Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas break

It appears this blog will be on hiatus until January 7th when we get back from the Bahamas.  That's right, I said Bahamas.  We're going on a cruise around the Caribbean in the second week of January, and I need to focus on finishing the critical introduction to my dissertation before that.  As a final note, don't forget about the New Year's Halloween Party we're having on December 31st.  Party starts around 9, costumes (or at least a mask) required.  So, Happy Holidays and have fun ringing in the new year.  I'll be back soon.

Random picture of the week:
But yoga pants are okay, right?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm a horrible liar.

I said I'd post about the Indian wedding we went to, and I still plan to, but that is not going to be this post.  Jetlag is kicking my arse, and it's the most I can do to get my writing and my working out in each day on top of the usual post-trip drama.  We're leaving for Florida tomorrow morning, and I still haven't unpacked my clothes from India.  That's on tap for today now that I've finished the prerequisite writing and working out.  But it has to be done before 5 because I am finally, finally getting my hair cut again.  Oh, and going to see Pitch Perfect (don't judge, I love Glee). 

Dante decided he was done sleeping for the night at around 2:30 am.  I sat with him for a while, then put him down.  He woke up again at 3:30.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  He got up at 4:15, 5:45, and finally stayed up at 7.  My night was not what you would call restful.  He's napping now (at his normal nap time), so I'm hoping he'll sleep his normal hours tonight.  Or at least something closer to normal than 2:30.  If he does do this again, I'm making Eli take some sort of shift. 

So...I missed housework.  Seriously.  I like doing things all day that make sure my house runs smoothly.  Also, I may be somewhat OCD about neatness, as I've been told several times in the last couple of days.  People keep asking me how India was, and my first response is that India is dirty.  I don't mean that in any cultural way, I mean it's physically dirty.  That was the hardest thing for me to deal with.  No one was concerned with neatness.  Imagine my joy when I got home to discover that my house had been cleaned from top to bottom just before we got back.  I mean, scrubbed, up to my standards, clean.  It made the transition so much easier for me.  On top of that, my mother-in-law stayed with us for the weekend to help with Dante.  We got a full night's sleep on Saturday night solely because of her.  Which is probably the only reason I'm not stark raving mad right now from lack of sleep. 

I keep forgetting that I got people gifts in India with the intention of giving them out at Christmas.  I'm terrible at holding onto gifts when I could just hand it over and make someone happy.  I figure that just means I'll get to shop for more presents.  Speaking of presents, I'm super excited to shop for Dante this year.  He's really gotten into his toys, so I'm hoping he'll actually play with stuff on Christmas morning.  Then again, he has more toys than I know what to do with at the moment, so maybe we'll get one big toy and only a couple of small things.  A new sippy cup, for instance, since he chewed through the nipple on one while we were in India. 

I was informed yesterday that there is some speculation about whether or not I am with child.  I'll ignore the implied insult to my figure, and let everyone know that we are, indeed, still not pregnant.  You'll be the first to know, I promise.  Well, maybe second.

And now, some random pics from the last batch of India photos (with a sneak peak of the wedding):

That's right.  We're going the wrong direction in this traffic.  No one cared.

Eli and I dressed in our wedding finery.

At this festival, they burn demons in effigy.  It was a big effigy.

Me and Isha with our good luck dots.

That sign is a warning that you should not drive your car over the edge of the pavement and into the water.  Because it needed to be said.

 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Not if, when.

My brain hurts.  I'm about four sentences away from page 150 of my dissertation (out of 200), and I needed a break.  My brain doesn't hurt because of all the writing.  That was the easy part, which was a surprise, though it shouldn't have been.  My brain hurts because Dante is apparently popping out the rest of his teeth this week.  I'm really thankful that he didn't wait until next week because I may have killed someone on the plane ride home.  As it is, I slept in two hour bunches last night between screaming fits.  It was like having a newborn all over again, but a newborn who is capable of sucker punching you in the face when he doesn't want you touching his gums.  I'll be prepared next time. Our nanny is with him now, and he seems calm, so I'm trying to do my daily writing.  But I'm so tired my mind keeps randomly switching topics mid-sentence.  I did succeed in plotting out the remaining three chapters, and I only have a couple of pages left to write today to hit my goal. 

It hit me today that it's no longer a matter of if I finish my dissertation, it's a matter of when. I did multiple calculations, and at this point I'd have to be dead to not finish the book by the end of November as planned.  Barring the unlikely tragedy that I'm gored by a rabid cow or killed in my sleep by a psychopath (I've been watching a lot of Criminal Minds lately), I'll reach this goal.  That's a great feeling.  I'm trying not to celebrate too early because I don't want to get complacent. 

Adding to that great feeling is that I'm finally getting one of my stories published in a lit journal.  I hadn't submitted anything since 2009, and it made me sad because that was pathetic for someone who professes to want to get work published.  So in between writing sessions, I started sending stories out in the last couple of weeks.  The first response I got was an acceptance.  There's nothing that will work better to convince me to keep submitting than getting accepted. 

It looks like I finally got myself in order.  I'm writing, I'm submitting, I'm blogging regularly, my baby is walking.  All I had to do was remove myself from the known world for a few months.  Go figure.  Time to go finish those pages.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Things I miss..or why I will shortly be 300 pounds

There are a lot of things I miss about home.  A lot.  Or even alot, if you're talking about a mythical creature who eats grammar.  I've been compiling this list for a while, pretty much since we got here, and now that we're two weeks from being home, I thought I'd share it. 

