Category Archives: Canadian International School

Lunch time at the Canadian International School

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We went to join Carson for lunch. We often do this back home but haven’t here in India since it is harder to get to school given the distance and the driver arrangements.  We were 15 minutes late because we were stuck behind  Air Force guys running/training on the road en route to school.

When we arrived, we saw that Kaden still hadn’t made it to lunch yet. She was walking very slowly with her friends. Kaya is from the U.S. and Gabby is from the Philipines most recently. She is moving to China next month.  She waved hello but certainly did not want us joining her!

  

All of the kids eat lunch at once, and it does not seem like there is hardly any supervision at all. Here is a video of the chaos, including a boy in yellow shoving another kid if you look to the right of the video.  As we were leaving the cafeteria we saw the headmaster and his wife, the dean of students, coming in. “Is it crazy in there?” he chuckled.  The man did not seem concerned at all about the lack of safety. I felt very concerned.

The food at lunch varies depending on the day. Continental on Monday and Wednesday (European–definitely not American. No chicken nuggets or pizzza at this school. Instead, pasta with cream sauce, beef stew, etc.).  Tuesday is Oriental day (their word, not mine), Wednesday is Indian day and Friday is Mediterranean, which most often means Middle Eastern. We arrived on Continental day, much to my dismay. Baked beans, a mac and cheese of sorts, a potato soup.  Some veggies. BUT also fresh lettuce and the first Balsalmic vinegar that I have seen since leaving the States! Joy!

  

Carson was almost finished with his meal when we arrived.By the time we got our food he was ready to run out to join his classmates in a game of soccer. That is a LOT of kids playing with just one ball!

Wednesday is House Day, which is why the kids have four colors of shirts on instead of all wearing red!

Carson models the new Moose Mascot hat for the school. He loves this hat!

After lunch Todd and I had a meeting with his teacher. With just three and a half weeks to go before we go back, Carson is just ready to be done with school here. The teacher is a firm believer in neatness, staying within the lines, writing small. That seems to matter as much as the content of the work here. Plus, Carson is having trouble getting started on his work which means that he is not getting it finished. He promised to start his work sooner. But honestly, he is learning at an early age that if he is outta here in three weeks, there’s not much the teacher can do if he just doesn’t want to do his work. If Carson could go home with Todd, he would–other than the cricket match coming up next week. But even that isn’t enough to keep him. Problem is, Todd came on a different airline, plus my stipend is dependent on the kids staying for 80% of the time, plus we’d have to arrange childcare back home. It would be several thousands of dollars for him to go back six weeks early. I tried to communicate to the teacher that he needs to follow directions but we also just want her to focus on having the end of this experience be a positive one. We’ll see how it goes. Kaden is happy to be here  a few more weeks, thankfully.

We also had the thrill of seeing Kaden in an interhouse soccer match. Kaden was chosen to play for the red team. They played the blue team. The game ended in a 0-0 draw, so it was on to penalty kicks. I’ve never seen such leadership from Kaden. She immediately raised her hand for the first penalty kick and volunteered to be the goalie as well. She saved every shot. AND scored the winning goal of the game!

  

During the house soccer tournament, Carson practiced his cricket batting with his cricket coach.

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Cricket, soccer and Bollywood dancing!

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With Todd arriving, I think we are all more homesick than before he arrived. It reminds us of being intact as a family again–but without our house and our State College life. So the kids are missing friends more these days. They seem less settled in school as well. It’s also probably because our routines are topsy turvy. We’re doing a lot of travelling and everything has changed at home as well. My parents have left for a three week trip to Ahmenabad  and Calcutta. Janet and Kinjal have left. So even the sleeping arrangements have changed!

