Out of India

We’ve been out of India for about six days now. We couldn’t go straight home of course, that would have been too direct. It wouldn’t have felt right going straight from India back home to Canada. Plus when you are half way around the world you have to take advantage of the travel opportunities – well, we do anyway.

So we chose Greece. An easy 4 hrs from Bangalore to Doha, a 2 hr stopover and another 4 hrs to Athens. And there we were, out of the place we’ve called home for two years and plopped into a western country. The start of new beginnings.

And just like that we adapt: lane driving, short shorts, tank tops, fresh fruit (cherries, peaches), huge plates of food, garbage cans. No sari’s, no burqas, no three wheelers…

We adapt quickly, perhaps too quickly. I’m thankful for my blog now and all the photos so that we don’t forget. The things we learned in India, the things we want to change about the way we live in the western world – to not get caught up in the rat race – is it possible?

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Last Few Days

Missed it by that much – did our best to get everything sent off via air shipment, but no luck. We had too much stuff, and so when we found out we were over the limit (six cubic meters) we did the only sane thing – added more furniture to what has now become the sea shipment. The guy says it will get to Canada within 5 – 6 weeks. Now that would be fabulous but I won’t hold my breath.

The movers seemed to do a really good job – about ten guys swooped in at 10:00am, packed everything really well and the truck was gone by 4:00pm. They had a mere 45 min. break to eat their tiffin lunches in our garage and another hour waiting for a truck so they could actually load it up, but all in all it went very smoothly.

The kids had their final exam on Friday, Michael had his last day of work, we are moved out and officially on vacation! Holed up in a hotel for the final days and I really don’t feel like leaving the hotel until we have to go to the airport. It is so quiet and clean, there’s always a cool breeze, – it’s not really India at all here in the hotel! We can tell the newbies with their sunburns and glazed over looks on their faces. I remember feeling like them two years ago.

Two years ago! It’s hard to believe – we knew it would go by fast…and it did. Charity meetings and Rangoli meetings are a thing of the past. I had my last yoga class on Tuesday; my last OWC coffee morning and lunch with the girls on Thurs., my last haircut with Arlene today (she is so good and fast and I didn’t have to leave the hotel).

We aren’t much for drinking hard liquour but we did buy some gin at duty free when we arrived. After our Kabini trip we started drinking the odd gin and tonic – didn’t want the gin to go to waste (that’s a Ukranian and a Scot for ya). So here we are in the hotel, drinking G &T’s, going to the pool everyday and eating at the buffet – finally acting like typical expats! 

Moving Day

Well it is moving day today. It’s 7:00am, have to get the kids off to school and then Michael and I will continue to organize our stuff. Still hoping to get everything into an air shipment but we have our doubts – amazing how much we have accumulated over two years. Not big things but lots of smaller items.The problem is they all add up.

Giving as much stuff away as possible. Most of it goes to our maid who is a single Mom of two boys. A few things like a TV, water purifier and all our potted plants and trees will go to one of the OWC charities, Bangalore Hospice Trust, a palliative care center for cancer patients. They make it easy and have even arranged transportation for the goods at a reasonable fee of about 500 rp ($10).

One last coffee and cinnamon bun on the patio before the movers come at 10:00am.

One Last Walk Around the Block

This is our last weekend in the house and we have been busy spring cleaning. It is amazing how much stuff one can accumulate in two years. And since we want to fit everything into a tiny air shipment we are busy giving stuff away.

But this weekend our priority was to go out for one last walk around the neighbourhood. We will always have great memories of our walks around the block. Here’s a look:

The Shiva Temple

The Friendly Children

Always Interesting Streets

The Coconut Stand
Fresh Chicken
The Corner Store where we stop for a drink and a snack

The Traffic

Buses Making U-Turns on Busy Streets

The Boys on the Garbage Truck

Laundry

Stray Dogs and Rangoli

Veg or Non Veg?

A funny thing happened within the last few months – I stopped eating meat! I know shocking isn’t it? I can’t explain it, it just kind of happened. It could have been many things:

  • the sight and smell of carcasses hanging in the shops and markets.
  • signs around town with pictures of animals saying, “don’t kill me.”
  • graphic signs at cafeteria at Meditation Pyramid saying “don’t murder animals” and “stop eating flesh.”
  • Judy at cooking class in Goa calling meat flesh, “bring me the flesh,” “let’s cook the flesh.”
  • yoga book stating unhealthy to eat meat.