Things I miss (in no particular order):
  • Skinny, no whip, chai creme frappuccinos
  • Pumpkin spice lattes
  • Frostys
  • Squishy bread
  • Cucumbers, light bulbs, and diapers all in the same place
  • Real Chili
  • Chicken fettuccine alfredo from Maggiano's
  • Moscato
  • Milk in a jug
  • Bacon
  • Steak
  • Rolls from Texas Roadhouse
  • Salads and soups and all you can eat pasta from Olive Garden
  • Cheesecake
  • Cupcakes
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Reliable power
  • Reliable water
  • Potable tap water
  • Fountain Diet Coke
  • Driving
  • My hair salon
  • YMCA
  • An oven
  • My recipe book
  • My sewing machine
  • Onyx and Yuki
  • Roast beef sandwiches fromArby's
  • Cheese danish and chai and chopped chicken cobb salad with avocados from Panera
  • Salad bars
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Lunch meat
  • Kraft cheese
  • Movies in English
  • Unlimited internet bandwidth
  • Traffic laws
  • Chilly air outside
  • Quiet at night (no honking or construction noise)
  • Dish soap that doesn't make me break out in hives
  • Laundry detergent that doesn't make me break out in hives
  • The ability to go outside in a tank top
  • Shorts
  • The certain knowledge that I will not be gored by a cow today
  • Ghirardelli chocolate
  • Taking walks with Dante
  • All our friends
  • Volleyball
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Trees outside my window
  • Voting
  • Crazy Packers fans
  • Oakland Gyros
  • Chunky Campbells soup
  • Cooking and baking
  • Ice
  • Celery
  • Whipped Philly cream cheese
  • Havarti cheese
  • Turkey jerkey
  • Summer sausage
  • Mac and cheese
  • Laughing Cow cheese wedges
  • Nacho cheese
  • Burritos from Taco Bell
  • Red beans and rice from Popeyes
  • Basic burritos from Beans and Barley
  • Text messaging...
 I'm going to stop it there because I feel like I could just keep going.  Let's just assume if it's in America, I miss it.  It is nice being able to get a bottle of Diet Coke for 50 cents, but that doesn't make up for everything else.  Despite all the stuff above, I don't dislike India. I just don't particularly like it either. 

There is one thing India gave me that America was unable to provide: the time to write my dissertation.  I have so much stuff in America, and so many responsibilities that I enjoy, that I haven't been putting any effort into finishing my degree.  Here, I literally have nothing else to do besides work out.  It's easy to put the time in because it's more fun than staring at Facebook waiting for someone to post something and amuse me. 

I do spend time with Dante and Eli, but there are a lot of hours in the day.  I'm looking forward to resuming my responsibilities and my life, but I'm afraid I won't be able to maintain the momentum I've built up here with my writing.  I guess this will be a test to see how stubborn I really am.

Pictures of the Indian wedding we went to next time.  If you're good, I'll upload a video of Eli dancing with the other boys.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yippee ki yay.

I realized the other day that living in India is like moving out West in the late 1800s.  There's plenty of civilization to be had in the big cities on the East coast, and there are a few bastions of gentility in the wilds, but mostly it's just Will Smith riding giant mechanical spiders.  Wait...I think I lost my point in there somewhere.  It's just basically harder to do the things we accept as everyday occurances in America, like grocery shopping.  I need light bulbs, safety pins, hummus, and some fresh pineapple (don't judge).  I have to go to four different places to get those four items.  I have to brave the crazy traffic, then hope said items are actually in the store I picked, then wait for the driver to appear from wherever he's lurking to get me (this is not a luxury: it usually means standing on the sidewalk outside the store and being harassed while searching for any sign of him then diving in the car when he arrives), then repeat the process.  This is an all-day ordeal.  There's novelty in doing things a different way; it's just not as easy as it could be.  I also noticed the other day, while waiting outside for the driver, that there are no stars in India.  It's not like there are a lot of lights to drown them out, there's just so much pollution and smoke that they can't pierce the haze.  I'd like to try again when we're outside the city. 

I forgot to mention that during our trip to Agra we saw a snake charmer.  I got video; you can see it below.  Also, he let us wear one of his big snakes.  I was sure it was going to try to eat Eli whole...cuz, it's Eli.  Speaking of Eli's love of animals, he revealed that he was attacked by a tame camel.  The kind you rent to ride to the pyramids.  It was a trail camel, and it tried to bite him repeatedly.  I'm not sure why I've never heard this story.  He claims it's because camels are mean and expected to bite.  I made the point that snakes are expected to bite too, but if the big boa around his neck took a chunk out I was still getting it on video. 

Dante can now walk across the living room on his own.  He just doesn't want to do it unless one of us is asking him to.  He can still crawl faster than he can walk, so it's his preferred form of transportation.  Have I shared the poop story?  I'll do it again just in case.  Dante has learned how to take his diapers off.  I woke up one morning to hear Dante babbling to himself in his room.  Normally he's either sleeping or crying in the morning, so it was a little weird.  I opened the door to see him sitting up in his crib with something clenched in his fist.  I took two steps and realized that he had a handful of poop. He saw me, smiled, and started waving his other hand at me, also smeared with poop, like he wanted me to have some too.  He reached down and tried to toss his diaper out of his crib, and I realized I needed to move out of the doorway.  There was poop smeared all over the inside of his crib and all the stuff in the crib.  He was naked and looked like he was trying to camouflage himself in the woods.  I picked him up under his arms and held him at arm's length as I hurried through the house to our bathroom.  Eli was still sleeping, so I started calling him in a loud voice.  "Eli, I need you to get up now.  Up.  In the bathroom.  Now."  I was trying not to upset Dante by yelling, but I wasn't about to clean this mess up by myself.  Eli got up, walked into the bathroom, and started laughing.  I told him he had to clean the baby and I would clean the crib.  Dante thought an early morning bath was a fabulous idea.  Luckily, he hadn't succeeded in liberating his diaper, so the mess was contained in the crib.  Everything made of fabric went into the washing machine, and I wiped down everything else with cleaning spray and paper towels.  Eli and I finished at about the same time.  We decided that Dante would need to wear something over his diaper from now on to prevent repeat performances.  We're pushing the potty chair.  I do not have pictures of any of this.

