American Mystery #1

I was the average Indian middle class child, and my American TV diet started at age 13, when cable TV first reached India.

The big thing that mystified my 13 year old brain was people falling through ceilings and putting their fists through the wall. The pair of ruffians in Home Alone did it, the lawyer and his girlfriend in LA Law did it..they were not even superheroes! 'Thats just not possible. Are American walls that weak? Or is this stuff completely unreal?' I was baffled, and not having access to Google, there were no easy answers.

It was only after I came here that I realized houses were made of wood and plaster and such stuff. In India, houses were made of bricks and mortar. The floors were brick with cement or stone. An average size house took a year to build. My father, being the classic DIY man, even had the door and window frames made out of iron. In fact, the only wood in our house was in the doors.
That was one big American mystery explained. It has its own effects, though..during my first six months in the US, I couldn't sleep when there was a storm outside, knowing that there was nothing but a thin wall separating me from the elements. And the windows just open to the outside, with no iron bars! Now I don't notice them anymore..but I wonder what sleeping in an Indian house will feel like.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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10 Responses to American Mystery #1

  1. Lakshmi says:

    Actually, when I came back to India after my brief 5-year stay in the US, I felt rather exposed in my house. Naked to the outside world, especially since my parents' house is the old fashioned one whose doors and windows are always open during the day, and windows open (with grills) at night. Felt like passers by were getting a free peek into my soul.Of course, it lasts all of one week, by which time you get used to it.

  2. Purplesque says:

    Hmm..this post actually was inspired by your foodie post. Another thing I noticed, here there are no windows connecting rooms inside the house, I guess because of central airconditioning. There is not much privacy in the traditional Indian household. I tried closing my door, yeah, but with a three year old nephew? It was nigh impossible..I was lucky to be able to take a shower on my own!
    As you can probably tell, I'm homesick.

  3. Emjay says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. The house I grew up in was pise and one room even had horse hair mixed in with it to make the wall stronger!

  4. Purplesque says:

    Wow..thats cool. What kind of horse hair..from the tail? And a small confession.. I didn't know what pise was until today!
    Vox is making me smart.:)

  5. Emjay says:

    I'm not sure where the horsehair came from – the house was built a very long time before I was born. As bits of the plaster crumbled you could see bits of the hair. It was only one wall in one room though – I suppose there was a reason for doing that but I'm not sure what it was.
    Vox as an educational tool ….

  6. Purplesque says:

    Don't you just love old homes? The house I was born in was a hundred years old..the walls were two feet deep, and I could actually use window ledges as seats. I spent a good bit of my childhood living in the window, watching raindrops hang from electricity wires and baby pigs play in the gutter.If you don't mind my asking, where was this pise house?

  7. Emjay says:

    I grew up in countryside Australia – in the state of New South Wales.
    In Sydney I lived in a workman's cottage which had been built in 1894 with big thick sandstone bricks. Now I live in a row house which was built in 1920.
    The view from your childhood window sounds almost magical.

  8. Purplesque says:

    It was certainly magical at the time. There was even a small Bo plant growing out of the wall that I could touch if I leaned out far enough..The workman's cottage sounds lovely. We're now living in a brand new apartment, but I hope we'll end up in a lovely old house somewhere, someday.

  9. Lakshmi says:

    PISE is Pneumatically Installed Stabilized Earth.. meaning, concrete house. Sand + Cement mixed and cast into slabs for walls. No brick, no wood. Very insulating. Very strong.

  10. Purplesque says:

    That sounds like my kind of construction material..something which after being built, just stays there. Like the pyramids.Okay, so I fried my brain today. It happens from time to time.

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