Our new home is roomy enough for us and some guests (!). It is steps from a park, and a short drive to the lils school and Willy’s work. I am sure that we will be happy here… It has a pretty standard/basic kitchen:
Sorry about the pictures, there was A LOT going on when we were going through the houses
As a fan of TLC and their real estate shows in particular, I have a whole new appreciation for what the people on the show go through on their really short house hunting tours. The premise of the show is that the people fly in to exotic locales (which have included Bangalore on occasion), spend a few days in the area, view many houses, and choose from three houses that may or may not meet their specifications.
This was my life this week! In a period of a day and a half this week, Willy and I went through twenty-seven houses, spread all over the Whitefield area of Bangalore. It was a whirlwind. We went to see reallllly nice houses, not so nice houses, houses that exceeded our budget, houses that were way under budget, some too big or small, and some that were perfect.
All during this process, I was frantically trying to take notes for me, notes for the relocation person (which they need for their files), and photograph the houses before they blurred into one gigantic house. From that list of twenty-seven, we pared it down to five. Some were really easy to eliminate, like the one that my only comment for was “ick”. Others were really hard, like the one that was stunning and huge, had a pool, but meant a thirty minute bus for the lils to get to school (I was sad to say no to that one).
Five houses were revisited this morning, and we quickly eliminated three and tried to decide between two very different houses in the same community. It was the community that really won us over here, one with parks, a pool, playgrounds and lots of children. The park space was the clincher, something missing in all other communities. It helps that the houses are both nice too.
We have but four hours to choose a house and are both torn. I hope that we make the right decision, but feel that we will be happy here regardless. I’ll post some pictures when we get home and know what house it will be.
This whole process has completely satisfied my need for real-estate porn. I am pretty sure that it will be a while before I need to watch any of those TLC shows, although I do note that it is available on cable here. I can’t believe that there are people (like our guide) who do this for a living! I’ll gladly take my one house with it’s just right number of beds and baths, or our soon to be house in Bangalore, and be happy to never have to look critically at another house again!
When we realized that we were moving to Bangalore, we started making lists of all of the things that we would need while we were here. We figured that transportation for Willy to get to the office and the lils to get to school was high on the list, given the relative proximity to one another and the limited public transit. I immediately started researching, and Willy started talking to his colleagues here.
The more digging we did, the more it became apparent that not only was a car a necessity to get pretty much every where, but that that car would need to have a driver too. Our first clue was in talking to the folks that are helping with the relocation. When we suggested that schools within a kilometre of so potential housing locations would be worth considering as we preferred to walk our children to school, there was a long pause. When she spoke again, it was simply to say “oh, you won’t be walking them to school, or anywhere.”
We brushed it off as her being overly cautious, and kept making plans. We started to prepare for our trip, and Willy talked to local colleagues about it. They had much advice, a good deal of it around road safety. ”Just make sure you are very careful in crossing the road on foot. Do expect challenges in road crossing and do not expect any rules or cars stopping for you on road. Barring road crossing city is quite safe…”, said one note. ”To be honest I do not think you should even attempt to drive… Expect all rule breaks as there are actually no rules here,” cautioned another. I couldn’t believe it was that bad. Then a friend sent us this link, which claims that Bangalore is among top cities with the most horrific traffic in the world.
It really hit us when we got here. Willy had experienced some amount of the traffic when he was here two years ago, but it is seemingly worse. There are cars, scooters, motorcycles, city buses, construction vehicles, pedestrians, auto rickshaws, and bicycles coming at you from all directions. While driving, if you need to merge with traffic, you can wait, or just force the other cars into oncoming traffic. If you need to cut across, it is acceptable that there will be disruption to traffic in all directions. U-turns can be fast, or slow. The other cars will just avoid you, you hope. No one uses their signal lights, they use their horn or repeated flashes of their brights to signal their intent or tell you to get out of the way. Lastly, there are stray animals and livestock everywhere on the roads, even the “faster” roads coming in to the city centre. They don’t move or seem bothered by the cars and noise, so the cars are expected to avoid them.
The scariest part for me is the complete disregard for what we have come to recognize as personal safety rules. Very few of the cars have seat belts in the back, there are no car seats, most drivers of the ‘cycles don’t wear helmets or wear helmets that are undone or won’t protect you in a crash, talking on cell phones is outlawed so many drivers are texting as they drive, the aforementioned livestock roaming free on many higher speed roads, and there is seemingly no limit on the number of people that you can cram on/in a vehicle. Today I saw four on a motorcycle! Two adults and two small children, three of them sitting sideways, zipping through traffic.
There were countless times that I closed my eyes and thought I was going to die over the last few days. I am told that accidents just do not happen,and that I will get over that, but I am certain that it will take longer than a year. It will be pretty hard to drive with my eyes closed, so maybe it’s just best if we get that recommended driver while we are here.
After a long wait, and much teeth gnashing and hair greying, Willy and I finally started our journey to Bangalore on Friday. The visas came in on wednesday, and this made for a wee bit more scrambling to the week, we were glad for the forward progress. We even got to start a day earlier than anticipated!
