Thursday In Pune….you know what THAT means!

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That’s right boys and girls!  It means NO ELECTRICITY!

Pune Electricity Board will cut the power in different sectors of the whole city from anywhere between 7am and 7pm, depending on your area, the amount of trees/dogs in  your area, amount of lunch breaks/chai breaks/snack breaks needed in your area, amount of traffic in your area, amount of available workers in your area, amount of Babu’s willing to be bribed for faster work/less power cut time in your area and the list goes on.

My husband TRIED to tell me that this would end in the Monsoon season but I guess he hasn’t been here during Monsoon in so long he didn’t realize that even MSEB needs chai breaks in Monsoon season.

Anywho, so tomorrow I won’t be posting.  I also cannot jump the gun to write anything pithy to post early on Friday because I’m interrupted too often throughout the day to finish one whole post in the length of time my laptop battery will hold a charge.

So, please be patient.  I am on Indian Standard Time.

Here’s what I have in store for you…

  • 1 Year Married, an update to our Fairytale.
  • More Cows sited in Pune and other important junk.
  • Pessimism and why is ‘pessimisms’ me off.
  • What was Sylvester thinking with that face lift??
  • What’s for Dinner tonight?
  • Upcoming Events.
  • Rants and Raves.

So tune in folks!!!!  Same batty channel!  Same batty time!

LOOK Bear! COW! And other funny story’s from life in India.

Things haven’t been ALL bad/stressful since moving here to India.  There have still been a lot of laughs for Bear and I….granted that’s been mostly between taking me to the hospital emergency room or fretting over unfinished house business or being angry over process and procedures.  Howsoever, there have STILL been some fun times.

And that stupid Help yourself out of depression site said that I should focus on the fun things.

Whateverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Seriously, it does help to reminisce and remember the good times especially when you are having a hard time seeing around those small little pockets of constant hard times that tend to come our way in life.

So, following the advice of the Help Guide site and my own common sense, I’m writing today about a few funny experiences we’ve had or experienced since coming to India.

Like the time when I tried to do the laundry by hand washing it all on my own and mixed up the laundry soap with the bleach because they are both blue bars of soap that smell similar to one another.  Only to find after scrubbing one of Bear’s favorite red shirts that it now had large spots of brushed pink and that the water in the bucket (with his other clothes) was slowly turning pinky red.  Thankfully, I rescued the other clothes in time from certain reddish disaster.  After that the clothes washing was left to my sweet and wonderful maid who most certainly knows the difference between soap and bleach.

Yes, I do have a maid here.  And it is an experience that ranks a blog all its own.  Coming from America, it’s difficult to reconcile myself to the fact that I need someone to help me clean here.  In America, if you have in house help it’s because you’re wealthy otherwise we did it all by our lonesome.  Then again, there we had high powered high heat dish washing machines and washer/dryers and upright vacuum cleaners that worked on carpet AND hard floors.  There, the only thing you really had to clean EVERY day was the dishes, stove and counter.  Here in India, with all the dust, you pretty much have to clean EVERYTHING every day.  Dusting, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, and hosing down….all pretty much common occurrences around our house.  My bai and I speak our own special language that involves facial expressions, hand signals, sound effects and running for the phone to call Bear and ask him what she just said and how do I tell her this/that/the other.  She finds my cleaning methods hilarious and I generally try to stay out of her way.

However, there are certain things that I HAVE to clean by myself.  I have ‘standards’ of cleanliness and there are some things that people just cannot clean as well as I would like them too.  It’s not that they aren’t clean or doing a good job, it’s just that I’m anal.  This in India, I am fast learning, is either one of two things.

A laugh riot.

Or.

A Travesty.

Mainly, there is so much dust and breeze to blow around that dust that you wind up with half the desert in your living room.  Which ok, I’m fine with the bai cleaning that up for me.

But in my bathroom it’s a whole other ball of wax baby.  The bathroom is MY terrain and wooooah betide you if you even think of going in there with your dirty nasty shoes on.

When I first got here, there was still a lot of dust and contractor silt on most of our things.  Bear called the contractor and they did come and polish and clean…but when I walked in the bathroom my eyes still fell on dirt lurking and my fingers began to itch.  I managed to clean our bathroom to a shining glory but fell sick before I could continue on to the guest bathroom.

And the sickness lasted and lasted and got worse and everyone became afraid, to the point of his father taking time off from work and he and Bear’s mother coming here (a four hour drive) to take care of me.  They were here for almost a full week and even though I was still a little weak when they left, I felt tons better.