This photo below is of Kadens new besty here in Bangalore. Her name is Alberta and she is from Denmark. She is in the third grade. Kaden is also friends with her sister, Esther, who  is in the fourth grade. Kaden and Alberta play soccer together. Alberta is on the school team, so she gets to wear the white CIS jersey to class on soccer Wednesdays. Children get asked to be a part of the school team–you don’t get to pick! I haven’t heard about any matches for the girls team so I don’t know if Kaden will be chosen or not. She certainly is the tallest kiddo out there!

  

  

Carson is  developing an Indian accent. He is pronouncing his words more precisely and his voice makes a sing song noise sometimes. It’s very cute.

He has a love/hate relationship with school. His teacher is very different than  his teacher back whom who he adores.  The CIS teacher values neatness as much as getting the right answer–not a strong suit for Carson. But Friday was a great day–his first 12/12 on his spelling test! Plus his cricket coach asked him to play with the 3rd-5th standards (grade) group this next term. Indeed, Carson is still a cricket savant. Here is a video of him scoring a six, which is like a home run. You can hear me yelling, “Run Carson run!” But since it was a six he doesn’t have to run at all. I really need to learn the rules of cricket!

   

His coach is wonderful. He’s from Atlanta actually and he’s back getting  a Ph.D. in special education.

Kaden’s vice principal told me how impressed she was that Kaden caught onto the Bollywood routine so quickly and said she looks fantastic. Unfortunately she missed the big performance during Multicultural Day–a massive all day Saturday event with food, performances, sales. We had our big Goa trip planned long before we arrived and learned about the day! We also missed Sports Day in Goa which also was a big shame since Kaden broke the record for high jump for the elementary school during practice! They said that she would still get points allocated to her house for breaking the record and maybe even get a medal. We’ll see about that. But at least Todd and I got to see this practice of the Bollywood routine and one more segment of the Bollywood dancing. The coach is this guy who is very hip and always in trainer pants despite the heat!

  

Another set of barefoot runners on our way to school! These guys were training for the police academy.

And lastly, Daddy is joining in during the evening cricket matches back home in the neighborhood. Here he is fielding while Aryaman is pitching. And then Carson taking a swing.

  

Todd is here!

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Todd arrived early Saturday morning and the kids wouldn’t leave his side the entire day.

  

He brought some treats and gifts from home, including airheads candy, WWE posters, cards and gifts from Grandma and PapPap, applesauce and more!

  

On Monday Carson enjoyed showing Daddy around the school, including the art room

  

And Todd got to meet Carson’s favorite friend–Alex from France

Kaden was feeling a bit shy having Daddy around. She had more important business to take care of!

One of Todd’s craziest first experiences occurred at the gym back at our house. On Sunday, the neighbors were having a Pooja to celebrate their new house–a religious ceremony that is a house warming with lots of friends and family.  The front of the house was decorated with palm fronds. Shoes were left outside and a Hindu priest offered blessings inside.

Kaden’s new friends, Diya and Ecta (I had her name wrong in the previous post) were a part of the celebration for their new home along with their cousin (the girl on the far right) . At one point Kaden was outside playing with the girls and she dunked her hair into the swimming pool. The girls came running back to the house to see what level of “scolding” Kaden would receive for putting her head in the pool. When I said she wouldn’t get in trouble, the cousin said, “But Auntie! (that’s what you call grown-ups–Auntie or Uncle. It is very cute) But Auntie! My mother would kill me if I put my head in the water! Is she really not going to get a scolding at all?” The girls seemed very disappointed to miss out on viewing a good scolding!

But that wasn’t even the funniest part of the day. Todd and I wanted to work out at the gym, which is near the pool and lawn area. This Pooja included a lunch, which was set up much like the big feast that occurred in the community last week–poolside and with tables much like a wedding. The problem is that the gym is right near the festivities. Realize too that fitness/gyms are not popular concepts in India. So the vision of two Americans running on treadmills in the heat of mid day was just bizarre to this party of people. And there doesn’t seem to be a taboo for staring  in Indian culture. Five minutes into our run, Todd had six kids literally crowded around the treadmill, plus two adults watching at the door with folded arms gaping and another four people leaning their heads in through the window to get a better view of our spectacle.  Just as I had finally had enough and started shooing the kids out at least (how do you shoo out adults?) Mr. Yadov thankfully arrived blowing his whistle and telling everyone to leave the area. He then stationed as security guard at the door of the gym so that we would not be bothered and the kids would not injure themselves by being too curious about the treadmill.Welcome to India, Todd!

