Category Archives: crafts

Gujarat Haveli…………..

Most people who live in a foreign country want to take something special from that country back home with them to remind them of their experiences. Furniture seems a good choice because it’s also practical – of course I am also a big advocate of the impractical bejeweled souvenir as well. But I digress. Lots of our friends in Delhi have told me about the Gujarat Haveli and we finally made it out there. Holy home furnishings batman! Just on the FYI side of things Gujarat is a region in India and Haveli loosely means (very) lovely place to live and trade.

This place was amazing. It reminded me of antique stores (barns) in the U.S. but with way cooler stuff! I have absolutely nowhere to put something like this horse- but I love, love, love him. He loves me too – I just know it.

This table has brass elephants on the side.

Beautiful pots.

More beautiful pots. The one on the left is made of iron with leather braiding. The one on the right is wooden with brass trimming.

These are dowry chests. The brides family would fill these up with prezzies and they would be rolled with the wedding procession to the groom’s house. My youngest daughter had a hard time understanding all of it until I told her not to worry. She will surely marry someone who will be giving her gifts and if he needs a chest this big to fit them all in – so be it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

He might just have to come home with me one day.

Either him or one of his cousins.

Most of these are the bottoms of Hookah pipes. The ones on either end reminded me of spittoons from the wild west days but the shop keeper told me they were for water. He said that at night you fill it with water then in the morning you drink it. You leave it over night so you get the benefit of the all the minerals in the metals. Not exactly the same, same as a spittoon.

Tres cool statues.

I would not sleep at night if this guy lived in my house.

Oh, the fabulous finds just went on and on.

This chair is for the boy, the girl, and the chaperon. But it would also be great for a game of duck duck goose.

This is a coffee table made out of an old door. Magnificent!

An old swing that doesn’t have to involve a chaperon. Must be for a married couple.

There were a lot of painted things. They aren’t my fave just because I am too practical and I cannot imagine trying to fit these into a room with other things.

And you know how I love my bells! Ding ding!

We left without buying anything – because there is also Sharma Farms that I have heard we should see – but clearly we have lots to discuss. I’ll let you know how it goes. Yes, you should start feeling sorry for number one hubby right about n.o.w.

P.S. I have gotten a few emails asking for the address (I had a super hard time finding it too) so for those of you who are local – here it is….
Gujarat Haveli
Mobile 98100 66925 (you need an appointment)
43 KM Stone Delhi
Jaipur Expressway, N.H.-8
Gurgaon, Haryana
email: kutch@ndf.vsnl.net.in
(I will leave it to them to give you directions – I might get you lost. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Freezing but still warm…………………

One of the hardest thing about living in India is that we really don’t have a neighborhood. Let me correct that – we live in a neighborhood – but we don’t have a neighborhood feeling. There are no sidewalks, really nowhere to ride bikes, kids don’t play outside, and worst of all, really we don’t have any friends in the hood – especially not life-long friends. That means not many play dates and no spontaneous happy hours in the driveway.ย  No ordering pizza at the last minute and staying out way past sundown. No running through the sprinkler and chalking the driveway. No basketball in the court where dads can school their kids in just exactly how to play the game. We don’t even run into each other when taking out the trash (the trash wala comes in the gate and collects our garbage) or when checking the mail (it’s all delivered to hubby’s office). We don’t bump into friends at the gas station (our driver fills up the car) or at the grocery store (they really don’t exist).

So, yesterday was pure heaven. Each of the kids had a friend spend the night. The house was loud and a mess – think play dough meets paint meets cheese puffs meets hot chocolate with marshmallows. We ordered pizza and made waffles and eggs and bacon. My kids are still young enough that they will sometimes still play in groups of various ages of kids. Yesterday was full of that awesome synchronicity. Eight year olds and twelve year olds (with every age in between) played and danced and laughed together for the entire day with thankfully very little fighting.

Then they got an idea. As they called it – a great idea.

Yeah – uh oh.

They decided that it would be a lot of fun to have a bake sale. Excuse me?

