Sunday, June 12, 2011

India - Week 4

The beginning of the week we mainly stayed around the house again. While Steve teaches and works, we color, read books, and watch TV. The kids have developed many games with their legos or other limited toys. We did spend a little time shopping and playing at the arcade. We were very happy that my parents were able to get their visas renewed for the next two years on their trip to Washington DC and were able to be back for our last week here.
On both Wednesday and Thursday we went to their house for part of the day and played games and ate dinner. One fun thing was my mom showing the kids her rope tricks. When she was a little girl she learned to twirl ropes and do all kinds of tricks. She even had a cute little cowgirl outfit she wore when she performed. And so she played with the kids and Rhianna even got started with the rope.
Friday afternoon we went with my mom to a very fantastic shop with rugs, jewelry, and all kinds of wonderful crafts. We then went to Nehru Planetarium. The show was really interesting, learning more about the stars and planets. But the kids really had fun with the science park that was outside. Even with the see-saws they had signs explaining the science behind it. We then went to commercial street which is just filled with all kinds of stores.
We ended the day meeting my dad for dinner at the best Indian restaurant we have eaten at. My parents showed the kids how to eat like an Indian and play with their food. They would take the rice, put the chicken tikka masala and raita on top, and then mix with their fingers. You then take a piece of naan, rip it, and wrap it around the mixture to scoop and eat. All done with just the right hand. It really was delicious food. And then they bring you a bowl of water and lemon for washing your hand.
Saturday morning we again spent time at my parents' home making cookies (Seth sneaking chocolate chips from the precious stash that we have to bring in from America), watching a movie, and playing until it was time for them to do district conference and we headed home to rest. We had beautiful weather again and so played outside at the park in the evening.
Today was again a nice day. Today - June 12 - is our 13th wedding anniversary. I am glad we have had this chance to be in India and that we get to do the trip together. We had the chance to listen at church to district conference which meant both my mom and dad spoke. We then spent the afternoon at their house making dinner and playing games. My mom is really a good cook and has learned to adapt and go with the flow. The power went out at some point while they were in the US, possibly for days, and all the food in their fridge and freezer spoiled and had to be thrown out. Today there were bugs in the rice so that didn't work out. You have to clean your fruits and veggies in bleach water but then she makes great salads. She has her recipes from the US and so has to try to convert some things in her head to the way food is labeled and packaged in the metric system here. And it was a great meal again. And now the kids are all having a sleep over at grandma and grandpa's house, I am sure playing more games and having fun together.

Tomorrow Steve's sister Krista arrives from the US to join us on our travels. We just have a few days left here. Busy days for Steve to finish up his class and grading, plus finishing work on other research papers. We will have a few last days to see my parents. I am especially glad they have made time for us to be with them. Then we say good-bye again and travel to other parts of India.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

India - Week 3

This week started out kind of rough. Seth's ear had been hurting for a few days and Sunday night he woke up super sad with extreme pain. Steve gave him a priesthood blessing and then we gave him acetaminophen and I slept with him. Steve had class on Monday and Tuesday, but our time after class was spent taking Seth to the doctor. I am glad that we could find good doctors at the Apollo Clinic here. He has some medicine and is now better.

Wednesday was a fun day. Steve's class had a test that TAs took care of so we had the day to see more of Bangalore. First we went in to Leela Palace. This is a very fancy hotel and shopping gallery. There were beautiful grounds that we walked around. We went in to find more books, but also saw some other beautiful and very expensive pashmina scarves and hand carved goods.
We then went to a Hindu Temple with a huge statue of Shiva. You remove your shoes and then they had us walk through all these tunnels that tell about Shiva and several other holy places in India. The statue is huge as you can tell from the picture. It was interesting just to be there and see how they worship.
We then went to lunch at Barbeque Nation. This was a unique place because they put little grills on your table and bring some of the food out on skewers. The food has already been cooked by them but continues to warm and grill at your table. They even made us some less spicy versions. Now we have been to many buffets and tried many kinds of Indian food.
Thursday and Friday again we spent most of our time around home and just took some time to play games and to play outside with balls. Saturday we also headed into Bangalore. First we went to the church to join in a Primary Activity. This was for the children for the whole district. Church members in the US and their mothers had helped sew scripture bags for the kids and so they were creating thank you cards. They played temple bingo and learned more about the temple. Then they had a treasure hunt for pictures of the temple. And then more games just for fun.
We left at that point and went to lunch, this time to The Only Place which serves more western food that I thought would be good for our kids. We finished the day at Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens. Bangalore has pretty good weather but at times it is hot. Saturday, particularly on some of the sunny paths, got to be too hot. We didn't see the entire gardens but enjoyed what we did see. They were having a Mango & Jackfruit Show - so many varieties of mangoes and the Jackfruit was something new to us. It can grow to a size about as big as Seth. Our favorite part was probably this enormous rock with a tower at the top that we climbed to. This was a watch tower from hundreds of years ago that marked how big they thought the city would grow to be and allows you to see over the city.
One of the instructions the finance secretary gave to the new US elders was that they had to start thinking in rupees. That has definitely been a difference for us being here just short term. For us taking the toll road for 50 rupees (just more than a dollar) each time we go to the city is worth avoiding more traffic, but is a big sum to our driver. The entire bill for the doctor, blood work, and medicine was around 1000 rupees (about $20) which is just a little more than our copay just for the pediatrician in the US. You can get some food for very few rupees, but since we are being more cautious with the kids we are eating at more expensive hotel buffets often that are fairly equal to US prices. The beautiful scarves I mentioned were still very expensive, as I am sure they would be in the US. We had money budgeted for the trip, but I do think if you were to live in a country long term you would have to function better than we are within their money system.

And we still see interesting sights as we drive. I enjoy the writing on walls saying "Please do not urinate here." We saw a car that had driven off the edge of the sidewalk, not realizing the construction had removed the street several feet below it. We saw a few horse-drawn carts yesterday. We still like looking for cows and water buffalo, but today also saw chickens and goats. We also saw mutton that had been butchered and was hanging out for sale. Women often wear beautiful strands of small white flowers (that the kids think looks like popcorn) in their hair. We still love seeing the beautiful sarees and colors of the clothing. There are several Muslim Mosques and we often hear their calls to prayer which sounds like a song to me. The kids have started back to school here so we see them in their uniforms. We also found out that often children start school at age 3. They go during the week and also have half days of school every Saturday. We are slowly learning more.