Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My sad tummy :(

 I totally want to do a post about the magic of my bowels right now, but since most won't appreciate it, I will spare you. :) But, you should know, that if you ever spend any significant time in India, you will become obsessed with what is happening there. :) 

Monday, March 28, 2011

I heart riding Indian trains.

 I finally got out of the house!! Went to Ahmedabad to visit an American girl who has been living here since January. I found her on the Expat Blog website a few months ago and we became chatty, chatty FB friends.
 On Saturday morning, Husband took me to the train station and helped me find my car. I had to kick someone out of my seat and I was one of two women in the whole car. The staring is still a little hard to deal with. The journey was about 4 hours, and I just read the whole time. I didn't have a window seat and when I did look out the window, the person sitting next to it would turn and stare at me. So strange. In the US, we would just ignore each other.
 I thought it would be easy for two pasty white girls to connect right away, but the mass of people at the Ahmedabad train station made finding each other a bit difficult. We called each other but the loud speakers announcing trains made it impossible to hear. We finally resorted to texting, and found each other near the entrance.
 Then came the inevitable crush of autorickshaw drivers asking us if we wanted a ride and quoting exorbitant amounts as we are obviously tourists. Ha! C had just taken an auto to get there so she knew how much it should be. After a lot of haggling, we were on our way.
 We went straight to her place to drop off my bag, and then headed out to find a bookstore. Yep, thats right, all I wanted from the trip was some new books. :)
 It was fun trying to fill each other in on the stories that brought us to India, and the things we find silly , difficult and outrageous about it here. Our conversation was all over the place, jumping back and forth between many things. It was so nice to be understood, and find some sympathy for the cultural things we are both dealing with.
 After we bought books and Hindi movies (with English subtitles!), we just went back to her place and laid around reading and watching Hindi MTV. My favorite kind of day.
 We ordered food to be delivered, had some beers, and visited with two of her friends that stopped by.
 The next morning was a lazy one , and the afternoon found us visiting a mall, where we were the only white people and the source of amusement for the young Indian boys who hang out there. Especially after we found a Scary House and came out of it screaming with delight. I wont tell you where we had lunch, it is too embarrassing to mention, but sometimes the familiar in an unfamiliar place just draws you in. ;)
 A little more of hanging out at her place and then it was time for me to catch my train. Her friends came to give us a ride and help me find my car, which is always appreciated. They left me safely in my window seat and I settled in.
 Window seat!
 I love the window. Watching the countryside fly by, feeling the wind and dust on my face, having a front row seat to the action at the stations. It is perfect for daydreaming. The older man sitting next to me took me under his wing, buying me peanuts, asking me questions, and telling me when my stop was the next one. There was a couple with a toddler sitting across from us and it was fun making faces at her, smiling at the parents. Smiling is my main form of communication here, and I am getting more comfortable using it. :) I am also getting more comfortable traveling in India by myself, and can't wait for the day when I can just spend a few months just wandering this beautiful country, speaking Hindi, and making friends of all ages. I think that I married him just to be married to India. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A little slice of Indian life..

A few things happen here that dont happen in my life in the US...
Every morning, two ladies come in, one to wash the previous nights dishes, and do the laundry (both of which involves taking the dishes and laundry outside and scrubbing them in this little area where there is a faucet), and one sweeps the floors, and then mops them with a rag and bucket. In the afternoon, one comes back to wash the breakfast and lunch dishes.

Every day a dude on a motorcycle comes with these containers tied onto his bike, filled with milk. The ladies either bring a container that he ladles milk into, or they can just buy a plastic bag already filled with milk.
And, once a week, a guy on a bike collects the clothes to be ironed and brings them back the following week, pressed into pristine flatness.
The banana guy comes by with the fruit piled high on a cart, calling out, and various other people come down the lane as well. No wonder Indian women never leave the house. They don't have to!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holi! :) And homesick :(

 Yesterday was Holi. I woke up late, but had been aware of the laughter and screaming neighborhood all morning. I guess kids get up early for the fun. I was out on the balcony taking pictures, when the neighbors all gathered around telling me to come down and play. So I did.
What a fun holiday! Everyone smeared color on me while saying "Happy Holi!". I smeared them as well. All of these people that I have just been smiling at, I finally got to interact with. Since I am a foreigner, everyone wanted to touch me, and they all laughed when I would do something outrageous like put powder in this kid's buttcrack as he was bending over to do something, or chase the kids around the block, or smack the cute boys and leave a colored hand print on them somewhere, or draw a colored heart on my husbands shirt. Sometimes it is fun seeing what I can get away with.

