Wordless Wednesday – Mysore palace, day and night
There are people that are ticklish, people that are really ticklish, and then there are people like me, whose entire body is ticklish. I’ve been like this since I was a little girl, and no amount of tickling has desensitized me. I even have trouble at the dentist, as the inside of my mouth is ticklish, which makes the polishing part of a simple cleaning pure torture! It greatly amuses the staff in my dentist’s office, who are happy to have a patient who giggles rather than groans.
Anyone who has been to a pedicure with me knows just how bad the bottoms of my feet are. I often start out by assuring the esthetician that I will not kick them. Then, as the poor esthetician scrubs, I laugh, snort, cry, and writhe around, trying to keep some semblance of normalcy. I fail miserably, and often embarrass my friends. For me, the end result makes it worthwhile, but I have had several friends tell me that they will never accompany me to another pedi…
Given these facts, I was still intrigued when my friend Heather mentioned that she had gone for a “fish pedicure” with her husband and daughter before they left Bangalore. I knew I had to try it. She provided me with the information, and Willy and I went this past Saturday.
I then sat beside him and took the plunge. It was so incredibly weird. All of a sudden, hundreds of little fish attached themselves to my legs and started sucking. Well, they tell you it is sucking, but it sure felt like some of them were taking nibbles!
It was way worse than I thought it would be. It felt like there were twenty hands tickling my feet. The fish didn’t stay attached for long, as I kept shaking them off to get a break. In addition to the laughter and the snorting, I squealed. I squealed so loudly that I was SHUSHED because I was disturbing the massage clients!! Trying not to squeal then made it even harder, and more entertaining for Willy. When our ten minutes were up, Willy reported that he quite enjoyed it, while I was just relieved. I was glad that we went, but I think that I will make that my one and only fish pedicure. I am just glad that I hadn’t signed us up for MORE time!
In Bangalore and looking to try it out? I do recommend it for the experience, we went to Kenko, in the Phoenix Market City mall.
After being miserable for the first few months, Woo began to let himself have fun. He still missed home, and mentioned it every day, but the fun was winning. He went on like this for a few months, and then we went back to Canada for a visit. I was worried that he would not want to come back, and sure enough, he made that very claim many times in the last few days before we left. Then, while we were in Canada, he got excited to return to India. He missed our house, our friends, and the life we have built here. The last few months have been the best of our time abroad. We are all really settled, especially the lils. I haven’t heard Woo ask to go home in a long time.
We are now entering our last month, and it seems a little bit of him wants to stay. He hasn’t come out and said these words, but his reactions and actions tell me that he is definitely torn. He is starting to realize that we will be missing things that we enjoyed over the last year and talks longingly of return trips to places that we all know we won’t have time to return to. He has recently started making statements that start “when we move back to India”; plans for adventures that we have not yet taken.
It was never clearer than one morning last week, when one of the staff at the school asked me about our departure date. They had been discussing the school’s winter performance, and had a part in mind for Lucas. They thought he would be a good fit to narrate the performance, because he is doing so well in his reading. He was with me as I explained that we will be in Ottawa then and would not be able to participate. As we walked up the stairs together he looked up at me and said, “Can we come back, mom??”
No, we can’t. In some ways, we all feel a little bit like this. It’s hard on all of us, thinking of leaving the life that we have created here. We are just now all in a really good place at the same time, and really enjoying all we have here. It figures that it takes the thought of going home to make us all fully appreciate.
My A-ha! moment about Indian architecture
I have never been one to dissect the construction of a building, looking for an architect’s style, or features that can pinpoint the age of the building and the influences at the time it was erected. I generally see a building and decide that I like it, or I don’t. We have toured enough of India for me to note that there are certain recurring themes in the architecture, and one of them I like very much; the scalloped arches that appear on both very old buildings and very new buildings in every city that we have visited. I like them, very much.
