Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mail Box

We asked our landlord for a mail box. This is what he installed this evening:




I really hope it's big enough. At least now all our neighbors will know us by name...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Delhi Zoo

Since Dorian's on school vacation this week, we decided to go to the zoo this morning. It was interesting, a great place to walk around and not too crowded. Here are some highlights from our time there:


Cages are optional. Seriously, this guy just climbed out of his enclosure and was walking around. We saw about four others, too.


That's his enclosure. See how the low fence runs along the crumbling wall that dips to the perfect level for jumping over...


I love this sign.


Okay, why? Does this make you want to drink the water?

This zoo has great trash bins!





Another great sign.

We got to see a white tiger!



Maybe next time I'll include more animal photos.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christmas in October

For most people, Christmas just comes once a year, but not for Dorian. In Santa-esque style, late last night, our boxes arrived. But, on a tiny Datsun-like truck. We only had twenty boxes, of which over half were Dorian's toys or the boys' clothes (because we decided to put the majority of our stuff in storage).



We put Dorian's boxes in the play room and waited until morning....


It definitely felt like Christmas. His usually way-too-early wake-up got me excitedly out of bed this morning as I couldn't wait to see his face when we saw that his toys had arrived.



Arthur was happy, too, to have some new toys.


And, Dorian's been busy all day. This week is school vacation. His toys could not have come at a better time!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Shopping

Today, I decided, was finally the day to buy Arthur a real baby bed. Poor boy has been sleeping in his travel bed since June. Dorian, wanting to come with me, and I hopped in yet another unairconditioned taxi and took off for the other side of town. It is always an adventure to go for a drive in New Delhi. You never know what you will see.


Our taxi driver pretending to wear his seatbelt...at least he has one, there's nothing in the back set.


We all need a little extra help sometimes and so does this tree.



We finally get to other side of town and to an absolutely huge mall. It's so strange to see a such a modern and clean thing in the midst of the chaos that surrounds it. But, luckily for us, it is here and we could easily pick out a nice bed for Arthur. Dorian got a special treat, his first ice cream cone in India and his favorite flavor, vanilla.
Side note: buying food at the food court was quite an experience. For lunch, we chose, among the many fast food restaurants, a pasta place. But, when we tried to order at the counter, the cashier told us we had to pay beforehand. Okay, we walked all the way back to the entrance to tell the cashier what we wanted to eat. I paid and he handed me a card like a credit card. We went back to the pasta stand, placed our order again and I gave him my food card and it's great. Then, he said they have no water bottles so I asked for juice and he said no, there's soft drinks and I said no, juice please. So he said okay but two bottles of water equals only one juice. Dorian chose pineapple. We ate and left but just past the exit we saw an ice cream place. We ordered and the guy asked for our food credit card again. Silly me, I thought we'd left the food court! I gave it too him, then he told me I needed 50 more rupees. So we went back to the food court cashier, got the guy to put 50 rupees on the card and went back for our ice cream. While we were enjoying our ice cream, I was trying to think of why this system of food card was in place. Maybe to keep money and food separate, so food handlers are not touching dirty money? Not a bad thing. Luckily, I was also reading the back of my new credit card because I discovered that I was supposed to return the card. I did and the cashier gave me 35 rupees back. Wow, that was a complicated lunch and it took longer to do all that than to buy bed.


On our way home, after lunch, we passed these guys lounging in the park.


And, back home with our own little trash monkey waiting for us. I'm not sure what the trash bag is doing there. But it's nestled between those two guard huts. The yellow one is slowly being dismantled and taken away while the white one was just delivered as we now have a guard outside our building. It is an odd thing to have someone(s) there twenty-four hours a day. I don't feel like it's completely necessary, but it is, at times, reassuring. And, yes, the new white one is a "portacabin".

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's a sign



Like all big cities, Delhi is filled with various signs. I love looking at them and I love this sign. It, in its various forms, is all over the city. Unfortunately, it's not very effective because EVERYBODY uses their horn. Drivers honk to warn pedestrians to move out of the way, they honk when passing other cars, they honk before turning on to a street, basically they honk all the time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Riding Solo

Picture this, if you will, I am alone in a taxi. No wiggly Arthur bouncing up and down in my arms and no fidgety Dorian choo-chooing his way to our next destination. Just me sitting very still and staring out the window. I feel my body finally relaxing...well, as much as I can relax in in a taxi in going through heavy traffic in Delhi. Yes, I had the babysitter come over to watch Arthur for a few hours this morning. And, I'm so glad I did. There's nothing like going out for coffee with friends, making new acquaintances and looking at beautiful goods for sale. On the way back home, I passed this temple:



Okay, click on the photo and look on the left side....Gate Way to Heaven. Who wouldn't want to go to that temple? Now, I know, I know, being alone in a taxi, I should have been more prepared with my camera, should have had it out ready to shoot. Silly me, must have been relaxing too much.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Diwali