 I had a blast. It is wonderful to see young and old alike, playing together and having a good time.

 After a morning of excitement, I took a nap, then woke up homesick. The rest of the night I was in a cruddy mood. Sometimes it gets hard to not have my personal space, or independence, and it gets wearisome not being able to understand the language that is constantly going on around you. I feel as if I am in a bubble of incomprehension, and have to be told what to do, because I don't hear the plans as they are being discussed. The simple things I want, like the newspaper or a magazine, or even toilet paper, I have to ask for, sometimes even more than once. It is hard for an independent girl like me to be reliant on others. Husband is very patient with me and I am grateful. He even took me out for ice cream for dinner, so how could I stay sad? ;)
 But today is a new day. I got to chat on FB with my buddy Red, back on my island, and I am listening to my music on my laptop, and am making plans to visit my American friend in Ahmedabad this next weekend. So I feel good this morning, and am loving India again. It is amazing how this place can frustrate and charm at the same time! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bored Housewife..

 I am not someone who stays home all day. When I have a day off of work, still I am going to yoga, going to the beach, library, Coolers, B&N, out riding my bike. I never stay home all day.
 But this is what we do here. We have a daily routine that never changes. I am a very bad housewife! I am restless and dying a little inside! :)
 It is not easy to just jump in the kitchen and learn to cook. Like I've said, I don't cook at home, so it is not any easier being in a foreign country, and I hate being in the kitchen. My MIL doesn't speak English, so I cant ask questions or have her explain things.
 So, I have been avoiding the kitchen. I do a lot of reading, alternating between Husband's room upstairs (nice and quiet), and the main room downstairs (lots of people and animals out and about, and loud Hindi television). I write, I get on the internet, and when my niece is home, play cards and answer endless questions.
 The other night I begged Husband to take me on a motorbike ride, and last night he took me for a walk down to the train station. (Good Indian wives don't go roaming on their own.)
Luckily, I have an American friend in a city 3 hours north of here, and I have warned her that I will be coming up to visit soon, and maybe a lot more, maybe every weekend!
My favorite time of day is right before sunset, when everyone is up from their siestas and the neighborhood kids are playing out front. They play cricket a lot, and hide and seek. Some ride little bikes, and some just wander by to stare at the white girl. Their bright white smiles kill me! The niece, SIL, and MIL, have been sitting out there with me, and that makes the neighborhood ladies wander by to chat and let us coo at their babies. Ohmylord, I have never been so frickin feminine in my life.
 I might go crazy. ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two Firsts!

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

my first roti (need to work on the shape, of course) :)
 I have successfully completed two things here that I wanted to do. Make rotis, and travel by myself. Well, technically, I barely traveled by myself but it is a good start!
Husband took me to the train station and put me on a train to Jodhpur, where I was going to meet a friend that has been traversing India for 7 weeks. It was the AC car, so It was pretty uneventful. I just read and slept, and in the morning, got off at Jodhpur where my friend was waiting. :)
 Hey, don't judge! India used to scare me!
 I was just there for 2 days. We walked around and had lunch, catching up on each others lives. It certainly was different though, as with my husband, I didn't get bothered very much by beggars and touts, but with her, we got harassed all the time! It was fun though. I am trying to grow some balls. I need 'em to be a good Indian wife! Someday I will be able to yell at the harassers in Hindi. Ooooh how exciting that day will be!
 The second day we were sick (must've been something we ate), and spent the whole day moaning in bed. Around 3 we were able to rally so we could see the Fort. I was feeling a bit better than she, so I hailed a rickshaw and bargained him down. (That is another first! Yay for me!)
 The Mehrangarh Fort was beautiful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehrangarh_Fort  We got headphones for the audio tour which took almost two hours. By then, we were both ill again, so we went back to the hotel and lazed around. (Actually my idea of a perfect sightseeing day- one adventure, and lots of lazing.)
 But the train ride home was the best! She got us tickets in the sleeper car and it was an adventure. No AC, so the windows were open which was awesome. The wind, the sights, and being able to buy food, drinks, ice cream and even magazines from the vendors right through the window! At one point, she jumped out to get samosas and just passed them to me through the window. And ordering ice cream for the lady sitting across from us was interesting too, as I don't speak Hindi and she and the vendor didn't speak English. Oh and the cockroaches everywhere, and the searing afternoon heat made it all the more enjoyable. :) (Husband says that an Indian wife would ride the sleeper car, no more AC! I told him, I am a spoiled american and I dont want to share my ride with cockroaches, so he can be in sleeper and I will be in AC!)
 Ah India.
 Husband, niece, and nephew met us at my station. They brought chocolates for my friend who was continuing on to Pune.
Then today I made rotis! Feeling pretty proud of myself, as I reach the end of my first week here. Lots more fun to come. ;)

