One hundred days

We were warned that an assignment of one year is basically six months of settling in, and six months of moving out.  We’ve tried not to view it as such, but it’s hard not to think about it when it comes up in conversation all the time.  It’s the ex-pat dance.  People talk about how long you are here for and when you are leaving.  Lately, when I say that we are here for a year, leaving in the fall, people tell me that is really soon.  So I counted the days.

The number is one hundred.  We are committed to be here for one hundred more days.  Sure there is an outside chance that we will stay longer, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.  We’ll likely be moving back Ottawa, but we are really not much clearer on that than we were one hundred days ago.  In any case, we will be home in October for some period of time.

I am not ready to leave Bangalore, to leave India. We are finally really and truly settled, although it took much longer than we anticipated.  This is especially true of the lils, who have blossomed since we returned from Canada and are really enjoying life here.  It is almost like they had to see that everything was still OK at home to realize that it is pretty OK here.  Their happiness contributes to our happiness, and we’ve all found a groove.  Sure, I am still lonely, especially when Willy travels or works at night, but I knew that would happen from the start. We are just a lot better at making the most of the opportunities we do get now.

So I am making lists. Not the lists we need in order to move, the lists of what we want to do before we go. They are huge.  There is so much we have yet to see and do, but now there is pressure, and a need to prioritize.  Large chunks of Bangalore have been unexplored, and there are favourite spots to revisit. I have plans with friends that we just haven’t gotten around to yet. Do we go back to Mysore, or visit somewhere new?  We know we are going to the Maldives soon, can we swing a trip to Thailand or Singapore as well? Will I get to take one more trip to photograph parts of India that I will never get to again, where will it be, and who will I go with? As the lists grow and grow, I worry that one hundred days is not nearly enough time.



The swear jar

This likely isn’t going to come as a surprise to some, but I have a confession to make.  I have a potty mouth.  It’s something that I strive to control, and can pretty effectively hide it when I need to, but once I get started I swear like a trucker.  This only really became a problem after Woo was born and started to echo the things that we said.

When I was on maternity leave there were large chunks of the day where I had two choices, I could talk to Woo, or I could talk to myself.  While I did talk to Woo a tonne, I often wanted a response and could only get that from myself.  The more I talked, the more I realized that I didn’t need a filter.  My days were coloured with many an expletive.  This went on for about six months, until our early talker’s babbles became words and he added new ones every day.  We instituted the swear jar, where everyone had to add a dollar for every curse made in the presence of the lil one and two dollars for any word that Woo repeated (each time it was repeated).*  I added one hundred and twenty dollars to Woo’s piggy bank in the first week. Thankfully I got better, but not before I had added over five hundred dollars.

Part of getting better involved learning new ways to express my agitation/anger/dismay with things.  One of my favourite phrases became “what the heck?!”, which is infinitely better than the alternative.  So much so, that I thought it was darling when Goose started saying it a while back. At first she just echoed my usage, but then branched out and began to use it appropriately, and without prompting.  I was a little proud.

Lately she has started to put her own spin on it.  Always monkeying with the word heck, she has gone through several different pronunciations. First it was HE-ECK, then HI-YUCK, and most recently HUCK.  Goose goes around saying “what the HUCK”.  That is just way to close to a word that I have never said near her, but I can see where this is going. It involves bringing back the swear jar, as I know this will get pinned on me.



*This rule as actually (and thankfully) only been invoked once. Shortly before Goose was born Willy was tasked with putting our very nocturnal and hard to get back to sleep boy back to sleep.  It took a long period of cuddling and rocking, when finally Willy put Woo back in bed.  Just as Willy was creeping away, the bed creaked, Woo woke and Willy whispered “oh fuck”.  There was a long and silent pause before a sweet little boy voice repeated (three times) what his dad had said.  I heard this all on the monitor, so when Willy eventually returned to bed, I leaned over and whispered, “That’ll be eight dollars”.*



Wordless Wednesday – Praying Mantises

What are you looking at?