At first I did not realize how this trip was very much a dry run for us, but the very process of getting there brought this point home for us. Some discoveries were pleasant surprises, like the number of services that are offered on long haul international flights. Services that are a far distant memory in North American travel. Food. Free booze. Pillows. Blankets. Real cutlery. Services that made us feel downright spoiled in comparison to the closer to home travel that we have done recently. All in all I learned some valuable lessons, that will serve us well on our return trip with the lils in a few short weeks, and noted that I made some pretty rookie mistakes. Some lessons learned…
My first mistake was to fail on charging my iPad during the first flight. Always charge your devices while you can. If not, you are sure to find your self in an airport where North American style plugs are rare or taken, your converter is in a checked bag, and then *gasp*, you find your self on a plane that doesn’t have plugs at every seat. Or any seat.
I also didn’t bring enough to entertain me. Nine hours is a long time for anyone to be stuck in one place, let alone one with slight attention deficit tendencies. It doesn’t matter how many movies there are playing in the seat back tv if you end up on a plane without them. I might have asked “are we there yet?” about 1568 times.
Curse USB and their 80 million options. Make sure that the damn e-books get on your reader before you leave the house, or at least bring the correct cable. Because the one that is the right shape, but apparently a smidge undersized? Will not let you download no matter how you wiggle it. Plan B is to install on my iPad and read there, but I really, really like my reader, and would have liked to read on the plane. The next one has wi-fi.
Order the vegetarian meal, or any special meal, actually. If you are lucky it will have paneer in it, and it will come much faster than every one else’s. Except maybe those in first class. They pretty much eat what ever and when ever they want.
If your butter is too firm, place it under the hot meal tray to soften it up. Don’t leave it too long though, or you end up with a puddle of clarified butter all over your tray, right Willy?
Row 53 is not the last row in the plane. There are in fact three rows behind it!
Be a better plane sleeper, use drugs if you must. Otherwise you will get stuck between much better plane sleepers on an older plane. Watching soccer on a small screen at the front of your section. Sleeping approximately 2hours over the course of two long days of flying will make you delirious. The bed, when you reach it, is heaven. I slept 10 and a half hours!
Today was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, with a little bit of humidity to make it feel like summer is still kicking around, despite the leaves falling from the trees. To celebrate this great day, I packed the lils up and headed to one of our favourite spots – Mud Lake. They love to look for ducks, frogs, herons, turtles, geese… pretty much any living creature. I love to escape the city while right in the city.
We had barely arrived this morning when we all noticed that there was a lot of trash on the ground. It wasn’t just at the lookouts, it covered the trail. This started right at the beginning of the path, within feet of the garbage pail that was there. There were wrappers, cans, kleenex, bags, newspapers… You name it, someone had dropped it.
This irked me. Although I hate littering, I expect it more in the downtown or more popular areas. This was nature! How had so many people decided that it was ok to just dump whatever they didn’t want to carry? When they went out of their way to get to this great spot. I was mad because I was making an effort, carrying everything that we produced, including the 47,000 kleenex that I used (thanks allergies) while there, and they weren’t. What gave them the right?
The hardest part was that the lils noticed. “Mommy, why is there so much garbage? Why do people litter?” I really wanted to tell them that it was because people were assholes, but I refrained. Instead, I talked about how some might have been dropped accidentally, but mostly it was because people were lazy or uncaring. They didn’t like it, and neither do I, but it was true.
We had a great visit to Mud Lake, but I didn’t like that their explorations were clouded by so much junk on the ground and floating in the water. It’s never been like that there before, and I hope to never see it like that again.
The best part of our day, my proud mama moment, was when they both started to pick up trash without being asked. We have always tried to leave each place that we visit a little bit cleaner than we arrived, and I was very proud of them both for recognizing that this place needed some love and starting to tidy. We weren’t the only ones either. The path was even tidier on our way out than we had left it!
I am sitting here, thinking about all the lils that are going to back to school tomorrow, and all of those that are going to school for the first time. I can’t help but feel a little bit sad. Although Woo is school aged, he won’t be going to his first day of school tomorrow. Goose isn’t quite old enough, but we know her first day of school will come after we return from India, and will happen after the official first day of school here. In the interim, they will be attending school in India, though that first day will come in the sometime future, somewhere far from here.
We don’t know what school that will be, but we do know that it won’t be the school in our community, the one that we have talked up for years, planned our school walking route for, and had acknowledged by the lils anytime we go near it. It won’t be the one with Woo’s best pal, who he has been planning to go to school with since they were old enough to know about school. Woo knows that he’ll be going to school in India, I’m just not sure that he realizes that means he will not be going tomorrow. When he sees all the other children going tomorrow, I am pretty sure this will sink in.
We know that this trip is going to bring such richness to our lives, but it’s times like this when I question our move to India, and the impact that it will have on the lils, and on the customs that we expect them to live through. Does it matter that they won’t have a traditional first day of school, either of them? Their first day will be just another day for all the other lils in their classes. It will likely be lost in the new home, new country, new everything that will be going on in their lives. Will it matter to them? Or just to me?