Sunday, August 31, 2008

One Day in India...Since None Are the Same

Well, I usually wake up around 7:20 am, so I can beat the kids up and get their breakfast together. Then I wake up Ro and V and we watch Tigger and Pooh or Dora the Explorer. The only problem with Dora is that the show is dubbed in Hindi, but they didn't take out the English and Spanish! You can't understand anything, but the kids still watch it. Oh and yes, I now know EVERY song by heart. It’s not good or cool. During the show, the kids usually eat and get changed. Oh, and if you think for one second that either of these two activities are done independently by the children then you are CRAZY. And the only way Veda will let me change her diaper is if I sing the “Think, Think, Think” song from the Pooh TV show.

Side note: If I haven’t told you all before we live in a VERY empty home with very little things. We been eating off of the same plastic warped plates and bowls for every meal. We also have very nice plasticware from Costco and plastic glasses from Kroger. We are living the life. We have also been wearing the same 7 outfits for 7 weeks. We have learned to mix and match, but there is more mixing and less matching if you ask me. We do have normal showers so no “Fill-a-bucket” for those of you who know what that means, which is good. Bottom line, we have been “house camping” and it is SO fun! Ha. Actually, we just found out that our sea shipment has arrived in India!!! It's amazing how I miss our "stuff". I don't think it's the actual stuff I miss, but the fact that it's a piece of home that makes me so happy. Our pictures, our pillows, our furniture...this move was so different and so drastic that having some of home will be great!

My day then resumes with random men showing up at my door to fix this or that, but of course they don’t have the right tools so they have to come tomorrow. These are just a couple examples of work being done…

Drilling one hole,

putting in one AC unit and painting one wall.

Are you noticing a trend? In order to get one job done it requires a gang. It’s quite humorous really. It’s usually one or two guys doing the actually work. Everyone has been really nice, so that could mean two things….they are nice friendly people OR I am totally paying too much for the job!!

It’s also really fun to talk to these guys. I speak to most of them in Hindi and then I am always using a formal address with them and they laugh. Let’s just say they know I am not from here, but I can hold my own in crunch time. I am sure you going to be shocked, but I tend to ask for completion times from these guys and there answer is always “An hour madam.” It’s funny because I don’t think ANYONE has every left my home in an hour, but hey what ever. The greatest answer ever was given to me one day when I asked the electrician what he is was going to do to fix our generator issue and he said “I am going to fix it perfectly”. Just to let you know we still have a generator issue.

I usually try and run one errand a day. Why one you ask? Well, it takes a solid hour and half to run ONE errand. Between the traffic, bargaining and decision making it’s interesting. The kids are usually napping or playing with their nanny during this time.

When I get home I am back to orchestrating the circus of workers and making sure they clean this and fix that. It’s VERY tedious. Then by 6:00 pm everyone usually winds down because it gets dark and I warm up dinner and then Martin and I get the kids to bed. It’s interesting because while I am getting dinner together the local folk’s children are all just going out to play. The families here eat around 8:30 or 9 pm. I have decided to stick to the Western way of living for the kids.

It’s really quite an exciting day! I have to say though...we also have our easy days where we head to the playground and pool and have a great time!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Delhi...Family, Mexican Food and a Fender Bender

This past weekend we headed up to Delhi to see my family. My Mom's brother and sister live their with their families. Honestly, it felt like home...well, except for the fact that it was SO HOT!!! Like...two showers a day HOT! BUT, it was so worth it since the kids got to meet their GREAT grandmother (Nani-Ma)!!
So, we left our home a solid three hours before we had to get on the plane. Long story short, after a two and a half hour car ride (which included the bonus of Veda throwing up on herself ), we got to the airport at 8:00 pm - our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:30 pm. NO PROBLEM! We even had some Indian "fast food" before the flight.

We really didn't know what to expect, but I think we were pleasantly surprised by how "smooth" everything went. Even the kids did well with a little help!
We were greeted by everyone with open arms and the kids were actually pretty receptive too(which I have to say I was a little surprised). My uncle showed Rohin and Veda a picture from my cousin Monu's wedding that Martin and I attended in 2002. They recognized my parents and that broke the ice right away. My Grandma pulled out some more pictures of my parents and Rohin and Veda instantly became friends with her. It was amazing to watch!!! I can't tell you how great it was for me to see them with her. She is an amazing woman!

