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But how are you………..

March 31, 2009

This is how a lot of emails from my friends end – your blog is great – but how are you, really?

That is a tricky question. Most of you know, I would not have picked to move to India. The decision came about quickly and it was a big surprise. I knew from the first moment of hearing the possibility that it would be a great adventure for our family and that we would never regret coming to Delhi. I realized that was true. And then I threw up.

This has been a wonderful career move for number one hubby. He loves his job and he loves having our family close together. I love that too. I am very proud of him and it is amazing to watch him thrive.

There are certainly challenges that I did not expect. India is considered a hardship post by the U.S. government and most private companies. I can agree with that. A big challenge for me – being a terrible creature of habit – is that nothing is really predictable. Just because you found kick arse goldfish crackers and nacho cheese Doritos at the market this week, does not mean anything for next week. Living in India is like investing in the stock market. Past performance is not a measure of future success.

I miss my family and dear friends terribly. I hate being away from them. H.a.t.e. it. Period. This is the biggest challenge for me. And I so miss my little cat Queso.

We have celebrated 4 birthdays here and it was difficult at best not to have my family here with us. Easter and Thanksgiving will not be easy either.

I miss my shower with never-ending hot water and double shower heads. I miss my kick-arse washer and dryer. I miss my double oven. I miss my office filled with paper and embellishments with a window that looks out at trees. I miss Taco Bell and Cheesecake Factory and Chick-Fil-A. I miss soft towels that smell like a spring rain.

But I realize that you can survive without the things that make life more comfortable. It’s the whole niceties v. necessities argument. And you can find new adventures without a dryer and a double oven that make those things seem not as important.

Although the basement where the kids can go when they you need a break is hard to live without.

And I do miss shopping at Target and Costco. I can live without shopping at those stores – I actually like the markets here – they are interesting and fun. But I miss the one stop shopping. And I really miss stores that open at 8am. Nothing here seems to open before 11am.

I miss driving myself. Although, I do not want to drive here – traffic is crazy! But there is freedom in a set of car keys and a drivers license.

I miss living on a cul-de-sac with a yard and trees and flowers. I miss kick ball in the court and a glass of wine on the front porch. I miss the crazy sleepovers we used to host with tacos for dinner and waffles for breakfast.

Connections are harder to make when everyone knows they will be moving at some point. So I guess I miss the sense of permanence.Β  There is comfort in believing that you will be friends with someone for a long time. I am not pointing fingers at others here at all – this is my issue – I find myself pulling back and being more hesitant to get involved because I know that people will be leaving – including me.

Old habits die hard and I just miss my routines.

However, there are a lot a things that balance out the things I miss.

The school is amazing. I have talked about it before so I won’t bore you with repeating myself. But my children are growing as learners in ways they might not have in the U.S. They are thinking in ways they have never thought before. There is a big emphasis here on creative thinking. I love that! The school also addresses my children as people and as students. In Flower’s conference, the teacher had as one of her goals to participate in the swimming program at the school. He has already gotten to know her very well and is fostering her growth inside the classroom and out. The teachers in the U.S. knew my kids very, very well – but the curriculum is just very different here. And by the way, I miss those U.S. teachers for a lot of reasons – they are fabulous in their own right.

Bear’s Humanities class is a mix of English and Social Studies. They have couches in his classroom and the kids “hang out” to learn. Bear actually asked me to go to the library with him the other day to help him pick out a book to read. After I got up off the floor from falling over – off to the library we went. He checked out two books.Β  I don’t think he has actually started reading either one of them yet – but, hey, baby steps.

Angel has been given differentiated instruction in math. It appears she has quite the creative problem solving little brain. It is not a surprise really because she plays a little game with herself where she creates an invention and then she talks about it for 45 minutes straight. The ideas truly pour out of her. It is nice to see that embraced at school.

Seeing that the world is not the bubble we knew has been good for all of us. There is so much here that is different and interesting. We are fortunate to be exposed to it.

Although Bear did ask when we could go back to not having anyone cook and clean and just “be” in our house. I had to explain to him that someone was cooking and cleaning and “being” in our house before. She just wasn’t get paid to do it. To which he replied “oh yeah”. I reminded him that “that would be me”.

I miss a quiet house with no one milling about. But I do not miss cooking, cleaning, or the laundry. See how complicated this all becomes?

