Saturday, January 22, 2011

Let's go fly a kite!

Last fall while I was at the Dasktar Mela, I saw a man selling handmade paper kites. I, of course, had to buy one. Dorian was thrilled. But, we put it in a safe place to wait for a windy day. Last Sunday, it was windy, or at least there was more wind than usual. So, to get the kids out of the house in the afternoon, we grabbed the kite and walked to the public garden in front of our house. There were boys playing cricket. We pretty much handed Dorian the kite, told him to throw it up when the wind came and run. It was funny. He was trying so hard. Then the kite started to rip. A nice boy came by and helped us tape it up. Then another boy came and showed Dorian how to fly the kite. And, there is a true technique that I have never known or mastered. Dorian helped out by holding the string, letting it out and bringing it in when necessary. It was great to see all the kids working together to fly the kite. Then, it got stuck in a tree and ripped. I looked at Dorian to see if there were tears or sadness...but he just took his broken kite, looked at me and said, "Mama, I'm going to to make another one..."

And he's off...

The repairs begin:

Teamwork, three boys holding the string:

Playing chase:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Money changers

On my parents' recent trip to Delhi they found themselves in a money predicament. My mom, having arrived before my papa, quickly discovered that her debit card was not working. Upon checking with their bank, they were informed that the bank ceased all card transactions in India because of fraud issues. Okay, so we've been here about a year and a half and have never had a problem (knock on wood, fingers crossed). But, imagine my mom's surprise when she found this out even after she had let the bank know that they would be traveling to India. Anyway, when my father arrived he brought traveler's checks. I know! I haven't used traveler's checks in over a decade!! With the checks in hand, we set out to find a place to change them. I looked online and realized that among the five or so places recommended by American Express, there was one just near the United Nations...? We thought we'd give it a try. The security guards were nice and let me speak to the person at the money changing office. And, he nicely gave us permission to enter with visitors' badges. Another very nice person directed to the office. The man at the money changing office said that normally he doesn't do this for non-UN people, so I guess it was our lucky day. Plus, he gave us a good exchange rate and wished us a Merry Christmas. All in all our money changing trip to the UN made a our boring task much more exciting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Second in India

A year has already gone by since Arthur's first birthday in India. And, just the other day my little baby turned two. He is no longer a baby so in proper big boy fashion, we had a party for him.  Some of Arthur's school friends and their parents joined us for a brunch and puppet show. The kids loved it! And, luckily the weather has warmed and we could all enjoy being outside without coats on.

Arthur's still not sure what this whole cake thing with candles is...but I think by next year, he'll get it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kasauli and the Himalayan foothills

Sixty kilometers up the Himalayan foothills from Chandigarh is a tiny village called Kasauli. I was told is was a nice place to visit and see a bit of the mountains. I was told it would take one hour then, when asked at the hotel in Chandigarh, was told it could take up to one and a half hours. It took us a good two hours. Once you leave the outskirts of Chandigarh and start making your way up the mountainous road, the road becomes so small you wonder how it can be for those coming and going. And, then when you turn off the main road, the road that takes you to Kasauli for the final 12 km is even tinier. Luckily, no one was carsick and we made it there and back in one piece. Kasauli was not as charming as I had hoped and/or envisioned, but it was a huge breath of fresh mountain air and a beautiful view of the Himalayas. We even saw one snow-capped mountain, which was very exciting since my boys have never really experienced snow.

At the market:

She wanted my mom to stay and knit a design with her, but the boys stomachs were rumbling for lunch:

This was an exciting part of our journey back...never have we seen so many sheep!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Rock Garden

The Rock Garden in Chandigarh is an amazing maze of broken plates, ceramic pots, old bits of bangles and any other pieces its creator, Nek Chand, came across during his lifelong job as a road inspector. He began construction of the garden illegally in 1973 and when the city found out, incredibly, they started giving Mr. Chand a salary so he could continue his work. It is now 25 acres.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Le Corbusier in Chandigarh

When I was finishing up my Masters many, many years ago, I decided for fun to do a course in architecture. I love architecture and architectural history. And, I like Le Corbusier. Form follows function, what can be better than than?

The history of Le Corbusier and Chandigarh is very interesting and I don't have the time or space to write it here, but you can read about it here:

We visited the main buildings--the Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly and the High Court. The buildings are huge and impressive and a big change from more traditional forms of Indian architecture that we've seen. Unfortunately, these buildings, like most, require a certain amount of upkeep that seemed to be lacking in our visit. And, the buildings have vast public spaces surrounding them that have been left to the dogs--quite literally.

