Thursday, March 28, 2013

Things We Miss From Home After Month 1

1-The independence of driving when and where we want.
2-Sonic Route 44 Diet Coke with lemon and easy ice.
.....things can't be too bad because now we are having to brainstorm to add to the list...
3-Parmesan Cheese.
4-Good Mexican food.
5-DirecTV (when we canceled we received many calls begging us to come back even though we explained each time that we were moving to India).
.....uhhmmm.....
6-Walking outside of your home and not being an object of fascination.  We're certainly not being chased by the paparazzi but we get a lot of looks, cell phone pictures, and well intentioned cheek pinching for H and N.
7-Our beautiful front loading washer/dryer set and king size bed.
8-Views of the mountains (although the boulder formations natural to this area are fascinating).
9-Bathtubs.  Wet bathrooms, buckets, and squeegees don't provide the same relaxing ambiance.  Also, our geezers (water heaters) only give an 8-minute shower. 
10-Family and friends.  See you all this summer!

Things we don't miss:
1-Box Elder Bugs.  Our last house was absolutely infested.
2-Snow (we'll miss that next December)
3-Burger King.  Really, hadn't thought of it once until this post. 
4-Wal-Mart (Target could be on the list above)
5-Wearing shoes in the house.  We have a shoe rack outside the front door and it stays so much cleaner inside now.  
6-US Politics
7-Gas Prices
8-Drafty windows, doors, walls, floors.  Literally, they were all drafty.
9-Centracom.  Our internet is faster and more reliable here than in Sanpete County (ditto for cell reception).
10-Skunks.  India has its own bouquet of smells, both lovely and grotesque, but it doesn't have skunks and we are grateful. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A "Holi" Day in India

"Happy Holi!" is what somebody says before smearing a scoop of brightly colored powder across your face.  Today we celebrated the Hindu festival of spring called Holi.  There was music and dancing but it's mostly about throwing brightly colored powder, water, or best of all, water colored with the powder at anyone around.

We started our celebration a day early with a colored water fight at school.  The staff was generous and actually filled the buckets with warm water which made it the most pleasant water fight we've ever experienced.  A number of families had already left for break and the high school students were "too cool" to remember a change of clothes but it was still great fun.

H tries to spray everyone at once with his little cup of water.

N was offered some hair oil to protect her unusual (for India) light hair from the staining colors.  Even after a swim at the Marriott with Lant and Diane she was still a little grease ball, but her hair is still blonde.

Everyone gathers for one last toss of water.
Our apartment complex scheduled a time for all the resident to gather and participate.  The had a DJ blaring various Hindu pop songs (with the obligatory inclusion of Gangnam Style at one point) that kept everyone moving.  The store in the basement was doing great business selling little bags of color and a variety of water squirting devices.  One resident welcomed us with a couple of water balloons to toss at the crowd.  We wandered around for about 30 minutes tossing colors, getting sprayed, and generally having a fun time.  We tried to stay away from the corner of the celebration where the teenage residents were a bit more raucous in their celebrations.  It took some long showers and lots of soap and shampoo to get back to a resemblance of normal skin and hair color.
A slow start with water balloons

Once H got it in his mouth the ice was broken and the colors really started to fly.

"Holi" ground

A bag of color and a fistful of fun

She chose pink, of course.

There was no grey or white thrown.  That's just me getting old...luckily it's about time for another hair cut.

A white shirt is best, especially one that you don't plan on wearing for anything but exercise, yardwork, or other such activities in the future. 

N went for the stealthy and unusual black shirt option.  A Holi ninja?


Notice my watch.  After getting all clean later on I found a big stain of color on my wrist under my watch.

Notice a missing M? She spent the day celebrating with her new friends from school.

I have no recollection of anyone putting green in my hair.



Happy Holi, suckers!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sundays

Getting our family to church on Sunday is quite a show. Out we trek, in our Sunday duds, to the road while Dad flags down an auto-rickshaw.




The five of us climb, squeeze and fold ourselves into the back, and then it's a sweaty 15 minute ride out of town to the Mumbai Highway, where our church building is located.

We are met with smiles, handshakes and head-wobbles aplenty. We smile, nod, and sit through what seems like church through a fun house mirror. "Same, same but different."

After church, we discover a Hindu temple with Ganesh all over it, in the back. Because, after all, this IS India.









Saturday, March 23, 2013

Just Books! (oh, and some camels)

One of the most devastatingly difficult parts of leaving home in Utah was packing up all of our books and leaving them behind in storage.  We did bring along a few books, especially for the kids, and three Kindles between the five of us provides good access, but it seems so strange to not have a house with full bookshelves.

So today we followed some good advice and checked out Just Books.  With no public libraries this Rent, Read, Return service is greatly appreciated.  We paid 4,000 rupees, about $75, for the top level "Avid Reader" membership which allows us to have four books at at time.  Their collection is also online so we can request books be delivered and picked up.


