Category Archives: moving

A Change of Scenery………..

If you are new to this blog, please let me give you a little background. (If you have been following along for awhile, please feel free to skip on down to the 4th paragraph.)

Last August my husband asked me if I was willing to move our family from the Eastern United States to India. He said it with a straight face, so I figured I better at least find out where India is. What I discovered is that it is really far away from home. After throwing up, I said yes. He left in September, which was just too soon for me. So the kids and I followed in late January. We were in Delhi for 4 months and then back home for 2 months this summer. We just returned to Delhi this week.

When we lived here before, we lived in a flat. A small flat. A very small flat. Did I mention that it wasn’t very big? That was the second hardest part of moving here – the first was, of course, leaving behind the people we care most about. We went from a house on a cul-de-sac that had more than one level with a backyard full of neighborhood amenities – like a pool, playground, basketball court, and tennis court (oh yeah and grass) – to the middle floor of a house with absolutely no outside space. None. It was claustrophobic. We didn’t have much living space either. Like I said, it was claustrophobic. People lived above us and people lived below us. We felt squished. Have I mentioned how small it felt? Maybe I should really explain that better.

Now, I am not saying that we could not have lived in that small apartment for another year. We absolutely could have. But thankfully, we don’t have to. Number One Hubby found us a house. We are still close to the school and are actually closer to some of our new friends. Bonus. Bonus. We have a rooftop terrace filled with lovely potted plants. And a patio. With a family of stray cats who comes to visit eat the food I put out. There is a park across the street. And no one lives above us or below us. We have our own little space that is just ours. It is just fabulous.

Now we have room to invite friends over. Room to sit outside. Room to have one child study and one child watch t.v. – at the same time – without interrupting each other. Room to have one child read before she goes to bed and room for the other child to turn the lights out early.

This change of scenery is nice and we are really appreciating and enjoying our new space!

In celebration of our change of scenery – I changed the scenery on my blog too. You Like???

What would Dr. Seuss Do……….

I know times are tight and everyone is suffering, but my local library took it a little too far yesterday. I get it that checking books out at the library saves money – it is a wonderful convenience. So I try to do it. But I don’t always follow up with “part b” of that idea – the part of returning the books on time so you don’t have to pay fines – thus guaranteeing the saving money part of the deal.

In my attempt to be a productive member of society, I went to the library to pay any fines we owe. I thought this was pretty good – we are moving out of the country – I didn’t really have to do this – the library police aren’t really going to track me down in Delhi and make me read more books.

I get up to the counter – tell the librarian why I am there – apologize for not having my library card – ask if she would mind looking up our account numbers.

Librarian: Oh, you don’t have your card?
Me: No – I am sorry – we are moving – it’s been crazy – I don’t have the right purse – Is there a way you can look it up? Please. Pretty please with library fines on top.
Librarian: We charge for that service now
Me: Service? What service?
Librarian: Looking up your card number
Me: Isn’t it on the computer – the one right in front of you – the one you will be using to look up my fine anyway?
Librarian: Yes
Me: Ok then – how much is it?
Librarian: It is a dollar per account number
Me: Gasping for air – a dollar? I have 4 card numbers to look up – I just want to clear my account – I might not even have $4 in fines (yes, that was wishful thinking)
Librarian: Wait, are you just paying fines?
Me: (with no books in my hand) Yes – we are moving – don’t really need to check out anything – unless of course you have a reciprocity agreement with the Public Library of New Delhi – now that you mention it, I do need something good for the plane
Librarian – completely unamused
Me – that would be “yes”, I am just paying a fine, but I will need you to look up the fines on that computer – if I can’t even remember my library card, I certainly do not know how much my fines are
Librarian – in that case we won’t charge you
Me – Wow
Librarian: over-extending herself to enter my phone number – yes, all ten digits – to find my account numbers.

She had to do it 4 whole times and it took her about 2 and a half minutes to look up my numbers, calculate my fines, collect my money, and give me change. In fact, it took her longer to tell me about the charges than it did to collect the overdue fines. I can totally (not) see why they are charging for that service now. If I had books to check out and they mentioned charging me to simply look up my account number, I probably would have actually left the books at the counter. Seriously, enough is enough. That would certainly cause more work for the librarian than just entering those 10 digits into the computer.

So, I paid the $20 in fines (still cheaper than the book store) and I cleared my conscience of late fees and overdue books. Yes, I believe Dr. Seuss would be proud – very proud.