We waited for the party to clear before swimming in the pool, but some stragglers remained. Again, we were far more interesting than the end of the party. Again,  grown men and children especially gaped as we swam in the pool. Indians don’t do a lot of swimming, and women especially. To be appropriate in the pool, I was dressed much like the Hasidic Jews that we see at Great Wolf Lodge–I had on capri length work out pants and a baggy running shirt. Granted my shoulders were showing (on my!),  but I felt ridiculous at the amount of clothes that I was wearing.  It is hard to relax in the pool and enjoy your family when you have an audience. At one point Todd started laughing and honestly I don’t know which part was more ridiculous–my conservative garb, the rows of onlookers,  our attempts to act like everything was normal?

Kiddo adventures–unicycling, tattoo parlours….the usual

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Kaden is taking unicycling as one of her activities at school.  She tells me, “You know it’s quite popular in Germany, mom!” All of the folks in this photo are German except for the Indian kiddo and Kaden. Kaden says that it’s quite easy. If you fall you can just step down, unlike a bike that keeps you all tangled up. Who knew?

  

Carson has been very fascinated with the Indian army officials that we see involved in exercises as we drive home.  They have since packed up and Carson insists that if they are not there, “Then they must be at war. Where else would they be?” The other day I saw the troops running, which is very odd to see in India. And I could tell that they thought it odd as well because most seemed to really be struggling. And it didn’t help that all but one were running barefoot. Not so bad on dirt paths maybe, but they were on the road and it was a HOT day. Their feet must have been on fire.

In other news, the children have established a tattoo parlour in our spare bathroom. They are inspired by the visit from their Uncle K, who is a tattoo artist and has quite the tattoos himself, including Hanuman, Carson’s fave monkey God. And he has his name in Bengali, plus other cool stuff. He is getting a LOT of looks here in India, as the tattoo craze has not made it to South Asia yet.  He had some boys grab him for photos during our palace visit. These are some of K’s tats:

     

So, the kid’s tattoo parlour is the Black Emerald. They give you a choice of designs that they have made on papers and then use black ink to “tat” you. You have a choice of sitting on the toilet or in the bathtub.

   

Above are photos of Janet getting her tattoo. And below are the final products. Look out though–in India it would be quite racy for me to be showing you my thigh! My favorite is Tia Janet– (Aunt Janet). Janet’s dad is from Mexico.

     

Update on the kids and school!

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Carson received some exciting news yesterday. He has been selected for the school’s Cricket team! He will travel next week to another school for a tournament. When I picked him up, he was surrounded by boys who exclaimed to me, “Are you Carson’s mom? He is the best player in the Cricket club!” He consistently scored 4 to 6 runs every time he was up to bat. Six runs is like a home run and four runs is like a double or so if you compare it to baseball. And the funny thing is, he doesn’t even play baseball at home. There is nothing better for a boy seeking friends than to be successful in a sport. He was beaming.

I was also a proud mom when I saw this work posted on the board outside of his class:

Kaden is also have lots of fun. She loves her Bollywood dancing class. In the photos below, she is standing next to Esther, a girl from Denmark. Esther’s older sister, Alberta,  plays soccer with Kaden and is coming home with us for a play date on Friday. Kaden’s friend Airie is also in the Bollywood dancing class. ere is a video and also some photos of the class

http://youtu.be/ifeAtP9Htg4

  

    

And here’s some artwork from Kaden’s class’s bulletin board.