The collection may be small but it's member directed so they have a strong collection.  Just as the bookstores here, it's also great to see that they feature the best books from the States and the UK.  I got "Underworld" by Neil Gaiman.  H just finished the first "Lemony Snicket" that we brought with us so he was thrilled to find #2.  M picked up an "Asterix" and N continued her new fascination with the "Little Miss Sunshine" series by snatching up "Mr. Quiet."


 This is a picture of the area behind the building taken from the top of the stairs just before going in the front door (you can see the stairs on the left side of the building in the picture at the top).  Quite a contrast when you compare the modern building's sleek lines and bright colors with the makeshift structures in the back.

On the way home H spotted these camels and their passengers waltzing down the street.  We've seen this once before but it's still a bit unusual.  We passed one more on our way home.  We do love the contrast: just a bit farther down the street is a 7-11.  Our Tuk-Tuk driver was happy to slow down a bit in the busy traffic so we could snap a picture.  We also love to see the piles of bamboo in the background that are used to build scaffolding structures that resemble Dr Seuss illustrations as they climb up the sides of cement and cinder block construction projects. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Queue

On our first day in Hyderabad, we were taken to the local mall (Inorbit) so that we could pick up essentials and try to keep moving through the horrid haze of jetlag.  We first found ourselves at Hypercity, Hyderabad's own version of Target.  It has everything from groceries and cleaning supplies to furniture and tourist trinkets.  Since that day, Hypercity has become a weekly stop.  We need lined paper... Hypercity.  We need a shoe rack.... Hypercity.  We need chicken.... don't go to Hypercity.  They keep the chicken in with the fish, and it is mighty stinky. 

Anyway, on our first foray to this soon-to-be home away from home, look at what we stumbled upon.

Lowman Denim!  Jeans named after my family.  A little "hello" from on high.  Of course, we quickly realized that the sign was a typo, and they are, in fact, "lawman" jeans, but who cares?

After our shopping, we headed upstairs to the food court to try and find something that would tempt our jetlagged appetites.  Nothing sounds good when you haven't eaten a proper meal in 36 hours, and your body feels like it is 4:30 in the morning.  So, like every good old American family, faced with dozens of strange and scary options, we went to McDonald's.  We settled the children into a close-by table, where they all promptly put their heads on the table and fell asleep.

We chose a register with a reasonably short line, and proceeded to wait and wait and wait.  In our sleepless state, it took us a while to realize that while we politely waited in line (or "on queue",) more and more people were just sliding in front of us.  Like this.
Screenshot from Facebook Local Expat Group.  It made me laugh.
And so, we learned our first lesson in India.  Lines are a fluid thing here, and if you aren't actively working to make your way to the front, you'll be stuck waiting forever while everyone else enjoys their McSpicy Paneer. 

Needless to say, we don't get stuck at the back of lines anymore, and we've branched out quite a bit with our food options.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Deadly entertainment

Mosquitoes are a challenge in India.  To cope with them, we use every weapon in our arsenal.  There is the morning and evening application of mosquito repellent.  The children like the Off! that we brought with us from the States.  I prefer the Odomos lotion which has aloe and citronella.

We also use a plug-in repellent in the bedrooms that serves as both air-freshener and mosquito deterrent.

These products aside, our favorite is our new Hunter Mosquito Terminator.  It is a bug killing tennis racket that annihilates mosquitoes on contact.  There is a flash of blue light and a loud ZAP, followed by shrieks and cheers by the family, and we are one fewer mosquito in the apartment. 
It's a slightly disturbing and highly satisfying new form of entertainment.
 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lunch Special

While the kids were eating McDonald's for lunch yesterday, the grownups splurged and got piping hot samosas.  This lovely lunch, along with 2 large bottles of water, cost us approximately $4.  The mint chutney was delicious and deviously spicy.  The kids enjoyed the crunchy edge pieces, but rushed for the water when they hit the hot potato center.  Maybe someday they'll be able to handle the heat.  For now, we are glad that they are excited and willing to try.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Traffic

Today's traffic jam was bovine in nature. Things sometimes don't seem too different here than in Sanpete county.  This is just outside the front gate of the school.





Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our First Tuk-Tuk Ride

video
Notice the slightly sad horn honking at the end.  There are plenty of other vehicles honking along the way.  We have decided that horn honking must be lesson number one in driving school here.  You might also notice the poor tuk-tuk struggling to drag the whole family up the hill.  This has happened more than once and makes an exit from the hillside Inorbit Mall via tuk-tuk especially humiliating.

Sunrise






Days of jet lag has ensured that we see the sunrise a few times from the balcony of our apartment.

Golconda Fort

On our first Saturday in Hyderabad, we piled into a cab and made our way to Golconda Fort.  We had no idea what to expect, and it was a spectacular surprise. 
The first photo at the entrance.  They then had to pose for a dozen other photos as locals clamored to document their presence.


Holding up the fort









We always enjoy a strange sign.


We enjoyed the flowers and the quiet of the gardens






Stopping to smell the flowers.  Isn't she serious?



Interior details


The entrances to the toilets were hidden in these beautiful walls of flowers

Ceiling detail

The fort

The doors