Category Archives: neighborhood

Cricket, soccer and Bollywood dancing!

Standard

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.

  

Advertisements

Looking out the window

Standard

Some images that we passed as we headed into town on Saturday:

Scenes from our local village. This is one of my new fave photos. The water jugs in the back of the photo are carried often quite a distance for families to have safe drinking water.

     Nursing goats!!

In India, Saturday is a working day. Only one Saturday a month is a public holiday, and school children attend school for a shorter day on Saturdays. Here are two sets of school children that we saw getting out of school at lunchtime on Saturday. I love how the girls always wear braids.

We often pass these marriage halls on the way into town. Weddings are HUGE affairs in India. These are two entrances to big outdoor wedding pavilions. We recently learned that BOTH Pap Pap and Dada have a history of sneaking into wedding receptions.  It is an easier task in an Indian wedding because there is no set sequence of events. People eat and visit at their leisure and at some point the ceremony occurs off to one side, but it is not expected that the full set of guests will watch the ceremony itself.

    

   

These elephants are at the intersection of many roads in North Bangalore. On the right, kudos to SIL Janet who observed that the women who ride the motorcycles side-saddle always sit toward the left. All we can figure is that because people drive on the left, by sitting toward the left, they are always facing in the direction of the sidewalk to exit the vehicle.

The buses of Bangalore are a common form of transportation. These blue buses are the local, non air-conditioned buses. Red buses are air-conditioned and offer express service to various points in town. I learned recently that the buses are gender segregated–women sit in the front and men in the back. Doing so protects women from harrasment

 We have noticed many snakes at the base of trees in town–not a custom in Calcutta, so my dad doesn’t have an explanation for it. I asked my driver and he said they are related to Ganesh, the god of home and remover of obstacles. Ganesh had a divine serpent called Shesha that he often had around his neck. Wikipedia gives some other answers. One  is the focus of snakes in Hindu religion.”Snakes seeking shelter from the rains in houses and stables indicated the beginning of the monsoons and thus of the fertile season and fertility in general, hence they were worshipped mainly by women. Their habit to live under the earth related them to the underworld ancestors who were accordingly venerated in the form of snakes… Votive steles with snake images are often erected below trees because people believe that the dwellings of the snakes are situated underneath the roots. The Naga (skt. naga – snake) is usually not the snake in general but the cobra, raised to the rank of a divine being,” says Wikipedia. Snakes hold particular significance for infertile women. Wikipedia says that the stone image is immersed in a pond to be impregnated by the power of the snakes in teh pond and then the woman walks around the Ashavatta tree and puts the snake stone under the tree in hopes of conceiving a child.

I find this to be one of the funniest signs in Bangalore.

   

New neighbors downstairs–no where near the spectacle of the pooja this weekend, but a small ceremony must have occurred.

Todd is here!

Standard

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?

Groceries and more

Standard

On the way back from some fieldwork I stopped at the Big Bazaar on the other side of town. I had been there with my mom before and even blogged about it previously as a part of our TV purchasing escapades. The Big Bazaar was absolute chaos. It felt like Black Friday. I don’t think these pictures reflect the insanity, and they don’t like photos in there. But if you look at this one photo below, I’m in the produce section. At just ONE table of vegetables I count at least 10 people elbowing in for onions, cucumbers, potatoes and the like. I counted at least 50 people in the produce section overall–at 1:00 on a Wednesday.  (By the way, did you know that green peppers are also called “Capsicum”?) For all of these weeks I was wondering what that was on menus here. Now I know!)

To add to the insanity, in India you must have all of your produced weighed before you proceed to the regular checkout counter. I can’t tell you how many times I have absent-mindedly thrown a few apples into my cart after the weighing is done and then get to the front of the store and realize that they won’t let me buy them because I forgot to get them officially weighed in the back.  Here is a line just for getting the produced weighed. It was ten people long. I stood there for quite a while, but then because I wasn’t flush up against the wall I apparently wasn’t in the line and had to get back behind this guy. That ENTIRE cart is filled with produce. Did he own a restaurant? Who can eat that many bok choy?

Srinivas, my new driver, always laughs at me when I head into a store and say I’ll just be 15 minutes. This 15 minute trip took an hour. Turns out when I got home, mom told me that Wednesday is bargain day at the Big Bazaar. And it made sense because the women were all in saris, which these days tends to be women with less income. And the motorcycle area of the parking lot was jammed packed but car area was empty. Lesson of the day: it is not worth the discounts to have to battle the crowds at the Big Bazaar. Now I know!

In quite the opposite shopping experience, I stopped into a boutique “gourmet” store on fancy MG Road downtown to stock up on Goldfish Crackers (they are like a food group for Kaden). I walked out of there spending over $100 US Dollars to get 10 bags of goldfish, 2 boxes of Cheerios, some trident gum, a packet of turkey lunchmeat, and a gourmet dark chocolate candy bar. Sometimes you miss things from home and will pay whatever.

The picture below is of our neighborhood grocery store–the Royal Market. We buy so much stuff there that they gave us a free desk clock.  This is the entire store, other than the egg and rice area. To get to a bigger store, I have to go to one of the fancy malls with the grocery store.

