Security Theater

Pretty much the moment we arrived in Bangalore on our look see trip, I noted the number of guards there were in the airport. It was one of those fuzzy, long day of travel observations, and I didn’t attach much significance to it. Then we arrived at the hotel and they had a gate, guards, a metal detector, and an x-ray scanner for all our bags. The next day we explored some more, and saw many more guards an scanners. During the day when driving in to the hotel and many other businesses, the guards had a mirror that they would use to look under the car and open the trunk to look inside. the trend has continued since we moved here, with us living in a gated and guarded community and many of the stores in the area having guards and scanners at both entrances.

It has done nothing to make me feel more secure, as it took me very little time to see that it is security theater, or something that gives the appearance of increased security, without actually improving security. I have no idea what threat I am being protected from most of the time. The building guards are often jacks of all trades, who perform other tasks in addition to their guarding. It is not uncommon to see them putting away carts or sweeping the floor while trying to screen those entering. When they are not distracted, they often let us pass because they are in awe of the cute lils, or they have seen us before and have deemed us safe. The same goes for the guards that check the cars. They don’t really inspect anything, and often don’t notice anything because they don’t look. I wonder why they bother,

The only person that I know that the securty theater has had an effect on is Woo. Clearly, if there are bars on the windows, guards at home, guards at the stores and businesses, and guards at school, there must be a threat. Woo has ascertained that the threat is robbers, and now asks all the time about robbers, why they steal, what happens if they break in, what would they take, what would we do… the questions are endless. It is clearly weighing on him, even if it is not really scaring him, yet. I am not sure that this is the desired outcome of the increased security presence. It certainly isn’t for me.

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Outer Shell

When buying eggs, I always open the carton and inspect. Each egg gets a once over, and I reject any dozen that has eggs showing cracks. Secure in the integrity of my eggs, I go home and never think about their integrity again. That is until today, when I set the eggs that I was using in some baking on the counter. They were bathed in sunlight, at just the right angle. The light revealed what was beneath the shell:
Outer Shell

Pits, weak spots and a crack that was not visible from the outside. I noted this, then cracked the egg on the side of the bowl, forever shattering the shell’s integrity. It made me think about my grocery store ritual and how it clearly doesn’t stop me from purchasing eggs with hidden cracks and other weak spots.

We all sport a shell of some sort, one that hides some of our soft spots. Sometimes we have to break that shell, and I know that it is time to break mine. This move has been many wonderful things for us as a family. While we are all happy to be here and enjoying India, it has also meant upheaval and adjustment. We have weathered that pretty well and I think that Willy, and to some extent, the lils, are settling in to a pretty comfortable existence. I’m not there yet. It really hit me when the lils went back to school at the start of last week.

We both knew that moving to India was going to be a big adjustment, that there would be some issues with isolation and loneliness. I thought that I would be OK, and would stay connected with family and friends through talking online and via skype. Unfortunately this has heightened my isolation in some ways. Being in touch doesn’t always bring you closer. Right now, it shows what me what I am missing out on, as it happens. It keeps me at the periphery, getting the beginning or the end of a conversation, but rarely the whole thing. I have become acutely aware of the silence in the middle of the day, or when messages are ignored and unanswered. I feel like I am not relevant. It’s not a nice feeling.

There is no easy way to fix the fact that I miss my family, friends, and life back home. We are starting to build a life here, and I have to figure out how I will fit. This means finding ways to go out an meet people, even by doing things that I don’t normally do. The best way to fill those gaps when I can’t have those I miss is to find new friends here, I just never thought about how to do that.



Wordless Wednesday – pretty spider

New Spider

New spider




Time in class

I want to be a teacher in Bangalore! Specifically a teacher at the lils school. The weather is great, the classes are small, the children seem to be pretty happy and well behaved, and their are no snowsuits to fight with. The biggest clothing change that they have to deal with is the change into swimsuits a couple of times a week. Wet bathing suits can be tricky, but the children are swimming, which makes the vast majority of them very happy! The best part of being a teacher in my lils school has to be getting to teach Woo and Goose. Not enough? Think about the holidays.

Today marked the first day that the lils have been to school in over two weeks. We arrived here, they attended the first week of classes, a full week, and then went on break for Diwali. A break that lasted over two weeks. Diwali is a Holiday in India, and the rest of the country gets one, two, or three days, I am told. The lils’ school got two weeks, plus a day. Next week, and the week that follows are each shortened by a day, then a couple of full weeks and we are into three weeks for Christmas… It goes on.