Poverty has been hard on the eyes and much harder on the heart. I am working on a blog post to further explain and explore that. It should be coming soon. But it has made us all more appreciative of shoes and food and family. I am looking for a place to volunteer so that I can share my time with these children who have so little. But I want to be clear that many of these children have the biggest, most beautiful smiles. They are not miserable just not advantaged.

Number One Hubby has made some changes at his company that will help out some of the poorer people in Delhi. I feel really good about that.

It is dirty here and the pollution is unreal. We spent 5 hours at the pool the other day and got no suntan whatsoever. That might be good in the prevention of skin cancer – but I am worried about the lung cancer. But we got to spend 5 hours at the pool in the middle of March. That rocks.

I am not a super adventurous eater – so this has not been so much a culinary experience for me. But there are opportunities. And they serve beets here. I might be the only one in Virginia who actually eats beets – but I am in good company here! Yummy. And yesterday I tried red potatoes that had been skinned and rolled in sesame seeds. Holy potato, batman, they were fabulous!

We have seen Jaipur and we have seen the Taj Mahal. Both were amazing. And it makes me resolve to show my children more of the United States. They have not seen the Grand Canyon or Yosemite or Mount Rushmore and a lot of other things. I hope to correct that.

We are also hoping to visit Thailand and Egypt and China. I never imagined in my wildest dreams we would even talk about doing any of that.

We are spending more time as a family. We eat dinner together every night. The practices at the school are all over by 6pm and they are all at the school. So there is no hustling from field to field. There are no drive-thru dinners. Yeah, that is a blessing and a curse.Β  We are certainly eating healthier meals. But remember, I miss me some Taco Bell.

I am loving this blog adventure and am thrilled to be writing again. It has been so long since I put my thoughts down and it is a treat to write almost every day. I continue to be absolutely amazed that so many people are following along. And I am confident that we will not lose the details that are making this journey so enjoyable.

As you might recall, we also started yoga. We used to tease my dear sweet neighbor who loves yoga – but now we are eating our yoga mats. We enjoy it – especially now that we know our instructor has a sense of humor. He doesn’t mind us teasing each other during our sessions. Sometimes he even chuckles along.

So anyway, the long story short is that I am enjoying much of our adventure. There are pockets of time when I am a little down. But most of the time, I have my seat belt on and I am ready to go. And yes, seat belts are a very good idea in India.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. Kirsten permalink
    April 9, 2009 6:38 pm

    I just thought I would add that I love beets…plain or pickled. So anytime when you have returned to the n’hood (which will be here before you know it!)…I will be happy to share some with you. There…now you know TWO that like them. :o)

  2. April 4, 2009 12:15 pm

    Nancy – have I told you lately that I miss you? 😎

  3. Nancy permalink
    April 2, 2009 10:27 am

    Once again, you make me proud. The power of your writing to touch other people is one gift this experience has brought to the foreground. The power of your heart is something that I know you will find a way to make a small difference there. The power of your inner strength will see you through and you will never be the same person. This experience will change you forever…but I’m glad to see that there is still so much YOU there…the way you express yourself. It’s so you. We’re all enjoying the ride with you.

  4. April 1, 2009 11:14 pm

    Deewane – the grass is a little browner here because it’s mostly dirt (hee hee) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. 😎

    sands – thank you – I know I will miss India when we leave too

    Lola – thanks – I cannot imagine not having a blog – and you were one of my very first readers – thanks for all of your support!

  5. April 1, 2009 4:26 pm

    Great post, girl! You’re doing remarkably well, in my opinion. I’m such a homebody that I know I’d be miserable if I had to move away from our family and friends. Just think if you didn’t have a blog how you’d feel…

  6. April 1, 2009 10:00 am

    This post will touch many a chords, for everyone living away from their mother land. I miss India the way you miss USA. Beautifully written.