The only problem was that, like I said before, I’m anal on how some things are cleaned and I didn’t like the state of our guest bathroom.  Especially from the perspective of being the new bahu…whether I was sick or not, that bathroom was NOT up to MY standards and my Parents-in-law were COMING.  And I was too sick to get out of bed!  AGH!

Four days later and I was feeling better.  Enough so that Bear felt comfortable going to work and leaving me at home with his parents.  And the cleaning utensils.  Which he had told me expressly not to touch till I was feeling better.

Well, I was feeling better.  😀

So, I warned Aai and Baba that I would be cleaning the guest bathroom and doing it in my cleaning shorts and t-shirt.

And then, not hearing any disapproval from them, I went and changed, grabbed the scrub brushes (three different kinds), the brillo pad, the toilet bowl brush (new!), the buffing cloth and the cleaners.  And then, like Superwoman standing on the brink of saving the world, I opened the bathroom door and stepped into the abyss that was my guest bathroom.

NOTE:  Our guest bathroom is typical Indian style.  As soon as you open the door and on the right is the “shower” area.  Essentially, you walk through the shower area to step up onto the Indian toilet area which is raised.  The shower head faces the far wall of the bathroom so you better make sure that the bathroom door is closed when taking a shower or your wetting down the area outside the bathroom.

I pulled out a small sitting stool, used the sprayer to fill a small hand bucket with water, added the cleaning fluid and began to clean off the knobs of the shower faucet.  I could feel some grime under one of the knobs, so after making sure the larger bucket was under the tap for the shower to catch any water coming out of the SPICKET, I twisted the knob to clean it off thoroughly.

And promptly screamed “AAAAAHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” when I was doused with excessively cold water from the shower head above.

NOTE:  Aai = mother.  Aai is pronounced AH EE.  Get the picture?

To which Aai and Baba came running full tilt in from the living room screaming “KYA HUA???? KYA???  Kya aap thik hain????? !!!!!!

All while grabbing my shoulders, shaking the life out of me and checking my head for excessive blood loss.

And I sat there, cold and wet and laughing my ass off.  Because I was cold, wet, dirty, covered in soap suds and wearing shorts and had just scared the crap out of my elderly in-laws.

Once they realized that I was alive and not dying from blood loss or brain damage, they saw what happened and laughed themselves silly.  Baba then thought what fun it would be to call Bear.  Bear agreed it was too much fun and laughed and asked to speak to me.  That’s when I got yelled at.

But damn!  That bathroom SHINED after I was done with it.  And Aai and Baba praised my cleaning skills.  I’m not kidding, even to this day, they point out to everyone what a pretty and CLEAN house I have.

Or like the time we went to buy eggs at the store and I searched and searched and searched for like 20 minutes going up and down the aisles over and over and over again because the little guy working there said that the eggs were down that aisle and I kept thinking “but this aisle isn’t refrigerated” so I kept going down to the cooler section.  Only to find that they weren’t THERE!  They were back in the non-refrigerated aisle.  In very small shell packets.  That looked nothing like the egg cartons I’m used to.  Which is why I passed them a total of 12 times.  I know.  I made a game of it.  I counted how many times I couldn’t find the damn eggs.  A full dozen.  Too funny.

Another thing here is the amount of live stock on the roads, sidewalks, in the stores and just plain wandering around wherever the heck they feel like it.

Goats, Cows, Buffalo, Cats, Dogs, Sheep, Camels, Elephants….pretty much you name it and I’ve seen it walking down main street.

And because it’s pretty rare to see a Buffalo in the US, the first time I saw it here was from behind and at a fairly fast clip (we were in a car) so I yelled out “Look Bear!  A whole bunch of Cows!”.

To which Bear replied “Sweety, those were Buffalo.”

“Oh” and “Well, they sure LOOKED like cows” and five minutes later “Are you sure those weren’t cows?”

To which Bear replied “Yes, they were Buffalo”.

“Oh” and “Ok”.

Two days later, from the back of his bike “Look Bear!!!!  COWS!!!” (Dude this time I swear they sure as heck looked like cows).

And he shook his head and yelled into the wind “BUFFALO!”

Well damn.

However now, whenever I see them whether it’s from our living room balcony or from the back of his bike or walking past us outside the fancy shop, I stop him (or bang him on the head if he’s got his helmet still on) and yell just as pretty as you please “Bear!!!!  LOOK!!  COWS!!!!!!!!!!! “And then smile evilly.