We also gave Dante his first meal of spaghetti the other night.  Normally, we just give him noodles with no sauce, but our cook made him his own bowl of spaghetti that night.  It was fun.  He shoved a huge bunch of noodles in his mouth so that his cheeks were puffed out, then he had one noodle hanging out of his mouth.  Like he wasn't sure how to get that last noodle in there without losing the rest of them. 

Only three weeks left and we'll be back in the States.  Yay!  We're planning to have a big New Year's Party this year to make up for missing the Halloween party.  I'm calling it a Masquerade.  Costumes are still required, so don't get rid of your masterpieces yet.  I'll do an event on Facebook soon, so spread the word to everyone.  You know the rules.  Everyone is welcome as long as they're in costume and drama-free, even if they don't know anyone at the party.  We got some ideas for the bonfire this year (provided it's not covered in several feet of snow), so hopefully we'll be able to burn some stuff. 

I've written 45 pages of my dissertation in the last week, so things are moving along there.  If I can keep up this pace, I'll finish before my deadline.  Good times. 

This little girl was at Qutab Minar in Delhi.

She had better eye makeup than I did.

A herd of buffalo coming down the road in Agra.

The back of the herd, once our car could move again.

A pack camel in Agra (it did not try to bite Eli).

A man walking his goats. One big goat and two little goats on leashes.

Taj Mahal from just inside the gate.

Taj Mahal from the lawn.

Eli with the vicious non-attack snake.

Dante with spaghetti.



video

Sunday, October 21, 2012

That's not a deer.

So, we saw a dead body in the road last weekend.  We also saw the Taj Mahal. On the road through Agra (where the Taj Mahal is built), there were parts of a person strewn across the road.  Apparently, we'd just missed the actual hit and run because a little further down the road an angry mob was pulling some guy out of a transport truck.  We're only assuming these two events were connected, but the parts were still juicy, so it seems like a good bet.  One of the guys we were with said, "That's not a deer..." in a very confused manner.  I'll spare you any more details beyond juicy.

The Taj Mahal is pretty cool.  Maybe even worth the 8 hour round trip drive.  The building itself is surprisingly small.  It's just one room with two sarcophagi (note: sarcophaguses is also correct) in the middle.  They were walled off, so we couldn't touch them, but we could see them pretty clearly.  Unlike most of the architecture here, the whole building is made from white marble and there are actual gemstones inlaid to make the flower and vine designs.  We're talking rubies and sapphires here.  Oh, and the whole place stunk something fierce from the Yamuna river directly behind it.  Like rancid swamp.  I'm spending a lot of time in this country breathing through my mouth.

We're going to a wedding next week, so I had to go buy a saree this week.  They sent me by myself (I know, the trip was doomed from the start).  That's right, shopping for a potentially very expensive piece of clothing by myself.  I thought Eli and his coworkers had told the driver to take me to this specific place in Sarojini Market.  It turns out that they had told the driver to take me to a very specific place after Sarojini Market.  I didn't know that at the time. I followed the driver through the market to a tiny little saree shop.  It had what looked like a king size bed surrounded by shelving on three sides crammed full of folded sarees in plastic.  There was a second level above us with four full walls of the same shelves.  A one-foot walkway separated the bed from a low padded bench for customers.  When we walked in, there were three guys hanging out on the bed chatting.  One of the guys could speak English apparently because he asked what I was looking for.  I told him I was going to a wedding in a week and I needed a saree.  He asked me what kind and I gave him the deer in the headlights look.  He took pity on me and started pulling random sarees out asking me if I liked them.  After several attempts to tell him I wanted a green or blue one (where he would pull out pink ones), I pointed to my painted nails and said: like that.  Luckily, I'd painted them a shimmery green-blue.  They started pulling silk sarees out, but I wasn't really impressed with any of them.  It was fun having them pull them out of the plastic with a flourish and present them to me Pretty Woman style.  At one point, I looked up at the sarees they had hanging in the front of the shop and saw a pretty white and green one.  I asked him to look at that one and he tried to convince me that it wasn't for me.  It wasn't as expensive as the ones he'd been tossing at me.  As one guy pulled that saree down, he tossed another silk one at me that I actually liked.  Now I had a problem because one of those sarees was at the top of my budget, and I wanted two.  Here's where I lost my mind. I decided to buy both of them, because clearly I wear sarees so often that I need at least two.  Throughout this whole process, I'd seen three other sarees that I liked well enough, but wasn't sure I would buy.  I'd made the mistake of telling this guy that I liked those.  After I'd picked the two sarees I wanted (and three more less expensive sarees as gifts), he started adding stuff to my bags.  I needed blouses for each of the sarees (which were extra) and underskirts (which were extra).  Then I got a look at the bags, and it turns out he'd stuffed every saree I'd said I liked in there as if I was going to buy it.  Even I did not need five expensive sarees.  He had trouble understanding that I was only buying those two.  With all the extra stuff, two sarees for me and three sarees for gifts ended up costing us right around $400.  I was comfortable with the prices because I thought this was a legit guy that Eli's coworkers had sent me to.  Nope.  It was some buddy of our driver who gave him a 10% kickback for taking me there.  See, cray cray.  I'll post pictures of me in one of the sarees at the wedding.

In other non-touristy news,  I've started weight-lifting, so I feel like my arms are going to fall off at any moment.  I was stalking myself on Facebook and looking at pics from Summer 2010.  I had nice arms then. I didn't appreciate them enough at the time.  Now, I'm indignant because there's no reason I should have post-baby floppy arms when I used to have nice toned arms.  Well, I'm fixing that problem right now.  Whether they fall off or they get toned, my arms will look better than the last couple of months. 