Diwali, the festival of lights, was Saturday. It is a huge national holiday in India. People put lights on their houses and, often, clean and paint their homes. They wear new clothes and light candles called diyas to represent the light within. It has been fun and interesting to experience this holiday that, honestly, I did not know much about before moving here (go to wikipedia for more info). Leading up to the holiday were lots of melas, or fairs, set up to sell Diwali gift items such as sweets, food, clothes, candles and works of art. I bought a food gift basket for our housekeeper, who also gets a month's salary for the holiday (a standard practice here), and a basket of chocolates and candles for our landlord, who in return gave us a nice glass bowl full of cookies. All last week, there was work being done on our building. The front entrance was painted, the front walkway was cleaned with an impressively large machine. Our gate was freshly painted. Lights were put up.

We had the nice surprise of coming home, after a walk on Saturday evening, to our own gate decorated with flowers and diyas leading up to our door. We have a really nice landlord.


Our neighbor strung lights on their bushes then filled their side and front walls with candles. A beautiful sight, all those candles.

The neighbors on the other side put lights up and down their building, as did many, many other buildings in our neighborhood. It's very tame compared to how Americans decorate their homes in December, but very nice to see all these homes lit up at night.

Once the sun set, the city filled with the sound of blasting firecrackers and fireworks. There was no main fireworks show like on the 4th of July in cities across the States (at least, I don't think there was one), but it seemed, or rather, sounded like every person in every home all over Delhi was, one by one, setting off firecrackers. This is a city of millions upon millions. It was loud and lasted all night long.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Yesterday was Diwali, the festival of lights, and I wanted to write about it and post some photos but I've been having such trouble uploading them! Actually, I'm using our smaller (slower) laptop because Dorian, who was playing near our other computer even after me telling him a zillion times to be careful and not play near it, tripped, pulled the plug out of the wall and broke the adapter. The little man is fine but now I 1) need a desk/table/secret space for our computer and 2) need to buy an adaptor. Anyone know where I can buy one in New Delhi (an adaptor, not a secret space)?

Friday, October 16, 2009

By Post

It is a rare thing these days to receive mail, that is, other than bills, your taxes, bank statements or advertisements. Okay, so what I meant to say is that it's a rare thing these days to receive mail that means something to you. Email is easy, Skype even easier. I don't know what I would do without either, other than feel sad and lonely. But, to receive a letter or a postcard or something important is always a happy surprise. Luckily, my parents are REALLY good about sending things, especially to the boys (thanks guys!). Today, however, I got a great surprise, my address change and renewal came through with the New Yorker, and I got seven all at once. Now, I'm going to make some tea, get cozy and decide where to begin.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Slap in the Face

Yesterday I was shopping at a nearby market. I go often to this one store to buy diapers and baby food and blueberry muffin mix. As I was waiting to pay, the man behind the counter, who I assume is the owner because he's always there and seems to be in charge of things, turned to the boy cleaning the display cases and started yelling at him. And, yes, it was a boy, no more than twelve or thirteen years old. The man was unhappy because the glass wasn't clean enough--or, at least that's what it seemed like since I couldn't understand what he was saying and he kept pointing to the glass, touching it. Anyway, the man turns to go to the cash register than quickly turns back to the boy and slaps him across the face. Hard. What? I stood there dumbfounded. I felt like he slapped me too. There were other people in the store who acted like nothing happened. I didn't know what to do. The boy went back to cleaning. And, I realized I couldn't really do anything. I couldn't tell him not to hit his employees. I couldn't tell the boy that he's too young to work and should be in school. So, I paid and left. And, I won't go back there again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To Ayah or Not to Ayah?

It seems like just about every family here has an ayah (a nanny). In the beginning, I said that I definitely do not want an ayah. I am not working, so I see it as my job to stay home with the boys. However, it would be nice sometimes to be able to leave Arthur home, away from the pollution and crowds, while I go out and do some errands. Or, to let him sleep while I get Dorian from school. Or, have some free time to meet a friend for coffee or explore a bit of Delhi. But, does that make it worth hiring someone on a full-time basis? Do ayahs work part-time? These have been the questions I've been pondering for the past week. Last Friday, I went to an association that has files upon files of available house staff with the added bonus of those people looking for work waiting outside ready to be interviewed. Walking up to the office door seeing all those people sitting, waiting, hoping to be interviewed, in and of itself was quite an experience. Of course, it makes you want to hire someone, just to give them a job. I did speak with three different ayahs. They were all nice and good with the boys, but something just didn't feel right. I realized, after much thought, that I don't want an ayah. Even if it means I don't get to do certain things, I don't want to miss this :




And, as luck would have it, a mother from school put me in touch with a babysitter who happens to live 3 doors down from us. The best of all possible worlds.

Oops....


Okay, no more bananas for the monkey...and, luckily, we haven't seen it today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monkey Business.