I realize that not all of these days and weeks are strict holidays, and that the teachers are actually working during that some of that time, but for much of it they are not working. I also don’t know if these are paid holidays, but when you total up the time that they are not in the classroom over the course of the year, it is twenty weeks! That is a pretty impressive amount of time out of the classroom!



Wanna come to India?

India was always on my list of dream places to visit, along with Australia, Ireland, Italy, much of the Caribbean, and pretty much all of Canada. I have been slowly ticking those places off of my list, but still had a ways to go when we decided to move to India for a year. It became pretty obvious shortly after we started telling people about the move that we were not the only people with a keen interest in India. With that in mind, we planned for guests in choosing our house, and tried to make it clear that we want visitors. So, wanna come to India?

Bangalore, the city that we live in, was just named to the Lonely Planet’s list of top ten cities to visit in 2012. It’s number three in fact! I am not sure that can vouch for all of the selling points that are listed in the description in the article, but hopefully I will have by the time that you get here! From what we have seen so far, it is a pretty neat and diverse place to visit, and well situated for visiting other parts of India and Asia. The food is SO GOOD too.

Here are a few tips for those of you who are planning a trip.

  • Let us know when you are thinking of coming. we do have some visits lines up, and want to make sure that we have enough beds! In case of a conflict, we will pick favourites!
  • You need a visa to come to India, and it is best if you apply for this sooner rather than later. Information can be found here, but you should note that to apply you have to give them your passport for up to 15 business days, and that your passport needs to be valid for at lats six months. Don’t plan on travel outside of Canada for a couple of weeks around application time. Tourist visas are valid for six months from date of issue.
  • You will want to talk to your doctor or a travel doctor (I can recommend one!) about the shots that you need to come visit. What you need to take will be dependant on where you want to go while here. It is very unlikely that you will need to get the number of needles that we got, but you also won’t be protected from rabies for life! If you are timid about needles (ahem Chris), these meds can be taken orally, you just need to start the ball rolling sooner. I am not a doctor, so talk to yours.
  • The weather here is perfect, don’t believe what any of the weather sites say. Bangalore is hot, but not as stinking hot as other regions in India, and not really humid when compared to Ottawa. You do need to bring pants (house rule), they just don’t need to be of the long variety.
  • The travel here is not super fun. The flights are long, any way you look at it, so be sure that you bring whatever you need to be entertained. We will make arrangements to have you picked up from the airport, as it’s just the easiest way. Don’t worry about getting adjusted to the +10:30 time difference, we have two small alarm clocks that will get you on schedule pretty quickly!
  • Bring rupees with you. They are the only currency that is used, and getting them while you are here can be tricky, as not all bank machines accept Canadian bank cards, even though they claim they will. I recommend going through your bank, rather than a currency exchange shop like the one I went to in Ottawa. We were robbed on the exchange, and I had left it too late to go to my bank. Credit cards are accepted, but you will still want some cash.
  • If your mobile is unlocked, we should have a sim that you can use. If not, don’t plan on using yours, will be very expensive!

I should be up front and let you know that there is a “fee” for the use of our guest room. Wine. It’s hard to get good and reasonably priced wine here, and I know that each adult is allowed to bring two litres of wine in to the country. If you come via Frankfurt, you can even buy bottles at the duty-free in the airport, so you don’t have to worry about checking the bottles! Please also feel free to ask is what we are craving or needing!! There are a number of things that I just can’t get here easily, like many safe treats for Woo, Starbucks iced coffee, or a good plastic spatula. Just don’t ask Willy, he’ll be expecting steak!

So. Who is in?



It starts with a hug

This move hasn’t been all roses, and it’s shown in more ways than one. We have each had our adjustments to make, and some have taken a while. Sadly for me, I have not been adjusting as well as I hoped, and that makes it hard for interacting with the lils, who are trying to figure it out as well and acting out of character a fair bit. Throw in the fact that we have been stuck in the house together for hours at a time waiting for various deliveries etc has made it worse. As a result, I lose my patience, give many timeouts, over react, yell, and have A LOT of regrets and apologies. I know that this is ME not them, and I know that I need to figure it out fast.

