Sunday, May 29, 2011

India - Week 2

This was a nice week. On both Monday and Tuesday while Steve was teaching we stayed home and played and also went out to the small playground here in our complex. The equipment that is all metal gets hot just like in Arizona, so instead we took sand toys and they played in the sand, digging up treasure, in the shade under the equipment. Both days we also went swimming. Rhianna and I wore our swim caps this time. We have still had a little bit of hassle because you are also supposed to show your resident card for our complex and we are just renting. But we have worked on that and were able to swim both days. The pool is nice and has a shallow part great for Seth especially but the rest is not too deep either. Rhianna is really getting better at swimming and it was fun both days.

We also changed some of our plans after Monday night. The Indian evening schedule is very different than our families. In the US, Steve gets home from work just after 5 and so we are used to eating dinner at about 5:30, playing a bit, then the kids get changed at 7 pm. We read scriptures and have prayers and the let the kids read a bit but they are in bed by 8 pm. Here families eat a snack at 5 pm and don't have dinner until 7 or 8 pm. Most restaurants don't even open for dinner until 7. And that just doesn't work for us. Seth will for sure be asleep in the car and often Rand too. So we decided we will go out more for lunch and have a smaller meal at dinner time to try to keep things more normal.

On both Wednesday and Friday new missionaries arrived to serve in the India Bangalore Mission. Wednesday it was 6 elders from the US, Friday 7 elders that were natives to India called to serve here. We went early to my parents' home to help make breakfast. The kids were great and really helped a lot. It is tricky cooking for so many here (on Monday there were around 25 people) and they did a great job helping with eggs/french toast and fruit and muffins and potatoes. They were happy to see the missionaries and get to talk with them.

The 2 boys then mainly went back into the bedrooms and watched a movie or played. But Rhianna and I were interested and listened to most of the training. They tell them some history and specifics for India that will help them with language as they teach in English, money and finances, health and safety, as well as talking about their spiritual vision and goals. They do have some very sharp, top elders and I especially enjoyed hearing some of their experiences about how they learned the gospel and were baptized or their memories of when the prophet Pres Hinckley visited about 5 years ago. They were good training meetings and I am glad Rhianna and I could be a part.

A few other things during the week. Thursday we stayed here and my mom came out. We played Ticket to Ride and now Rhianna and Rand love it! We have played 2 more times just since then. Grandma also brought KinderJoy candies with toys for them and they were yummy. Seth is still having the hardest time with eating here. Often I bribe him with a little treat to get him to eat some regular food. On Friday we also went to see Kung Fu Panda 2. It was a really fun movie but the experience was different. The theater was very fancy and we had to to through several points of security. They had me remove the batteries from my camera and returned them at the end of the movie. We had assigned seats. Then there was an intermission about 1 hour into the show. You could go out or people came around to take orders and serve you. We really liked the movie!

Saturday was spent at Wonderla. This is an amusement park with both wet and dry rides. Some of the rides and pools are separated for just ladies and children, some for gents and some for all. Like on the bumper cars Rhianna and grandma and Seth and I went on one part. Rand, Steve and grandpa went on another. We came away with a few small injuries. Rand got rug burns here from the bumper car seat belt. Rhianna got a rug burn on her leg sometime. Many of the dry rides you need to be bigger so we split up. Rand really liked the Drop Zone that would lift and drop them over and over. They also went on the Water Splash ride and got really wet. Grandma and I took Seth for the little rides. A difference here is that on the little rides, only the little kids, about ages 2-5 by height, are allowed on. No parents. And now I don't think I like that. A few were really cute rides. But on this pirate ship one Seth bonked his face a few times on the bar in front when it jerked. On the Jumping Frog he liked it at first but it was so jerky and bouncy that he started crying and started to try to get out mid-ride. I would rather be on with him to help him be safe.

