Saturday, June 27, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Doesn't sound too scary you say? Fool, I say. Picture this, you are new to the country and you walk into one of several mobile phone stores in your new town's large market place. You are planning to buy a mobile (never say "cell phone", nobody will know what you are talking about) so that you can be connected to the strange world around you. It seems easy enough. Things are going well until the shopkeeper asks for your passport photos. What? You panic a little. No one told you that you would need one, is it a scam? (New comers are always suspicious.) Luckily, you remember you have one in your wallet, leftover from your passport and visa applications, so you hand it over. Whew, that was easy. Until your bank asks for one, then the Residents Welfare Association in your neighborhood wants one, your employer needs three, the appliance sales guy takes another, the dentist and the doctor each demand their due, your children's new school wants three just for the application and before you know it there are hundreds of little thumb sized photos of you and your loved ones floating around the country!
The photos required to enroll our children in school nearly pushed me over the edge. (Watch the running total.) We had to hand in five photos of the child (5), one of Mr. Smith and one of me (7) with every application (42). Then, days before school actually started, twelve more of Mr. Smith (54), Number One Son (66) and I (78), plus two more of each child (90), for ID cards. Are we done? No way! On the first day of school, Almanacs were sent home with each student. These serve as a sort of appointment book for the year and the daily source of communication between parent and teacher. Each book requires two more pictures of the student (102), their parents (126) and their older brother who might pick them up from school at some point in the future (138). Are you catching a glimpse of the mania?
This evening when Mr. Smith gets home from a long day at work, guess where we are going? To get new photos taken, of course! The well has run dry and we wouldn't want to be caught without.
- Item - Admittance to school for six children
- Cost - 138 passport photos
- Item - Knowing my kids are being educated plus a couple of quiet hours to read and write blog posts
- Cost - Priceless
Sunday, March 15, 2009
As I have no new ideas for posts, I have decided to look through our pictures from the last few months and share a few of the best. I hope you all enjoy it! First up is our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. In December I found myself unprepared for a Christmas in India. We had assumed that we would always be in the US for our holiday season, but a couple of unplanned trips home last year changed our plans, as well as our budget. With the knowledge that I had to buy gifts, a tree and a complete set of decorations, I will admit that I skimped on the tree. When we pulled the tree out to assemble it, I realized that it was far too small for our large room and high ceilings. Next I noticed that the middle section was actually smaller than the rest of the tree! Apparently some other Christmas tree in India has our middle section. On top of all that, it seems that the photographer had a little too much non-alcoholic eggnog and couldn't focus the automatic camera! But we all loved the tree and by Dec 25 we had convinced ourselves that it was beautiful. Having said that, I am sure that next year our Indian decorations will look gorgeous on a new tree.
But did you know we already had an unofficial pet?
This is Jenny. Jenny is a stray who spends most of his time just outside of our gate. Yes, I said "his". When we first arrived, my kids named him Jenny. Soon after, it was pointed out that Jerome might be a more suitable name, but it was too late. Jenny stuck. Jenny was much smaller and much skinnier back then, but after a month or so of eating our leftovers, Jenny's ribs disappeared and my kids had a loyal friend.
Earlier this year Mr. Smith and I went away for a weekend in Mumbai (Bombay). I met some great people and saw some amazing sights, but my favorite was...
And To The Right, More Laundry!
This laundry facility services the hotels and the hospitals in Mumbai. I never ever want a job there, but it is an amazing sight to see.
It's good to know that after being here for two years there are still new things to see and try. I have no idea what this fruit is called, but it was super, super sweet and kind of buttery tasting. It was too rich for me and to be honest, the sliminess was a little off putting. I have kind of a thing with food textures. If any of my readers happen to know what this is called, please, clue me in.
It Is A Thing Of Beauty
Church has been an adventure here. You might remember that last September I mentioned a few problems we had been having. Before that, we were meeting in our home. This month we have started meeting in a building that is in a market area, not a residential neighborhood, and one that is actually outfitted like a church.
Next To Shawn Bradley, Even Number One Son Looks Small!
You May Remember That Last Year Dennis The Menace Was Not Into Holi...
This Year He Felt Differently
The final picture comes with a bit of an announcement. The six school age Smith kids are going back to school! We have many reason for this decision: We found a new school, our kids are more comfortable here now, I am no good at homeschooling and finally...
My Kids Have Way Too Much Time On Their Hands!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Turbans, Dhotis, Kurta Pyjamas and Curly Toed Shoes
Then Winter rolled around again and for the first time I noticed The Sweater. Any American who has spent a winter here knows just which sweater I am talking about. I have heard it referred to as fuzzy, furry, grassy and sparkly, but they all mean the same sweater. I give you India's version Winter Wear.
