Fresh start

One of the things that I knew I wanted to do here was start a new 365. For the most part, I enjoyed my first 365, and feel that I learned a lot from it. Logic was; we would be here, I was going to be taking pictures… so what better way to document all that we were going to see and do!? The thing is, I got here, and I could not take out my camera. Days went by with nary a photo shot.

This was a stressful move, and I know that has something to do with it. Who has time to take pretty pictures when they are trying to find food and furniture and their house and stop the lils from playing in traffic and worrying about all of the above and more. That wasn’t it. I wasn’t ready to go adventuring, and I had built this up in my mind as a way to capture our adventure. I didn’t envision a bunch of pictures of us hanging around the house while we wait for deliveries, or just starting to explore the places that are a really short walk from the house with lil legs, or playing in the back yard because I wasn’t comfortable enough to go much further with the lils. So I waited, and waited some more. Then I realized what an idiot I was and took out my camera. Everything that we are doing is part of this adventure.

I am changing things up this time; my 365, my rules. I aim to take pictures every day, and I’m going to try to be better about posting a picture every day, but they may not be taken on the day posted. All the shots will be taken in India, but there will be times that we are not in India, so I am going to use older pictures to fill those days. There will also be days where I get multiple shots I love, and days when I take crap. I’ll use the ones I love before the crap. Even if they aren’t great pictures, but tell a story. There will be many pictures of the lils, and of the flowers here. MANY.

Hope you enjoy, if you are into that. They will be posted to my flickr, and here is today’s shot, number six:
Laundry day




Poor planning

When we were looking to move here, one of the choices that we had to make was whether our house here would be furnished or not. We had pretty much made up our minds on furnished before we even came to look at houses, as we did not want to ship the contents of our house here for just one year. I can’t imagine the work that would take, the wait for shipping, and the potential customs headaches. No thanks.

We wavered a bit when we learned exactly what a fully furnished rental home included in Bangalore. It would appear that the minimum that needs to be provided is your appliances and curtain rods. This does not match my definition of fully furnished in any way. I wouldn’t expect the nicest of furnishings, but I expect something. We were lucky in the end, and found a place that had the basics: beds and a table to eat on, as well as some accent pieces and patio furniture. We decided that we were willing to live in a sparsely furnished house, and only but what we really needed.

I knew that we were pretty much setting up a house from scratch, and tried to plan accordingly. I made lists of all of the things that I thought we needed and either through stuff in the suitcase, packed for the shipment, or planned on buying here. I forgot some things and didn’t plan for others, but all in all I was pretty pleased with myself. Then we arrived, and I started noting some things that I likely should have put in the suitcase. Things that I have years supply of in the shipment that is not yet here. Like a bottle of contact lens solution that actually had liquid in it, at least one of my cookbooks for when I am stumped for dinner because I can’t find things in the various grocery stores, more than one ziploc bag, so I don’t have to keep reusing bread bags and other sacs that just aren’t up to the task, all of the sunscreen (it’s surprisingly hard to find here), and the toys. Why did we not include any actual toys in the stuff that we carried with us?! Plenty of markers and books, but no toys. I finally broke down and bought a couple, much to the lils delight.

Even with these little glitches, I still felt pretty good. Then we got an email that let us know that our shipment had left North America later than we thought it should would have. This meant that it definitely wasn’t going to arrive before Willy’s birthday, and his gifts were in it. we knew there was only a remote chance, but it still disappointed me to have nothing but homemade cards for him. Then came a second email, letting us know that we weren’t going to get our shipment on this past Friday, as they had failed to account for Diwali when scheduling our delivery. Diwali is a pretty big deal around here, and they forgot about it. This pushed our delivery to next Wednesday (and we all assume that they are taking the state holiday on Tuesday into account). Wednesday is two days after Hallowe’en. The lils costumes are in the shipment.

We broke it to them at dinner tonight, when they were talking about how we were going to celebrate Hallowe’en in a place that doesn’t really celebrate Hallowe’en. Woo was crushed and upset, which upset Goose. He couldn’t figure out how this happened. I know it isn’t a big deal, and we can do other costumes, but these are the ones they LOVE, that they play with all the time at home. We talked them through it, and made plans for a little trick-or-treating when the stuff does get here, and they were OK with it. I still feel that I should have known better.



My first Diwali

I have to admit that I had very little knowledge or insight into Diwali or what it means to Hindus, or the Indian population in general, before I moved to India. Yes, I was aware of Diwali, but I really had no idea. In a country that is known for it’s festivals, this is the big one.