I have an itch


The pose

Baby mantis



But a child

In my day to day life I meet and chat with a number of different people.  Some of them are ex-pats like our family, but mostly I meet Indians from all walks of life.  Many of them are what our family like to refer to as our helpers, the domestic staff that work in almost all of the villas in our community. The lils and I have gotten to know a few of them, because they work on our street;  we are always bumping into them as we walk and ride around the community; they are playing with their charges in the park as we are there; or all three.  As I chat with these men and women, I often get to hear a little bit of their life stories.  This is Anu’s*

Anu works on our street.  She is friendly and polite and has taken an obvious shine to the lils.  She loves to play with them, and will make the time to do so whenever she can.  Over the months that we have known each other, I have learned bits and pieces about her life. It was only today that I pieced them all together.

A mother and a grandmother, Anu is only thirty-four years old. Her husband doesn’t live with her, though, as he has another wife and family.  He hasn’t divorced her, he just moved on when he wasn’t happy with her.  He is still around in her life, and she still considers herself married, yet she is raising their two children and helping to raise her grandchild alone.  She pays all the bills, and gets very little, if anything from him. She was TWELVE when she married him, and gave birth to their first child days after her thirteenth birthday. I fail to wrap my head around this, knowing that she was married and a mom when she should have been playing with her friends. I can’t see how she willingly (in law or in life) made these choices.  I doubt she was given any say in the matter at all.

This shocked, saddened and sickened me, despite the fact that Anu claims to be happy. Her reasons are that he never speaks poorly of her and has never beaten her.  It doesn’t change the fact that she was forced into a marriage with a much older man, and had given birth to a child when she was still a child herself.  Yes, India does have a history of child marriage, but it has been against the law since 1978, the very year that Anu was born.

Still, these marriages happen, clearly they happen.  Just this spring there was massive media coverage of an eighteen year old girl who had her marriage annulled.  It was the first of the kind in the country, and there was widespread speculation on the backlash that she and her family might face for having taken such a drastic step.  She learned of the marriage when her in-laws arrived to “claim” her, as she had been married to the boy when she was one and he was three.  These are just two of the many stories that I have seen and heard while we have been here.  These marriages keep happening.

To her credit, Anu is doing a fabulous job of taking care of herself and her family.  She speaks excellent English, in addition to Hindi and several local languages.  She can also read most of these languages, including English.  Her life has not been easy, yet she has worked hard to further herself, and certainly has. In doing so, she has raised two fabulous children, one who is married and a mom herself, and another who is studying engineering at college. Her kind heart shows through every time I see her, in her every interaction with those around her.

Despite Anu`s assurances that she is happy and the fact that I can see she does have happiness in her life, I also know that she has a fairly lonely life and wonder about what could have been.  As I watched her playing with the lils after our talk, I could not help but think that a part of the reason why she plays so well with them is that she never got to play the way any child should.  Thrust into the roles of wife and mother, her time for games and tomfoolery certainly ended far too early.

*I have changed Anu’s name 



The wrong goodbye

We live in an ex-pat community, so we often see a tonne of people moving in and out.  It isn’t a huge community, but is older* and established, so most of the 300 or so houses are rarely vacant for long and moving trucks ae pretty common sight. Our street is a short and quiet street, with only six houses on it, and has been fully occupied for the last six months.

We were really happy to meet our across the street neighbours and their two children, aged three and five, shortly after we moved in.  It took a few weeks, but the four lils began to play together often.  Whenever one duo heard the other outside, they raced out to join in play, be it road hockey, biking, football, tennis, cricket, or various combinations of those games. They were a good fit, and enjoyed countless hours playing together.  This little group was joined by two little girls in January, who moved beside us.  While they didn’t play together with the lils as often, they always enjoyed their time together, especially when they were passing treasures to each other through the fence.  Both of those families were planning to be in Bangalore for a long time, so we were both happy to know that the friends would be here for the rest of our stay, and sad to know that we would be breaking up these friendships in the fall.