I hadn’t given much thought to them until we were in Mysore this weekend, and actually toured the Maharaja’s Palace. These scalloped arches are in virtually every room, and in the decorations that cover the walls and floors in some places. We were standing in the marriage hall (a beautiful room that I wasn’t allowed to photograph) when the moment hit. Armed with my newfound knowledge that the peacock is the National bird of India, I realised that these arches are actually the outline of a peacock’s tail feathers when they are displayed in their full glory. This is quite possibly old news for some, but I am quite proud of myself for making this connection.
While we were at brunch last week, we bumped into one of Goose’s former teachers. My lil girl was overjoyed, as Miss Ana had been so kind and loving to her last year, making her transition to school a relatively painless one. We were all sad to hear that she was moving to the big campus of the school, and would not be around to teach both children Spanish. We knew that Goose would miss her the most.
Goose at school, thrilled to bits that Miss Ana sat beside her
When we said goodbye at the end of the school year, we told Miss Ana that we hoped we would see her before we left, and both of us thought it was likely that she would return to visit her former pupils. We never made concrete plans, as summer was before us. School started three weeks ago, and we quickly realized that our time was getting short. I remember thinking that a visit might not happen, so bumping into her was extra special.
Goose, Woo, and their friends had to be held back from spending the entire meal at Miss Ana’s table during this chance meeting. She was gracious and indulged them each time anyone snuck away from our group. Goose especially lapped it up. When the time came for us to walk home, we knew we had to all say goodbye. Goose held back at first, but eventually gave big hugs and many kisses. I think she knew; this was a forever goodbye.
We’ve all been a part of goodbyes before, but this is the first time that the lils and I have been the ones to permanently leave. While we have lived here, we have made some fabulous friends that we will see again, will stay in touch with, but there are others who we will simply leave behind. It’s not a conscious choice; it’s just the reality of the situation.
I was not prepared for the emotions that I felt at this simple and fluke meeting. There will be more forever goodbyes in the coming weeks, and that makes me sad. I knew this was part of ex-pat living when I signed up for this trip, but now we are saying goodbyes, and it’s much harder than I thought it would be.
Independence Day in Bangalore
Yesterday marked Independence Day here, the sixty-fifth anniversary of India’s birth as a self-governing nation, free from British rule. It is one of three official holidays celebrated nationally in India, along with Republic day which commemorates the date that the constitution of India came in to force (January 26, 1950) and Ghandi Jayanti (celebrating Mahatma Ghandi, born October 2, 1869). In our short time in India I have come to realize that there are MANY holidays here, most with some amount of religious significance and festival associated.
We were here for Republic day in January, and observed that it is celebrated much like Canada Day, in some respects. There was a festive atmosphere and many fireworks, but I remember remarking that there did not seem to be the public display of national pride that I would have expected. “Just wait until Independence Day”, we were told, “it is a much bigger deal.”
On the whole, I found the day to be much more subdued than I expected. In the morning we attended a flag raising ceremony in our community, listened to the national anthem, and snacked with our neighbours, then went out to brunch with a group of friends.
There despite the somewhat festive atmosphere, there was no real boisterousness, and shockingly, no fireworks! We had a great day, and the lils were very happy to celebrate India, but I found it a bit surprising.
The cutest part of the day for me was brought to me by Goose. We had given all of our helpers the day off, although our gardener came to tend to our yard as usual. He doesn’t speak English, and I hadn’t been able to connect with him when one of the other helpers was around to translate. I had tried to tell him not to come, but failed. I am not sure that he would have taken the day regardless, given that he has worked every other holiday, even those where he was clearly told he could and should take the day off. This distressed Goose the most. She has taken a shine to our gardener, who plays with her, cuts flowers for her, and most recently created a garden for her sunflowers. She chatters on to him and he just smiles. When she saw him yesterday she ran out and tried to tell him that he should go and take his holiday. He just smiled at her and carried on with his work.
I did also learn some interesting facts that I learned about India on Independence Day:
- India has both a Prime Minister and a President. From what I can tell, the President is the head of State, and the Prime Minister is the head of the government.
