Thursday, September 27, 2007

You should have internet access in 2-3 days....

That was the conversation with the internet guy seven days ago. Chandra is having some internet withdrawal symptoms, combine that with her not having access to her morning coffee and she can be a bit “edgy” in the morning.

Everything is well over here, we moved in to our place on the 19th, the kids have started school and with a lot of help from our parents we closed on our house in Mpls. If anyone sees my parents at an airport please stop them as they have mentioned spending our house money on their next traveling adventure! Buying basic items for the Villa has been a bit of a challenge but Chandra is slowly finding what we need. Chandra vows to return soon with a much more detailed chronicling of our events.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And on to the next phase...

After two weeks in a hotel one begins to dream of a return to normalcy...a return home. For us, as new expats in India this takes on a new meaning. We aren't returning from a vacation to the comfort of what we know...the slightly dusty house, a few of the kid's toys left about in the hurry to leave, the Caribou Coffee on the corner, the park just a few blocks away, the people who comfort and enrich our lives (you know who you are...grandparents, soul sisters, old friends, good neighbors, ICAN, Monday playgroupies....and many more).

Yesterday our air shipment arrived blessedly intact (and with a minimum of the wacky bueracracy that is India) and today we began the process of packing up our suite and moving into our villa in Palm Meadows. It doesn't feel like home yet. As in all new places there is a strangeness, an awkward pause in the doorway. The boxes are stacked around us. None of the familiar things about. The memories of meals past, holidays celebrated, children born, arguments had, and all the little ironies and joys of life, have not yet filled the rooms. But they will, in their own time... We miss you all and yet look forward to creating a new place for our family.

Much love to all,
Chandra, Bob, Grayce and Owen

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rats in Paradise...

Ok, so you know how I keep saying that the Taj "isn't India"? Well, maybe it is, just a little. Everyone talks about the Rats in Bangalore so when we woke to Rat-like chomping in what we assumed were the walls a couple of nights ago, we mentioned it to the butler and kind of shrugged our shoulders.

The next day I noticed a few little holes in one of Owen's t-shirts ("hmm. That's weird"). And then Bob went to get dressed and saw that one of his pair of work dress pants had some holes in them ("must of gotten zipped up when they went through our bags...") At no point did either of us entertain the notion that these holes in our garments were RAT related....UNTIL, this morning, when Bob went to pull a suit out of the armoire and found more large holes in his pants. I thought, "maybe moths" but jokingly said, "hey honey, maybe it's our Rat friend" We looked at each other-(it couldn't be. Could it?) Oh, but it could! Though we didn't find additional holes we most emphatically found evidence of Rat bathroom habits...Yep, Rat Poop, stuck to the shoulders and backs of a number of our clothing items. Ugghhhhh.

Imagine if you will: Rat Trapeze Artists swinging from hanger to hanger, stopping languidly for a snack of "wool suit under glass" or perhaps carrying along small bits of fabric to pad the family Rat bed.

It wasn't long before our room was filled with people come to view our Rat love fest. And of course, Ratman...our new favorite superhero: Rat Remover doesn't even begin to cover the demands of his job. It was found that the Rat (or Rats?) were coming in through holes in the air conditioning pipes. So...pipes plugged, rat droppings removed, Ratscatted clothes sent to the hotel laundry, Bob off to the tailors for a new suit (courtesy, of course, of the hotel). An odd day in Ratville but I do have to say that the Taj handled it with the utmost speed, courtesy and professionalism (and a few extra chocolates...which reminds me to point out that our Rat didn't have to chew on clothing. We had more than enough crackers, dried soup and pumpkin seeds in one of our suitcases to make him a meal). Nevertheless, we will be switching suites as soon as one is vacated tomorrow...we accept the fact of Rat in India...we just don't want him in our hotel room!!

The Fischers in India

Sunday, September 9, 2007

"Brunch is Good..."

Or so exclaims Owen sleepilyafter spending 4 hours feasting and playing at the Taj West's amazing Sunday Brunch. After hearing about the delicious food and children's entertainment we made our reservations for an outside table. We prepared by skipping breakfast for ourselves and feeding the kids a few small snacks in the morning and we were not disappointed, to say the least! Table after table loaded with European, Lebanese and Indian fare and an incredible seafood buffet followed by 30 feet of desserts kept us going back for more. There was even a children's buffet with mini hotdogs, mini hamburgers and french fries out on the lawn. Plus they had a variety of small rides (most suitable for the youngest set), a jumper and a temporary tatoo artist so that the kids were kept occupied while the adults relaxed with coffee, tea and champagne. Wow!

So...the Taj obviously does not capture Indian or Bangalorean life and culture for most but it is a lovely way to get through jet lag and the confusion of moving overseas and the staff here have been so incredibly kind and tolerant of us and our very active children.

We had the chance to visit our villa in the Palm Meadows community and to attend a MN state fair Party on a Stick put on by two other expat Target families. It was nice to meet some fellow expats and the kids got the chance to meet some kids who have been where they are. Grayce was very tired and shy up until the end when she saw the Murphy's son, Jimmy, dancing to the High School Musical DVD...she was quite impressed! Owen was shy for all of 2 seconds and it was all over when he noticed a toy laser blaster and commenced with shooting it at all and sundry. Plus there were corndogs and beer. What more could a Minnesotan ask?