Yes it could have been many things but it just happened and now I’m trying to be creative or just eliminate meat from our usual meals. Veg lasagna, veg chili, veg burgers (!!). Some dishes I’ll still cook the “flesh” for everyone else and just leave it out of my meal – veg enchiladas, chicken salad – and just add more veg. And I am still eating seafood, milk, and eggs…just no meat.

I’ve ordered special meals for the plane (I’m special!): I think it’s “lacto ovo veg.” There are so many options on the plane. “Hindu veg,” “Jain veg” and I think there was a “lacto, ovo, seafood veg” option too…

In India it is so easy to be vegetarian. Many restaurants are strictly veg and almost all others will have a veg menu and a non veg menu. The question is will this last once I get back to Canada? Most people we know are serious carnivores, it could be difficult.

Wine and Yoga

Went to an excellent wine dinner last night and an excellent yoga class this morning. Each on their own were fabulous but lets face it wine and yoga don’t mix.

The wine dinner was at Caperberry’s featuring Spanish Torres wines. About 60 people showed up which was surprising and most of them Indian. As always the dinners are as much about the people you meet as the wine you taste. And in this case we were lucky to have Anna Manchon, the Torres Head Wine Sommelier sit at our table.

We had a great time talking to Anna about wine and travel. Although she said Spanish wines are the best (she has to say that right?), we talked about Tuscany and Brunello di Montecino which we all agreed was the undisputed favorite Italian wine between us. Left me wishing Tom and Melissa (our Tuscany buddies) were at the table with us. Anna definitely has a passion for wines and with her Spanish accent can talk a mile a minute. Definitely a dream job – travelling all over the world promoting wine. A fun evening with good food as well!

My 1 1/2 hour yoga class started at 9:00am this morning. With only a few classes left my yoga teacher is pushing us to the limits even though she says we are still just doing the basics. She wants us to perfect the standing poses as well as shoulder stand, head stand, and many other asanas before we are sent off into the big wide world.

And now lots of coffee and lots of water to face the rest of the day. Off to the school to watch Alanna horseback riding and then bringing back three giggly girls for a sleepover. Craig will fly out the door as soon as he gets home to play cricket with his friends and tomorrow we will all look forward to sleeping in.

"What’s in the News" and "Life This Week"

What’s in the news? A full page ad in the Bangalore newspaper, DNA, about beautiful British Columbia, Canada, that’s what!

Imagine my surprise to see a huge travel article and photos on my home town and province, “Cosmopolitan and hip Vancouver…Charming and quaint Victoria with its British heritage. The wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. Whistler, one of the world’s premier ski destinations…From hiking to skiing to scenic train rides and gastronomic delights, British Columbia offers amazing diversity.”

Color photos included those of Burrard Inlet, the Parliament Buildings and Empress Hotel in Victoria, the Sea to Sky highway, Whistler and Capilano Suspension Bridge. Wow it looks beautiful and BC is diverse isn’t it – it looks like a pretty nice place to go back too!

Well, you are probably wondering about those ants? I’m happy to say (knock on wood) that the ant problem seems to be solved. Looks like we cemented up all the entry points to the house and we seem to be ant free.

The list of things going wrong continued this week though when our washing machine broke down. Appeared to be a clogged filter and thought I could fix it myself – looked simple enough. Michael read the instructions outloud and I pulled out the little tube to drain the water into a pan (the machine was full). No water came out so we proceeded to the next step: “turn and remove the plug and then remove filter and clean.” The plug came out nicely and as I looked in to find the filter an enormous gush of water erupted! The pan couldn’t hold it all and I scrambled to plug the hole, but not before the kitchen floor was full of water. Michael had backed away to avoid getting wet and calmly asked, “Should I phone the repair guy now?”

Oh What a Week!

Wouldn’t you know everything would start to fall apart now? It’s like the house knows we only have 5 weeks to go  – maybe it’s trying to get rid of us early. Let’s see – Craig’s geyser blew up, our main electrical switch in our bedroom blew up (smoke and fire was involved), the sliding shower door won’t slide (again), 20 litres of water from the water cooler leaked all over the dining room,and lastly (hopefully), an army of ants have invaded the house.

First, a geyser is not to be confused with a geezer (we have no old men getting blown up in Craig’s bathroom), nor is it a spring coming up from the ground with lots of vapour. A geyser is a water heater found in bathrooms and kitchens. Much to my delight who should come to the rescue but my favorite Handiman in his trademark red jumpsuit!