I know this is not cause for a riot – maybe it’s not even worthy of a blog post – but it really irritates me that the library would charge me for something they have to do anyway. Is it really that much more daunting to have to enter a phone number than to swipe a card? Really, is it? Isn’t this why computers were invented? To make life easier? Let’s use technology to our advantage. Seriously.

Blah Blah Blah………………

P.S. I don’t personally hold the librarian responsible for the decision to charge the fines – I know someone above her made that decision – don’t worry – no librarians were hurt or yelled at in the writing of this post.

Surrounded……

This summer has not lent itself well to me writing very often. Thank you so much to those of you have mentioned you missed reading my words – I have missed writing them too. But, I have been soaking in every second of being home and being surrounded by dear friends and family. Priorities have shifted to just being home. To just living in the moment. To just BEING here. We have not been busied with our usual camps and teams and wild distractions. It’s been playdates and sleepovers and happy hours and just sitting on the front porch. It’s been blue skies and shredded cheese and tomato sandwiches. It’s been scratchy cat kisses from our little cat Queso who really cannot travel across oceans to live with us.

As we get close to our time to leave again, we have been blessed with many opportunities to celebrate the amazing people in our lives. Activities have taken a back seat. Writing, unfortunately, has too.

Last week, I missed a family reunion. One that only happens every three years. I was just too tired to solo parent an 8 hour drive – twice – in three days.  I finally am getting it that you can’t do everything – you don’t have to be everywhere. It was the right decision not to go, but I hated not seeing some wonderful people who are surely very busy too.

At the reunion, we always go to a family church for a service. There is a tombstone there that marks the grave of my grandfather. A man who died when my father was 2 months old. That in some ways makes him larger than life. A mystery. He also shares my brother’s name. It is a surreal experience to stand at his grave with my brother’s name. I can’t explain why that is special to me but it is. Maybe because the past connects to the present between two people who share blood and names but have never met.

This past week has been exceptionally busy. We started off with a visit from Gram, my mom. I treasured every story, every minute of her time here. It will be too long before I see her again. India has taken some of our phone conversations from us – but we fall back into the rhythm quickly. She used to teach psychology and I will forever be her case study. She lets me vent and dislikes the same annoyances in people that I do. She isn’t a big fan of anyone who ticks me off – what is not to love!

Then I went downtown with a group of friends for an impromptu girls night out in Washington, DC. Funny enough, as we were walking near Dupont Circle, we walked past a statue of Ghandi. That brought it all briefly full circle. Now, I am in DC with some of my favorite women in the world standing in front of a Ghandi memorial. And no, I did not have my camera. I know, I know. Damn it.

Another dear, dear friend of mine stopped by and talked to me while I was getting ready. I felt like I was in a cartoon. She picked out my clothes and my shoes and sent me on my way to a night on the town. Just like when we were in college. I miss her already.

Next was a cake decorating extravaganza. One of my favorite moms invited some girls over to ice and re-ice cakes. She made over 20 pounds of buttercream icing and whipped up memories the girls will never forget. Besides the pound and a half of icing that found its way into my mouth, the girls iced 12 cakes beautifully. Good times and messy floors.

Those cakes made it across the street the next night for the neighborhood countdown party. We all refused to call it a goodbye – but a countdown until the day we return. It truly took me by surprise the number of people who came bearing hugs, well wishes, and yummy salads – and of course, beautiful cakes. I sat watching everyone talk and laugh and the kids play. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I will miss being home. It sounds so trite, but there really are no words.

Last night was soup at Panera with two other friends. We talked and laughed and counseled each other for hours over bread bowls. It was comfort food mixed with comfort company and I had a hard time leaving.

But, I did have to leave because my number one hubby was at home with a housefull of sleepover friends. He managed the party quite well without me and had already served up the ice cream sundaes before I got home. He has mad sleepover skills.

This afternoon I went to see my college friends for a dip in the pool. One of our friends lives in an oasis of tranquility and every year she graciously invites us to come over and lounge and dip our toes in her pool. She treated us to a scrumptious lunch and a super relaxed afternoon. Talk about a deep cleansing breath. Ahhhhh.

Then tonight my brother and sister-in-law came over to hang out at the pool for one last visit. We ordered pizza and sat in the shade while the kids splashed and kicked.

