|Adventures in India||
Kalani & his friends in their train berth
Kalani's growing up. Yesterday we put him on a train with kids from his class and the two classes above him (tho, small school so the last class is kids up to about 10th grade). It was a bit nerve-wracking since the teacher/chaperones were some of the last to arrive but the kids were all excited. They'll be on the train for 44.5 hours and arrive in Delhi tomorrow morning. Kalani's got 7 days in Delhi and surrounds, then a 36-hour train ride back, arriving in Bangalore on the night of 21 December. If you want to see where he is in real time, go to this link and type in 12629 (for Delhi bound train) or 12650 for his return train (click on the train name that appears below the search box (he left Dec 11 and will leave Delhi Dec 19), you may want to have Google Earth open).
Had a good birthday celebration. Tim and the boys bought me a cake (it says "Happy Birthday Ma" in Kannada) with the best candle I've ever seen. It went up like a pine tree on fire, then the petals opened into a lotus with candles at the tips. Pretty darn cool. Not so cool was that it didn't start playing "Happy Birthday" in plingy computereze until sometime in the middle of the night and then it took 12 hours to figure out how to shut it up for more than a few minutes at a time (final solution: pull all the wires). Also got lunch at one of Bangalore's two breweries (Kalani had his first hamburger since leaving the US) and walked through the ritziest mall in Bangalore (Louis Vuitton, anyone?). Sure is a different world than the one I'm calling home these days. The boys also got me some jingly silver anklets (pics below).
I recognize 3 of the 5 veggies here
I'm getting better at buying leaves and am developing a relationship with the sopu guy. Today as I tentitively went thru my list ("um, palak, and, um, kothumbre, and, uhm....") he asked (in Kannada & sign language) if I wanted a mixture. "Ok." So here's today's Rs 30 of vegetables. Not sure what most of them are, but I'm looking forward to learning how to cook them.
Diwali lamps for sale
Diwali is one of the most important holidays here in India. Like most holidays it seems to celebrate multiple things depending on where and who you are, but in general, it is the start of the Hindu new year and known as the Festival of Lights. Lights are sold everywhere, from little clay dishes for lighting homemade oil lamps to rice paper lanterns to twinkly lights on a strand to the bright pop of fireworks; everywhere. It's also a festival of giving and (although no where near the consumer insanity of Christmas in the US) it's a big shopping time.
Staying calm when life gets crazy
Our visit to Mysore started with an autorickshaw debacle in which Glen, Sasha, and Anita were whisked away by an auto that simply disappeared. Working out where they were and why they hadn't followed our auto, involved punctured tires, an irate driver, and finally our driver taking all 7 of us into his auto. Then somehow, instead of the relatively short ride to Chamundi Hill to see the temple and the Nandi monolith, we were talked into a 30km drive out to see the old Hoysala temple at Somnathpura (check out earlier blogs on that) and our auto driver was calling a friend to take Glen and family. So our couple hours away from the hotel turned into 12 hours away but, perhaps all the best days are unplanned.
New traffic light at Mill & Sampige Road intersection
The craziest thing happened while we were off at BRT and MM Hills. We came back to find a traffic light at the intersection near our flat! There wasn't one when we left and there was a functioning one when we came back 3 nights later. It may not sound so remarkable, but I have only seen about a dozen traffic lights in the entire city and zero stop signs (I have not seen a single stop sign since leaving the U.S.) -- to suddenly have one near our house was just short of amazing.
It doesn't help much with crossing the road since the left-hand turn arrow (they drive on the opposite side of the road here) is always lit so it's actually easier as a pedestrian to cross further from the intersection.
Things here in India are both more structured and more spontaneous than life in the US. This morning's spontaneity came in an email. I was just about to reprimand Tim for turning on the internet the instant he got out of bed when he said "hey, message from the school -- it's been cancelled for today!"
First, know before you start: it won't be cheap. Bangalore has some of the highest rents in the country.
Next look at available flats. You are probably going to need to go through an agent to find anything. The rents advertised in the paper are not really what they're renting for, be prepared to be told that those are last month's rates and the rental for the same flat is now at least 10% higher.
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