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.


Krista said...

I am glad that you are adjusting. I am getting excited to come and join all of you!

Doug Pitcher said...

Looks like a great adventure. Thanks for the post.

Maria said...

I am glad to see all the pictures. I hope you are having a good week 2.