Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ever the Tourist

Everyone keeps asking for pictures. I'm sure what they are looking for is proof of the craziness. I have had trouble getting those kinds of pictures. I can't bring myself to take pictures of women waiting in line to fill their water containers from the water tanker trucks that bring water to the squatter camps. Nor can I snap a shot of women carrying piles of bricks or twigs on their heads. And as for unbelievable loads piled precariously on rickshaws, or trucks overloaded with goods and people, I'm just not fast enough. You see it, you marvel, you think where's my camera, and they're gone. So, my post contains the typical tourist stuff... sorry, sort of.

This weekend, we climbed the tower at Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, in Old Delhi.

From there, you can get a good look at traffic.
Sometimes our electricity goes out... This was taken in Old Delhi this weekend.

Doors in Old Delhi
Humayun's Tomb
Some repair work being done at Humayun's Tomb.


Today S had a little Thanksgiving party at school. The highlight was the cornbread... which had an oddly greenish tint to it. Anyway, I digress. On the way home he was very specific and clear when speaking about the "Native Americans." I guess his teachers here would be too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not a Good Sign

Today the cleaning guy/houseboy was sure to show me where the space heaters are, you know, since now we're only getting to the high 70's during the day & mid 50's at night. Then he put on his parka and left.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Bikes and the Bees

If we get to school a few minutes early the boys get to ride the tricycles. They have these great two seater ones, so N can ride along behind S. I think it's the highlight of his day.

Yesterday evening after we got home from school, I noticed that there were a number of bees outside my back window (the one by the not-so-ingenious washing machine). Then I opened the door and saw:

This clump of bees (would it be a hive?) is probably close to three feet long. They are clinging to a support beam that runs over our balcony, though the main clump is probably five feet away. They all moved in yesterday. Nice. So, to the atmospheric brown cloud out my window, add the bees.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Price is Wrong

I suck at The Price is Right - India.

Honey Nut Cheerios: 375 Rupees
Pineapple: 31 Rupees
Little pack of cookies: 15 Rupees
Half kilo of coriander: 72 Rupees
Mac 'n' Cheese: 152 Rupees
Exchange rate: about 49 Rupees to the Dollar

There aren't very many grocery stores here. There are tons of little shops. Someone will deliver anything you want right to your door. You just have to figure out who to call... and what the appropriate price should be, and negotiate with them... in Hindi. The result? When I'm shopping in the closest four aisle grocery store, where one whole isle is spices, and N is pulling things off shelves on both sides as we go (yes both sides at the same time, which he can reach from the cart) and I see mac 'n' cheese (=something my kids will eat) I buy it, and I look at the price later.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What Kind of Surprise?

With all the crazy things I've seen here, I'm not sure why this one gets the blog space, but for some reason every time I drive by this sign it make me chuckle.

House Hunters International

Well I can now tell you why you've never seen a House Hunters International - New Delhi. We've been looking for apartments for the last week, with little success. Housing is surprisingly expensive, meaning we're looking at paying Park Cities rents for west of Inwood housing (far west of Inwood). I went out with a realtor yesterday who would not let me get a word in, he wasn't at all interested in what I had to say. The first apartment he showed me was unfurnished (um the listing I contacted you about was furnished??). Then at one point he told me to "listen carefully." Hmm... Cultural difference? Maybe my first experience with the whole women don't really count attitude I've heard much about? Maybe just a bad realtor?

Not so ingenious

So this is my not so ingenious washing machine. It drains right out the bottom and is supposed to run down a drain on the floor, but first it pools. So far is has never come over the little lip of the door frame and into the kitchen, but really what are the chances? Then to pull your clothes out you have to slide across the wet cement. Of course N is very attracted to the whole contraption.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good Surprises

Since they were taking pictures of my kids, I figured I could take their picture (I did ask first)

India Gate

Today while S was at school, N and I went to Lodi Gardens. Beautiful. My first public space experience that I would call beautiful since being here.


I've been so slow to post because it really has been an overwhelming change. I don't have any idea where to start or how to convey all my thoughts and emotions, many of which are conflicting. I think I've really frightened my mom and my mother in law when I've spoken by phone with them, so I was trying to wait until I was pretty sure I could post without frightening all of my friends too.

I guess I'll start with a few of the surprises, some of which I probably should have been aware of, but wasn't. We're in New Delhi, which is in Northern India, and things vary a lot throughout the country, but here's our experience.

I have been very surprised by how little English is spoken on the street. I guess I was expecting it to be more like South Africa, where most people speak a different language at home, or natively, but English is very widespread, especially anyone that lives in a large city or interacts with tourists. We were surprised when our driver that picked us up at the airport didn't speak English. Neither do the guards, or the housekeepers, or some of the landlords of places we've looked at. We'd gotten used to getting by in Spanish and this has been kind of frustrating.

Air quality has been a surprise. We didn't find the air in Mexico City a problem at all, and of both cities we repeatedly heard that air quality was improving. So we have been surprised that it’s very smoggy. In the morning and evening it’s smoky. I think that’s because of cooking fires at nearby squatter camps (that’s surprise number 3). It’s also just really dusty and dirty. We’ve arrived shortly after the end of monsoon, and we’re basically at the edge of a large desert, but it’s REALLY dusty. Most of the trees that you see don’t look quite green, more grey. They all have a layer of dust.

And then there’s the poverty, which isn’t a surprise. But what is a surprise is that there’s no real getting away from it. No oasis. We arrived at night, so on our first morning I was surprised to find that from my $200/night hotel room I could watch multiple families getting ready for the day, sweeping their dirt floor (if you can call it a floor when it doesn’t have a roof over it), cooking over their fire, and sponge bathing. And it seems to be like that everywhere, in front of the embassy, around the corner from the school, anywhere there’s a little space. We were hoping for a neighborhood like we had in Mexico City. Where we felt comfortable outside and there was a great park nearby. Here all the neighborhoods have parks, and while there aren’t cows (special little gates that the cows can’t get through}, there are usually people sleeping or hanging their clothes out to dry, and it’s all covered in a layer of dust.

Then there are some good surprises: S really enjoyed his school on the first day, no tears, no struggle, no drama. Just a huge smile afterwards and excitement, “Mom, something happened today that I didn’t think would happen! I made a friend!” The amazing monuments right in the middle of the city. The absolute beauty of the women’s clothing.

Then there are the things that are about like we expected: The attention we garner with our two little blonde boys, the crazy traffic complete with cows in the road, pedestrians, bici rickshaws and luxury cars, the weather (currently warm but not too hot), great food (unless you’re S and developing a dislike of Indian food).

I keep hearing it takes six months to figure out how things work and get used to it here, so hey, I’ve got 5 months and three weeks to go.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Today on the way home, after spending the afternoon looking at apartments, we passed 6 cows, 7 wild pigs (two of which were in the process of making more wild pigs), 2 camels & 5 polo horses. S and baby N slept through it all. More to come at 4am tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and sorry the map below doesn't all fit, way too tired to try and figure that out.