The water part was fun. Again their were a few play pools. We went on the little slides there. One was too steep and I feel bad that I let Seth go down. He bonked his head again and so that was the end of slides for us. Rand also went on a few more but then had enough. Rhianna really likes slides and had fun. She wishes the lines were shorter and was also sad she wasn't tall enough for some slides. But she had fun on what she could do. At the end we went in the wave pool which was probably the best part in my opinion.

We also had good food there. We tried several more local dishes, like the Indian Meals (rice and breads with a few different curries to mix in), kabobs, Paneer butter masala, butter naan. It was very tasty - and of course we had ice cream a few times too. Having been to the park now I do think it is more suited for older kids, maybe 12 and up that could do everything and be safe and have fun. But that was still a really fun day together.

And today we returned to the Bangalore 2nd branch. Rhianna did a good job on her talk in Primary and grandma stayed down with the primary children. We again had great talks and lessons in all our adult meetings. The branch president had wonderful comments to share about avoiding feelings of entitlement in all areas of our lives (church, work, family relationships) with ideas taken from a few apostles. After church we went to my parents' home. It is their 35th wedding anniversary today. My mom cooked a great meal, roast, potatoes, carrots, green salad, broccoli & cauliflower salad, and pineapple with cookies and ice cream for dessert. They told us a little about dating and getting engaged, which is fun especially since my younger brother Calvin just got engaged this week. Then we played Ticket to Ride and headed home.

It was a good week. Things are different but we are used to the way they work now. We enjoyed all the days this week around my parents.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

India - Week 1

There is so much to say about just this first week. The travel here actually went very well overall. We had a total of 5 flights, 4 planes, a few long layovers, for a total travel time of about 45 hours. The huge plane across the Pacific on Singapore Airlines was very nice. We could play games, watch TV or movies, listen to music, and they gave us plenty of food and snacks. Seth had only one loud melt down the whole time when he couldn't watch Toy Story as we took off from Hong Kong.
We had a long layover, 8 hours, in Singapore. They have a very nice airport which gave us a good little break. This is where my tiredness began taking a toll. The kids at first just wanted to run and move after having a 15 hour flight, but I wasn't dealing with it very well. They had slept okay on portions of the flight but I had only slept a few hours. So it was good they had a playground in the airport and comfortable places to relax.
We then learned our friends Daniel and Belinda were back at their home in Singapore so we left the airport and met them. They took us to the Singapore Flyer, the world's largest ferris wheel. Singapore is beautiful and from the Flyer you can see many of the buildings, the busy port, the ocean and Indonesia in the distance. It was nice to see them, but after a few hours we all began to lose energy and headed back to the airport. All the kids and I slept that entire last flight of 4 hours.

At the Bangalore Airport it was good to immediately see my parents. We had the chance to talk for a while as we waited to get all the students set and on their way. It was also nice that my mom brought us a few essential supplies like toilet paper and cereal to get us started here.

That first night, and really the first day, were very trying for me. Rhianna and Rand had slightly adjusted during the flights, but Seth had not. So when everyone went to sleep as we arrived at the house at about midnight, Seth was awake and I was too until 5 am. The day was spent as people came and went setting things up in our house. Finally we went grocery shopping that afternoon with my mom. But it was to a very small store far away and was overwhelming seeing the differences and wondering how I would make this function for a month. Honestly it was a good thing it was such a long flight because I thought a few times that day about turning around but didn't want to do that either.
I got a better sleep that night and slowly over the next days things improved and we feel more set and okay for this month. We visited my parents' house and the mission office. The kids had fun meeting many of the missionaries and workers there. My parents are still very busy in their calling as mission president so we will not get much time with them. In fact they were in New Delhi and Chennai this weekend but we will see them again next week a few times. We got some rupees so we had money. My mom got her hair cut and treated Rhianna and I to getting our fingernails and toenails done. We found a larger store called Star Bazaar that is close to my mom's and it has more food that is more familiar plus other supplies we have needed (like towels, water bottles, a printer).