Last week Candace posted a mom challenge on her blog. It was a list of thirty things that she was going to do, one a day, over the month of November. Actions that brought the focus back to her children and asked that she take the time to appreciate them. I was excited and thankful that she posted it. It was so simply laid out, and clearly what I needed. It also told me that I wasn’t the only mom who needed a little reminder. Pretty much all of the items on the list are easy and should be no brainers, but for me of late, they haven’t been.

The easiest so far (keeping in mind that we are six days in) has been the suggestion to hug each child at least three times. We are pretty huggy people, so I had this one in the bag by 7:30am. I decided to just keep hugging, and not just when they wanted a hug, or were hurt or sad, but when ever. There were many, many hugs dished out that day, and in the days that followed. The best part is that they have started initiating the hugs at a rate greater than what I am doing. Big, squeeze as tight as you can, hold on for a long time hugs. It’s a big ol love fest here.

While I knew that this challenge was the right thing for me, I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I was planning to follow a list that told me how I could be more present as a parent, more understanding of my lils. Six days in, I have made many really small adjustments, some on the list, some not. I know that there is more to do, and will keep trying. Seeing the changes that have been the result, in all of our moods and behaviours, has told me that it doesn’t matter how I got the reminder, just that I knew I needed it. It’s more than just the hugs, but they are my favourite part.



Small victories

Some of the simplest tasks have become infinitely more complicated here. Tasks grocery shopping, which has been a time suck and a source of frustration for me. I LOVE to grocery shop, with and without the lils. At home, it became our saturday morning escape. We would pack up and head to Loblaws early, and willy would sleep in. It was a mostly fun time for the three of us, where the lils were helpers and observers and generally got along. If there were times when it was not, a solo trip to the store always restored the balance. I loved to wander though and look at all the shiny, fresh new produce and products, getting lost in my alone time for an hour. I have not found this bliss here.

Most of my shopping excursions have resulted in me coming home tired, cranky and somewhat empty handed. Often with two small people who were equally tired and cranky. There have been many a trip too. I feel like I have to run out every day to with a list a mile long. Many of the stores are small and very cramped. None of them have carts that can seat two children, which leads to fights, and one child sitting in the basket part of the cart either breaking the eggs or squishing the bread. They are often built on at least two stories and lacking in elevators that work. Lugging one or two small children up and down stairs with a basket full of groceries is never fun.

Items aren’t often organized in what I see as a logical fashion, and often aren’t grouped with similar items. It is not uncommon to find cereal tucked away in all four corners of a store, because that is where it fits. Eggs are not with the dairy, they are just where ever the pallet was placed that day. The inventory moves from location to location, day to day, so I wander around aimlessly trying to figure out if I was dreaming when I saw that item on a previous visit. Asking staff is hit and miss too. This is not because they don’t understand English, it is because the products often have a different name here. Flour is atta, okra is lady fingers, spinach is palak… They are also sized differently, often in smaller sizes, which led to underbuying of the staples I did find.

Then I found online grocery ordering and delivery. Thing were looking up. I spent the better part of an afternoon searching one outlet’s website, using every way I could think of to describe products. This store, that I had been shopping in, carried a number of the items that I was looking for, I just didn’t know how and where to find them. So I placed and order and hoped for the best. It arrived within hours of my hitting submit, but sadly contained only half of the items that I wanted. I tried a couple of days later, and the new order was much slower to arrive, and again missing many things. I surmised that they didn’t know where to look either, and went back to the drawing board.

The online shopping experience wasn’t a total loss. It taught me that I needed to broaden my thinking on what things might be called, and to look a little harder when I am in the stores. Each subsequent visit has been a little more successful, has led to a few more items scratched off the lists. We now have a maid who will watch the lils when she is here, which lets me do a solo trip and concentrate on the shopping alone.

Today I feel that I conquered grocery shopping. I went to one store and got ninety percent of the item on my list, remembering things like extra loaves of bread and cartons of milk. For the few items that I missed, I was able to either substitute, or know where to buy them and am saving that shopping for a promised solo trip with Woo on Saturday. The best part? It had been a week since I had last grocery shopped, save for one quick trip to pick up two items I didn’t know our cook needed. Success. Next up, finding and conquering all the markets!

Now if only I could open a bank account and transfer money into it.



Wordless Wednesday – Nandi Hills

Above the clouds

How does that work?



What are you looking at!?

Perfect spot for monkeying around!

On alert

A little kiss


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