From what I have read, inferred, and heard from people, Diwali is loosely translated into “row of lights or lamps”, and thus the festival is also called the festival of lights. It is predominantly a Hindu festival, but also celebrated by other faiths. The date of Diwali is governed by the lunar calendar, and it falls on the new moon that occurs between mid-October and mid-November. This year, Diwali fell on October 26th. From what I can tell, it is pretty much celebrated by most Indians, in some way. Depending on who you talk to, the celebrations last one, three, or five days. From where I sit, they last longer than that! This is the seventh day of some form on celebration in my community.

During this time of celebration, it is not uncommon to see buildings, cars, and people’s homes decorated, much like you see for Christmas in Canada, including similar exteriour lights.

Garlands of flowers are the most common decor that I have seen, but people also us palm fronds and other leaves, and diyas (small clay lamps) to decorate their homes.

I have also seem some Rangoli, which is a decoration made of coloured powder on the sidewalk, street, or courtyard of a home.

You can’t help but get swept away in the celebration. In general, the people that we have met have been very friendly. During Diwali that friendliness grows exponentially, and the joy bursts out. They want to talk to you, share with you, have you embrace their celebration. We have had several pleasant conversations with neighbours that we might have otherwise walked by, had it not been Diwali.

There are three things that stand out for me from this Diwali. The first is that you really need to research your choices when deciding to celebrate with an Indian wine. I had heard that Indian wines could be pretty hit and miss, and the one we chose was a MISS. We happily switched to Kingfisher, and all was well.

Second, I completely underestimated how much fireworks are a part of this celebration. They were at night for the first few nights, but have been building steadily. Yesterday was complete pandemonium! I woke to crackers going off at 6:30 am, and they went steadily until almost 11:00PM. The hours between 7:00PM and 11:00PM were the craziest, with people setting them off willy-nilly. We went for a walk around the park and watched several narrowly missed homes (including our own!) and several nearby trees take direct hits. Today started much like yesterday, but was slightly less intense.

this is the in the middle of the main road in our community

Lastly, we were the star attraction for some at Diwali. We ran some errands at the local mall yesterday and were literally swarmed by a large group of people as we were leaving. They wanted to touch us, hold the children, take their pictures with us, and generally marvel in our pale blondeness. It was the craziest thing that has happened to me in a long time! Perhaps ever, and that says something. I tried to take a picture of the mob around Willy and Goose when they were spotted first, but I wasn’t fast enough. The four of us happily posed til the lils had had enough. The group excitedly dispersed, leaving us giggling in their wake. One of them explained to Willy that many of the group, both old and young, were from a remote area and had never seen a caucasion before. What ever the reason, they were very excited to see us!

Happy Diwali!



Wordless Wednesday – Bedtime Stories

Bedtime stories



A little bit of help at home

I have never seen myself as the type of person who would have a staff, especially a domestic staff. To a large degree, it is because I am one of those type A types in many respects. I have a certain way of doing things, and need them to be done to my standards or I just do them myself. I am a treat to live with, I assure you. Really, I do like to do things around the house, am terrible at delegating, and like to treat everyone as my equal. I am uncomfortable with asking someone to clean my laundry, wash my toilets, or make my dinner. Unless that someone is Willy.

The planning for our move was quite condensed, so Willy and I never really discussed whether or not we would have any help around the house until we got here on our planning trip. It quickly became clear that it was expected. Every home we toured had a servant’s room and everyone we talked to, including friends, colleagues, and the relocation experts, told us that it was essential to the local economy. We would be doing a disservice if we didn’t hire. I had a hard time with this reasoning and we decided we would see what the story was when we arrived.

We were told that we would not have to look for staff, that domestic employees would just start showing up at our door. They did, essentially from the moment we moved in. The landlord had not even finished handing over our keys when a maid who had worked in this house in the past was knocking to let us know that her services were available. I went to a meeting tea held by a local ex-pats group, and there was a registry, consisting of many binders filled with details on local women and men who were looking for work as drivers, nannies, cooks, and maids. People didn’t ask if we wanted to hire a maid, they asked who we had hired or where they came from. It seemed that there were people who were truly looking for work, a way to support themselves and their families.

We now have three people working for us. Our driver, who I feel is a necessity. There is no way that I would be able to bring myself to drive here. I could get used to the right-side drive, to driving a stick shift, but I am afraid of driving in this traffic, and trying to find my way around this city where no streets are marked. We also hired the maid who came to our home on our first day. She is a very sweet person, who, in two days, has our house much cleaner than any home I have ever cleaned. Lastly we have a cook, who starts on Thursday. As much as I love to cook, I can’t wait to watch and learn from her. I’d be lying if I said that I won’t enjoy having a clean house and deliscious meal prepared for me.

So we have a “staff”. While I still feel that we don’t NEED to have a maid and a cook in our employ, we are going to do our best to treat all of them with respect, try to make sure that they are happy, and enjoy the free time that they will give us to experience their city and country. I am still not certain that we are doing them a service by hiring them, but I’ve got time to sort out how I feel about that.