And to contrast privilege with struggles, the garage in our complex has an underground village of service people.  Small rooms off of the sides of the garage serve as living quarters for the security guards and laborers.  We have one assigned to us that we could use for a servant our driver.  The rooms are small and I have not inspected ours closely. Here is Carson peeking out of our room. Our friends have suggested that this complex could be illegal since standards exist regarding ventilation and proper sanitation. A common bathroom exists and one tap for drinking water. After 8:00 which is the official stoppage of work, the smell of cooking comes up through the bathroom pipes in our house as we can smell the food and hear the chatter of the workers down below.  It is a source of question and puzzlement for us, this whole society and brings a new meaning to the Upstairs/Downstairs shows about servants.

   

Republic Day

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Today is Republic day, so the kids don’t have school. We just drove past a very cute parade of school children in uniforms marching down the street as we try to make our way out of town for the long weekend. Traffic is crawling along, if that. Sigh. Maybe we will get to Mysore by the afternoon?

Yesterday the CIS school held a walkathon to honor three Indian charities—a Mother Teresa affiliated organization in Bangalore, Habitat for Humanity and one other charity that I can’t remember. The elementary kids had to come in green, the middle school in white and the high school in orange. A very cool photo was taken of the entire school as the Indian flag.

Kaden is on the far right of the green up toward the top of the green. Carson is in the middle behind the kid with his hands in teh air. They are both very tall for their classes so it is easier to find them.

The kids had to walk/run laps around the soccer fields. I though the elementary lap was wayyyyy too small. A mom had warned me about this—don’t pledge too much a lap! My kid ran 100 laps last year. Well that sounded ambitious, but I can say that Kaden ran the most laps in her class—33. Carson was not really wanting to do this activity AT ALL, but with some coaxing he ran about 8 laps total and then sat down and said that he was “done.”

Kaden is in the second row. Carson must be in here somewhere, but I’m not sure where.

  

  

   Carson’s teacher.

While I was there I got to head back to his class to read some of his stories. His teacher said that he is a talented writer. She’d like to work with him on his spelling, though. Ummm, yeah, in the U.S. seven year olds aren’t really focused on spelling yet. But if she wants to put some time in on it, go for it!

  

Carson said as he was reading his story, “I have to say ‘washroom’ in my story, not bathroom or no one will understand it here!”

 PreK setting up for a snack. So cute.

  The coolest playset in the school, says Carson. It is reserved for 4th and 5th graders but Carson gets time on it during cricket practice while the other kids are batting.

Overall, I find the school to be a really mixed bag. Beautiful facilities, small classrooms, diverse clientele, rigorous academics. But for the $ that these families are paying, I find the quality of the staffing to be very mixed. The head master doesn’t follow up on anything that I can tell. When Carson’s teacher was absent last week, they didn’t have a sub. They just gave the kids extra recess for most of the day, and so on.

Starting to feel settled

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Yesterday, Kaden had a birthday party today at Aerie’s house. Aerie lives in the Benson Town area of Bangalore, about 45 minutes south of their school. It’s a beautiful, tree lined neighborhood. It turns out that her apartment complex has over 15 kiddos that attend CIS, including 4 girls from Kaden’s grade. It’s a lovely, quiet neighborhood (i.e., gated community). Kaden asked me if we could PLEASE move there—and fast! She’s tired of only having boys in our current neighborhood. The problem is, finding a four month lease is tough here! We had to sign on for five months even though we are only here for four, and even then we had few choices. If we had chosen to come for the year we could have lived in a community chock full of kiddos like Benson Town.  Here is a photo of Kaden with Aerie and her Japanese friends at school last week:

The kiddos in that community have a 45 minute bus ride to CIS. That’s nothing though. Some kids have an hour and a half bus ride from the southern parts of town. They board the bus at 6:15 in the morning! Long communities are quiet common in Bangalore. Aerie’s dad works for Toyota (they are from Tokyo). His commute is 1 ½ hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.  That sounds perfectly awful to me.