It has been a fabulous week mixed with friendship and sadness and anticipation. I will be writing again soon because it won’t be long before we head out east to continue our journey.

Until then, I am hugging twice as hard and kissing twice as much and am already beginning to miss being home. I am surrounded by people who love my family and I know that bubble will travel back with us again to India, it just won’t be as easy to see in the distance.

I didn’t see that coming………..

Yesterday I went to Target – for those of you who have never been to a Target store, let me explain. Target is a huge building/store with everything from toilet paper to milk in gallon jugs to stereos to diamond earrings (okay, maybe it’s cubic zirconium). It is overstocked with items that most of us could absolutely live our entire lives without. It is clean, well-lit, and very organized. It is also inexpensive by American standards. There is a parking lot out front that can accommodate probably 200 cars at least. The cars are parked so that no other car is blocked in and they are parked/driven by their owners. I have missed Target very much.

So I went to my little happy place called Target and I found a lot of things I was hoping to find. Yeah for me.

I got in line to check out and I met Om. He was the cash register clerk.

(By the by, here is another thing that is different about the U.S. and India and I keep forgetting to mention it – when you check out in a store in India – they hand write the receipt and add it themselves – that’s right – they hand write every item and then add it up – often in their head. In America, the clerks use a scanner to tally every item and the computer adds it all up – you get a printout from the computer as your receipt. Very different. And, yes, some stores in India have computer registers – but seriously, not many.)

So anyOm. I meet Om. He has an accent that I think I recognize and I ask him where he is originally from. India. I knew it.

Where? Please say Delhi.

New Delhi. Yahoo.

I tell him we live there, that we are home visiting, blah blah blah.

And we exchange notes on Delhi and thoughts on living as an expat away from home. I don’t think he really believed me at first and asked me a couple of questions to find out what I knew. It was kind of funny. But I must have passed the test.

He moved to the U.S. with teenagers in 1988. When his job was finished he moved back to India but his children (then in college) said no thank you. We like it here. WTH?

He found a way back to the U.S. to be with his family and he is now a citizen. He said it was hard with green cards/immigration and he struggled quite a bit. But he feels that good fortune brought him to the U.S. and he is proud to call it home. Congratulations Om!

Seriously, now I am bonding with my Indian brethren at Target? This has come full circle.

And, not for nothing, I bought pants from Bangledesh, which is right beside India – actually India is on both sides of Bangledesh. So they exported pants to the U.S., so that I could buy them, and ship them to India. Hysterical, right?

Reverse………

If you remember my post on yoga, you might remember that “reverse” is one of my new favorite words. Especially today. Right now I am sitting at the airport waiting to “reverse” my journey to India. Fear not – I am coming back – but not after a little respite in the good old U.S. of A.

I am looking forward to rediscovering America and seeing everything again for the first time. I will be writing while I am home – so please keep checking in on my blog. It’s been so fun to have you along!

Also – I am not sure why – but I joined the Twitter revolution and if you want to know what I am doing every now and then – check out my tweets – @areasontowrite. Tweet tweet.

And, I know, this is the burning question – what will I have for dinner tonight?

It will be a Five Guys Cheeseburger – grilled onions, extra cheese, mayo, ketchup, and quite possibly bacon – I might even throw on a tomato just to get a little healthy action going on. It will be accompanied by a Chick-Fil-A old fashioned vanilla milkshake. I am not sure if I will add on fries. We’ll just have to see.

I am it………….

When we were in the U.S., I used to love to sit on the front porch and watch my kids play games in the cul-de-sac. I loved hearing “not it” when the games began. Which was always followed by a game of bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish. No one wants to be “it”. But in the blog world, there is always a lovely game of tag going on. And, now I am “it”. This time was bizarre because I got tagged by a mom in India and by a mom in Ohio. Yes, bizarro. The world is indeed becoming smaller.

Monika from Life of Our Darling Prince tagged me first. Then Naomi from Delhi Bound got me too.

I am supposed to share the 5 things I love best about motherhood. Some days 5 whole things would be hard to dream up. It’s a tough job, the pay stinks, and it can break your heart. But most days, I would say “just 5”. That is simply not enough. I am amazed that I have been so blessed with my family. Truly, truly blessed.

But motherhood is always a balancing act. Here is my attempt to balance just 5.