- India’s current President was elected last month (ok I knew that), but that he was selected by the members of Parliament and the state legislatures, where as the Prime Minister is the leader of the victorious party in a general elections, which last occurred in 2009.
- India is the world’s largest democracy. I really should have known that.
- India has never invaded another country.
- The peacock is the national bird of India. I always thought it was the kingfisher
Wordless Wednesday – decked out for Independence Day
I am an Olympics junkie. Every two years (because I love the summer and the winter games) I devote two weeks of my life to following elite athletes compete at the sports that I love, and the sports that I have either never heard of or that I don’t understand (or both, actually). It’s a thrill for me to watch the best of the best compete for the ultimate glory of being named Olympic champion, but also to see them excel at something that they clearly love doing. To me, seeing a personal best on the world’s stage does matter.
This year, we are living in India, without the comforts of CanCon and the focus on Canadian athletes. I was worried that I would miss out, and that the Olympics experience would be tainted for me. I did miss all the behind the scenes coverage that Canadian networks offer, coverage that I do enjoy. Thankfully, there were four channels broadcasting the games here, and the London 2012 youtube channel covered everything else that I wanted to see, live. I actually got to see more Canadians compete and more win medals than I thought would have been possible.
Twitter became my water cooler for these games. I didn’t so much join in, but got to see what the folks that I follow were saying about the competition. Many were clearly enjoying as I was, and some kept me more in touch with what was going on than the official broadcasters. I was shocked, however, at how many people felt that the performance by the Canadian team was “awful”, “an embarrassment”, “shameful” or felt it necessary to call out the team and individual members for being a disappointment. Several suggested that a nation as large as ours should be doing much better than we did, than we have historically.
As far as I am concerned, the size of the nation has very little to do with the success at events like this. If you consider the ratio of medals won (regardless of colour) by population, Canada is firmly in the top ten following London Olympics, and did much better than the super powers of the USA and China, who came first and second in total medals. Most Canadian athletes are not given the financial supports (through public and private funders) that most of the athletes from these two nations are reported to receive. Many, especially the lesser known athletes, have to work part-time or full-time to support themselves while training, and even have to line up their own sponsors to actually get to competitions.
I am very proud of ALL the Canadian athletes. To me, they embodied the spirit of the Olympics, especially those who didn’t win a match, didn’t finish, were disqualified, or finished last. They were there; made it to THE games. They owned their performances, held their heads high, and continued to support the members of the entire Canadian team til the end of the competition.
If you want to see the athletes do better, support them. This doesn’t have to be a financial contribution; just let them know that you are proud of how far they have come, and what they have achieved. It’s guaranteed to have a more positive impact than sitting on the couch criticizing them.
The lils have been big into telling secrets of late. Most of the time they whisper the secret, then gleefully tell it to whoever else is present. The whispers are punctuated with laughter, and I can’t hear half of the secrets that they share with me because they either talk too close to my ear, or speak so incredibly softly. Sometimes the secret is told in an attempt to get out of trouble, but often it is out of the blue.
The secret that they tell most often is “I love you so much.”
We have been half-heartedly discouraging this because, while cute, it can become problematic. I know what it is like to be the person who is left out of the secret, and don’t want the smalls to inflict that on their friends. We tell them that secrets are OK, but public whispering is not. As a result, I am privy to a number of secrets, overheard while the lils are playing. They think that I can’t hear them, but I will never tell their secrets.
This week has been a good but tiring week for them. They went back to school and are loving it. They are very tired as a result, and somewhat whiny. We did have a lovely time together today, when we were in an administrative black hole waiting for our visa’s to be extended. They were silly and carefree, and I loved every second of it. I indulged them with some secret telling.
“I love you so much”, I whispered to them at the same time, as I held them in a bear hug.
“I love YOU so much”, Goose whispered back to me, sneaking in a kiss.
“A B D J F C Z”, whispered Woo. Guess I know where I stand!!