I've also been  making progress on my dissertation.  If I'd just stop getting distracted by my floppy arms, I might actually finish it on time.  Also, it's hard to type when every muscle in each arm is on strike.

No pictures today because my phone is in the other room and I'm lazy. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Formidable rack not allowed.

Last weekend, we went back to Noida to visit yet another of Eli's work friends and his wife.  They wanted to have a meal and take us to a temple.  It took us the usual 2 hours to get there, and when we arrived, I was a little surprised at their place.  They live in a two room apartment that was the size of my living room back home.  One room was the bathroom.  The living room/bedroom/kitchen included a big bed, a fridge, a couch, two chairs, and a big coffee table which they obviously used for meals.  The bathroom was an "Indian-style" toilet, meaning a porcelain hole in the floor with flushing capabilities.  Now, I've used these types of toilets before in Japan, but there was always either plenty of room for squatting or some kind of hand rail.  Neither of these things was present; there was also no toilet paper (on purpose).  There was no AC, and all the apartments surrounding that one housed his family as well.  Which was a good thing because there was no way I could use his toilet.  It's not a matter of sensibilities; it's a matter of I can't squat and pee at the same time without some kind of support.  Ask anyone I've ever gone camping or on a long car ride with.  Eli's friend was super proud of it because 1) he owned it and 2) he had some rooftop space where they can build extra rooms...apparently.  After about 10 minutes, I felt like a total snob.  This guy does the same job as Eli (though to be fair, he's done it for a much shorter amount of time and he has less responsibilities).  It seems really wrong that we get to live in a posh apartment in one of the most expensive suburbs of Delhi and he makes a 2 hour commute every day from what would be an efficiency apartment in America.  It's a matter of expectations I guess.  The company is paying so that we don't have to lose our standard of living despite being in another country.  The other guy is apparently an example of that standard here.

Enough depressing talk, just so you know, it's very disconcerting when you use the toilet then discover that there is no toilet paper...in the whole apartment.  I had to use his sister's apartment for her Western style toilet, but silly me, I forgot to bring my emergency toilet paper stash with me across the hall.  Eli had to bring it over after some embarrassing translation.  So...that was fun.

After we had a late lunch, we left to go see the temple.  I was expecting a building roughly the size of a church that would have some interesting statues and worshippy bits lying around.  Mostly I expected to be bored after the first five minutes.  I was wrong yet again (that's what I get for having expectations).  This temple was like the original size of Disneyland (not as big as you think for all you non-Californians out there, but still a hefty piece of land).  Every piece of architecture was sculpted into some kind of design.  We couldn't take any pictures because, well, nothing was allowed inside.  No purses or electronic bits of any kind.  No leather.  No food or drinks except apparently water.  No clothes above the knee.  You get the picture. It took us about 30 minutes of standing in a sweltering line, ass to armpit with a lot of other people.  Every little bit (I have no idea what the trigger was), the guards would raise the rope, and people would start running past them.  After another little bit, one of the guards would ring a bell and they'd lower the rope.  It was chaos because Indian people don't really stand in lines; they stand in blobs.  It's every person for themselves when it comes to moving forward.  Once we were past the first check point, we had to separate into male and female lines.  The male line wrapped around the building (we're still outside in the heat), but the female line was much shorter, maybe 20 feet.  Again, I have no idea why since it seemed like there were a lot of families there, families that included males and females alike.  Once we got to the front of the line, we had to walk through a metal detector (par for the course for just about every building in India) then get a pat down by a female guard.  I got an older lady who started asking me questions in Hindi.  She didn't seem to care when I didn't answer.  She did seem to care about the top I was wearing.  I'd chosen a top that has a deep V neckline in the front and back, but I'd paired it with a lacy sport bra that looked like a camisole (no one had to know it didn't go below the boob line, it's not like you could tell from the shirt).  I want to be clear here.  I wasn't showing any outright cleavage; it showed as much as a normal scoop neck t-shirt.  The lady tugged on the bra and immediately realized it wasn't a cami after all.  Also, it's a sport bra, so it didn't really move.  It's job was to stay put, and it was doing it's job well.  She started speaking loudly in Hindi and tugging more on the bra.  I caught the word underwear, and by this point, all the people waiting for the guys directly in front of me were watching the show.  I had my hands out away from my body because she was supposed to just be patting me down, and I wasn't sure what the proper position was for "semi-molestation."  After a minute or so of useless tugging, she pushed the edges of my top down so she could get at the straps of my bra.  She stretched one up so that my bra was digging into my armpit and tied it in place, then did the same thing with the other side.  I was then allowed to pass through into the temple proper (which was still outside).  Let me tell you, having your sports bra shoved as far as it can go into your armpits and secured there will eventually start to cut off circulation in your arms.  We had to wait for the guys to make it through the huge line, so I was stuck that way for 15 minutes or so, waiting outside, before we could walk away and I could untie my now considerably less elastic straps.  I had asked before we left our apartment if there were any dress code rules I needed to follow.  Eli was told that I could wear whatever I wanted.  Clearly, not the case.