1. I will never forget the day that Bear was born and how I felt when he was put in my arms. It was a long, exhausting day that ended up in an emergency c-section (which you can read about here) and he had a dislocatable hip. He needed to spend some time with the nurses. I had to wait what seemed like an eternity to even see him. I was very worried that something was wrong. Then I was wheeled away to recovery. I just kept thinking “where is my baby”? Finally, they put him in my arms and he was small and squishy and I was completely overwhelmed. I had not done a lot of babysitting and did not grow up with younger siblings in the house. My first thought was seriously, what the hell was I thinking and what the hell am I supposed to do with him? I was laying flat on the gurney and I could not really see him, I was straining my neck. Holy smokes. Then they got us in our room and I was allowed to sit up a bit and look at him. I was completely blown away by the love I felt for him. Someone I had never met, who had never spoken to me – he had not even smiled yet or gripped my fingers. And, I realized in that moment just how much my parents loved me. It was amazing to feel their love through my own child.

And, yes, I knew that my parents loved me very much. I simply had no idea how much they loved me. The potential of their love surrounded me that night.

2. My children are the reason I was willing to move to India. I lived in Germany in 5th and 6th grade and I know it changed my life. I wanted to give them this experience to learn about the world. I love watching them here. They would rather be in the U.S., but they are taking advantage of this adventure fully. They are trying new things – even some new foods – and they are soaking it all in. I love that they have roots and that they are sprouting wings.

I am amazed at how willing they are to try new things and how they have learned to be proud of themselves even if they do not win. And, yet, they try their best to win. Still, they have learned to appreciate the journey. That is truly a gift. And it one of the things that makes me most proud of them. They know the difference between disappointment and devastation and they simply will not give up.

3. I love hosting sleepovers for my kids and their friends. Usually we have about 20 something kids spend the night. They insist on tacos for dinner and then waffles, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. EVERY TIME. There is never a question on what the menu will be. One time I ordered pizza because I just ran out of time – that did not go over well. The sleepovers are super fun. Even with all the different age groups, they all seem to get along well. We had one last hurrah before we left Virginia and I invited the parents to come in for a happy hour. That is another tradition we will continue. Good times and great memories. If you live in the glen, you better get your calendar out – we have some sleepover making up to do.

4. Of course, when you have kids, you have endless blog material. That is definitely a big fat plus of parenting.

5. And, finally, I love that my children give me the gift of being true to myself. This is hard to do as a parent – especially if you are not following the main stream line of thinking. As your kids get older, the rules get a little more loosey goosey. Partly because they are gaining independence and partly because parents simply run out of steam. Parenting stretches you thin. There is no doubt about that. My parenting philosophy is simple — I would rather say, “oh that was a little silly” than “damn, I should not have done that or let them do that.” I am probably seen as a little over-protective and I am fine with that. My children have taught me that it is not only important to beat to your own drum – but to, in fact, make your own drum. I know this will get harder as we reach the teenager years and I pray for the strength to continue to go with my instincts. They have served me well so far.

6. Did you really think I could only do 5? So sorry. Six – I love it when I hear Mommy quietly whispered. I will never forget when I went from Mommy to Mom. It was a tough day and it came much earlier than I thought it possibly could. But when I hear Mommy spoken softly – I know I am needed in a way that only a Mommy can be needed. (And Mommy whispered softly is not to be confused with “MAAAAWWWWMMMMY” yelled by a child running full speed at you – that is another story altogether.)

So now I am to tag others. I would love to hear from

Lola – she is my favorite blog smart arse – so hers will probably be funny – if she does it – I know you might take a pass sassy! She’s not a big fan of being tagged.

Miss Grace – I enjoy hearing her perspective

Kristen – although she just had a baby so she might be a little busy

Black Hockey Jesus – who says men can’t love being a parent too – I might just be a blip on his radar screen – he has a huge audience – so we’ll see if he has time to do it

Mrs. Smith – she has been looking for blog material – so here is an idea – she has 7 kids – it should be good.

Donna – she is recently separated and on a new adventure as a parent

And of course, anyone else who wants to play along is welcome to do so! There are some people I did not tag because I know they have a lot going on – but if you find the time – you are now officially “it”.

International S.O.S……………

Does that sound like I am calling out for help? Really I am not – but here is something you should know if you are an ex-pat living in a third world country or if you plan to visit an impoverished area.

There is an organization called International SOS and if you are ever traveling in a foreign and/or remote area, you will want to remember they exist.