On Saturday we joined my cousin Monu and her family. She has two boys who are five and a half and one and a half. It was HILARIOUS watching those four!!! Let's just say my Uncle's house didn't look the same after those four were done!

We actually left my Uncle's house and went to Monu's house on Saturday. Along the way we did a little sight seeing around Delhi. I won't bore you with all the details, but I wanted to share one place called the Lotus Temple. The temple itself was gorgeous. And the garden was immaculate! The temple is based on the Baha'i religion. The message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. Basically, the Baha'i religion recognizes all religions under one God...really an amazing temple both inside and out. To experience the silence and peace in the temple was truly moving. Even Rohin and Veda were quiet...okay, for like 20 seconds, but whatever.

After that we decided to go out to eat and get some Mexican food at RODEO's...seriously, what the heck were we thinking - Kids, Saturday night and Mexican food in India? Four kids and four to man defense we should be fine, right? We got there and we got the kids drinks at the bar.

Then we were seated. Oh yeah, Monu's husband asked people who were in the middle of their meal to move their table to another table, so we could push two tables together - so they did. You gotta love India! Then the fun began...we put the kids at one end and the adults at the other. Short version of dinner...two dudes sitting next two us started drinking more when we sat next to them, Rohin and his cousin played tug of war with the place mats,

chips and salsa demolished by kids in 1 minute,

Veda invented orange juice nachos,

Veda must stand while eating,

apparently standing on our table during our dinner with bare feet to hook up the TV is not a big deal (yes Shalu, Ruby, Roopal and Rakhi I did almost throw up).

Rohin made friends with the two dudes,

The End.
The next day we also visited my Aunt (my Mom's sister) and her family who lived near Monu.

And then returned with my Uncle to his home. Oh and we got into an accident. We are all okay and it wasn't my Uncle's fault at all. Now you guys are going to love this. My Uncle gets out of the car and starts yelling at the other guy. The guy yells something back. Then my Aunt gets out and yells and then she returns to the car. My Uncle tells the guy to pay him some money. The other guy says something and gets in his car and drives off. My Uncle gets in the car and starts driving and after 5 minutes of silence it is all over and we are cracking jokes with a huge rattle from the fender being cracked and bent. My Uncle got his car hit, but he is still smiling...that is India! I was amazed! Can you even imagine!?? The picture doesn't do it justice!

To sum it all up, we had a wonderful trip and I have to say that we are very lucky to have such a great family in our lives.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Independence...the Day, the Cut, the Girl

This past weekend was quite eventful. We celebrated “Independence Day” and “Raksha Bandhan”. 61st Independence Day was Friday, August 16th. Our neighborhood had a “flag hoisting” ceremony. It was a pretty big deal. There were lots of flags, speakers, police officials, kids singing, and a lot of “thank yous”. We also got to meet our neighbors, which was really nice. During the summer months a lot of families go on long vacations, so it’s hard to meet a lot of people right now (oh and it doesn't help that no one hangs out past dark because of the mosquitoes). The kids had a blast. They met some kids and went over to the water fountains. And of course, before I knew it they were in the water and soaked. AND of course, I found right then that the water that is used is recycled toilet water – NICE! Needless to say, we had a good washing after. But hey, they had fun and didn’t get sick, so it’s all good.

The other holiday that was celebrated was Raksha Bandhan. I pulled some info off the internet (you can see the source in the bibliography) - Raksha Bandhan festival is associated with the very special relationship between brothers and sisters, on this day sisters tie a rakhi or decorative thread on the wrist of their brothers and in return brothers pledge to protect their sisters when the need arises. ‘Raksha’ means protection, ‘bandhan’ means obliged or bind. So, we tried to have Veda tie the thread around Rohin’s wrist….what really happened was Veda wanted it tied around her wrist and Rohin didn’t want it at all. BUT for a minute Rohin agreed and we were able to do the ceremony, kind of – yahoo! It was cute. I was able to see my cousin, so I was able to celebrate with him which was really awesome. The holiday is a big deal here, so of course I thought about and missed Rishi a lot.

Side Note: If Lori at Pallozzlo in Royal Oak is reading this…sorry in advance. I got my haircut. It’s not that short, but it’s short for me. Drying your hair day after day just wasn’t working, so I got it cut. I asked my driver to take me to a place he knew in town. Long story short, we stopped in front of this random restaurant and I went upstairs to this salon and for $9 US I got a new do. It’s great and definitely is better than drying my hair for a long time.