We walked around the temple for a while (it really was like an Indian version of Disneyland, except with gods instead of cartoon rodents), saw a light up fountain show, walked around some more.  Most of the place was outdoor, but the actual temple was a building with doors and everything.  We had to take our shoes off before we could enter and I was sure of two things.  1) I was never going to see my sandals again, and 2) the floor was going to give me typhoid.  To my joy, the floor was this really clean white marble, despite the wall to wall group of tourists and worshipers shuffling around each other.  No one in India has any concept of personal space.  Also, there was still no AC.  I was fanning myself and sweating and trying desperately not to breathe through my nose.  I eventually had to just rush the exit and wait outside for the others.  My sandals were there and intact.  By this time night had fallen, so we decided to check out the food area in the hopes of getting me some kulfi (Indian ice cream on a stick that's denser and creamier than our ice cream).  I'd had some at one of the restaurants we'd been to (Pirates of Grill, if you recall), and I wanted more.  We found the kulfi, but we didn't know what flavor I'd had before.  Eli got me malai flavored because it most closely resembled the other one.  It was not the same.  Remember in Mexico, when I had that "raspberry cheesecake" ice cream that turned out to be raspberry cheese ice cream?  Yeah?  It was kind of like that.  Malai is essentially butter flavored.  Not just flavored from what I understand it.  The kulfi is made with malai, which is mostly just butter.  So, yum, frozen butter custard.  (To no one's surprise, I got sick a day and a half later).

I'm going to end this post with the best part of the trip, which was that we got to see a monkey during the drive there.  It was eating an apple on our car while we waited in traffic. I'll also throw in some cute pics of Dante because I can.

 
Monkey with an apple.




He loves playing under (inside?) the coffee table.

Slides are fun.

He squealed the whole time he was swinging.

Like every other kid everywhere, he tried to climb back up the slide.

Walking around by himself (with help).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Video tour continued.


video

Here's the second half, condensed for your pleasure.  I hope it works because apparently my phone is too epic for Blogger.

Video tour


video

The long awaited video tour of our apartment.  This is the first half.  I'll upload the second half soon.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

I have my own pineapple guy.

There's this restaurant in one of the malls here called Pirates of Grill.  Seriously, the signs out front say "For Rs349, it's not lunch, it's plunder."  I wanted some plunder, so we went there for dinner a few nights ago.  Turns out, it was a cross between a buffet and a barbeque on a molten hot skewer place.  They had a charcoal skewer grill set up at each table, so they could bring out pre-cooked skewers of stuff, and you rotate it yourself until you think it's done.  Fun, all in all, but they also bring out huge skewers of other stuff that they shave off onto your plate.  One of these skewers was three pineapples that were coated in honey and cinnamon then rotisseried until warm and delicious.  I asked the pineapple guy to come back so many times when we ate dinner that when we showed up for lunch today, the pineapple guy rushed over to our table to shave off an entire pineapple's worth of yummy goodness.  Eli thought it was hilarious that he remembered me.  I was just happy that I didn't have to ask for more pineapple.  Someone tell Adam that we need rotisserie pineapple at Thanksgiving.

Dante has started to do this elephant crawl thing that involves speeding around on his hands and feet with his butt in the air.  He's pretty fast, and usually Eli and I are too busy laughing to stop him from getting into whatever he wasn't supposed to have.  I keep trying to get a video of it, but I've been too late thus far.

Eli and I went into another suburb of Delhi yesterday to visit the home of one of his work friends.  It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, but the couple was really nice.  They're very Americanized, so I felt comfortable hanging out with them.  At the very least, they'd understand if I did something offensive and stupid.  They also clued us in that we're supposed to bring a gift of sweets or something when we visit people's houses along with the tea and awkward conversation ritual.  I figured that last one out as we were turning into their street.  They assured us that the gifts are usually reserved for more formal visits (like when parents come over) rather than friends. We chatted at their place for a bit, then we went to the local mall so I could look for a table lamp that has been eluding me.  I found the lamp (and a clothing store that I want to check out), then we left for a local outdoor market to get a weird appetizer that I will explain later.  While walking around the market, Eli and I encountered a small gang of little girls (maybe 10 years old, tops) who tried to mug us.  One grabbed the water bottle Eli was carrying and tried to run off (putting all 65 pounds of her weight behind the grab), and another tried several times to grab my necklace.  We shooed them away with some help from our Indian friends, but it was a strange experience.  They were giggling the whole time like it was a joke, but they were obviously trying to steal our stuff in broad daylight.  It wasn't even crowded where we were walking around.  They were such poor thieves that Eli and I couldn't really get upset about it, but it was the first time I'd ever been almost mugged by children. 

The weird appetizer scorched my tastebuds, like usual, but it wasn't an unpleasant flavor.  We had to go up to a little cart where a guy was handing out palm-sized plastic trays to the small crowd surrounding him.  He would then pick up a thin, hollow, fried ball of dough or something.  There was a hole in the top, and he would pour this red stuff (some kind of sweet chili sauce) inside the ball, then lean over to a vat with a spigot next to him.  The vat had this pea colored liquid sloshing around inside it, and he put a squirt of the green stuff over the red stuff inside the ball.  He then hands the ball to whoever has their hand and tray out.  You're supposed to eat the liquid-filled ball in one bite, but it was just a bit more than I could fit in my mouth.  Let me be clear, the guy, the stall, and the vat all looked pretty dirty, and all I could think of was that I was going to get typhoid from this, pear or no pear.  He'd already put a ball in my tray though, so I didn't want to be rude to the couple we were with.  I ate it.  It tasted weird, but better than it looked.  Then I needed water right away (hence the reason Eli was carrying around a water bottle when we were psuedo-mugged). 

Later this afternoon, Eli and I are planning to take Dante to check out the rooftop gardens on our building.  I know, we lead such exciting lives...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Slow on purpose.