Here is their web address

www.internationalsos.com

Who are they, you ask. Well this is what they say about themselves….

With over 20 years of experience, we help organizations ensure the health and security of their travelers and employees around the world. We are the only assistance company with the global presence our clients demand.

Working in some of the most inhospitable places on earth, we offer international standards of medical care where it is not available or where cultural and language barriers exist.

Huh, you say.

What this means is that if you are traveling to a village (or even a large city)  in India (or China or Afghanistan or anywhere) and you get sick and that village/city does not have appropriate facilities and/or doctors to treat you, International SOS will step in to help you. That is very. good. to. know.

Many companies offer their employees memberships to International SOS as part of their compensation plan. But even if you are not a member – remember their name.  It it my understanding that they can still be very helpful.

In Delhi, they are located near the Apollo hospital.

Remember that the availability of effective medical resources is never a given – I had always taken this for granted in the U.S. – but no more.

I went to a presentation at my children’s school and  a representative from International SOS gave a talk on medical expectations in Delhi and India.

Here were some of his cautions….

Blood transfusions should only be accepted as a last resort – only when they are life-saving. Blood is not monitored that well here and some people are paid for their “donations”.

Apollo, Max, and Fortus are the only hospitals he really recommended.

He highly recommended getting rabies vaccines. When we were leaving the U.S. the rabies vaccine was not available as a preventive measure, only as a treatment once someone has been bitten by a rabid animal. But apparently it is available here in India. So we are going to get them here.

He also cautioned to get vaccines and prescriptions from the hospital pharmacies. It seems there is quite the pharmaceutical black market here and much of the medicine can be counterfeit. That makes it not only potentially ineffective, but quite possibly dangerous. And he cautioned us to ask the nurses to open any vaccine viles in front of you so that you know it has not been opened before. Whenever possible, get vaccines while you are on home leave.

Taking an ambulance to the hospital in an emergency might sound like a good idea – but they are not reliable and often do not have the medical equipment that would make it worth waiting for one. The presenter recommended practicing getting to the hospital before an emergency happens so you know what to do. He said it is particularly important to do a dry run at night.

In an emergency, he recommended calling the the hospital and asking how long it would take to get an ambulance to you. He said that they should be able to give you an idea of how long it would be. However, getting yourself there might be the best option and just might save valuable time.

He also said that calling International SOS might be a good idea – they have a staff there who can make multiple calls at once, which can reach out to multiple resources at once. If I remember correctly, they will stay on the phone with you until you have gotten help. Consider calling them from your mobile phone so you can remain on the phone if you change locations.

He highly recommended using bug spray that has a 35% concentration of Deet. It has been hard for me to find bug spray here – which is shocking- but I guess if it was more available, there would not be such a problem with Dengue fever and Malaria – bring a stock pile with you.

Road accidents present the greatest health risk in Delhi. Be very careful crossing the street and when riding on the roads.

He said it is important to get a general practice physician when you arrive. If you are with an embassy or international school, they can probably give you a list of doctors that have been recommended. International SOS also has a list of doctors they recommend.

Anyway, you know what is next – I am not a doctor and I do not play one on the internet. I will however pretend to have lawyer skills. This is information I received in a medical presentation and I am relaying it to the best of my memory – don’t quote me on any of it – do with it what you will. Obviously, you will have to determine for yourself what makes the most sense for you in a given situation.

It just depends………

A lot of people curious about just how much less expensive it is to live here. Well, it really just depends…..

Housing
Our rent here is a good bit more expensive than our mortgage in the states. We lived in a fairly expensive area in the States. Not in a fancy pants, outrageously expensive area – but a fairly expensive area.

Utilities
Cable, internet, and mobile phones are much cheaper than in the U.S. My mobile phone bill last month was $8. Cable and internet are about $14 per month – that’s combined, not each.

Domestic Help
We do not pay our driver and cook directly so I am not exactly sure what their salaries are. But I know it is a lot cheaper to have help in Indian than in the U.S. Our cook works from 11am – 8:30p – that’s Monday thru Saturday. He also does the laundry and some of the grocery shopping. Our house cleaner works 4 hours a day – that’s also Monday thru Saturday. They both also get money for transportation. Sometimes domestic help will live in quarters near the family they are working for. Ours do not do that.