Someone once asked me when learning that I was moving to India how I was going to deal with all the staring that I would get from being a foreigner living in India.  At the time, I just figured I would ignore it.

And pretty much that’s how it’s been.  I ignore it when it does happen but to be honest it doesn’t happen as often to me as it does to some of my other friends who live in India.  I don’t know if it’s because where I live there are a LOT of foreigners or that it’s a very progressive and younger town or if it’s true that I look like a northern Punjabi girl (as my Auntie’s like to tell me).  Either way, it happens, but rarely.

What I HAVE found myself doing is staring at OTHER foreigner’s when we are out.  Or worse yet, yelling out loud “Look BEAR!  White PEOPLE!!!!.”  Yes, I know, totally politically incorrect.  But it’s just so WEIRD to me to see people of a skin color other than some shade of brown now.

I think probably the worst part is seeing the hippy hard core’s from OSHO.  I’ve talked to a couple of the ‘hard core’ OSHO’s and they scare me.  Not knocking it or anything…but their intensity and a few of their beliefs scare me personally.  A few weeks ago we finally stopped at the German Bakery which is famous in our hometown for being a tourist attraction.  And a local hang-out for the OSHO people.  While there, and enjoying one of the most scrumptiously delicious apple crump pies ever made, I looked up to see some of the extreme of the extreme hard core OSHO walk in.  Bear, watching my eyes widen and go wild with terror, leaned over and asked me what was wrong.  Leaning forward and in a dead whisper I said “I see OSHO people!”

Bear stopped for a moment.  Sat and thought.  And then said, “Isn’t that a line from some American movie with ghosts or something?”

Siiiiiigh.

Leave it up to my husband to not know the name of the movie Sixth Sense.  Of course, he doesn’t really like the movie either.  He watched it once, partially, pronounced it pathetic and refused to watch anymore of it.  That was PRE me….so we’ll just see about his refusal to watch such a GREAT and FABULOUS movie.  GOSH!

So, that’s it for today.  And probably a good thing too as it’s almost time for Bear to leave work and I still haven’t fixed dinner yet!!!

Have a great day and see you all tomorrow!

PS:  Happy Makara Sankranti to all! 🙂 To all my married lady friends….happy Haldi-Kunku! Til-gul ghya, god god bola!!

You’re in the midst of a war…

Milgrain design wedding band

Milgrain design wedding band

I finally get a few moments to write another quick blog to update you all on the progress of the Wedding.

You’re in the midst of a war: a battle between the limits of a crowd seeking the surrender of your dreams, and the power of your true vision to create and contribute. It is a fight between those who will tell you what you cannot do, and that part of you that knows / and has always known / that we are more than our environment; and that a dream, backed by an unrelenting will to attain it, is truly a reality with an imminent arrival.”   Anthony Robbins quotes

Ok, so I’m not much for the self helper types but this quote by Anthony Robbins perfectly fits with my present situation.

So does…

“All hands on deck!  Battle stations!  Mr. Chekov, all power to front deflector fields!”

Eh…I’m a techie nerd.

So, here’s the skinny.

Sunday, Bear and I finally got a chance to go and get our wedding rings.  We found the perfect set at Robbins Brothers.  I can’t post a picture of them here as they are still at the store being sized and engraved.  We chose yellow gold comfort fit bands.  Mine is plain and his has the milgrain design on the top and bottom of the ring (I liked the milgrain design but it didn’t look nice on my hand while it looked perfect on his).  The rings are wide enough to allow us to insert diamonds later, which we will do on our first year anniversary.  It made me so happy to complete that stage of our wedding journey!

After that, we went to Mandir (which is a Hindu Temple in Irvine) and offered our wedding invitation to Lord Ganesha (he is the Hindu God with the Elephant head, read more about him at the link).  Ganesha is the God who is known best as the Remover of all Obstacles and in the Hindu religion he is the one prayed to before starting any important ceremony.  We also spoke with the Pundit there about the issue of our marriage occurring during what is generally to be considered an inauspicious time frame.  Hindu’s do not generally marry during the months of July, August and September.  The Pundit checked and found that between the hours of 9am and 12pm on August 9th (the day of our wedding, and the exact time no less) it was an auspicious time and that if the Jai Mala (the exchange of garlands) was performed before 10:30am it was even better.