Is that a gecko I spy?

There have been more than a few surprises since we moved to India. Some of them have been most pleasant and well received, others have not. If you had asked me a month ago how I would feel about having at least one gecko move in to our new house with us, I assure you THAT surprise would have fallen under not well received. That isn’t how it unfolded…

The climate in Bangalore is pretty much perfect. Hot, but not humid, and sunny every day. We don’t often run the air conditioners in the bedrooms, but I’ve gotten in the habit of running up in the late afternoon to make sure that the rooms aren’t too warm for the lils to sleep in. I was doing this last Monday when I was distracted by something moving on the wall near Goose’s closet. It was a little brown gecko with black eyes! We both stopped and considered each other for a minute. I didn’t freak out, but decided that I needed to get her out of the house, so I looked down to find a bucket or something to put her in. When I looked up, she was GONE.

I looked all around, but could find no trace of her. The windows were shut, so her only real out was the wall mounted air conditioner. Right around this time the lils came home. In a split second, I decided not to say anything, as I wasn’t sure how they would react. She was in Goose’s room, and ants freak her out some days. In truth, I forgot all about her until bedtime, when I returned to Goose’s room, and there, on the same wall, was a gecko. It looked smaller this time, so I called Willy over and let him see. We agreed that this was best between us.

Later that night I learned much about geckos, most of it from my friends on Twitter and Facebook. I was surprised to learn how many people I knew are experienced in geckos. Apparently once they move in, they are hard to get out, they poop all over the place, cats barf them up after they eat them, and they eat all sorts of bugs, including mosquitoes and cockroaches (neither of which I want in my house). This was enough to convince me that maybe a gecko or two wasn’t a bad thing. I also received some practical tips on how one goes about catching and dispatching a gecko, and learned that the chuck-chuck-chuck sound that I hear night and day is made by geckos!

The next day, I saw her again, and again wasn’t sure if this was the same gecko or another. Regardless of how many, the lils hadn’t seen them, so we were still good. I started to see the same one lurking in the shadows when I was putting Goose down for nap, and was convinced that we only had one tenant. She seemed to enjoy watching us, unseen unless you knew where to look.


The next morning I crept into Goosie’s room for a cuddle. She was already awake, and peering at the wall in the just dawn light. “Momma,” she said, “there’s something on my wall. Do you think it’s a gecko?? It is a GECKO!!” much excitement ensued, causing the gecko to shuffle off to the air conditioner. Goose took particular delight in the fact that she could see her tail sticking out.


The next several days were spent with both lils making frequent checks for the gecko. They were delighted when she was there, and several times expressed pleasure that she was watching over them. They decided one day that she needed a name. Goose was quick to suggest that she be named N, after our super-awesome daycare provider at home. This was high praise for the lil gecko, as N is very loved, and very much missed by all of us. The lils now went looking for N. I think it was a comfort to both of them. I hope that gecko knew it had big shoes to fill!

Then two nights ago the lils noticed that N had ventured downstairs, and was hanging out near the entry way. We were excited to see her out, and left her be as we went out for a walk. When we returned, she was even closer to the front door. Thinking that she might just want out, we decided that it was time to try and evict her. We warned the lils that she might not come back, but that it was better off for her outside. They were surprisingly OK with it. After several failed attempts to get her in a container, we opened the door and guided her out. She was gone.


There has been no reappearance of N in the house, but the lils keep looking. They aren’t sad, they just like to see her. Tonight they got their wish, as N and a smaller gecko were hanging out on our back patio. The lils were very excited to see that N came back, and decided that the second gecko must be one of her children, they just couldn’t agree on which one. I’m glad that N is here with us in India. I just hope that she doesn’t mind that she’s been projected into a gecko!!




Lesson learned: Plan B

I was never a guide, a brownie, a scout or any of those things. Though I am not spontaneous (well, other than this whole moving to India thing) and like to have a loose plan a well thought out, multi-nested listie plan, I rarely consider what to do if my plans fall through. This is because I generally take the safe road, the one that is most likely to result in a successful outcome – even if I am taking risks for me.

We’ve been in our house in India for one week, and it is now clear that we always need to have a back up plan. Always. Because if we don’t, guaranteed that the water filter will break, leaving us without drinking water for four days; the kitchen’s on-demand hot water heater will die, making it hard to wash dishes; the gas stove will take over 40 minutes to boil a pot of water at a time when the lils are most starving; the power will fail as I set out to cook dinner, rendering the brand new induction cooktop we bought useless, AND the starters for the gas stove equally useless; that the internet will go out on the day that Willy left his mobile at home and me no way of reaching him, or figuring out how to dial a number anyway; and that our bank cards won’t work in the first bunch of ATMs we try them in, making it hard to buy food when the credit cards don’t work at the grocery store.