Dante and I went to a baby playgroup today.  It was fun to talk to other moms, and Dante got to steal toys from other kids for two hours straight, so he was good.  When we got home, I then had to take the housekeeper shopping for the last of the food supplies we needed.  Eli wants lasagna tonight, which meant we needed to buy all the ingredients and the pan for that.  Also I needed some more fruit (the pear hasn't given me typhoid yet).  As a result of all this busy time, I've only been home for a little bit and most of the day is gone. Some of you may remember when you asked me what I would do in India, and I answered that I would write.  This was my intention (and technically I'm writing right now...shut up, it totally counts), but I haven't been able to work on my dissertation at all.  I can offer you a bevy of excuses, but the truth is that I'm just not making the time for it that I need to.  Yesterday, I got an email that I need to send the English department a bio of myself.  I've avoided doing this the last five years mostly due to laziness.  This time, it wasn't a request.  So I cruised over to the department page to see what everyone else had up.  That was my mistake.  I was happy living in ignorant bliss of how unpublished I really am.  Everyone else has very respectable lists of where they've been published, and I'm not even attempting to write, let alone sending stuff off to editors.  It just reinforces my fear that my degree and my writing (they take up two separate entries on my big  To Do list) are becoming less and less important to me.  I can understand the degree becoming less important as my prospects of using it to actually find a job dwindle into single digit percentages.  But my writing has always been high on the list.  When did taking my housekeeper shopping (a task she can clearly do on her own) become more important than playing with my characters?  I used to have so much ambition, now I feel accomplished if Dante hasn't thrown himself off our balcony and I've managed to shower during the course of the day.  Well, I could be playing right now, couldn't I? 

And now, some pictures:

That's right, Fruit Ninja gelato...you know you want some.

This was in the basement parking of one of the malls, right next to the elevators.  Awesome (if somewhat sexist), right?

This is a pig in the middle of the road, not being run over.

This is the back half of a cow in the road.  We were moving so I couldn't get a full shot.  What you can't see is all the traffic just swerving around the cow like it belonged there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pears

I'm reading this blog that I used to follow written by a fellow author of paranormal romance, and I can't remember why I stopped reading it.  (Ooo..something shiny!)  Right.  So, she's doing these recaps of Fifty Shades of Grey, chapter by chapter.  I've been of the opinion that the sudden popularity of Fifty Shades does not make it a good book.  I've read my share of erotica, and this is nothing special.  I can recommend a lot of books that are considerably better and contain less abusive overtones.  In a moment of obliviousness, I realized yesterday that E.L. James is a woman.  My subconscious just assumed that an erotica author who doesn't list their full name and glorifies borderline abuse must be male.  I was wrong.  Now don't get me wrong, I have no beef with BDSM lifestyles, but the one described in these books is not healthy.  It's not the bondage, it's the absolute control that Christian has to have over every aspect of Ana's life.  That, my friends, is how episodes of Law and Order: SVU start.  Anyway, this blogger (Jennifer Armintrout, you can find her here) share a similar view, and her posts are hilarious.  I realize many of my friends enjoy these books, so I'm wondering if some of you who have read the series can look through her posts and tell me if she's presenting the book accurately.  Not the snark, I get that.  I mean the actual events of the book.  I know from experience how easy it is to shape events to fit your view of them...I spent 10 years in college writing papers that did just that. 

I had my first fresh fruit today.  The last five days or so have been spent searching shops for things my housekeeper says we need, so I haven't spent much time eating at home, ergo, no fresh anything.  Everyone has warned me to wash the fruits and veggies here before eating them, so I've been hesitant to get any in case I didn't wash it well enough.  I had a pear for lunch, so I guess we'll see in the next day or so if I suddenly contract typhoid (note: I have no idea if you can get typhoid from fruit).  Joy (the housekeeper) is making us an Indian dinner per Eli's request.  This will be our first dinner from her.  She made french toast this morning, and Eli loved it, but it just tasted like fried bread to me.  I realized after eating a few bites that she must have used actual butter to cook the bread.  It's what I do when I make pancakes for Eli, but it has an enormous number of calories so I don't partake.  I just use a little Pam when I make my pancakes.  Honestly, I like the lighter taste better anyway.  So I had butter fried toast for breakfast and my stomach has been rumbling all day from having a week's worth of fat in one sitting.  Eli was happy though.

To add to my fat arse, we went to visit this guy in West Delhi on Sunday who was selling the elliptical machine that is now sitting behind me.  We should have seen it coming but we didn't.  The guy (and his family) expected us to stay for tea and snacks and exchange inane chit chat for a while.  Apparently, this is par for the course here, and if we decline, it's considered the height of rudeness.  Eli and I were both aware that this ritual happened, but we assumed it was only with people you knew, not with people you found on the internet and had just met.  Our bad.  What does this have to do with my fat arse, you ask?  Well, part of the snack ritual involved their 4 year old son bringing us what we assumed were candy bars.  We politely thanked him and got up to go shortly afterward, attempting to leave the candy in the chairs where we were sitting.  The guy's wife noticed and handed them to us so we didn't forget our candy gifts.  In my purse they went.  So far, most of the Indian sweets I've eaten have been "weird," meaning not what I would consider a delicious dessert (not counting the evil dessert bar at the hotel).  Later that evening, I was emptying my purse (as I'm wont to do every evening during my arguably [Eli says yes, I say no] OCD cleaning binge...I can't sleep if the house is untidy), and I pulled out two slightly melted candy bars.  Instead of just throwing them away, I decided to see what they considered a candy bar here.  This is what the package says: "milk chocolate wafer with smooth milk and hazelnut filling."  I can sum up my entire relationship with hazelnut by saying "pirouettes," so I wasn't overly impressed.  Also, I don't really like wafers.  Then Eli goes "so it's like a Twix with hazelnut filling?"  We both stared at the package in question for a moment, then I shrugged and tore it open.  I like Twix (Twixes?  Twix's? Twixi?) well enough, and there's a chance that the wafer was more Kit Kat than dry biscuit.  I took a bite as Eli watched in rapt attention.  Lo and behold, it was really good.  I love milk and hazelnut filling.  It was like a Kit Kat and a Twix made sweet (ha!) love and produced this delicious confection.  And this is why I can't lose weight in India.  People keep giving me deceptively tasty foods that I think I won't eat.  Also because my new elliptical has a different size plug than the sockets in our walls.  Eli is buying a converter today.