Because we are marrying with Arya Samaj and their belief was that every day was a good day because God created every day…they were more than happy to work with whatever we needed.  So, Sunday evening we went for temple with Arya Samaj and after services we spoke with the elders and the Pundit of Arya Samaj and planned the wedding with them.  They were able to help us decide where best to set up everything and which ceremony should be performed and who in the family could help perform it.  I’ll write on the actual ceremony and the services we will be doing in another blog.

And then Sunday night, on our way home, Bear got an email on his Blackberry….from his father….addressed to us both.  Finally I was being recognized by the family!!

Upon reaching home, I found that he had also cc’ed me at my personal email address.  So I set down to read it.  And read it.  And read it.  It was quite long.  It also said all the same things that they’ve been saying all along.  He listed all the reasons why I should not go through with marrying their son.  Except this time he was more specific.  And it was because of his specifics that I realized that they truly do not know anything about who I am as a person or what I know of their culture.  Even though in the early days Bear told them all of the things they questioned.  I know he did because I was there for nearly every conversation and we would discuss it before hand and afterwards.  What to say and not say that sort of thing.  And yet still I find that they were not listening.  Which, to be quite honest, is perfectly normal.  If you are listening to something that you don’t want to hear, you do not absorb it.  That is human nature.

So I took a full day to consider how I wanted to respond to them.  This was my opportunity to let them know who their future daughter in law was.  The problem was how to do it.  Do I write an email the way I normally would write to anyone older to me in the US?  Or do I tone it down?  Or do I write the way I would write to my Grandparents generation?  What to do?  I’m generally a very open and decided person when I write.  I speak the truth, I sometimes deflect it a bit, soften it if you will, by giving examples but the truth is still there and still powerful.  Could I do that with them?  Could I write something that essentially would be pointing to them the truth while still being respectful?

I found that I could and did.

I wrote what amounted to a five page email.  I answered all their questions.  I explained pieces of who I am as a person.  What I know of the Indian Culture.  What I know I will have to face in the future.  What I intend to do about problems or issues that may arise due to our differences and life living in India.  I told the truth.  Never once did I point a finger at them, or accuse them, or tell them “Hey, this wouldn’t be such a huge issue if you had listened a little more carefully previously or been a little more open”.

But I wanted to write that sentence.  Ohhhhhh how I wanted to write some version of that sentence.  Because that is also the truth.  But I feel that in some small way, I did point that out by expressing myself the way that I did.  Here is an excerpt from that letter….

When his father questioned me on my decision to marry Bear, I answered that it was a joint decision not mine alone.  When he further questioned me on people accepting me, I answered with this….

” My father once told me that I must be responsible for every action or non action I take in life.  It was because of his guidance and that of the elders in my family and our community that I learned that my decisions will affect more than just myself.  I was also taught that one can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time.  The great difficulty is knowing when and where to draw the line.”

Thank you Abraham Lincoln.  😉

They also requested me, again, to end this relationship.  That they were concerned for my future as well as Bear’s.  That they were willing to speak to my parents on my behalf to explain to them the issues I would face so that everyone would understand why we were no longer marrying.

And I responded with this…

“I wish I could tell you that I will make all your fears and pains go away by not marrying “Bear”, but I cannot do that.  I made a promise to your son and a promise to God to be with him always.  I never break my promises and because of this I never give them lightly.  I hope that you can understand and respect that.”

I further went on to ask them one favor, to please give me a chance.  To get to know me, the person that I am and see if having me as a daughter would be as bad as what they believed.  I asked them to trust that their son’s decision to give me as a daughter to them was a good one.  I asked them to open their hearts to me and let me show them how much I could love, care for and protect them.

And once I had read my letter to Bear and he also felt that I had said nothing disrespectful or hurtful to his family (because I wanted his opinion on that), I sent that email off.

And so now I wait.  To see if they respond again or if they contact Bear.  I don’t know what the future holds.  I know that the percentages say that they will eventually come around…after the marriage.  It’s a shame…I wish they could be a part of this day.  I know that Bear wants it with all of his heart and this is hurting him, his family’s distrust of his values, morals and intellect.

But I’m doing everything I can to protect him too.  I keep reminding him that it’s not truly that they distrust him, it’s that they distrust the situation.

Hopefully someday very soon, they no longer will be sad and hurt to have me as their daughter.  Hopefully someday very soon, I can call myself lucky to have such a large family by including his into it.

Until that day comes, I wait.

Now I’m off to address wedding invitations.  YAY for me!