After Kaden’s party, we had some time to kill before picking up Amma. So, I tried to discover the places in town that sell good meat. Many Indians are vegetarians. Finding good quality meat to purchase is hard to do. Most grocery stores hardly sell meat at all, except those that cater to ex-pats.  After some confusion with the driver who tried to take me to Bangalore Central Mall (no sir, this isn’t the ham store. It’s a shopping mall! Really! This isn’t where I want to go!), we found the Bangalore Ham Company–a little hole in the wall known for excellent pork products. I left with pork chops, a pork tenderloin, bacon, and ham slices. Can you tell I am missing meat?

A few shops down we also found a “gourmet” supermarket where we could buy goldfish crackers, Nutter Butter cookies, salami, and turkey lunchmeat. Hurray! You really can get most things in Bangalore. It’s just sometimes a treasure hunt to find them. Ex pats are constantly trading information on things like, “I found maple syrup today!” and “where can I find almond milk?”  The two items that I haven’t found yet are parmesan cheese (grated, although I did find ungrated) and apple sauce. I might need to send a message out to the ex-pat list serve regarding these two items. Todd will also be bringing plain Cheerios (we can only find sweetened), peanut butter granola bars (we can only find oats and honey), and more applesauce!

On the way to the gourmet store, we found a t-shirt shop in an alley where we got Kaden a new graphic tee for $1.  A fun find! Hopefully she will wear it! Despite the look on her face, she had a lot of fun shopping here.

Speaking of grocery stores, I was at the Food World on Friday to pick up light bulbs. The security guard took the light bulbs from my bag and went to an empty light socket at the front of the store where he tested each and every light bulb. Never seen that before! And it turned out one wasn’t working. Now if only he could have tested the size of the light bulb as compared to my lamps. I have plenty of working bulbs, but the wrong size socket! Back to square one!

We saw a cow with its horned decorated for the festival from last week, Sankranthi, when we picked up mom from her Buddhist Meditation class that she found in the city. It is taught once a week  by Tibetian Monks. She was so thrilled to find the Buddhists in Bangalore!

   Mom exiting her Buddhist gathering, with a cow next door.

The kids were THRILLED to have the chance to Skype with both Josh K and Lauren K tonight. Josh was Carson’s first Skype encounter. Kaden had Skyped with Lauren once before. Our connection wasn’t perfect but it really boosted our kids’ spirits to “see” and chat with their friends. Best times to Skype with Kaden and Carson are Saturday or Sunday morning U.S. East Coast time, until about 10:30 a.m., which is 9:00 p.m. here that same evening. Saturdays we could go a little later.  School mornings would be great for us, because 8 a.m. is about 6:30 in the evening here, but I know that can be a stressful time of the day for many families!

  

Best time to Skype with me is 10:30 pm, because I’m arriving at my office around that time (9 am). I have a much better internet connection at work than home, and a private, quiet space. Our only internet connection at home is right in the middle of the living room/dining room. Skyping is really easy, we promise! And free! We’d love to hear from more family and friends.

Then, this morning included two exciting firsts—a new dedicated driver for our family—with a nice mini-van permanently assigned to us. What a luxury and a stress reliever to not have to figure out transportation every day. AND, I found a power yoga class. An ex-pat mom hosts a class in her basement twice a week and invited me to join. Five women joined in the class and then we stayed for lattes afterward. They are a wealth of information, and are encouraging me to get my IPhone “unlocked” so that I can use it here. Tempting…

It was heaven to exercise again in a place other than the treadmill in the fitness room back at the villa. Granted it was no Kerry Bestwick class, but a good enough to keep myself in yoga shape until I return!  Yoga studios and gyms are few and far between in the Northern End of town. A fancy Gold’s Gym (sounds much more like a Bally’s given the classes they will be offering) is opening near here, but not until March. Looking forward to returning to this class Wednesday morning.