on the back of his motorcycle to get a few items from Dorabjee’s.  Or, please God, our neighbor with a car will take us so I can stock up.

And then there is the fact that I still don’t know enough Hindi or Marathi to get me through on my own either.  I can talk alright with my maid but that is mainly because she is extremely intelligent, knows some English words and is very fluent in pigeon sign language which we use constantly to convey what it is we want to say to each other.  Either that, or I will show her a picture on the internet and she says either “Nahi” or “Ho”.

Also, my shipment of personal items has still not made it all the way to our house.  This shipment had every single thing that I had planned on using to entertain myself when I got bored with the internet or my camera.  This included all my books (over 150), my sketch pads/pens, my 250 movies, my crochet needles and some yarn and a few other things that make me happy just looking at them.   After a little “snafu” in which I couldn’t get freaking ANYBODY to tell me where my stuff was, Bear once again came to my rescue and saved the money to hire an agent to handle this for us.  He found a very reputable and old company, called them, and without being paid up front, they found my shipped items in Mumbai and are sending us a quote on how to get them to where we live now.

And I’ve been missing my little guinea pig Daisy.  I keep in touch with the people who “own” her now and hear all about her new house and fun things to do…but I’m missing my little girl.

And all of it leads to me sometimes being a bit overwhelmed with being stuck in the house all day with only five English speaking TV channels and a poor quality line up.

I thought that in having the internet, and my camera and my computer and a TV and a few movies and my tennis shoes for walking that I would be just fine.  And in general…I am.

But then there are those days when I find myself, keys in hand, standing down stairs outside our building and thinking “Where did I park my car” and remembering that “I’m not in Kansas anymore Toto”.  And then I turn around and trudge back upstairs because even if I did want to walk down the lane to see what was there, I wouldn’t know how to talk to anyone or understand what they were saying.

And so, there are times when my brain feels worn down with inactivity or loss or depression and I just don’t know how to fix that anymore and then it just gets worse.

And that’s where the, I just accepted this Martian Brain Bake comes in.  Ever feel totally disconnected?  Ever find yourself staring off into space and then when “waking up” you realize that far too much time has gone by for you to feel comfortable with spacing out a bit?  Ever get into a funk and nothing works to bring you out or you don’t have your normal “tools” to do so?  This is the Martian Brain Bake.

Yesterday was a particularly bad day.  It seemed as if I had accepted an extra helping or two of that all too famous bake and I spent most of the day in a depressed fugue in which not even my husband’s smiling face or the chocolate he brought home could bring me out of.  I had had bad dreams Monday night.  Tuesday morning and afternoon were blah and listless and I vaguely remember what I did.  An unfruitful and uneasy nap yesterday afternoon was one of the things I do remember.  And more bad dreams last night.

And then this morning was a little bit better.  And this afternoon I felt a little better than I had this morning.  And I watched a cute little video of a cute little doggy running around being cute and felt a tad bit better.

And then BAM, it hit me like Bam Bam’s stick.  Isn’t this the whole reason why I started writing my blog?  To chronicle the issues I faced in my intercultural relationship?  Didn’t I also start my blog in order to help keep me sane when things got really tough?

So why wasn’t I writing in it anymore?

There were all kinds of excuses to that answer.  Some were really good and plausible.  Others were downright ridiculous and even I had to smack myself for them.

So, I came in here, sat down in front of my computer and began to write.  And it flowed very easily, even though my head had been telling me that it wouldn’t and it would take me far too long to write even one tiny bit of a blog.  Because that is part of what depression does when it’s got a hold on you and doesn’t want to let go….it lies.  It whispers things only you hear and believe.  It cheats and uses past experiences and memories on you.  It has the advantage because it has direct access to all your buried feelings and fears.  It exploits these things.

It bakes a monstrous martian brain cake and makes it pretty to look at so you’ll accept it longer.

Except now I’m hungry for kicharee with garlic sauce….

So, how am I going to solve this little problem with everyday depression?  I’m still working on it.  It’s not something that is easily solved, nor should it be.  And it shouldn’t be ignored as it does have a tendency of snowballing on you.

The site Help Guide . ORG (http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm) has some wonderful tips about dealing with depression and some of them I can (and will) be able to use here in India.  But others are going to be a bit of a stretch for me at this point.

Now granted, my version of depression is not the “needs medication” kind, but depression is depression and should not be ignored.

For right now, I’m just focusing on the positive things and am working on finding the tools that I can use in India instead of moaning that I only knew what to do in the US.

I’ll keep you posted on how that progresses.

Till then, I’ve resolved to write a blog every day this week till Friday.

See you tomorrow!!!!!!

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27 thoughts on “You’ve just accepted this Martian Brain Bake!