As you know, yesterday we saw a monkey in our front garden. Last night, Xavier saw it hop the back wall and climb around on our ledge. We thought it wise to bring the trash inside and secure all doors. This morning, I told our housekeeper about the monkey. He said at his place he has lots of monkeys, sometimes ten at a time. He said they come and take his mom's clothes. Apparently, they like to eat buttons. He spotted the monkey again on our back wall and said it was a little one. He shooed it away with a broom (I told him to be very careful, of course, I'm most worried about rabies). I told him that I'm used to seeing monkeys at the zoo, not at my house. He thought that was funny. We noticed the monkey was jumping up and down on the electrical wiring. I thought, there goes our internet access! The housekeeper said the monkey was hungry...



So, here he is trying to give the monkey a banana.

Monkey accepts banana.

And, off it goes.


Or so I think. Now, I can't help thinking that maybe monkeys, like stray cats and dogs, will adopt you if you give them food. Hmm...I don't want a pet monkey.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Do you see what I see?


Yes, this this a picture of our front garden. And, yes, that's a monkey walking across the wall. Luckily, the boys were safely inside. But, seriously, a monkey?


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jor Bagh Diwali



Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the biggest Hindu festivals of the year. It is next Saturday, the 17th. Tonight, however, the Jor Bagh neighborhood association had a Diwali get together. It was amazing, almost like going to a wedding. Fancy dress, fancy decorations, waiters carrying trays of food, music and dancing. Because we had two sleepy kids, we were not able to stay for dinner or for the Mr. Jor Bagh contest, where men dressed as their favorite Bollywood stars, but we did get to chat with a few neighbors and watch some really nice dancing. Arthur slept until the music got really loud and Dorian was in awe until he fell asleep in his chair, trying oh so hard to stay awake. And, thanks to Xavier and his mobile, I have a nice little video down below.






video

Friday, October 9, 2009

Green Card

Today was a big day for us. After a five week wait, we received our Indian ID cards. We are official residents--yay! We can now have our stuff sent from Reunion and we can buy a car--super yay! I really wanted to post a picture of our cards, but don't think it's too smart to be posting official documents. Let me just say, it is basically a very thin, laminated piece of green paper with blurry typed words and a tiny, equally blurry, photo of me. It does not look terribly official. But, it is and I am very happy to have this little green card.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Changes

Since moving to New Delhi, some things have drastically changed in our lives. We don't drive anymore. We have a housekeeper/cook who comes almost every day. I only cook one night a week for me and Xavier (but, I do still make every meal for Dorian and Arthur). Doors are almost always opened by someone else. I feel less guilty about using taxis without car seats (okay, only sometimes but I just keep telling myself that because there's an incredible amount of traffic we go so slowly that it will be alright). Someone else often does the shopping for me. There are so many bookstores I feel like I have an unlimited supply of books in English at my fingertips. Dorian's at school every day of the week.

But there are some things that haven't changed. Play dates for Dorian. He still loves the Wiggles and penguins and trains. Xavier still works a lot. I'm still tired at the end of the day (but very thankful not to have to make dinner!). Arthur still naps, laughs and smiles a lot. Baby play groups.

Some changes are by choice, some are not. But we try to be flexible. We try to learn. And, sometimes we grow. Arthur has started saying "mama" and shaking his head no. I like to think that the two are unrelated.


video

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Karwa Chauth Part II

Today is the festival of Karwa Chauth. Yesterday, like the Hindu women celebrating this festival, I had henna painted on my hand for the well-being of my husband. Married women fast during the day and at sunset go to temples in fancy dress and give offerings. I was looking forward to seeing beautiful women in beautiful clothes, so I packed up the boys--Dorian in the stroller and Arthur in the baby carrier and off to the local temple we went. I got a bit excited when we walked by a house with a front lawn with full of ladies all dressed up. A bit further I saw another woman get in her car with a small tray of offerings. But, once we got to the temple, nothing. Hmm...we waited, chatted a bit with a family sitting on a bench, but still nothing. The sun started setting, so we had to head back for bedtime. Oh well. I did take a few photos of our walk. Neighborhood shots, nobody in fancy dress.


The community center


The market



An All Day Milk Stall that is never open


Way up in that tree are loads of those green parakeets (yes, I am obsessed)


See that black car with the yellow top? That's the taxi we take EVERY day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Karwa Chauth



Tomorrow, October 7th, is the Hindu festival of Karwa Chauth. It's celebrated by married women to give their husbands a long life, happiness and good fortune. During the day women are supposed to fast and, traditionally, they give gifts and paint their hands and/or feet with henna (read more, like I did at www.karwachauth.com).

I happened to meet up with two very nice married women at a market this morning and we all decided to have our hand painted with henna. We all love our husbands.



Here's my hand.



These nice men at the next stand decided Arthur needed some entertainment while I was otherwise occupied.



Apparently, he wasn't the only one entertained.



After the henna dries, it flakes off leaving this orange color. The darker the color on your palm the more your husbands love you. Mine is getting darker as I type, seriously, it is.