Sunday, March 22, 2009
He wants the bottled mineral water in the room. Not so unusual. Bottled water is standard and free in our Indian travels. Mini-bars are cheap and we’ve emptied them for less than 20 bucks. THIS water is NOT free. And NOT cheap. I’m economizing and London is expensive so I offer him a drink of water from the tap.
From his response it is clear that future counseling may be in order.
He cries. He refuses to drink. I am a desert and the oasis is contaminated.
“If you force me, I will do it.
“Owen, I am not forcing you to do anything. The tap water is safe but you have a choice not to drink it.”
“Give me the bubbly water, mama…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” He cries. He moans. He bellows like the last bit of dry wind. “If you force me, I’ll drink it…”
Finally, an hour has passed and he must drink. A forlorn head bobble precedes, “Take me to that water, mama…” An endless march to certain doom.
We enter the hotel bathroom. The glass is overtly inspected by suspicious eyes. The tap is opened. The boy trembles. The glass is filled. He sips the tiniest of sips and then a larger, thirst-forced drink, before exclaiming…
“Owww. Owww. I’ve got the tummy crumps! It’s from that water! You MADE me dwink that bad water, mama. You’re a bad, bad mama!”
Indoctrinated time and again to the perils of unfiltered tap water, one can hardly blame him. We leave for a snack and I buy him a bottle of water. Happiness moves across his face. Surety of safety. Freedom from parasite. Purity of purpose…
Later, in the hotel room, I’m thirsty. I pick up a glass and go to the tap. And pause. Thoughtful.
5 minutes later I tell myself that it’s not a crime to want a bottle of carbonated water…
Out of Bangalore and Into the Rest of It…
Thursday, March 19, 2009
At the moment we are sitting in the lounge at the Bangalore airport. Which signifies the end of a journey that has taken us across the world, introduced us to fantastic people and places, and ultimately changed our lives in a myriad of ways…some concrete, explainable and others intangible, illusory.
I have not spent time here on the blog writing about our move back to the U.S. In part, that is due to a certain amount of denial (or, as we’ve all been telling people...our desire to leave this place kicking and screaming!) But mostly, it has to do with being a part of each present moment…in the here and now, with wanting to savor our surroundings and the remaining days with the friends and “family” that were created here. Our privilege has been the gift of community that wove its way around us. India is everything you hear: dirty, loud, smelly, smoggy, crowded, corrupt, poor, difficult to understand, complicated…But it is also filled with a life and living that can’t help but pull you in if you allow it to (and as in all things, surface appearance is a terrible method of judging ultimate worth).
The past few weeks have seen parties, laughter, generosity, tears, love, last days, last minutes, one-last-times… Our children (and us, too) have both celebrated their friendships and agonized over leaving the closeness of every day contact. We’ve shared this space in life with a group of very special people and the gratitude we have for that is pretty much limitless!
We are sad. That doesn’t mean that there are not people and places we look forward to reconnecting with (there are, of course, many). We know the energy that moves life…that can’t help but compel one forward step after another and we welcome the new joys and journeys that a “new” place and new challenges bring. Still, at the moment, we are choosing to move slowly through.
Expect to see more India blogs and updates on our “repat” life… Stay tuned if you wish and if you’re an old “new” friend in our old “new” place don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Our family motto is taken from the song titled “Be Here Now” by Mason Jennings… In these few words are the keys to an open universe.
Be Well, Friends…
Whatever part of the world you’re in!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Let me first start out by stating that I really am a responsible mother. I bathe my children, feed them regular meals, put them to bed on time and attempt to instill in them a sense of right and wrong.
Imagine, then, my surprise when the telephone rang one day: "Hi, it's Laura Lee. I'm assuming you know that Owen is over at our house."
You see, we are having a table base made for our marble inlay table top and the furniture proprietor came over to pick up the marble piece in his company rickshaw. His driver offered to give Owen a ride on our street, while they packed and wrapped the table top. Owen, grinning ear to ear hopped on in and had a ride. He came back and sat chatting with the driver in front of the house and then came in and told me that the driver would give him another ride and let him help drive, if it was okay with his mom. I told him that it was okay, came out to take his picture and then went inside.
Not long after came the phone call.
Apparently, once they came to the end of our street, Owen insisted on driving the Rickshaw over to his pal, H's house. He pulled up to their villa, climbed down and heading to the door, gave specific lordly instructions to the driver to "wait 10 minutes then I'll come out H can see me drive my rickshaw." Laura Lee, realizing that Owen had arrived unaccompanied thought to seek my motherly input. Once we had sorted out the turn of events, Owen was invited to stay and the ricksaw wallah was told to return to our villa.
Which he didn't. Instead, he waited 10 minutes and then knocked on Laura Lee's door again. She again informed him that he should return to our villa.
Eventually the driver and rickshaw returned to our villa...when we inquired why it had taken so long he replied:
"Ma'am, I was waiting for the little sir. Little Sir informed me to wait"
Aaaah...the changes afoot for one young psuedo Maharajah are frightening to contemplate, aren't they?
This sign, located just outside the business park where Target India is located, is one of many such vivid and creative "public service" sign boards in India. Here, it is not enough to post a speed limit sign, backed up by speeding tickets. The straightforward solution is ultimately the most fallible. A ticket is bribery incentive. But DEATH and dismemberment cannot be cheated...though they are sometimes seen as the ultimate solutions. Despite the signage, traffic problems remain an ongoing headache and a constant source of ire. Ah, well...at least there are entertaining things to read whilst we travel along.
Hmmm. Come to think of it...my first thought on reading this sign was, "We have traffice police?!?"
Even better, the sign attached to the car in front of me the other day read...
"Infant Driving School"
Now that is something to ponder.
in Bangalore, India
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Laura Lee and L sea kayaking...
Here's how it went:
Our wonderful friends, Dave and Laura Lee and their two children (who happen to be Grayce and Owen's homeschooling buddies and all around best friends) invited us to join them on a vacation to Oman. We hemmed, we hawed, we said, "Yes! We can!" We got up in the middle of the night and drove to the Bangalore Airport where we sadly (at least to a couple of moms but not at all to Bob) did not get to drink our Illy cafe cappucinos... Apparently there is some unwritten rule that says it is okay for a flight to be called and to leave earlier than scheduled! A revelation to travelers who are used to delays... And the kids are pretty mean! They actually laughed at us, taunting us, "no coffee for mommies! ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha," ...but please, it is the only Illy cafe I've ever seen in Bangalore, so grown mothers pouting is NOT out of the question.
Beach camping in traditional Omani tents, a carpet and pillows to relax in the sand, collecting stones, a swim in the sea, the smell of lamb kabobs and roasting fish, more stars, a little wine, exhausted sleep to the sound of surf...and then a morning surprise! We awoke in darkness. Bob stepped out of the tent and noted...."Hmmm, I don't remember that big rock." To our delight, Mother Sea Turtle had risen silently from the water while we slept, to lay her eggs. A morning blessing in front of the stone "Alter to the Goddesses" the kids had built for Laura Lee and I, (you didn't know we were goddesses? All mothers are!) as we watched them play on the beach the eve before. We gathered around her silently as she slowly covered her nest with sand and returned to the salty sea.