We finished season 3 of BBT and have seasons 4 and 5 on tap.  I've also downloaded the first couple of episodes of Glee season 4 and Bones season 8.  Party time tonight.  We've decided that it's just easier to "borrow" the files from a certain site that will not be named (savvy?) instead of attempting to watch Hulu.  Does it count if my only exercise is in frustration?  I'm going with yes...hand me another Twit Kax bar.


Friday, September 21, 2012

11th floor.

We moved into our apartment today.  Eli had to work late, so all the moving was on me.  It took three trips with the SUV full of stuff.  How did I gather so much stuff in only 3 weeks?  Pros and cons: The furniture and drapes turned out really nice, but the toilets and the AC in our bedroom didn't work.  The maid only had time to clean half the apartment before she had to leave for the weekend.  She starts for real on Monday.  Conveniently, that means I have to clean the rest of the apartment if I want to actually use it.  No big.  I probably would have gone over it again anyway.  The guy is coming tomorrow to fix the AC, the plumber already fixed the toilets, and Dante only screamed for 5 minutes in his new crib.  Once I have everything unpacked (and cleaned) I'll make a quick video tour and post it. 



Friday, September 7, 2012

Spicy

Eli has been sending out update emails, so I'm thinking of adding his thoughts on here for anyone not on the email list. Here are some more of my thoughts from Wednesday and Thursday:


I had my table stolen at lunch. I went down to the buffet (I know, I'm working on becoming one of those holy cows), and my purse was obviously not good enough to hold my table. It was probably just a mistake since the waitstaff seats each table and my purse was doing a good job of blending in with the floor. Let's get this straight right now, I love Indian food, but every single Indian dish I've tried here has seriously injured my tastebuds. Eli gave me some potato pancake thing this morning and said "it's a little spicy." I took a bite and had to drain the water bottle I'd just received. Then I couldn't taste anything the whole rest of the meal, which pretty effectively limited my time at the dessert bar. And seriously, who thought it was a good idea to have a magnificent dessert bar at breakfast? I can't fit into my pants anymore. Gah. I had steak at lunch too. It was really good, and interestingly enough, it was the only serving spoon that wasn't dirty (yes, they were little steaks served with a big spoon). We eat in there enough that the staff recognizes me. Our usual waiter came by to ask "Where is Sir?" As if Sir was his name. I've had the same experience with Rebecca, the nanny. She calls me Ma'am as a name, but it's also used as a noun. Like "How can you talk to your Ma'am with your bad English?" I actually overheard that comment from Rebecca's brother, who was on the phone with her. All the staff call me Ma'am as a name, but it was really easy to get used to. I think we're going to have to find a new nanny, unfortunately. Dante loves Rebecca, and she's nice with a lot of energy, but she's unreliable. This is her first week of work and two of the days she showed up late, two days she wanted our driver to take her home, and today she asked for the day off. Unreliable. I really wanted a live-in nanny anyway. Now that we have an apartment picked out, we can actually house a live-in nanny. Of course, since we have a not-live-in nanny, we've been interviewing live-in all-rounders (domestic help who cook/clean/launder/basically do everything). I know we have a servant's quarters, but I wonder if it would be big enough for two. Probably not, they're pretty tiny.

We found an apartment I love, but there are some conditions that had to be worked out with the owner, like furniture. The preliminary contract is being signed today, then the real contract will be signed when we get it in like a week. Then we'll move in. In the meantime, I'm supposed to go shopping with the owner to pick out the furniture. I hope it works out okay because I have no idea what kind of budget he's considering. Until the apartment is ready, we're staying in the hotel, which has lost some of it's shine. We must have 8 or 9 keycards at this point because they keep breaking. I don't mean Dante is snapping them in half (though he does keep trying to eat them); I mean they stop working so that I can't access any of the hotel areas. The elevator, the fitness center, our room...all need a key card to get into. I'll leave my room with a card I assume works, but then I'll get stuck in the fitness room because I can't get the elevator to work with a card. That happened this morning at 7am. Eli was trying to sleep in, and I had to call and wake him up because I was stuck on the Lower Lobby level. Eli never seems to have this problem. I hypothesize that I'm coming into my superpowers and that's throwing off the magnetics in the card. Clearly.

I went to a meeting yesterday of a group called Gurgaon Connection. It's for expats living in Gurgaon. The meeting was a coffee date for all the newcomers (meaning living here for less than 3 months). It was very enlightening. First, it was happening at the Aralias complex, which now has me drooling to live there. The central park/pool/fitness area is amazing. It looks like the Hawaii of my dreams. Of course, it's 3 lakh rupees to live there (about $6000 per month), but the apartments are 5 bedrooms with a huge terrace and about 6000 square feet. Honestly, I don't need that much space, I just want to be near the community area. Also, these places all have little convenience stores in the complex that sell fresh fruit and stuff. When I say fresh, I mean it just came from the farm. Imagine access to a farmer's market every day. The Exotica, where our apartment is, isn't finished yet. I could see the pool from our balcony, but it didn't have any water in it. We were told that they'd finish the fitness center/convenience store/pool/etc after they've finished all the towers...sometime next year. The green space and the kid's play area are nice, and there were kids using them when we came through to tour the apartment. That's a good sign to me. What am I going to do without easy access to a fitness center? Eli and I talked about getting an elliptical machine for our apartment since that's pretty much the only thing I use in the gym. I like the plan, but it depends on the cost. I guess I could always join a gym here. Or convince one of the ladies I met who live at the Aralias to let me mooch off of their fitness center. It's just down the street.