Produce
As long as you are buying fruits and vegetables that are in season and are not imported, produce is very inexpensive. Very inexpensive.

Recognizable snacks
Not such a great deal. A bag of goldfish crackers is about $4. But worth every penny. You cannot get Pizza Goldfish here and that is a bummer. You can find many brand names for prepackaged foods that you would recognize. They are about double what you would pay in the U.S. You cannot find everything you want, but there is certainly enough to get by on – especially when friends and family will send you a box of surprises every now and then. (Thank you friends and family!)

Soda is about  the same price as in the U.S.

Chocolate chips and canned frosting are two things that we have not been able to find. It’s interesting because you can get cake mixes – but no icing. We also cannot find tortilla chips. Enter very sad face here. We love tortilla chips.

Activities for the kids
There are simply not as many options for the kids here to do sports – so yes, we are saving money there.

The middle school offers free activities like ultimate frisbee and rock climbing and ping pong after school. Something is available every day for Bear.

The elementary school offers activities like knitting, fun with aquatics, jump rope, recycled art, and many others. Each class is once a week and they are $30 for an 8-week session.

Flower and Bear are running track thru the school. So far, that has been free. We did have to agree to host visiting athletes for the track meet in April. We are looking forward to that.

Clothing
There are lots of markets where you can buy inexpensive clothing but clothes for preteens seem to be hard to find. We have had an impossible time finding shorts for our daughters.

There are very nice malls – they are equivalent to the prices in the U.S. We had to buy our daughter a pair of shoes for track – they were $70. No that is not a great deal. But I have gotten some lovely light weight kurtas (Indian style shirts) for $4. Yes, that is a great deal.

I will say the quality of the less expensive items is – well, you get what you pay for. Those items are not going to last a lifetime. But they will be very fun to wear while they last.

Doctors
When we went to the dermatologist for our son, our visit was $16. That is about what you would pay for an insurance co-pay in the U.S. However, that was the entire cost without any insurance.

His follow-up visit was $10.

Medicines
We got Bear antibiotics for 5 days, antibiotic ointment, an antihistamine, and soaps for $24. Again, that was the total cost. No insurance co-pays. All of it was only $24.

Cat food/litter
Outrageous. But what are you going to do?

Eating Out
That is just like anywhere. It can be expensive or not so bad.

Two large pan pizzas at Pizza Hut are $16. Our whole family can eat at McDonalds for $12 – and, have I mentioned that McDonalds delivers? But the nicer the restaurant, the more expensive it is. We went to lunch at a restaurant at the mall and the bill was $80 for lunch. Yes, we are going to Pizza Hut next time.

Gas
I fortunately do not have to drive – so I do not fill up the car with gas. But I will not be complaining about the prices of gas in the U.S. anymore.

Fresh Flowers
Lillies are expensive here too –  probably not as much as in the U.S., but relatively speaking they are more expensive than the other flowers – carnations and a lot of other flowers are very inexpensive. There are a lot of flower stands rich with beautiful blooms.

Yoga Lessons
The instructor comes to our house and it costs 3000 rupees a month for 2 lessons a week. That’s about $60 for the month.

Hindi Lessons
The instructor comes to our house and it is 500 rupees per lesson – about $10 per hour. I have a friend who joins me sometimes – when she comes, it is 800 rupees.

I am sure they are things I have forgotten – if you are curious about something – just let me know!

You say Khyiat – I say Hyatt………..

In writing this blog, I want to share all of my feelings of being in India. Mostly, because I don’t want to forget them. The good, the bad, and the nervous. I want to remember everything I see, hear, and feel – maybe not everything I touch – but you get the idea. So, sometimes you might get the feeling that I am just talking to myself – very loudly, so that you can hear – but really just to myself. This could be one of those days.

Yesterday, I was at at new parents meeting and they told me about this great directory that lists all of the markets in Delhi. There are many, many markets and there are districts – like where to buy food, where to buy clothes. Yada Yada. So this directory is supposed to ‘splain all that and apparently lists what time the different markets are open and what days they are closed. There is no Sunday here – yes, it’s on the calendar. But there is not a universal “closed” date or time. Some markets are open on Tuesday – some, not so much – some open at 11am – others, not so much. So you need to check before you go anywhere. That sounds like a useful tool. I’m a big girl – I can go get that.

So, I get in the car and I tell Kahn that I want to go to the Hyatt.