With a house of anywhere from 5-8 people, we eat a lot! Plus, Carson broke the water purifier, so we’ve had to buy bottle water all this week. Life without clean water really reminds you of the luxuries of life. Carson asked today, “When we go home, will we really be able to just drink water out of the tap again? That will be like a miracle!” The purifier was finally fixed last night–5 days after it broke. Getting it fixed involved me calling the property manager every day, who assured me that the man was on his way. Some days I even got a specific time. Finally, finally, he arrived. Phew. Water has returned! Here’s a photo of the water purifier system that  had posted previously.

Home life

Standard

The kids are making good friends in our community. Most of the residents aren’t planning on moving in until the school year ends in April. But a few kiddos are here. Below are Carson’s soccer buddies. Aryaman is to the right. He is just about the funniest kid ever. The other day Carson knocked on his door, “I cannot come out, because we are leaving in 20 minutes!” Then he hold up his hands looking baffled, “I do not know where we are going though ?!?”” His little voice just makes you laugh.

Mehir is on the right. He is much older–12 or 13 but great with the younger kids. He has a lot of fun playing soccer with everyone.

    

Kaden was thrilled to learn that two girls are moving in–Diya and Ita. They are aged 6 and 9 but much smaller than K as you can see! They will not be moving in until school lets out in April but they plan to be visiting the neighborhood once or twice a week as the parents keep tabs on how the construction is progressing. You can see from Kaden’s face how thrilled she was to find some girls!

Sunday night as quite an event in our community. The owners held a celebration for the opening of the place. They first had a homeowners meeting, but it turned into what felt like a wedding. The investors in the place received certificates and fancy crystal statues. Then a huge outdoor dinner was hosted, and even we were invited. Lots of yummy Indian cuisine, plus an Italian pasta bar and vanilla ice cream. There also was a full bar. Indians seem to prefer hard liquor to beer and wine, and this was the case here as well. Liquor was served but no wine and beer only begrudgingly. And fitting with my other experiences, even when you order a cocktail, it is almost entirely alcohol. Had to make sure they didn’t give me ice, though (could get sick that way)!

  

The kids in the neighborhood had fun bopping about the festivities.

   

And another item on the home front–Carson especially was obsessed with trying a fresh coconut. So we finally bought one and Ran showed how to open it with a hammer and a nail. I enjoyed the coconut water. The kids, as I expected, didn’t think fresh coconut was so great.  We see green coconuts all around here. Turns out the brown coconut can be found INSIDE the ripened green coconut.

   

Update on the kids and school!

Standard

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.

   

Slowing down the pace…..

Standard

Sitting in traffic on our holiday weekend to Mysore, I feel the need to whine a bit about how long things take. As someone who is used to multi-tasking and getting places quickly, it is weird to a lot large chunks of time to getting something done.

I wanted to use the gym at our development. On the way through the courtyard, I encounter Carson who has gotten bruised up in the local soccer game. Comfort him, send him upstairs. Then I run into Mr. Yadav, our head security guard. He had given me the electric bill an hour before. The electric bill had 10 different numbers on it and I had no idea which of these numbers was owed. Yadav says he will speak with the manager, Promod.

Now, to actually access the gym, I have to go to the front security desk. At this desk, I say I want to go to the gym and the security guard on duty shuffles between about 10 different little notebooks. The notebooks have covers that include crayons and Ben-10 (You just can’t make this stuff up!). When they find the gym notebook, I must sign in and then someone will walk over with me to open the gym. This process takes at least 10 minutes.

Today as I head to the security office, Yadav is standing next to it waiting for Promod the manager to get off the phone. He tells me to wait and we will talk to Promod together. We wait a long time for Promod to get off the phone, and Promod explains the bill, and tells Yadav that I should pay him and that he should then write me a receipt.

So then I follow Yadav to the security gate hoping to sign in for the gym. Instead he takes out the receipt book to settle the electric bill. It is clear we will not be finding the Gym crayon notebook until we finish the electric bill project. So, back to my house to get the cash (all bills are paid in cash here, even bills for thousands of dollars—kind of hard when my ATM only lets me withdraw the equivalent of $200 a day). So I pay Yadav and then he gets confused about the receipt, calls Promod back. We complete the receipt.

Then we fill out the gym book and he opens the gym for me. I turn on the lights (it’s dark by now), and get on the treadmill. As happens about 50% of the time, when I try to go above 9 km/hr, the treadmill trips the circuit and all the power goes out. Pitch black in the gym.

Back to the security desk, but Mr. Yadav has taken his break and no one else knows how to fix the problem. “He is coming,” they say. After 10 minutes I give up on the idea that he is coming and start running up and down the five steps at the entrance of the complex. I know they think I’m weird and at this point I don’t care. I am going to get a work out in even if I cause a crowd. I think start jogging back and forth along the corridor between the buildings. Just as I start, Mr. Yadav arrives, cheerful as ever. He truly is very helpful and always willing to go out of his way. For all I know he was done for the night but he came up to help me.

He ambles his way to the gym, sees the blackout and says he needs to go and find a chair to reach the circuit breaker. Now I see where the breaker is and I quickly move the weight bench to use as a chair. I help Mr. Yadav up on the bench and he flips the switch.

Finally, 45 minutes later, I can start my workout!

Some street scenes:

this family is gathering firewood for the day. they live in a shanty on the street here. A little girl about 9 or so was hustling back and forth to carry the wookd back to their house. The girl clearly wasn’t attending school.It still shocks me every time I see a kiddo like that.

      

  

Little one bicycling in the field behind our house.