We now have about a week’s worth of bottled water stashed away, plenty of food options that are ready to eat (more difficult here, especially since we can’t eat any raw fruit or veg), are working on a mobile for me AND back-up internet access, and may just have rupees stashed here, there and everywhere.

It’s been a crazy week.



Wordless Wednesday – First day of school!

I got your back

Big Boy!

Big Girl!

In this together!

Monkey faces!



Be careful what you wish for

We weren’t quite sure what to expect from the lils as we embarked on our trip to India, but I secretly felt that it would go one of two ways. They were either going to be travelling superstars, or we were going to be asked to leave one of the planes. I am so happy that they were the former, at least for the flights and airport time when I wasn’t sleeping alone in business class.

They got to charm most people in the lounge in Ottawa, as they excitedly watched planes land and take off. They did the same in the restaurant in Frankfurt, all the while discovering that German children apparently get their milk served warm (this did not go over well). We were doing well in the gate, where there were once again planes to watch, and people to make smile. By the time we got on the plane, they were pretty tired, so Woo flaked out in front of the seat back TV and Goose slept for about two hours.

When Goosie woke up she was cranky, and more than a little stubborn about how she saw things going. Unfortunately, she chose to express her displeasure by thrashing about, and ended up kicking the seat in front of her repeatedly. As soon as we saw this was happening, we tried to stop her from kicking. Simply asking her to stop and explaining that it was bothersome to the person in front did not work, as she saw the seat back as hers. I was reaching forward and holding her legs while trying to explain that the seat was not hers, when the woman in the affected seat leaned between the seats and said “Can you make her stop kicking my seat? It is bothering me.”

While I agree that it is a pain in the ass to have anyone kick your seat, Goose had barely awakened, I was clearly aware of the situation, and trying to nip it in the bud. Rather than point this all out, I apologized to the woman and let her know that I was doing my best to have it cease. Her reply to my apology shocked me. “Well if she doesn’t stop”, she said, “I will make you sit here, and take your seat.”

Not only was this an over reaction to the actual kicking that had occurred, the plane had numerous empty seats, including the one directly in front of her. Rather than point this out to her, or tell her what I really thought of her attitude, I chose to attack the flaw in her thinking. “That puts you beside the two year old for the rest of the flight, are you sure you really want that?” I said. It was the last I heard from her.



What goes around…

For my thirtieth birthday, Willy gifted me with a trip to Italy. It was a completely unexpected and over the top gift, so I thanked him profusely and started booking! we had a fabulous time on our two week trip, where we spent a few days in each of Rome, Florence, and Venice. I knew before we left that I wanted to go back one day, and hope that we can get back there soon.

In all it’s awesomeness, the trip also gave me one of my favourite tales to tell. At the end of the trip Willy and I arrived at the airport, checked in and waited around for far too long. When we were finally ready to board, we walked to the gate and handed in our boarding cards. The gate agents noted that we were together, and this was causing some distress on their end. We tried not to get worried, and through a disjointed conversation that was part Italian, part English, and part who knows what, we were able to figure out what was going on. They had upgraded Willy. Only Willy.

I encouraged him to take the upgrade, even though it meant that he was going to be pampered in business class while I was still in cattle class. On my birthday trip.

The real reason I was so adamant that he take the seat was that he has a history of extreme sinus pain while flying, and I knew that the ability to stretch out and be comfortable would help immensely if he found himself in pain. What I didn’t know is that he would jump on that offer from me, and never look back. Not even to come and check on me. I also didn’t know that I would be stuck in the way back section of the plane, in the middle of a section of five seats. THIS part gave me a great story to tell about how he ditched me on my birthday trip.

I can no longer tell this story. I have a much better one to tell now, one where my husband is again upgraded on a flight that we are taking together, but this time he hands the boarding pass to me, despite the fact that we are embarking on a long journey to India, with our two year old and four year old in tow. I took that boarding pass, and barely looked back (although I did check on them several times).

Business class was very nice, especially the seats that recline fully to a bed. I loved that I was served my meal in courses, that the wines I was presented with were matched to my meal, and that I was made to feel special. I also loved the fact that I was alone, even though I did miss the lils and Willy. It gave me time to rest, to mentally prepare for the next leg of our journey, to feel a little guilty, but mostly to reflect on how awesome Willy is. Who does that? Volunteers to sit by themselves with the lils on a very long flight, deal with their craziness and never once complain? When I expressed my gratitude to him, Willy’s only response was “You do the time when I travel and earn the points, so you should share in the reward”. He’s pretty awesome, that husband of mine.


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