Palm Meadows is not India either but it is beautiful and full of expats from all over. The kids were blown away by the pools and park. Our villa is the last on a dead end street, which will be great for bike riding and playing. There is a teeny, tiny "yard" and a rooftop patio and thankfully all the windows have screens so that will help with the moquitoes (speaking of which, one place you don't want to be is outside at the Taj at around 6 pm...there's a reason we haven't seen many moquitoes here yet. Bob had the dubious pleasure of attempting to hold his breath while walking to the hotel suite as they were mosquito fogging the hotel grounds...!)

In many ways living at Palm Meadows will probably make getting to know Bangalore more difficult. I imagine it would be easy enough to insulate yourself from the real lives and experiences of the people here, if you chose to. On the opposite hand, there is comfort in an expat community. Many more thoughts on this at a later date...

Call us on our Skype phone (but remember we are 10.5 hours ahead of you!)...

The Fischers in Bangalore, India

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Land of Oz

Or was it India? The Fischer's have landed and I have to say that the 26 hours of travel went incredibly well. I mean, aside from the fact that none of our seats were together (didn't take long to convince people to switch seats...wonder why?? We ended up in 2 rows, one adult to each child.) Grayce started sneezing and running at the nose about 8 hours in. Owen was pretty much a little monkey...wiggling from under his seat belt and pushing every single button in reach 736 times (lights on, lights off, call the flight attendant, lights on again, recline the seat, pop up the tray get the picture). Both kids slept well and at the right time from Chicago to Germany and both made use of their personal video screens while mommy and daddy drank some free wine (in hindsight...not such a great idea when you're traveling for that length of time. But it was free and it did take the edge off ;-)

In Frankfurt we had very little time to drag two VERY crabby, half-asleep kids from one gate to another far, far away...Owen of course had to pee "WIGHT NOWWWW" while on the airport train between terminals and commenced with sobbing loudly upon hearing that it would be necessary for him to "hold it, just a little while." He has a remarkable ability to see things clearly only from his point of view (we refer to this pleasantly as "persistence". May it serve him well.) Grayce claimed that she was unable to walk because her hurting legs were sleeping and she wanted us to go straight home. She didn't seem cheered by the news that we were doing exactly that...?? All of us agree that Lufthansa is by FAR the best airline we've ever flown...wonderful, clean and modern airplanes, video "on demand", patient and friendly flight attendants, a packet of things to do for the kids, and business class seats that pretty much lay flat for sleeping at the touch of a button (or in Owen's case: many buttons) We feel extremely lucky to have flown business class!!!!!!!!! Both kids were charmed by the free in-flight slipper socks and sleep masks...Owen kept his "special long socks" on from Chicago to Bangalore.

We arrived to Bangalore airport around midnight weary and dirty and both surprised and extremely grateful that we were able to quickly get through customs with all of our many bags waiting for us at the baggage claim (and a gaggle of *helpers* waiting too...I kid you not when I say that there were at least 10 angling for the right to help us with the luggage! Bob picked one to be in charge which settled that but we had quite an entourage for while.) Walking out of the airport we were met by a throng of people up against some fencing...and pretty much everywhere. The hotel sent a driver right away but the kids had time to glare grumpily at every person who was kindly smiling at them. Fortunately, people in every culture seem to understand grumpy, tired children...

Grayce and Owen perked up when the driver asked them their names and chatted with us a bit. Bob tells me we nearly hit a cow and ran a red light but having heard what Bangalore traffic and Indian driving is like, coupled with the fact that for the first time ever my kids were without car seats, I was choosing not to notice! We arrived safely at the lovely Taj West hotel and will be here for the next couple of weeks...

The Taj is set on 22 acres...tropically landscaped beautiful grounds all around. We are being waited on hand and foot, which would be easier to enjoy if Owen would remember that 1:30 am is NOT a good time to energetically wake up for breakfast!!! So far, we've stayed on the grounds...napping, playing at the pool, eating and trying to adjust to the time zone. The staff at the Taj seems to think our children are charming...smiling and teasing them, whisking them off, greeting them with their names. We will be changing rooms this weekend for more sleeping space (We're in a nice suite with a king size bed...and a single bed they brought in but neither Grayce nor Owen wants to sleep alone so we are all camped out in the family bed for now...which would be fine for a few nights but not so much for 2 plus weeks...)

Grayce says today that she "Loves India because it is so quiet" (!) I haven't the heart to remind her that there are over 7 million people living in Bangalore...She can't wait to "buy some pretty India clothes" and oohs and aahs over every woman clad in a sari (she's right...they are beautiful.)

Owen went frog-chasing outside with Daddy at 4 am (having been awake since 1 am or so) and has wandered about zombie like all day. Despite this...his cheeks have been pinched and he's been cuddled a dozen times. I can't say he's hating all the loving attention!!!

Anyway...a bit of a ramble. We'll post pictures later this week.

the Fischers in India