Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Birthween

We had a Halloween Birthday party in S's honor last night in the park across the street. I realized I'm too much of a control freak to handle India or kindergartners with grace, and the combination is deadly. Very little turned out how I'd envisioned. It could have had something to do with the Halloween theme in a country that doesn't do carved pumpkins and plastic teeth. But hey, the six year old had fun.

We made paper plate masks, thanks to My joy at finding these masks made me wish I had something I could hire them to design.

And each kid got a pumpkin to decorate:

In lieu of bobbing for apples, we tied apples with strings to the monkey bars. "No hands" was taken very literally.
I think N is eating a lollipop in every photo we took. No idea how many of those he ate.

The weather was perfect. The kids costumes were a lot of fun. Happy Birthday S!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Evil Eye

We went to the Indian Air Force Museum on Friday. Where we learned all sorts of new things.

One highlight was the "war trophies" from the 1971 war with Pakistan...

and the attempted evil eye. I guess they were unsuccessful?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Proud Owner

This took some getting. Fairly proud of it. Now that I have it. I had to have an interview; an interview at the Pakistani embassy. I had to go four days in a row. To get form. To turn form in. To have interview. To pick up visa. Plus there was the trip to the typist (the form had to be the original that they gave you, not available online, and typed) and the bank (to pay the visa fee) and the photographer (for those little pictures). How's that for adventure? Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Father's Day Phil.

Yeah, I'm not all that sad that a couple of the countries Phil really wanted to visit "on the way home," won't issue visas to Americans outside of the US. I don't know how many times I could do that.

And while I'm thinking about it, what do they do with all that paperwork anyway? And what about all those little immigration slips you fill out every time you enter and exit a country. Does anyone ever look at them? Do they get filed away forever? Do they have a huge bonfire every few months at immigration points worldwide?

I also like how my flash obscures any pertinent info, how's that for security measures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Have you ever thought you wanted a driver?

We have had a string of drivers since being here, and now that we are about to leave, I think have finally figured out the problem and what we should have done months ago. Phil's company provides the car and driver for us. They just hire a car through a local company. Most expats, and many Indians have drivers. It's kind of expected if you're a foreigner. Not exactly sure why, except that driving here is crazy. Anyway, here's the summary of our last year:

Driver #1: No English. None. Very confusing trip from the airport to our hotel on arrival.

Jag Ram: Drove us for three days, then said he'd have to take a couple of weeks off since his chest was hurting and his doctor told him to rest. Um. Okay. Never heard from him again, we still ask each other from time to time what the chances are he had a heart attack.

The Burper: This guy burped all the time. Then he'd wave his hand in front of his mouth and waft it away. We asked for a new driver.

Rajesh: What a talker. This guy just didn't quit talking, but he was friendly, knew his way around. We were happy. His fatal mistake? He mentioned that we should just ask for a bigger car, since we didn't fit (with him) in the compact car we had. So we did; and Phil's company found a different vendor who would supply a minivan type for the same price. So good-bye responsible car company and goodbye Rajesh.

Mukesh: Polite, kind, knew his way around, was great with the boys, good English. We were in heaven. He wasn't. The car company was paying him about 60% of what he was worth, when they were paying him at all. He told us he had an emergency in his village and would be gone for a few days. That translates to "I'm quiting," I now know. Turns out he got another job. Good for him.

Mukesh replacement: Zero English. Didn't know his way around the city. Drove the complete opposite direction for S's play date that morning, but I couldn't tell him. Remember? Zero English. Didn't even last the whole day.

Uday: Ran away with his girlfriend one night. On the way out of town he stole the car owners cell phone. All after dropping us off at home. At least that's what we heard.

Harish: Caught him smoking pot with the neighbor's guards when I walked out to go pick S up from school one day.

Raj: Baby faced guy who was just dumb, really no kind way to put it. Had trouble getting back to point A, even when it was only 1km from point B, and you'd driven it an hour before.

Ram: This one was decent, he just rubbed me the wrong way. Obsequious, which considering that many in India still use "servant" to describe their driver, maybe that's how a driver is supposed to be, but I couldn't take it. Plus Phil thought he smelled bad. He lasted the longest, partly because I was gone for six weeks over the summer.

Preetam: Ram lined him up before he left (making sure to take a cut of his first two weeks wages), so I was suspicious, but it's worked out well. Except for the car company, who once again weren't paying him what or when they'd agreed to, and tried to fire him when he asked them to pay him. So, after huge confrontations with the car company, we switched back to the first one (which is what we should have done months ago). But they won't hire Preetam because he doesn't have a commercial license, which in India takes as long to get as we have left here. Ugh.

Driver #12: Supposedly a fill in for a few days until Preetam could start driving. Smoker. How long do you think he'll last?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Meet Pat

Baby Names - Name Badge Ticker

I had the big ultrasound today. The law abiding doctor wouldn't disclose the sex (it's illegal here, due to the STRONG preference for boys). He did shoot the ultrasonic waves around the sensitive area a bit, but I couldn't tell. Does that mean it's a girl? Earlier on I thought I saw evidence that it's a boy. So did Phil. Really we don't have a clue. So for now, it's Pat. Due March 13.

Whose idea was this counter? "Only 154 days to go"?! Yeah, that sounds wonderful.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Most Walkable

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So, turns out, Hong Kong is an amazing city.
Not sure how I missed that before.
We went for a long weekend last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I'm just gonna say, if you ever have to choose between Delhi and Hong Kong, go with Hong Kong.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I think my shoes are bad. All the other kids are faster than me. Or maybe theirs are newer or something."
- S, reporting on the second day of organized soccer at recess.
As predicted, things seem to be on the mend with the "two best friends" at school. After all I heard though, I'm not sure I want them to be...