Me: You do realize it is below freezing outside right?
Bear: Yeah – so
Me: Please say yes and not yeah. And enlighten me, who do you think is going to buy things? Bake sales are usually in the warm weather.
Bear: If we go to the pool, people will be running by there.
Me: With their wallets? If they are running, they may not want sweets.
Bear: Oh – but cars go by too. Lots of cars. It’s a busy street.
Me: What are you going to sell?
Bear: Can we make cookies?
Me: Honey, we don’t have flour – remember we haven’t lived here in 6 months. Your options are what we might call limited.
Bear: I’ll be right back.
Me: (to myself) good heavens.
Bear: We have brownie mix.
Me: Okay – you know they will get cold – possibly frozen right?
Bear: That’s fine, we’ll wrap them in foil.
Flower: We want to make something.
Me: What do you want to?
Flower: What is there?
Me: Yeah – I am not getting that involved in this – you go look and find out. Report back to me when you figure something out.
Angel: Do we have lemonade? We want to sell something too.
Me: (no longer to myself) oh good heavens. Sweetie – we don’t have lemonade. That is really a summertime drink. There is ice on the ground here. It’s cold.
Bear: We are going to make hot chocolate too. (Nice that he fed off his sister’s idea and stole the thunder right out from under her.)
Angel: Hey.
Me: What are you going to put that in?
Bear: The lemonade pitcher.
Angel: No fair. We need the pitcher for lemonade.
Me: Bear, that isn’t going to keep it warm – you cannot call it hot chocolate.
Angel, we don’t have lemonade -why don’t you and your friend make art work.
Bear: fine
Angel: fine
Flower: chocolate covered pretzels
Me: I really want to see a marketing plan before I decide if this is a go.
Bear: You always tell us to try new things. That there is no sense in not trying. Why is this any different?
Me: You are confusing me with a mother who encourages her children. Are you sure that was me?
Bear: Yes.
Flower: Pretty sure.
Me: Dang.

So they made brownies, chocolate covered pretzels, hot chocolate, and artwork. They carried the table and chairs and blankets and goodies up to the pool. They made signs. And they had customers (not all of them relatives). One of my friends bought a play dough eyeball from Angel – and she paid $10 for it and insisted they all split the profits. Yes, she has forever cemented her place in my heart.

They actually lasted about an hour and a half before they realized that 22 degrees is really pretty cold.

They walked away with red noses, about $20 (to be split 7 ways), and memories that will warm their hearts on even the coldest of days.

Tonight we are hosting a New Years Eve party for the families of many of our friends. Pray for me.

Happy 2010.

A Charlie Brown Christmas……………

About a year ago, I was decorating our house for Christmas and getting ready to move our family around the world. It was an overwhelming time and it felt a little rushed. In many ways, it is mostly a blur. Immediately after Christmas, I literally stuffed all the decorations into boxes, shoved them in the closets, and checked one more thing off my to do list. Christmas – done and undone – check. Then I began really focusing on moving my family to India.

What I didn’t realize is that almost exactly a year later, I would visit Singapore all decorated for Christmas and I would hear Christmas songs in every store. That I would buy candy canes in Singapore just because I could – they just don’t seem to be available in Delhi. And that when I got home I would just stick them in the cabinet. Because we were treeless. I don’t think I have ever been treeless. In fact, we usually put up two tress in the U.S. – one that has decorations the kids made and one that no one is allowed to touch but me. But now, all of our decorations are in the U.S. – except for a few that I bought at a craft show a few weeks ago.

My parents got divorced when I was pretty young, so I often celebrated Christmas twice. My mother’s birthday is Christmas day. It’s always been a wonderful time of year for me. After I got married, we started celebrating Christmas three or four times – just depending on how many different groups of family members were gathering together. Christmas Eve with number one hubby’s family is a wonderful, cherished tradition. Christmas morning with most of my family is magical. Then of course, we have our own party of five celebration. Throw in a few parties and some cookie baking and a white elephant gift exchange and you have yourself a Christmas season.

Well, most of that simply cannot happen when you live around the world from the people you hold most dear. Even putting up decorations seems like just going through the motions. But not being able to put up decorations is really depressing. We will be home for literally 20 hours Christmas day – the rest of the time we will be traipsing around the world. We are counting our blessings and know just how very lucky we are. But, something is missing.

Until last night. Last night, number one hubby brought home this. Now you know how he earns his status. Today after school we are going ornament shopping. We might even make some hot chocolate and sing a few Christmas songs.

Charlie Brown would be very, very proud. (For those of you not familiar with Charlie Brown – he is a cartoon character and one of his stories is about how he finds this little twig of a tree and brings it to life with love and lights. He turns nothing into magic with the spirit of Christmas.)

P.S. Someone is probably curious – so I will go ahead and answer the question now – yes, there are over a million Christians in India and they celebrate Christmas. Lucky for us! There are stores that sell trees and ornaments and decorations. It’s just that the town won’t be all decked out in red and green – it’s a big difference! But it feels better now.

Save the Date…………

final graphic w tree


AWA

Holiday Mela

Sunday, November 15th
10:00am to 3:30p
at the
American Embassy School
New Delhi
Entrance fee: rs. 200
(children under 13 free)

Over 100 vendors
food court
used book sale
kids activity center

Global Adjustments and At a Glance………

I mentioned the other day that I went to a presentation given by Ranjini Manian the CEO and founder of Global Adjustments.

