Flipping through The Times of India and found this ad from the local police. It’s asking for information and includes a photo(!) of a dead person. I guess that’s one way to solve the case…
There’s a nifty graph that gets passed around whenever we move to a new place that shows the stages of adjustment. There’s a honeymoon stage, where everything seems new! and exciting! and did you see that?! Amazing! This quickly fades into hostility, as you start to realize that the locals may be friendly, but buying milk is going to take 3 hours and an advanced degree in linguistics. The hostility toward all the stupid ways people around you are doing things is supposed to ebb as your sense of humor returns and you make some friends who can show you the ropes. And finally, through time and effort or the discovery of cheap local booze, you feel at home. Or at peace. Or at least a bit buzzed.
I’ve certainly experienced these stages, but they have never happened in such a neat linear fashion. I feel like I run through most of them on a weekly basis, especially in the first few months. There are those days when you stumble into the perfect cafe, conquer the metro system and survive whatever gauntlet the local phone company throws down. You power down the weird supermarket aisles thinking I GOT THIS! I am WINNING the Amazing Race! Here’s to kicking this foreign country’s ASS!
And then 45 minutes later you get mugged on the train and forget how to say HELP! in the local language.
Then there are days that just feel like one long, slow grind against your very existence. Every effort at fulfilling basic needs is met with a roadblock. The bananas are different and the toilet paper is absurdly scratchy and the light switches don’t make sense and even the air you’re trying to breathe is just foreign. Every cell of your body bristles at the foreigness of it all, and it’s exhausting.
At the end of those days you crawl into bed and try to laugh about the absurdity of life. Then you make a plan. Sometimes the plan is simply “wake up tomorrow and survive.” Sometimes the plan is “book a trip to the Maldives, immediately.” But usually the plan is take a deep breath, get some rest, and get ready to kick this country’s ass again tomorrow.
(Aack! just realized this might imply that I was mugged! I was not. At least not in India, anyway. Just speaking generally about all the possible ups and downs of living in a new place!)
We made it! Alive! Two 8 hour flights with two small people under the age of 3 and I am still coherent enough to write to you. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is. We touched down in New Delhi a week ago and so far, things are really not as crazy as I expected. Or maybe that’s the jetlag talking. It does help that we had a car already purchased and a nanny/housekeeper waiting to pitch in. And by day two we had a gardener and a driver. I might never leave India. Except for the hotness. The hot, sticky, sweat-through-your-clothes 3 times a day humidy horrow show that is monsoon season. Complete with swarms of Dengue fever-spreading mosquitoes. My beauty routine now solely consists of slathering on insect repellant and finding a tarp to tie down my hair. India is not kind to curly short hairstyles and I will probably avoid being photographed for the next 2 years. But aside from that, this place is exhilarating. We took the car out for the first time last weekend (sans driver) and braved the New Delhi roads with Husband behind the wheel, on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road. Here’s what that looked like: (Ok, so I let you see that photo of me, but only because you needed to see how driving here envokes the same kind of feelings most people get on old, rickety roller coasters) Anyway, we took the kids just up the street to India Gate, a Delhi version of the Arc de Triomphe (I guess we like to live near large, monumental arcs). Tucked in the surrounding park grounds we found a huge playground called Children’s Park. It was a Sunday afternoon, so the place was packed with families and kids and vendors selling everything from cotton candy to incense. We got a lot of stares, but the Babe and Cletus didn’t waste any time assimilating. Before long, strangers started grabbing my children for photo ops. Several different people just walked over and picked up Cletus for a group shot that most definitely got posted to FB later with a tagline like, “look at this weird blonde kid we found at the park!” Thankfully (?) Cletus has no sense of stranger-danger and would happily walk away with the first axe-wielding sociopath that growled at him, so these photo shoots were not a problem. He gamely jumped into each new Indian friend’s arms and shouted “CHEEEEEESE!” So if that’s any indication of things, I think we’re going to be alright here.
I’m moving to India in less than a week.
Yep, there’s been a whole time/space warp thing happening around here. One second I’m hitting playgrounds in Vienna, and then BOOM. Flying 14 hours to New Delhi. And that guy up there in the photo? That’s actually me, freaking out about taking a 14 hour flight with 2 toddlers.
Also freaking out about roving gangs of monkeys, Dengue Fever, finding schools for the kids, Delhi Belly, driving on the wrong side of the road, 115 degree heat, air pollution, parasites, making new friends all over again, getting another government issued oven, finding a job, bleaching all of my food, and procuring enough DEET to repel the mosquitoes into the Himalayas.
But hey, we might hit the Maldives for Christmas, so it all evens out.
Bear with me as I launch into this crazy adventure and hopefully get this blog going again. I’m thinking there might just be some good material coming ’round the bend…
If there’s one thing Austrians know how to do, it’s playgrounds. Also hotdogs, but that’s a different post for a different day. Anyway, the playgrounds here are amazing – always meticulously cared-for spaces that include plenty of death defying action for kids of all ages. That’s right, I said “death defying.” I’m talking super steep slides, zip lines, crazy climbing structures, and indescribable fun stuff like this:
Yes, that kid is jumping from one tall pole to another, without any kind of helmet, safety net, or parent worrying. It’s not quite a free-for-all adventure playground, but it is definitely a far cry from the sad plastic padded playground equipment we find back home. Another big difference? There are actually kids playing on this one.