So, I got a call from Martin in the kitchen “Umm….Char….you need to come in here.” As I turned the corner to the kitchen, I saw my almost two year old on the kitchen counter. We had no idea how she got up there! We took her off the counter and then watched my daughter climb up the drawer handles and make her way up the counter – pretty impressive little monkey if you ask me. Oh and yes, that is a case of Kingfisher :-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nandi Hills

We decided to drive to Nandi Hills. It is about two hours to an area outside of Bangalore that gives a great view of Bangalore (on a clear day) and the country side. It wasn't the clearest of days, but we did see some great views. It was extremely windy and actually a little chilly (if you can believe it). We saw some locals with ski masks and winter jackets on.

Rohin enjoyed trekking around the hills and Veda loved all the monkeys. Yeah, they were just hanging out everywhere we went. No cages...just us, the monkeys and hills - oh and some stray dogs! They really didn't bother us much at the top, but when we were by our car our driver had to remind us several times to close the doors because they often jump into the cars. Of course, we already had two monkeys in our car who were running around, so what's one more. At one point, a random woman walked by and took pictures of Rohin and Veda in the car. I guess they were smiling in the window. All in all a fun day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rohin the Best Big Brother Ever.

It’s been great to be able to spend so much time with the kids. It’s interesting to watch them grow and change everyday with such detail. It’s also interesting to watch kids from around the world. It doesn't matter if they are Indian, German, French, Swedish, American...they are all the same. They all cry at nothing and they all whine about nothing. And all the Moms worry about all the same stuff. I guess we are just a big giant world wide club. On another note, I was talking to my cousin (she has two boys) and she was telling me how she took her 11 month old son to the movie theater. She said it was no big deal…people do it all the time!!! Can you even imagine if we try to do that back home!??! Ha! I don’t think so.

Rohin and Veda are finding new ways to entertain themselves everyday. If I haven't mentioned this before it is monsoon season here, so we find all kinds of ways to pass the time inside. Apparently, the latest is for Rohin to let Veda do whatever she wants. Enjoy the video

One Week in the House...Not Yet a Home

Well, we have been in our house for about a week. It will be a home someday. Just not sure when. As you can see from the pictures we have rented beds, sofas and dining room table. Poor V still sleeps in her pack and play. Oh and that is the only thing in her room. We are very lucky though, both kids fell right to sleep the first night here-phew! The only carpet we have is a ‘Cars: The Movie” rug that has roads on it for Ro’s cars – thanks Nani! BUT, we do have curtains!!! And that is a big one because since we don’t have AC everywhere in the house, so we have to keep the house cool and curtains have helped. And yes, I did get a look from the curtain guy about all the crazy colors I chose. We have a small back yard and we have someone coming to my door almost everyday asking if they can be my gardener. The yard is smaller than the one we had in Huntington Woods, but it does have ten times as many flowers. I just can’t do it yet.

Blurb from Martin: It has been a circus of appliance people, relocation people, maids, drivers, plumbers, cable installers, internet installers, phone installers, electricians, gas connection specialists, water softener people, guys who deliver bolts, dudes who carry tools, women who bring air, the lady who brings grass seeds, some young guy that delivers sand one grain at a time.

Oh and if someone says they are coming at 11:30 am that could mean either 11:15 am or 3:30 pm. I guess what I am saying that no service people come when they say they will, but hey, it’s cool. It’s just how it is and things are getting done one item at a time.

We have also found someone to help us with the house. She is wonderful. I swear without her I would still be in boxes. She has been cooking Indian meals for us and getting us organized. She worked with the family before us, so she is familiar with the house which has helped since she knows where all the light switches are and knows how to use the stove. So far so good with her…hopefully everything works out.

So…We watched the ESPYs. I told Martin while we watching that I felt like we were home. Mind you, we are sitting on our dining room chairs in an empty room, with marble floors, and headphones on watching TV through a slingbox in front of our computer. We had a really blurry picture with the sound cutting out every second, but it felt like we were home until…the power would go out every 5-10 minutes and then I was in India again. The End. Oh and by the way…JT is a babe. (Kris that was for you).