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I’m learning to be grateful for the moments that make me feel normal. Because there is usually the overriding sense here that I’m not… that I’m weird.

On my recent 8-day adventure in no-foreigner-land, I took my own toilet paper. South Asians generally don’t use the stuff – preferring instead to wash up with a bit of water. Well, in a big “foreigner friendly” city, the toilets are used to handling the TP outsiders feel the need to use. During my recent stay, however, we discovered that this is not true of all toilets in South Asia. By the middle of the first day, my strange habit had clogged things up. So, after what I’m sure was long deliberation on the parts of my hosts. I was delicately asked to – if I must continue using the bothersome paper – throw it out of the barred window right above the toilet. I kid you not. I spent a whole week throwing my used TP out a window…

High on the list of my oddities is my introversion. People here don’t understand how I can actually enjoy a quiet hour on the (flat) roof by myself or why I would want to go running errands without a friend. Most of all – heaven forbid – how I can be comfortable living alone when my housemate, another single lady, is away.

But a couple nights ago, one of my friends (and Hindi teacher) came over for a quick visit. As she was leaving, she noticed that my housemate wasn’t there. Usually she spends Monday nights in a different city for school – but this was a Tuesday and normally she’d be back.

“Isn’t she supposed to be home?” My friend asked.
“Usually, yes. But she’s got other meetings and won’t be back until Sunday.”
“Oh.” Suddenly – a delighted smile. “So you’re alone?”
“Yes,” I admitted, preparing myself for the coming attempts at commiseration about my lonely state of affairs.
“That’s wonderful!” She exploded. “I love living alone. I’m always telling my mom – ‘Sure, go out shopping I’ll watch the house’. Or, ‘Don’t you want to go visit your mom for the weekend?’ It’s so fun to be alone!”
I happily agreed.

At least someone thinks I’m normal!