  1. Have you ever previously thought about placing a little videos to a writings blogposts in order to keep on the viewers way more interested? This just mean I usually check through the entire articles of yours and the idea appeared to be truly nice though given that Im more a graphic learner

    • Hmmmm very interesting suggestion. But what would the video’s be of? I am trying to keep this blog anonymous so any video’s I would take would probably “give me away”. But an interesting concept none the less and I’ll look into it! Thanks!

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  3. Try one or all of the following to perk you up :

    1) Early morning jog in a park or a playround.
    2) Yoga.
    3) Hitting the Gym (Pune even has a really nice Gold’s Gym).

    The above will get you out of your deepest funk.

    And of course, if you plan on getting a job here, in your line of work, that will help you too.

    About the traffic in Pune, yes, it’s all bad ! It gets to me too, and I’m a full-blooded Indian !!!

    • Oh how right you are on that one Neal…but truly…I HATE working out!!!! heheheh I ALWAYS have! If it’s something fun, like badminton or horseback riding or some other physical activity when I don’t KNOW I’m working out, then it’s all good. 🙂 But now I’ve taken to going for a walk around our complex at least once a day and that seems to be helping. Still waiting for my one year term to be up so I can get the PIO card so I can work legally. Otherwise, nobody here will touch me even as a consultant. And with tensions high over foreigners and their visa types here, I think I would rather play it safe for the nonce.

  4. Ah, welcome to the India roller coaster. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably find yourself having continual cycles like this. I swear I spent a lot of my first year in Mumbai sedating myself to sleep during the day because I just didn’t want to deal with how I felt being awake! Even things like the Internet not working (again) were enough to set me off, because it was my “connection” with the normal outside world. My poor husband brought me a cute little poster. It says “After every sad day comes a glad day”. It’s very true. 🙂

    • I haven’t yet sunk to having to medicate myself yet and am sorry to know that you were feeling that low!!! I DO know that there have been times that I’ve laid down to “rest” and fallen asleep and slept half the day away and looking back on it I know it’s because I was doing the same….running away from my feelings of depression. Small things aren’t getting to me yet, mainly what’s doing it are the things that are just “India” in the attitude of some of the people. You know, where you just want to walk up to them and say “Are you freaking KIDDING me???” and then give them two tight smacks. Like the idiot drivers. That is my biggest pet peeve right now. Otherwise, I keep trying to keep in mind that I can only control/change myself and PERHAPS influence others….but never change them. That is important for new comers to remember I think. To stop thinking “Well…where I come from, we did such and such” as if it were so much better. You know what I mean?

      • That’s exactly right, you have to learn to stop making comparisons. Only then will you be able to accept India for what it is and adjust. When you realise that there is absolutely no point struggling against India (it’s just too much of a beast to be reckoned with), that’s when things start getting better. I seriously used to cry and rage (then reach for the medicine — it was only herbal though!) — I felt so trapped and deprived sometimes. Like you said, of those things that you like to do easily at home to make yourself feel better. For me, it was getting in my car and going for a drive to the beach, and just laying there alone to get calm and recharge. But not possible here! As soon as I stepped outside, someone would be staring and bothering me!! Anyway, it’s all a learning experience, and it definitely makes us more open minded, stronger, and more adaptable. 🙂

      • Exactly what I was thinking…Accept India. Did you ever watch that movie “Outsourced”? The lead was basically banging his head against a wall with frustration but as soon as he let go things got better for him? I loved that movie, it was good. And at first I was in total agreement with it.

        But then I realized that I can’t just totally let go. 1) I’m not built that way. 2) I wasn’t raised that way. 3) If we all just let go and stepped back to say “It’s just TOO BIG” then nothing would ever change.

        And I believe in change. I think that life is about change, growth, enlightenment, learning, experiencing, enjoying. Without those things what would life be? So I’m trying to find the balance between what I can do to help make a change in a positive way and in a way that will allow me to continue trying to find that inner peace/recharge that I could get so easily “where I come from”.

        But I’m new here and still learning and still feeling trapped. Especially since I can’t get out whenever I want and I can’t understand most of what’s going on still. But I’m working on solving those two things and once those are either solved or on their way to being solved, I know that things will get better and easier for me and I will find more of a balance. 🙂 I just wish you guys lived HERE instead of MUMBAI! 😛 Did you know we have a great need for DJ’s here????? And we have countryside! Lot’s of fresh air. Parks. Trees. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 LOLOL

  5. Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

  6. Sounds like culture shock + depression is hitting you hard. 😦 Is there anything you can focus on doing, preferably outside of the house? Whenever I got into depressive funks in Germany, I still had to keep working at my job (i.e. entertaining a hyper 6-year-old) which meant keeping moving and doing stuff. The doing stuff eventually helped, I found.