It was very interesting on a number of levels. First of all, I won a prize! Yeah for me. It was this wash cloth. This washcloth was made by handicapped people and it is adorable. They may be handicapped but they sure are talented.

scan0001

I also won a cd that has the Indian National Anthem on it. Yeah for me again. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Here is a link to it if you want to hear it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZi3fwP09zw. This one is by AR Rahman – that’s right movie buffs – THE AR Rahman of Slumdog Million. Jai Ho indeed. It is a beautiful song.

And just because I am bi-partisan like that, here is a link to the U.S. National Anthem by Whitney Houston. And yes, I LOVE this song.

Now, back to the meeting. Global Adjustments is a group that helps expats get more comfortable in their new surroundings. As such, the presentation was focused on helping us survive our transitions. Now, this is a monumental task because there were probably 125 people at the meeting – about 10 were Americans, one was an Indian who left and has returned to live in India, and then there were people from everywhere else. So forget about a level playing field – there isn’t a lot of common ground – except for the fact that we were all willing to take on the adventure of moving far from home in hopes of growing as global citizens.

So there are some universal truths. You do not have to agree/like with them – but just knowing that they exist will help with your transition.

Here goes……..

Language

English by any other name is not necessarily the English you know. Communicating can be frustrating here. Many people hire staff who claim to speak English then get extremely frustrated when they have a hard time talking with them in English. As you know, this has NEVER happened to ME personally, but some poor other frustrated souls. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, what Ranjini recommended is to use fewer words. My hubby actually recommends this too. He is wicked smart like that.

The ever polite English woman might ask her cook for a cup of tea in this way …

It would be so lovely if you could possibly make me a little cup of tea, if you wouldn’t mind, please. Thank you so much.

Apparently, “a cup of tea, please” is much less muddled and easier to understand. Translation – less frustrating and it means you get that bloody cup of tea much faster.

Namaste

This is the word you use to greet someone in India. It means much more than just hello or nice to meet/see you. It literally means “I bow to the divine in you”. Now that is some kick arse kind of lovely – don’t you think? It is accompanied by holding your palms together at your chest and bending a little towards the person you are greeting.

Time

Time does not exactly stand still here – but it is a relative term. I have learned an important word – lugbug (I am not sure how to spell it – but that is how you I say it.) Lugbug means “about”. That is how time is measured here – about. It is not precise.

Ranjini gave the example of ASAP. To A-type Americans this means yesterday or at least right now. As SOON as possible. To Indians this means as soon as “p.a.u.s.i.b.l.e.” – whenever you get it done – pauses are possible.ย  See there is a big difference.

Dress

Indians dress much more conservatively than most Westerners. Knees and shoulders covered. Yes, even when it is 110+ degrees outside. Not everyone visiting/living here follows those guidelines – but really it is respectful to do so. It will save you stares and maybe even some jeers.

Ranjini also mentioned that if possible take an Indian woman with you shopping for clothes. Apparently, Indians can be critical of each others dress (women being critical must be universal hee hee) and there are some fabric/styles that are more acceptable than others. I don’t really follow this one too closely. I have never been too overly aware of what other people think about the way I dress – I am a pretty boring dresser – solids with solids – so I wear what I like. If I get laughed at, it won’t be the first time. But this good to know if you are at all self -conscious or if you are going to a business meeting or traditional Indian event. There I would seek out some guidance.

Yes/No/Silence

Apparently, most Indians consider it rude to say no to a request. So, many times, they will agree to do something that is simply not possible. Enter frustrated expat full of expectations that yes actually means yes. There’s that damn language barrier again. So, if you get silence or a not exactly a resounding yes response – it is important to ask follow-up questions. How are you going to do this? When are you going to do this? Are you absolutely sure you can do this?

Ranjini also suggested that it might be helpful to give people an “out” when you ask them something. Tell them that you want an honest answer and it is okay to say that it might be hard to accomplish or even that it cannot be done. Explain that it is better to be upfront with expectations than to disappoint you later.

This is not just in an office my friends, remember this for electricians, carpenters, cooks, drivers, EVERYBODY!

Heirarchy

It is important to remember that this is a hierarchical society – whether you agree with it or not. Bigger cities are getting away from this somewhat – but not entirely. Your driver will likely outrank your cook – who will outrank your housekeeper. You outrank them all. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Family

Indians are hugely attached and involved with their families. It is important to remember how significant their families and extended families are to them. Respect those bonds.

Domestic Help

I had several questions about this and sadly there was not enough time to open up a real discussion on this issue. But Ranjini said that most expats need to let go of the guilt of having staff. It is part of life here and in many ways it is (almost) a necessity. I still cannot bring myself to say it is required – but believe me it is extremely helpful and my life would stink without any help. So, I count my blessings on this one.