Friday was kind of disappointing for the kids. We were planning to go swimming but girls with long hair must wear a swim cap and Rhianna didn't have one. So no swimming. Saturday was more fun. We went out to Cubbon Park. There are many trees there so very green and good shade. This was very different from a park in the US but still fun to be out playing. There was a little train ride we took. Here at times the smells were very powerful. There were several playgrounds all made of metal and the kids had a fun time. They loved the spinny things. But again everywhere you have to be cautious playing or walking. We went to a mall for lunch and got a swim cap so we will try again.
Today was very nice to be in church. We went to the Bangalore 2 branch. The people are wonderful and love my parents. A beautiful little baby girl was blessed. Talks were good, particularly a young man as he talked about preparing for a mission. Our lessons were also well done and it was nice to have the normalcy of church and feel their kindness and the spirit there. The kids were also happy to meet other kids and have fun with them in Primary. They do just 2 classes, one for junior primary ages 3-7 and one for senior primary ages 8-11. Rand was good and checked that the water was purified so Seth could drink it. They are also allowed to bring snacks to primary, I am guessing since so many travel so far. Rhianna made a good friend and Rhianna will be giving the talk in primary next week. They also have a few primary activities coming up on Saturdays so the kids would like to join in.

So besides just what we have done I want to include a few other random thoughts. Just as we are adjusting, we also stand out quite a bit to everyone, especially with our very light skin and very blonde kids. We often see others staring and taking pictures and they love to just be able to touch particularly Seth's cheeks. Seth has handled it pretty well.
I now feel more comfortable with the driving. There are a few lights and lane lines and rules here, but most of the time everyone just sort of crowds together, honks and moves along. We have only seen 2 accidents, one when someone went too fast in the rain and hit standing water and crashed, one when a boy on a bike went through a light and just barely got tapped by a motorcycle. But everyone seems to make it work with cars, buses, many motorcycles, bicycles, autorickshaws, handcarts, and even one cart pulled by a water buffalo. We do see many cows by the side of the road as well as a few other animals. There are also many many wild dogs that my mom warned us to never touch. Walking in our complex is okay, but really anywhere else is fairly unsafe. The roads and sidewalks are often very rough and of course you have to be very aware of the many vehicles. We have to travel a far distance to get most places from where we are on the outskirts of the city so I am glad we have good drivers. We have enjoyed talking to our driver Raja and to my parents' driver Sampath.

Finally, many of the things I notice are very small differences that take some getting used to and I think I will appreciate the things I have much more when I return to the US. The power does go out quite often, probably 3 of our 6 days here it has gone out at some point. We have quite a nice house here, but there are little things. All the switches just toggle the opposite way (up is off and down is on). The plumbing is just not quite as good. The toilets fill slowly. To take a shower you have to turn on the geyser (water heater) and it is harder to get the temperature adjusted as easily. We have all regular toilets in our house except for one squat toilet. These are very common here. We do have a washing machine but the drain connection is not as sure as we discovered yesterday when I partly flooded the floor. Luckily it is also all marble floors so easily cleaned. We can only use the purified water machine in the kitchen for drinking or cooking or brushing teeth and so I just have to always be thinking about that. I feel really cautious about all our food eaten here at home, fresh fruits and veggies cleaned in a bleach solution, and even at restaurants making sure it is safe. I want us to stay healthy. So far so good though Seth does have a slight rash I need to watch. The kids are enjoying the mix of some cartoons they know and some new Indian shows and we really enjoy the commercials. I am glad I do have such good kids because for the most part they are doing pretty well. They do fight sometimes and get annoyed with each other in the car or act a little crazy but most of the time they do good together.
That is a lot and that is all for now. It was an uncertain start for me but really I am feeling good now. Hopefully this next week will be more normal now as we are settled in here and spend time with my parents.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Change in Appetite

Seth said the following to me 2 times yesterday so it must be true: "Mom, I don't like boogers any more. I just like food."