As it goes with ex-pat life, things change.  All of a sudden one family is moving home for a new job, and the other is moving because their assignment was cut short.  Both of these moves happened this week.  The lils knew that they were coming, but that doesn’t make it easy.  Thankfully, the girls next door spent their last morning in India here, and they had a great last play date.  They had fun together, took many pictures, and were ready to say goodbye when the time came.

Our across the street neighbours left without saying goodbye.  The children flew to their grandparents house late Tuesday night, and did not return during the packing.  The house is now empty, and their driver confirmed for us that they are not coming back.  I suspected this might happen when I heard the children leaving after bedtime on Monday, and began to prepare Woo and Goose, yet I am left with the questions. “Why would they leave without saying goodbye”, and “Are you sure that they aren’t going to come back?” are the most common ones.  They are left hanging, and it upsets us all.

I know that things get forgotten, and that you can’t think of everything, but I wish their parents had thought to let us know that they were leaving as the lils stopped playing together on Monday. It was obviously the last chance that they would have to play together, and saying goodbye would have been a natural thing. Instead the lils are left hanging.

*older is really a relative term, given that the community is six years old*



What goes around…

Sometimes the nicest things happen when you least expect it. It might shock some to know that beneath my tough and unpolished exterior lies a really soft and mushy heart. I like to do nice things for people, and I especially like to do them when they don’t ask me.

Last fall I finally decided that it was time to clear our spare bedroom of all of the baby things we were storing.  I went through the mountains of clothes and quickly found homes for all of the little boy clothes.  It seemed that several of my friends had little boys that were just the right size for what I had, and they were happy to have them.  The girl clothes were another story.  I had mountains of them, thanks in large part to my friend Heidi who has gifted me with her daughter’s entire wardrobe from birth. The clothes were stinking adorable too.  I really wanted to pass these, plus all the clothes that I had added, on to a new lil girl! Unfortunately, all of the ones I thought of were Goose`s size or bigger, so I was a little stumped.

Then I thought of Amy, someone who I had met once or twice, but had connected with online and through my love of her photography.  She had just given birth to a little girl, and had moved her family back from a year in Bogotá, Columbia. Given that she has three boys at home, I knew that she would be short on girlie clothes, so I dropped her a line and let her know that she was welcome to all that I had if she wanted it!  Want it she did, and the week before we left for India, she arrived at my house and took it all away.

I didn’t think of the clothes again, except when I would see the pictures that Amy would post of cute lil E rockin’ the outfits. It brought a smile to my face each time, to see another happy wee girl getting good use out of the clothes.

Then a few weeks before we came to visit, Amy dropped me a line to express how much she appreciated the clothes, and how much she wanted to shoot our family as a thank you gift. She didn’t want any payment for her time and efforts, or purchases of prints from us, she just wanted to say thank you.  We were flabbergasted, and I was excited, as I admire all of Amy’s work. We giddily agreed, and this is but one of the photos she took, one of my favs!

The rest can be seen on the Muddy Boots Photography facebook page*, but suffice to say that we love them.  Love them. To say that they are a “nice thing” that happened to us when we least expected it really doesn’t do them justice!   It’s nice to know that Amy is also someone who likes to do nice things for people, especially when they don’t ask.

*you can also find Amy’s contact info here:) *



Wordless Wednesday – HAL Aerospace Museum

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Our neighbourhood has a number of amenities that were a big part of the reason why we chose to live here. Sure, the food in the restaurant has gone way downhill, the local corner store has been temporarily closed for about six weeks now, and the pool bar does not have a liquor license, but there are still a number of great features. One of them is located at the end of our street, right beside the lil’s park:

The SPA. They offer a long list of services, mainly massage and facials and have gotten rave reviews from any one that we have talked to, including a few of our house guest. Yet, we have lived here for eight months and I had not yet made use of their services. This is partly because they don’t offer pedicures, my favourite spa treat, and partly because I am afraid that I will like it. Too much.