    And who says you can’t have pancakes or French toast? Flour, eggs, milk, bread, cinnamon – it all exists in India. Granted, it may not taste exactly like it does in the States, but it’ll still probably be good & making it will get you moving too. (In a land without liquid vanilla extract, chocolate chips, or brown sugar, I was still able to make some chocolate chip cookies that were a good reminder of home.)

    *hug*

    • I’m working hard at keeping myself happy, entertained and busy. But as you know, without a kid/animal/person around to give it that splash of unexpectedness, there isn’t much I can do to FORCE myself if I’m not in the mood to. You know what I mean? lol

      And ohhhh, I’ve been making that stuff, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that it tastes weird to me still and I definitely am NOT liking the milk here unless it’s in chai. The milk is just a tad too sweet tasting/smelling for me. I’m working on finding a different brand/version of it. 😉

      I just made apple sauce homemade the other day. Also got some kraft mac and cheese (150 rs!!!! What a rip off!) that was too too yummy. But I’m talking about when your not feeling good and don’t want to cook. Remember how you could just order your favorite comfort food? Like mac and cheese from El Pollo Loco. Or maybe run to the grocery store and get some from their deli counter/side food section. But here it just isn’t happening and that another downer.

      But hey….working on it. 🙂 And that’s what is important.

  7. Once again I enjoyed reading your post. (Well, didn’t enjoy you being depressed part!).
    It reminded me of the time when me and my family were trying to get used to the life in US. The only difference here is that you are trying to settle down in India while we were doing the same in US (or trying too!). In the beginning, I didn’t have a car so I was a sitting duck at home. I had no friends to talk too nor was I interested in watching American TV shows. I couldn’t run outside to grab some spicy Chats from street food stalls like I used to do in India. College wasn’t going to start for another four months so I was literally walking around the house feeling anger and frustration and asking myself why did I ever move to US!!!
    But those feelings were gone as time progressed. I learned to live with things and started appreciating the little pleasures of American life. Now I don’t miss the street foods (well, not that much), can’t live without watching my favorite shows like 24, NCIS, Supernatural, CSI, etc.
    What I am trying to say is that the first few months are the toughest. Things will start to get better as time goes. The only advice I can give is that hang in there. I know preaching is easy but living through is hard but I am someone who speaks from experience.

    Stay Healthy!!!

    • LOL As soon as I read your post I sat here thinking….yeah but Vishal has CSI and I’m stuck with CID and that guy with too many rings shacking his finger in someone’s face and looking tough while speaking Hindi WAY to freaking fast and THEN the big guy comes in and gives the person two tight slaps and that bad guy starts crying and saying “Please sir!” and they solved the case! All with the help of some doctor in 70’s clothing and weird cartoonish technology I’ve never seen. I mean seriously, once you’ve had Gil Grissom…can you EVER go back???? Heck….I’ll even take sunglass removin’ Horatio Caine ok???????? 😛

      But seriously, you are completely right. It’s a matter of perspective and time. I have NOT given myself enough time to work through this and I know that I will start feeling better once I am more able to get around on my own. Right now being stuck in the house and nervous about going out on foot is the biggest obstacle I have. In the US, anybody can walk around pretty much anywhere and not get stared at, touched, pinched or accosted by a multitude of poor hungry children/widows/dogs. Here, not so much. And I’m a easy touch sucka all the way. Even bought doggy snacks and keep them on me at all times so I can feed the poochies at least!

      I’m sticking it out…..but work still needs doing. 🙂 Glad to know that you are are out there to commiserate from the OTHER perspective! Keep coming back ok?

      • LOL,I used to be a CID junkie until I came to US. When I first saw those detectives spending hours on a single strand of hair on CSI, I was like that is so cool!!! Haven’t watched CID in years but I still am a fan of the actor who plays the head detective.

        Yeah, I think I had it little easier than you since I didn’t get stared at when in public or didn’t have any issues with communicating with people. Yours is a little different case so I can understand the frustration. But it seems like you are fighting it well through writing about it on the blog and turning blog-haters into blog-lovers!!!

        You know in your spare time, you could brush up on your Hindi or Marathi just to ease the communication burden. Also, you can watch American TV shows online which I am sure you already know.

        Anyways, stay tough, keep fighting and start singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ whenever you feel depressed.

        PS: There is a Hindi version of ‘We Shall Overcome’ called ‘Hum Honge Kamyab’ which is a very famous patriotic song in India. Just ask your husband about it.

      • When I told Bear this he said that the moment you came back home and watched CID at least thrice you would forget all about CSI and be a die hard CID Fan again. To which I rolled my eyes and said “Sweety….once you’ve had CSI, you can NEVER go back.” To which HE rolled HIS eyes. hehe

        I’ve been working on learning Marathi and Hindi in my spare time but it seems like now that I’m coming out of my depressive funk that there IS no spare time!!!! It seems to cycle that way. I wonder if my sub-conscious is doing that on purpose? LOL

  8. I’ve been thrice to the Papa John’s Pizza Restaurant on Ghole Road (off Fergusson College road). Good times !

    And one time, there were even real Americans, sitting there, eating Pizza, so you know that the pizza is good !