Oops, I got distracted...right, I went to a coffee meet-up, and I learned a lot. Like that the police found a dead body in the field just outside the Aralias main gate (all these communities are surrounded by serious walls and gates). Apparently, the guy was murdered and left somewhere he would be easily found as a warning. That discussion was followed up with assurances that Gurgaon is perfectly safe during the day. The three ladies running the group warned us all (all female) not to go out alone at night. They also made clear that going out with just your driver is the same as going out alone. I was convinced. Not that I could leave at night anyway without someone here to watch Dante. Now, if we had a live-in nanny.... Hmm.


Almost forgot the pictures:



I want this woman's saree, pale green and gold.


This is not banana pudding, I don't care what the menu says.


The evil breakfast dessert bar.


Eli found Hoegaarden here at our hotel...we can't even find it in Milwaukee.


The lobby, need I mention the art?


The entrance to the pool.  The fitness center is actually inside that hill/fountain, on the right.

The area between the lobby and the pool/awesome fountain thing.


The other side of the grassy area.


And finally, the pool...well, half of it.

something that I want
something that I tell myself I need
something that I want
and I need everything I see



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Drumroll please...



Here are the highlights of my thoughts since we've gotten to India.  The ones I've written down at least.  Ignore the time/day references since they were collected over several days, up through yesterday.

There is something snacking on my legs.  I haven’t seen mosquitoes, so some part of me is worried that I suddenly have fleas.  The bites look like mosquito bites though.  Sneaky bastards.  I need to eat more garlic.  

 The first couple of days in India have convinced me that I was clearly meant to live in a hotel suite.  I love this suite, which is causing problems in the apartment search.  Nothing is measuring up to the hotel standard.  The food is amazing here, and everything is so clean.  And the workout area is amazing.  Le sigh.  The bathroom has this really cool square tile in a random pattern of white, light grey, grey, dark grey, interspersed with a shiny gold and iridescent blue-green-purple.  I want to take the wall home.  The bed is enormous with a super squishy mattress and an obscene number of pillows.  Last night, we were literally surrounded by pillows.  It was what I imagine sleeping in a cloud would be like.  The lights still confuse me.  There are buttons instead of switches, but I’m not really sure what all of them do.  Mostly, I just try not to turn off the power in the whole place on accident (I know that’s possible because I managed to do it the first night).  Speaking of power, we’ve had maybe one power outage a day, but it’s for less than 10 seconds then everything comes back on.  I can only assume the building has power back-up.  The tv channels are also weird.  They have TLC, but it’s an Indian version of TLC.  The hotel staff speak excellent English, but everyone else speaks with such a heavy accent that it’s hard to understand (if they speak English at all).  I keep waiting for someone to tell me to learn the language if I want to live here, then I remember that I’m not in America anymore and people tend not to say that in other places.  The traffic is ridiculous, and the cows have huge horns.  Not the long skinny ones like Longhorns, but the thick scary kind made for goring people who don’t show them the proper respect.  


Eli ran into the mirror in our suite two nights ago.  It was hilarious.  Of course, it was like 2am and I was suffering from sleep deprivation, but I laughed until I was wheezing.  Actually, I’m laughing right now just thinking about it.  Dante has been getting up at 2am every night, crying for an hour, then going back to sleep.  I will be so excited when the jetlag wears off. 

I flooded the bathroom this morning on accident.  I’m not sure why I felt the need to add “on accident” to that sentence since I can’t think of a good reason to flood the bathroom on purpose.  I’m not sure why the drain wasn’t up to the job of getting rid of the water, but it took all of our towels to mop up the mess.  I’m going to go ahead and blame Eli’s hair. 

I had some insightful thoughts that I reminded myself to blog about this morning, but I’ve forgotten them since then.  Shame on me for not writing them down.  There was a woman in a miniskirt and heels at breakfast.  I think the hotel is giving me a false sense of typical women’s fashion here.  I need to go spend some time in a mall.  I don’t want to go by myself though, not yet anyway.  Maybe I’ll call Shivani (the girlfriend of one of Eli’s coworkers) and see if she wants to go with me.  They spent a lot of time helping us on Saturday, so maybe she’d be willing to help me not get taken advantage of.  This whole trip would be easier if I could just speak Hindi.  If for no other reason than the joy of listening in on conversations that people think you can’t understand.  You can learn so much!

The nanny, Rebecca, wants me to teach her English grammar.  It seems I can’t escape teaching no matter where I go.  I may agree to tutor her in English if she’ll help me with Hindi.  Speaking of which, I need an English-Hindi dictionary.  The pronunciation seems pretty straight forward, but I need a solid vocabulary base.  And I need to get familiar with the grammar.  I won’t be able to read it, but I’ll be able to communicate…I hope. 

I think we may have blown out the white noise maker and the monitors on the first night.  Neither seems to be working anymore.  Blast.  Luckily, all the floors here are marble (and I mean all the floors, not just in our suite), so when Dante cries, everyone can hear it. 

I’m sitting here watching a Japanese channel with the nanny (it’s in English for some reason), and it just reinforces my insistence that I want to live in Japan.  That’s about the only thing that would keep us abroad after our stint in India.  Eli says it’s very very unlikely that JCI would open a branch in Japan since the cost would be so high.  Then again, he said it was very unlikely that they would pay for us to move to India.  He’s conservative in his predictions. 

I went to Modern Bazaar today.  That’s Gurgaon’s version of an upscale exotic foods boutique, meaning they sell American brands at ridiculously inflated prices.  I paid $7 for a small container of peanut butter.  Robbery.  Eli says I’m not allowed to shop there anymore except in special cases. 

And now, pictures:
 



Our bed with a view of the bathroom.



The other side of the room with Dante practicing his climbing skills (he gets those from Daddy).

The living room, please ignore the mess.

Dante playing with his plane at TGI Fridays at one of the malls here.  This was before he started dancing to the music (you'll notice he's rocking the outfit Erin got him for his birthday, someone go tell her).
The view from our bedroom window overlooking MG Road, which seems to be the busiest road around here.