I was gifted with some Spa bucks from my brother-in-law when he was hear at Christmas, and have tried to use them on a couple of occasions, but had to cancel at the last minute with either sick lils, or travelling Willy, or a better offer (hey, boozy lunch IS important!). Earlier this month I noted that they were only good for six months, so I figured that I should get my butt in gear. The lils were off at day camp last week, so I had five whole days in which to use them. As luck would have it I was under the weather on Friday and had to move the appointment to today.

It was way worse than I thought it would be. My life here has been relatively devoid of pampering, and this was a royal pampering. From the décor in the open air lobby, the flowers that were floating everywhere, to the glass of freshly squeezed pineapple juice, everything said calm and relaxation.

I was escorted to my little hut:

Then my masseuse quickly got to business, showing me the room, letting me get ready then beginning the massage. I had randomly chosen the “Javanese” massage, which was billed as a deep tissue massage that used Balinese techniques. It involved a lot of pressure and rubbing, and not as much manipulation as generally like, but it was good. I had asked her to use medium-hard force, and she didn’t hold back. She even got up on the massage table a couple of times to work on some tense spots! The massage was billed as a 90 minute massage, which should mean a 60 minute massage and 30 minute “relaxation” period in my room. Either she lost track of time, or I was lucky, and she ended up giving me a full 90 minutes of massage. Right before the masseuse let, she started my outdoor rainfall shower and encouraged me to enjoy my calm time.

Now I need to figure out how to keep myself from going there all the time. I also booked Willy in for a 90 minute massage this weekend. I figure he can’t get mad at me if he is doing it too!!!

Just some pot pourri, under the massage table, hidden from view. Yet pretty… it’s the little touches.

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Sometimes it forgets

For someone that likes to plan and overprepare everything in life, I sort of fly by the seat of my pants with respect to the tales you see here. I write when inspiration hits, and although I have about a thousand post ideas scattered all over my digital and real life, I rarely know what will be posted on any given day until I sit to write it. The exception to this is Wednesday, when I share pictures, generally from the week that was. Last night I broke with tradition and wrote a cute lil tale about Goose, how she looks up to me, and whether or not I have inspired her career aspirations. Thinking that it would make for a cute Friday tale, I decided not to publish it, and hit “save draft” one more time before going to bed.

I had seven hours a few minutes to myself today, and decided that I should start trying to at least find all of the post ideas and at least throw them into one of the several documents that I have started on the subject (all of them called ideas.doc, of course). I was but a few minutes into this thrilling task when I realized that I had a shiny new post all ready to go, so I should publish it. Two seconds later I was at my dashboard and there was no trace of my cute lil tale. It was completely gone, with no actual proof that it existed. I knew I wrote it, and I knew that WordPress had eaten it, as I have had this happen before, and have vowed to never author content in WP again. The rest of the afternoon was spent berating WP for eating something that I wrote and mental self-flagellation for breaking my only rule.

Today you get pictures that amuse me, because I needed a giggle.

From our trip to Ottawa, I went to Mud Lake with the lils and got to play around with my brand new zoom lens. This was just one of the test shots that I took, focussing on the duck on the rock.

Then I got home and zoomed in:
Is this seat taken?
That turtle is in for a rude awakening!

Tonight, as I prepared the lils for bed, I shut down all the windows (they spray for bugs in the evening – and that is nasty stuff). When I got to Goose`s room and looked down on our neighbour`s back door.

There are a number of stray cats in the neighbourhood, but this one seems to have found a pretty cozy spot. She was OUT.

The punchline to Goosie’s tale? She wants to go to clown school and become a clown when she grows up. You can decide whether or not I influenced that path.



Wordless wednesday – sunflowers

Tiny bloom


Final days

Look that away


Buzz along


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