    • LOL that’s hilarious “And one time, there were even real Americans….” it’s like a line from American Pie! LMAO! “This one time…in band camp….” 😉 I can’t wait to go now!

    • You were right …..

      Papa John’s TOTALLY RULED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      AND

      They delivered in a REALLY out of the way part of Pune!

      AND

      They tasted just like back home and the pizza was far better than Pizza Huts!!

      AND (and this is is truly truly HUGE)

      Bear ordered their Tandoori Pizza with the Tandoori sauce and fell in love with it!!!!!!!!!!!! So means NO MORE DRY SAUCE LESS PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOT!

      Thanks Neal! 😉

  9. 1) Get satellite-dish (DishTV or Tata Sky or Reliance, etc.) installed at your place, if you don’t already have it. You will then receive pretty much every single American TV channel that you had back in the US. (They don’t have Jerry Springer or Al Bundy in their lineup yet, so my happiness is not entirely complete 🙂 ).

    2) The pizza at the Papa John’s is way better than the ones at Pizza Hut. Try it.

    3) You should easily be able to find Kellog’s cereals at most of the new food-supermarkets. But, I recommend buying the local brand of cornflakes, “Mohun”. Mohun’s tastes way better than Kellog’s and is also priced more reasonably than Kellog’s.

    4) The broadband internet services provided by the Government-owned BSNL seem to be better than broadband services offered by the private players. BSNL broadband is quite fast and reliable.

    • Neal….thanks for all of this!

      We already have Tata Sky but right now with all the other expenses we HAVE to pay for we are keeping the channel listings down so I’m only getting a few channels with limited decent shows.

      Thank you VERY VERY much for the info on the Papa John’s. Back home this was my favorite but here I hadn’t been able to find one close to us and will see it when we’re out sometimes but never know where we are and he misses seeing them so we couldn’t pin point one exact location! Now we know thanks to you so this weekend it’s Papa John’s time!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

      We have a pretty good internet service here in our building that practically never has any problems and allows us all kinds of access (downloads) so that makes me happy too. But there is only so much time you want to spend in front of the computer, ya know? lol

      Mohun huh? Never even heard of it….does it taste better in the overly sweet milk here? That’s my biggest issue, I’ll eat pretty much ANY cereal…but I was never a big milk fan anyway and always got 2% back home. Any ideas on that? I found that even the less fat milk here is a tad too sweet for me. 😦

  10. Hey, sorry to hear about the tough time you are having…I can imagine it must be extremely hard to adjust where not only is there usual missing home but everything is different and communication is difficult. Very glad you are sharing it on a blog though…for your sake and mine too (you write so well…I have only read the first two so far but really enjoyed them… :))

    You are totally taking the right approach, focusing on the thoughts (I loved your post of today…and by the way even I found myself staring at white people in India and I was just visiting…and must admit when overseas I do tend to poke my (non-white) companion and point them out and watch them because they act so different…especially those Americans :P). Oh, I had a point (sorry it is almost midnight and my brain is failing but I am waiting for photos to upload so am still awake)…there is one really good book called ‘Feeling Good’ by Burns that is nice to stay focused on that. And for suuuure I think the arrival of books and regular diversions will help hugely!

    Take care…and look forward to reading the rest of your blog!

    • HeHe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Oh wow Evil Cathy! That was such an awesome comment and it deserves my full attention, which it won’t get right now seeing as how it’s 12:05 and I’m falling asleep at my computer! Soooooo, I’ll reply back to you tomorrow! I promise! Till then! THANKS! 😉

  11. Hang in there! I’m sorry to read about your depression, and in reading your post, I can really understand where you are coming from.

    I just got back from spending a year in France while my husband attended school there — I had a lot of the same emotions and feelings that you have now. I didn’t speak any French, so it made things really hard. And, while I was lucky to have a lot of “built-in” friends through his school, things like missing your old ‘comfort foods’ or being sick — well, any one who’s lived as an expat can relate.

    Please continue blogging and sharing your experiences – I think it will help. Good luck.

    • Thank you so much for the great positiveness and your own experience! 🙂 An important lesson in life is that one should learn to let go just a little bit of the things they “knew” and start taking in a little bit of the things they don’t. Change is always hard….but I think what might be sometimes harder is when you THINK you are ok with the change and get hit with one you weren’t prepared for ….. well then it’s harder to let go of any of it instead of a few you know? Like a security blanket. 😉 But I’m working on it, thinking it out and will keep posting!!! Hopefully you keep commenting! 🙂

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