The road to Chandigarh is very good. When people say it takes four hours, it really does:

And, halfway between Delhi and Chandigarh is a MacDonalds. I never ever thought I'd be a parent taking may kids there...but...they had this cool train:

Now before visiting any of the buildings, you must go to the department of tourism and get a special permit. It's free, but bring your passport and a little patience. It took us a little under an hour.
The Legislative building:
Inside the Legislative building, well, we weren't allowed to take photos inside. But, we were fortunate to have the Haryana Assembly chamber unlocked for us to visit. It is an amazing space with patterned skylights and modern tapestries decorating the wall.

Outside the Legislative building:
Back side, public space, now home to stray dogs:
View of Secretariat:
The Open Hand monument near the High Court:
High Court:

I've heard that the buildings and city planning are a source of pride for the people of Chandigarh, but I've also heard the opposite. In any case, having studied this many years ago, for me it is a privilege to be in India and to be able to visit Chandigarh.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do over...

I don't usually let myself regret anything. My thinking is either things happen for a reason and/or we learn from what happens and it betters us for the future. That said, I do have one regret of 2010. I wish I  could do over Christmas night...

You see, a few weeks ago, we were very kindly invited to an Indian wedding. I was so surprised and honored. And, very happy because since arriving here 16 months ago I have heard so many things about weddings in India and I was so wanting to take part in such an amazing event. So, Christmas night we got all dressed up (even my parents were invited once our friends found out they were in town) minus X because he offered to stay home with poor sick boy Arthur. And, I thought it'd be a good idea for Dorian to come--he was specifically invited and I had it in my head that this would be a great experience for him, plus he really wanted to go, too. As for myself, I had even debated staying home with my sick little one (maternal heartstrings being pulled) but in the end decided that I'd only stay for a bit and just couldn't miss out--especially, when the white horse showed up to take the groom to the wedding then the drummers arrived followed by the fire shooters. We were told by several people to take our time getting there because most people arrive a bit late and things take a while to get started. We arrived about forty minutes after the time on the invitation and, apparently, we missed out on something. The wedding couple was standing on the stage wearing their garlands greeting people and having photos taken. Maybe we missed the ceremony? We did see a beautifully decorated space filled with gorgeously dressed people. Unfortunately, with a sick boy at home and with a 4.5 year old in tow who is usually asleep by 8pm, we didn't stay too long.

I wish we could have seen what happens after the photos and the dinner (I've been told more ceremonies and dancing). And, in talking with the groom's mother a few days after the wedding, I found out that the Prime Minister was in attendance as well as some well known ministers....oh boy, do I wish I could go back to that night! I would have left my boy at home where he could have slept and stayed warm, brought a warm wrap for myself because wearing a silk sari on a cold winter's night even with outdoor heaters is freezing (!) and stayed to enjoy all the wedding festivities.

I guess I can't let myself regret this too much. If we are ever fortunate once more and, at some unexpected moment, receive another wedding invitation, at least I'll know to leave the kids at home and show up on time and bring a wrap!

Monday, January 3, 2011


In the time leading up to Christmas, Dorian was most excited about putting up decorations. He loved drawing Christmas trees with stockings and presents and putting them up all over the house. Then one afternoon I came home to to see what Dorian had been working on with his papa:

I do love how lights look on the outside of houses during the holiday season, but if you saw our electrical wiring, like me, you wouldn't dare add to the chaos of wires inside our fuse box--especially after having lost electricity the previous week and the electrician offering to "borrow" some electricity, which we kindly refused. So, inspired by our recent trip to the flower market, we put strands of flowers up:

And, the final touch was Dorian's flower path leading to our door to make sure Santa would know which way to go:

The next day, we woke in amazement to see this beautiful decoration outside, in honor of the neighbor's upcoming wedding:

It's not the usual holiday lights we're so used to, but was beautiful, saved electricity and put us all in the holiday spirit.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

At the NGMA

I had seen the posters around town advertising for the Anish Kapoor exhibit at the National Gallery of Modern Art. And, I knew that my parents were both fans of his work. Not being too familiar with his art, I was looking forward to going to the exhibition during my parents' visit. And, we were not disappointed! Even the boys enjoyed seeing his amazing art creations. It's on through January, so if you're in Delhi, check it out. You can read more here:

Also, a visit to the New Wing is definitely worth it. There were so many paintings of all subjects and styles and it was hard to see them all since the empty galleries were perfect for two little boys to a running pace!