The geyser and electrical switch got fixed, the wheels for the sliding door are (supposedly) on their way. The 20 litres of water found all over the dining room floor was annoying but fairly easy to clean up. But I can’t say the same for the tiny flying ants.

We noticed the ants when we got back from Kabini – in the living room and dining room at night, attracted to the warmth and the lights. We sprayed the rooms with no results – they just kept coming. So we had pest control come in – twice. The second time the guy found a hole outside under the living room window. He sprayed it like crazy and ants poured out. We thought that would be the end of it but the thing about ants is they come in seemingly unlimited numbers and are small and smart.

They obviously had more than one entry. Every night we turn on the lights and in they march. So yesterday I had the holes patched up – all the cracks inside and outside the window. Then we noticed some ants coming out a crack in the tile outside so we patched that too, wiped our hands clean, sure that we had outwitted and outplayed those little insects.

But evening came, the lights went on and suddenly they appeared inside again. We sprayed but couldn’t even tell where they were coming from. Nauseated from the smell and just plain frustrated, we turned off all the lights, went out for dinner, came back and spent the rest of the night in our rooms. The ants were clearly winning.

Today noticed another crack in the upper corner of the inside wall, sprayed and out poured the ants. Cleaned them up and filled those cracks in. Waiting patiently now for evening to come…and the lights to come on…

Indian Wedding Part 2 – The Wedding

Sunday morning we arrived at the same hall just as the groom was arriving. A band was playing and the groom was seated outside being blessed by the priest – surrounded by family and friends.

Everyone went inside, the the groom went onstage with a white sheet held up in front of him while the bride entered. They stood on either side of the white sheet until it was taken away and they faced each other sitting down after that.

Many rituals and blessings occurred. At one point rice was passed around to all the guests and everyone stood up at the same time and threw it towards them.

They sat holding hands, a coconut on top of their hands and coconut milk poured over their hands. Many family members were on stage with them. This went on for some time and unlike a western wedding the guests got up,walked around and talked while this was going on.

Eventually the grooms sister came to say hello to us and took Michael and I onstage to get a better view and take some photos of the ceremony. Then she said we should go upstairs and eat and come back down afterwards. Up we all went and the upper hall was full  of tables and chairs with banana leaves laid out. It was full of guests being served food. Very tasty Indian food and lots of different dishes.

Once we finished eating we went downstairs near the stage where different blessings were still going on. The four of us were brought up onstage to give our wishes and have a photo taken with the bride and groom.

Then more blessings and rituals. Finally they walked around the stage several times and then down the aisle and outside where the band played while they continued with more blessings.

The coconut is obviously a very important part of the ceremony. At the beginning when the groom was outside they smashed two coconuts, next the pouring of coconut milk over the hands as the couple held a coconut. As the couple walked around the stage they followed his sister who was carrying fruit on a plate, including (I think) coconut. And just like the night before, we each received a wedding favor of…a coconut.

Indian Wedding Part 1 – The Reception

The Wedding Reception
We were invited to an Indian wedding this weekend – finally! Well, we had been invited to a couple before, but both were people we didn’t know and out of town so we didn’t go. So we were really happy to be invited to the wedding of someone that Michael works with.
An Indian wedding is very different from a western wedding. For starters, the wedding reception was Sat. night and then the wedding was Sunday morning. Apparently most people go to one or the other, not both. As happy as I was to go to both, two events in 24 hrs did cause me a bit of stress – it meant wearing two saris!
At home, Michael tried for 45 minutes to pin the dupatta (the “scarf” part that drapes over the shoulder). He did a pretty good job but I looked a bit like a football player on one side. We did have to go to another event first at the Leela hotel so I went to reception and asked the girl at the desk to help me. No problem, looked like she did it all the time and even Michael had to admit it looked a lot better.
We got to the wedding reception at 8:30pm and basically what happens is the bride and groom stand on a stage all night, receiving guests and having their photos taken with everyone. There was a long line up on the left side of the hall but all of a sudden someone whisked us up the middle aisle and straight up onto the stage. We said hello, had a photo taken, and were introduced to the grooms mother, father, and sister. The ladies all wore nice saris and lots of gold jewellery (I was definitely lacking in jewellery), the men wore dress pants and shirts.
Next, we were directed upstairs where lots of people were already mingling and enjoying an Indian buffet. We had a bite to eat and talked to a few people from Michael’s work. And then we were off – we were there all of 40 minutes!