Friday, January 29, 2010

Republic Day

January 26th India celebrated its 60th year as a republic. It is a major holiday and we were lucky to spend the day together, no work for Xavier! For about the past month or so, all around India gate and the President's house, along Rajpath, chairs have been slowly being set up for the big Republic day parade. We did not attend the parade, we're not one for huge and crowded gatherings, especially with our boys. But we did get to watch the parade on t.v. And what a parade! Unfortunately, like most winter mornings, the day got off to a foggy, smoggy polluted start, but by mid-morning the sun started clearing the air a bit. We saw the military in all its fancy dress (even some riding on beautifully decorated camels), marching bands and really amazing floats. These floats were not just your simple put a model of something on wheels, they were really invloved. Each state had a float that represented its culture. Here's the float representing the handicraft work of Kashmir:
This one, I think, is for the music of Bollywood films because it has posters from some films and it was playing music. Most of the parade commentary was in Hindi, so I didn't catch what everything symbolized.
This float was dedicated to bamboo and its use as pipes to carry water to farms and homes in the countryside. Behind the tall men, they had contructed some bamboo pipes with running water, pretty impressive for a float.

This might be my personal favorite, a float for awareness to global warming. The round Earth was actually steaming as it rode by...
These were just a few of many great floats we saw. Dorian kept asking me who's driving them and how they go...just a fancy car, right? I wish I had better images to post instead of taking photos of our t.v. -- maybe next year we'll brave the crowds!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How could I forget...

Hands down, my favorite sign:

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's a sign...again

As I mentioned before, I love signs. Sometimes a big idea needs to be conveyed in as few a words as possible or sometimes it's just the words that are chosen, but these struck me. Here are some signs from around Delhi and/or our recent trip to Jaipur:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Basket Case

We've been in our apartment for 5 months and there are still some odds and ends we need to buy. We need rugs on our cold marble floors and decoration and/or art on our white, white walls. Equally necessary, although much more boring, we need laundry baskets. One for darks, one for lights and one for the clothes waiting to be ironed. There are men that ride around neighborhoods with baskets, mats and tiny lawn furniture for children piled so high that you wonder how they can get around. I put the word out that I wanted some baskets and one day last week the bicycle bearing baskets pulled up at our home. Perfect! So I thought. I saw a basket the size I wanted and he said he'd come back the next day with two identical ones. But, the guard, having quickly inspected the basket, said it was no good, the bottom had frayed. The basket man said he'd bring a replacement the next day, but asked me to keep the basket as he said trying to reload it would throw of his equilibrium. We discussed a price (prices are quoted high and customers are expected to negotiate) and finally agreed on one for three identical baskets. The next day he came back with two baskets. This time my trusty housekeeper was there and started to send the guy away because the lids didn't fit properly. But, the man said he'd be back the following day and, again, asked me to keep the baskets because reloading them would be quite impossible. When he came back for the third time, he had three baskets each of a different size. I was not happy, the one thing I had been clear about was that I wanted all three the same size. He asked for his payment. I was tired and not happy so I said I wouldn't pay our discussed price because it was too much to pay for something I wasn't pleased with (and frankly, what he was asking was, by local standards, a lot of money). We went back and forth and finally I told him just to take the baskets away. I think the thought of trying to reload the three baskets, plus the ones he left at our house, on his bike made him cave because he accepted my payment, which was still a good amount of money.
Whew! It's so much easier going to Target or Carrefour to pick up some simple, plastic laundry baskets, but it's also much less interesting and does nothing to improve my negotiation skills.

Arthur is very pleased with the baskets. And, I realize in looking at this photo that the baskets actually appear to look the same size...but, really they're not at all!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Under Construction

No matter where we go in Delhi, we see something under construction. The city seems like a work in progress, especially as it prepares for the Commonwealth Games later this year. Sidewalks are being repaired, street lights installed, parking garages going up and a stadium--and that's all within 10 minutes of our neighborhood. Also nearby, is the extension of a metro line. I'm all in favor of it since it feels like there are way too many cars on the road (something we're guilty of too), but while the line is being dug, the street is a huge mess. Even closer to home and just around the corner, there's this building going up:

No heavy machinery, just some men, lots of wood, bricks and cement. I'm amazed by the process.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A First in India

Arthur turned one yesterday. I never thought I'd be living in India let alone raising children here. But, here we are and life is good.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Museum

Last week, my mom and I went to the National Museum. I have always loved museums so I was excited to see what this one had to offer. We were not disappointed--it basically laid out the history of India through archeology and the arts. I recommend taking the audio tour because there is so much to see. While the pieces in the museum are amazing, the museum itself could use a little extra attention, some fresh paint, new labels, different lighting and air conditioning or, this time of year, heat (it was freezing!). Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and I snapped some photos (lots of elephant imagery because it's one of my favorite animals):

I took this of some school kids that we saw. We heard their laughter and rumbling voices before they entered this gallery. They were walking so quickly I don't think they really saw anything. The girls were in line first and waved at us. Then, the boys came and several of them broke from their line and ran over to us. It was crazy there were about fifty of them at once and, although feeling overwhelmed by this rush of teenage boys, we smiled and shook their hands. It was our fifteen minutes of fame.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Local ATM

While waiting to take money at out my local ATM, I looked down and saw this:

I'm sure glad somebody does...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happiness is...

a new car!! I know it may sound a bit superficial, but yes, we are all so very excited to finally have our own car. No more taxis without air-conditioning or heat or seat belts that are falling apart and dirty. We have a nice, clean new car that we can leave our car seats in. We've never had such a big car either, but it's pretty much the standard expat family car here and we're thankful to have it because there's plenty of room for our family plus any house guests we might have. The odd thing, though, is that we've bought a car that neither of us will really ever drive. I do not see myself driving here because traffic is crazy, I'm not used to driving on the left or into on-coming traffic and well, frankly, I'm not sure I could multi-task well enough to drive and honk continuously. So, we will leave the driving to someone else.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Old Delhi

My parents coming to visit has been a great excuse to do all the things I've been wanting to do, like seeing the Taj Mahal or, closer to home, visiting old Delhi. I arranged for us to take a day tour, thinking it would be easier to have a car, driver and guide all in one instead of taking my favorite beat-up black and yellow taxis. And it was. We had a full itinerary including Humayan's tomb, India Gate, the President's house, old Delhi with the mosque and Red fort, and Qutub Minar. It was such a full day, with traffic jams included, that the boys and I didn't make it to the last stop--we had to go home after a late lunch. But, I think they handled it pretty well and it was a good warm up to our big touring days in Jaipur and Agra. Below are some of my favorite photos from our day tour:
School girls walking to Humayun's tomb.

School girls taking photos of me and the boys.

Approaching old Delhi, the streets get narrower and more crowded but the most impressive thing is seeing all the electrical wires. Impressive and scary...

At the mosque, good thing Pop Pop was there to carry a tired Dorian.

Now we head for the heart of old Delhi, in a bicycle rickshaw--all of us crammed on.

As we approach a busy intersection, we see the Red Fort in front of us...

And, loads of traffic waiting for us to get out of their way!

Whew! We made it...don't think I'll do a bicycle rickshaw again. But, it was definitely worth a try and we had a great day seeing and doing new things.