Note Mr Smith's attention to detail in providing us with a close up so that you can fully appreciate the Easter Grass nature of the sweaters.
In the beginning I mistakenly believed that some unfortunate man was cold and only had his wife's sweater to use. Then I saw another...and another...and another! I soon realized that these bright sparkly sweater vests were meant for men. Any man showing up to work sporting one of these babies in the US would be in for years of ridicule (just ask Mr Smith about the time he lost a bet and had to wear a dress to work) and any young boy in a US school would become the prettiest punching bag on campus. Here, however, they are so common that I sent Mr. Smith to work with instructions to get a picture of a fuzzy sweater and he sent me four to choose from almost immediately.
As you can see, a variety of colors are available and, trust me when I tell you, this is just the tip of the sweater iceberg. After a little questioning the young man in the middle admitted that he had in fact bought his sweater in the women's section of the store. What was the give away? Not the pink color, that is one of the most popular colors. No, it was the long sleeves that gave his secret away. Despite their liberal views on color and sparkles, in India, real men wear sweater vests!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Star On Stage had lice. Of course this announcement sent the family into chaos. Number One Son grabbed Dennis The Menace and off they went to the barber. Their thinking? You can't get lice if you have no hair. I have no idea if that is true, but either way, 30 minutes later the young men in our family returned home with no hair. The girls scratched a lot and tried to count how many times in the last few weeks they had come into direct contact with Star On Stage's head, pillow, brush, play wigs, hats or scarves. For the next several hours we researched methods of de-lousing, ripped off bedding for washing and started the long process of louse hunting. The first night we found an even 50. All on one head. Everyone take a moment to get over your heebie-jeebies...ok, let's continue.
Poor Star On Stage suddenly became persona non grata as far as all of her siblings were concerned. You can't blame them, really. It is hard to hug someone good night that just had 50 bugs crawling around her head. Not to worry, ever the caring parent, I sat down with her and explained that they were just afraid that they too might end up with lice. She admitted that she would have felt the same way had it been another child with lice. Then, in a final show of solidarity, I bit the bullet and hugged my mega infested child. Then I scratched my head...
Over the course of the next few weeks the lice count dropped, more hair was cut, other kids were checked, re-checked and cleared. Finally, the lice count was zero...except on my head. Yes, I had a creepy crawly resident on my scalp. Fortunately, the level of paranoia that existed in our house lead to an early detection and a quick eradication of my unwanted guests.
Mr. Smith will no doubt be pleased to see that I have finally come out of my low tech hermit cave and have once again joined the cyber-world. However, he has already decided that one post will not be enough to make amends for my neglect. He has, therefore, decreed that two posts are required this week by way of penance. Later this week...Men's Fashion.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
For today's blog posting, I give you, "Where's mrs smith", an exciting search for the legendary, yet lately absent, author of this wildly popular blog. So please, enjoy the search and, if you miss her regular ramblings, make a comment and let her know.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I wonder what your first reaction was to seeing this symbol on my blog. When I first arrived in India I was shocked when I saw my first swastika. I could tell it was different than the one I had seen in movies and history books, the one that meant evil and hatred and danger, the one that marked everything it touched as repugnant. The angle was different (although I didn't realize that until Number One Son pointed it out), the black field was gone and the block-ish shape had been replaced with an artistic flair. I knew that if it graced homes and cars and store front signs that it had to mean something else here, in this land that was so new to me. Despite the fact that my logical brain picked up on all of these things, my stomach still turned every time I saw it. My eye would slide around it, as if not looking directly at it would make me feel better about it.
When we got the van that we would be driving for the next few years, some kind soul decorated it for us. In India, buying a new car is something to celebrate. You bring sweets to your friends and co-workers and you decorate your car. On the hood there was a beautiful red ribbon (sorry, no bow) and right there, front and center, was a bright red swastika. For weeks as we drove around the city I felt like ducking so that no one would see me in the swastika car.
This isn't something you can ignore for long in India. It is everywhere. Clothing, wrapping paper, even sidewalks. They come in all shapes and sizes and are made with all different mediums. They also often have four dots included with them, like the one below.
Even our neighbors house is decorated with them.
I decided to try to find out just what this particular geometric pattern represented in Indian culture and as usual found that there were several different opinions. The ones that came up the most were, a blessing of wealth, good luck and general well being. I think it is so interesting that one symbol could have such diametrically opposed meanings, depending on where you were raised.
I admit that after almost two years I have lost a lot of the old emotional reactions that I had, but I still don't choose keepsakes with swastikas on it and I don't see that changing anytime soon.