Me: Kahn, do you know where the Hyatt is? I’d like to go there, please.
Kahn: the khyiat?
Me: I think so – yes
Kahn: the khyiat? alright Ma’am
Me: I think so – yes – the Hyatt – it’s a hotel – in Delhi
Kahn: alright Ma’am – the khyiat.

Okay – I put my seat belt on figuratively and literally – Kahn is delightful. But not so great on the English. I am not so great on the “how to get around in Delhi” knowledge and have zero Hindi language abilities. I really cannot even remember how to say thank you. Yes, I am pathetic.

And one thing about having a driver that is very, very different than driving yourself is that you really are never quite sure exactly where it is you are. I don’t know how to get anywhere except the park – and I only know that because I can walk there.

So we drive around – I get to see new parts of town I have not seen. Kahn points to a building – the khyiat, right ma’am? He is not telling me, he is asking me. This is the khyiat?

Yes – enter, deep cleansing breath – that is, in fact, the Hyatt.

This is going to prove to be very interesting indeed. He drove me to what he thought was the Hyatt. But the whole way there he felt just like I did. He was hoping and praying that we would end up, some how, some way, at the right place.

We are kindred spirits me and Kahn – we do not know each other – we can speak a little – but we are both continuously praying that we understand what the other means. That we end up in the right place. We are navigating through culture and language together. It is a game of the Blind leading the Deaf. So far, so good.

But there is more to this story.

I will very frankly tell you that when the terr*rist attacks in Mumbai happened, my world actually stopped spinning. I could not breath and I did not want to move – either from my chair or across the ocean. It was that simple. It was the first time I really and truly felt the overwhelming burden of being a parent. It was like I had swallowed a rock. A big rock. A very big rock.

We have certainly had our share of emergencies and some that were very scary – there was a time that I was not sure Flower would leave the emergency room and another that I was not sure Bear would leave the ER. Angel has been to the ER too. Yes, my heart skipped many beats during those times. But it had to keep going. We had no choice – action was required. Immediate action. We did not choose to be in the ER ever – we just were. Very there.

However, this move to Delhi was a choice. Not the choice I would have made on my own. I was comfy cozy right where I was and did not see a need to change or move. Bring on some b*mbings and my heart gets cemented to the floor. The floor in the U.S. with family and friends close by. On a quiet cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere. Where I drive myself to Target. And I know how to get there.

So we delayed our departure. Hubby and I were at a crossroad. What to do. We compromised and came in February instead of January – instead of not at all.

But driving to that Hyatt brought on some of those familiar uncomfortable feelings. The b*mbings happened at a hotel frequented by Americans, it was in big Indian city, the attacks targeted Americans. Does any of this sound familiar? I am an American, in a big Indian city, about to enter a hotel frequented by Americans. HMMMMM.

Kahn pulls up to the Hyatt and there is a gate. Every car is stopped. Inspected. Doors are opened. Trunks checked. Mirrors are placed underneath the car. We pass inspection and continue round the bend to the front door. Kahn lets me out. I have to go through a metal detector. My purse is searched. I am thankful. I walk inside and the hotel is opulent. Welcoming and calm. I find the directory. I exchange the last of my American dollars for rupees and I am on my way.

Breathing again. Kahn knows what “home” means. Even if it is not the home I would pick right now – I am on my way there. Mission accomplished.

Phoning in a Friend……………..

This week has been an interesting mix of excitement and sadness. I know there is a big adventure ahead of us – but I also know we are leaving a great deal behind. I moved quite a bit as a kid. As such, I didn’t really feel like I had much in the way of roots until I had lived here for quite some time.  It took me a very long while to put both feet down. I completely understand that moving was good and those experiences have helped me become who I am.

But…….

I am going to just miss being here. Getting older has turned me into a terrible creature of habit. I love my routines and what I know. Running into people I care about almost everywhere I go is a gift. I love being around the people here – even if they are driving me crazy – or I am doing the same for them. I have tremendous friends and a lot of family close by. I did not grow up with that. And I am going to miss it.

Blah blah blah

So, enough sap – thank you to everyone who has touched my life. You are extremely special to me and I cannot wait to get back to see you soon.

And, to the MANY of you who have cooked, cleaned, packed, listened, shopped, held my hand, gotten stamps, prayed, let Queso live with you, or offered to do any of the above for me – thank you. I hope that you will give me the chance to return the favor for you very soon.