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Well, no cooking yet as I am adjusting to the travel and the jet lag and today I had a headache all day. :(
 But it is so good to be back. India is indescribable. I am just soaking it all up and remembering. The staring hasn't bothered me as much.
 I got into Mumbai at 3am. My dear husband and his cousin met me. Husband has grown his hair out since I left and it is all curly and makes him even cuter. Ok that will be all of the mushy stuff!
 We went to the cousins and went to sleep, and when I got up there were a niece and nephew there that wanted to meet the foreigner. We hung out for a few hours visiting and having lunch, before the whole family piled in the car to take us to the train station.
 The train ride to Gujarat was about 6 hours, and we had fun just catching up, teasing each other, and just being silly as we knew everyone around us were eavesdropping. Indians are not ashamed to be caught listening to your conversations and one dude even answered a question I asked my husband! So funny.
 The next day, the neighborhood kids all wanted to meet me, as my niece had been telling them about their new auntie from the US. Most of the kids know "Hi, How are you?". I am desperate to learn Hindi so I can chat with them.
 One of the girls invited me to her house. She is 20, the eldest of 5. We sat in the living room (4 siblings and the mom) and we asked each other questions with my niece translating. The 20 year old's name is Dilkush which translates to 'happy heart'. Love it! When we ran out of questions and were just staring at each other, I took my leave.
 Tonight Husband is putting me on an overnight train to Jodhpur where I will meet up with a friend from my island who has been traveling India for a while. It will be nice to hear of her adventures and be with another American in this crazy country. It will be a different experience without Husband to keep away all the beggars and touts. I will have to grow some balls. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


While sitting in the Seoul airport waiting for my flight to Mumbai, I saw an article on About.com India, of the Holi festival. This year it is March 20th, which means I will get to experience it! How exciting. It is so cool to experience what you have previously only read about.
Sweet! Now how can I take pics without my camera getting ruined...? :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Visa

The reason I flew to San Francisco was to renew my Indian visa. When I decided to go back to India, I didn't think there would be enough time to do it by mail, and it costs a lot to have things Fed-Exed to and from my island. My roomie (N.) just recently moved back to SF, and the flights to India are cheaper from the mainland than from the island, so I booked a flight to India from SF, and flew over a week earlier, to get the visa and see N.
It is pretty easy to do the drop off thing. You make an appointment online as you are filling out the application, and they check that you do have one before they let you in. You had to have all your documents and either a money order or exact cash in a plastic bag or a manila envelope. (You are not allowed to bring anything into the office except that.) They confirm that you have all paperwork, take your money and give you a receipt to bring back at the end of the day.
 I spent the day playing tourist (riding the cable car, browsing City Lights bookstore, people-watching), and at 5.30, went back to the visa place. The courier brings everything back from the Indian embassy at 5.30, and once they get it all organized, they take your receipt and give you the passport with the visa in it. There was a long line of people waiting and a few were disappointed as their passports didn't come back, and they will have to come back Monday at 5.30. My flight is Tuesday so I was a tad worried. What a relief to have it in my hands!