  7. deewane permalink
    March 31, 2009 10:27 pm

    I don’t have anything new to add other than what’s already been said by everyone else, will agree with Meredith that you have a great attitude, though may be I mean that in a different way than M might have thought. Being in a foreign country and relatively reserved by nature it was very easy for me to hate the place itself and was also my first instinct! Obviously I just alienated myself further, I missed home so much that I forgot it was my decision to come here in the first place and if I wanted then I could go back anytime I wanted but wouldn’t because the kind of exposure and oppurtunities, in terms of education (at University level, especially in my field), might not be easy to come by in India. Amenities here definitely make things more comfortable but they are definitely not the reason making me stick around (my biggest gripe– public transportation!! WE NEED A BUS SERVICE IN STORRS, CT, ANYONE LISTENING!?!), it’s the people and the connections that I have very gradually developed. See what I mean about the attitude, people can adapt to and end up liking anything as long as they (and by “they” I mean “I”) realize that the grass is always greener on the other side but only from a distance πŸ˜›

  8. March 31, 2009 9:40 pm

    Badass – I am homesick indeed

    Naomi – it made me cry too 😎

    Bindu – I hope I can meet you this summer

    Tottsmom – Oh, I have met some very nice ladies and I am making friends – I just miss the friends I already have – and my family – damn, I miss my family!

    Meredith – thank you

    Kathleen – I have absolutely no doubt that I will miss a lot about India when we leave here – there are so many wonderful things about being here

    Miss Grace – thank you

    Sharmishtha – the hardest communication is with our driver and our staff in the house – most of the shop owners speak English pretty well – but it is hard to not be able to tell someone in your house exactly what you want. 😎

  9. Sharmishtha permalink
    March 31, 2009 5:18 pm

    I really understand your conflicted feelings. Opportunities versus personal sacrifices. Perhaps the hardest thing is adjusting to the fact that you don’t understand what people around you are saying. While coming to the US felt strange and unsettling, at least I understood the language, so eventually I got the culture. The hardest trip for me was a trip to Mexico – it suddenly hit me that I could have moved to a country where not only would I have to do without my circle of friends and family, not only would I have to get used to a new city and a new neighborhood, but – yikes – I might have had to do all this without understanding a word of what was being said around me. I don’t think I could ever do what you did – move to a nation where I don’t speak the local language.

  10. March 31, 2009 1:54 pm

    This is a great post. I think you captured your feelings really well.

  11. Kathleen permalink
    March 31, 2009 12:04 pm

    I think this was beautifully written. I can understand some of that from my stay in India. For me I was missing my family (hubby and kids) who were in the states while I finished my project in India. But at the same time I was doing so many new things that it was exciting. I think the feeling never really goes away…I have been home in the US now for almost a year and I miss so terribly my friends that I made while in India and I just miss India in general, so you see no matter where you are this feeling exists in different forms.

  12. March 31, 2009 12:03 pm

    I think you have a wonderful attitude. The things you are going through are so normal moving from a country like the US, where we are so spoiled, to a country like India with so much poverty. But, you have the chance of a lifetime to be there and experience these things first hand, while most of us just have to read about it! Take care.

  13. Tottsmom permalink
    March 31, 2009 10:44 am

    Take heart, Taco Bell maybe coming to a market near you….eventually…http://ourdelhistruggle.com/2009/02/19/taco-bell-in-india/

  14. Tottsmom permalink
    March 31, 2009 10:33 am

    The school sounds great. I wish the teachers here cared as much about my 6th grader, but that is another story. My unsolicited advice, make the connections. You never know when God will put someone in your life whether for a moment, a season or a lifetime, that will change your life.

  15. bindu permalink
    March 31, 2009 10:14 am

    I would like all my friends here in the US to read this particular blog because it will help them understand me better as I felt the same way when I came to the States with my 2 little daughters…no family, no fun, no festivites. Just boredom and lonliness and talking to my family over the fone for a long time asking about how everyone was. Calling India on Diwali nights just to hear fireworks in the background and what they did on Holi…its still very nostalgic. I can feel your pain…

  16. March 31, 2009 6:34 am

    Oh man oh man. This post was beautifully written, and so very honest.

    I sat here at my dining room table, just crying. Then I read it to my husband, and got all teary all over again.

    Thank you for writing about how YOU are. I look forward to soon experiencing the same back and forth complications of missing things so desperately, but thoroughly enjoying new experiences all at the same time.

    It gives me a great understanding of what I have to look forward to!

  17. March 31, 2009 6:24 am

    I would be so incredibly homesick if I were in your shoes. I think I could handle another state, but another country? No way.

  18. March 31, 2009 2:49 am

    m2thes – please take me with you!

  19. m2thes permalink
    March 31, 2009 2:43 am

    geeee,

    your post just made me homesick

    =*(

    i wanna go to costco

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