Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Jason and I had a little discussion about the end of the above sentence.

Jason's Choice: "But you can't change the writing on the wall"
My Choice: "But then you realize, many things are universal to the human condition. "



I'll let you choose your philisophical slogan for today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The complex has a large amount of paved area, so Jason and I decided it would be great if the kids had some bikes to ride around on. I should probably point out the bike idea was mine, because it gave me the opportunity to sit down while allowing them some exercise. Tim's gotten really good whacking the plastic softball we brought from the US, and I was tired of chasing it down.

We had seen bikes at a specialty toy store (I'd compare it to a Toys R Us in the United States) and they were priced at around 4000 INR ($87) each. The one thing I've wholeheartedly embraced here in India is the pricing, and I thought we should shop around a bit first.

We're glad we did. We found a bicycle-only store just down the road from the toy store with bikes in both Tim and Ty's sizes. They were priced at 2300 and 2100. We forked the money over as quickly as possible, before the guy noticed we were foreigners and tried to raise the price. For another 250 INR, they delivered them to the apartment. (Home Delivery is another thing I've embraced.)

So - I took a short video of Tim and Ty trying out the new bikes. Notice the baskets and seat backs on both of the kids' bikes. It seems this is the standard design for children. Also, I was surprised to see the brakes on the handlebars, instead of in the pedals like I grew up with. Regardless, they promise hours of fun.

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Monday, August 29, 2011
The apartment Jason rented for us is very nice. On the top (7th) floor of the complex, it is 4 Bedroom, 4 Bath, and spans two stories. In HSR Layout, it's about a ten minute auto ride to Jason's work in Koramangala every morning. We pay around $650 per month, which compared to Tulsa rental prices, is a fantastic deal. But that's not the best part about our new home. The feature that takes the cake is the enormous terrace just outside the master bedroom. Overlooking one of the apartment complex's courtyards, it's a great place to hang out and relax. Since the weather is generally in the high 70's or low 80's, I spend a lot of time out here.

View from the front railing of the terrace.

View from the cane furniture side rail.


During many of my lazy afternoons, I've sat on the cane sofa and looked out at my neighbor's terraces. Many of them have potted plants, exercise equipment, or children's toys scattered about. The idea of plants intrigued me, so when I saw a roadside vendor selling them, I asked our driver to stop. I almost danced a little jig when I found out how cheap they are.
Our cane sofa, chairs, and swing. The swing is MINE! Did I mention all of this was purchased for under $200? I'm really going to miss the prices in India.

I bought two and took them with me and the kids in the auto. It was a huge pain to transport them, and I was a little sad that I couldn't get any bigger ones, because I had no way to carry them. Besides, these pots are pure concrete, and I almost killed myself getting them up here. I asked Jason to estimate their weight, and he said he'd guess anywhere from 60-80lbs. Whew! Did I mention our terrace is on the second floor of our apartment? (Read: no elevator access to 8th floor) I crouched down and balanced one on my knee for a breather, and my legs almost didn't pick me back up.

One of the two plants I carried up.

Jason asked me why I didn't have the auto driver carry them up, but the guy was really old and I would never forgive myself if I hurt him. Besides, we have an insurance policy over here, and I figure if I end up in the hospital, it will make a good blog post. Part of the tourist experience, right?

Anyway, this Saturday I dragged Mr. Moneybags and Mr. Muscle (both Jason) with me to see if we could arrange transportation of the plants if I bought some. The auto driver volunteered to get them back to the complex for an extra charge, and we agreed. I bought the five large fern things (sorry, I need a botonist to tell me the names, these guys didn't come with nameplates) for 270 INR (around $6) each, including the pot. Awesome price, huh? The small white/green plants were also 270 each.
On the far left is one of the pretty white/green plants I got, and of course the tall stuff is the fern thingys.

The two I had bought on the trip by myself cost me 800 ($17), and I decided Jason has to go with me from now on because they tend to charge me a higher price. Jason didn't even have to barter and they offered them to him for 130 less. No fair!

But I digress. The real reason for this blog entry is so I can show off my newly foilaged terrace. I told Jason that I could probably make due with about 14 more large ferns, and I'd be set. He just smiled and said "Fine, so long as you're carrying them down when we move out." I agreed (I've got two years for him to forget). So - here's a video tour of the terrace, Phase 1. Stay tuned for the finished product after I get more plants!
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Sunday, August 28, 2011
My cook and maid (mother and daughter) are off to Chennai for a cousin's wedding. Which means, for the next week I'm going to have to cook my own meals and sweep my own floors (how much you wanna bet they won't be swept on a daily basis?)

Because of the trip, I've found out we have a reputation in our complex. When Lakshmi originally asked off for the wedding (before we fired our first cook), I told her "sure, no problem" and she didn't mention it again. Now that their trip is quickly approaching, she's been assuring me at least twice a day that they will be back on the 2nd of September. I nodded in acknowledgement, wondering why she felt the need to tell me every day. I just figured my disorganized personality had shown through, and she didn't want me to forget.

Well, today she told me again "we'll be back on the 2nd" but then she added, "we will still work here, yes?" The light bulb came on. She was afraid we would fire her for being gone. I quickly assured her that we had no problem with her taking vacation, it was the unannounced absences that the other cook was let go for.

At first I felt bad about the misunderstanding. Then I decided it's probably not a bad thing to be known as "those people who won't pay you if you don't work". Score one for the Christensens!
Saturday, August 27, 2011
I've had a lot of people ask me about the bindi (women) or tilak (men), which is the mark placed between the eyebrows on the foreheads of many Indian people.



I've asked a few people around my apartment complex, and most are telling me it has become a mostly decorative mark. But, they say that for Hindu people, the dot is supposed to mark the location of the sixth chakra, or place of concealed wisdom. But other religions wear them as well.

I was also told that they signify stature in society, but exactly what stature, I wasn't clear on. The mark is not a sign of marital status as I had assumed, but married women do display their status by applying a small amount of red color to the part of their hair on the top of the head.

I'll probably have to chalk this topic up as one of those things you have to be raised around to fully understand, much like trying to explain to my children why it's ok to laugh about farts when Aunt Andy gives you a whoopee cushion, but that we don't talk about things like poop or underwear or farts in public otherwise. (Thanks a lot Andy, I could have happily strangled you when Tim reminded me of your "gift" during one of my lectures.)
Friday, August 26, 2011
I've decided to make my laziness a weekly occurrence. So, every Friday you'll receive a random photo, with or without comments, depending on whether or not I feel like rolling off the couch.

I'll bet you were wondering why we don't see Ronald McDonald in many United States advertisements anymore. (I know I was.) Here's your answer: He's immigrated to India. At least we're not the only pale faces here.



Thursday, August 25, 2011
Today our auto driver had to stop for gasoline/petrol before dropping us back at the apartment, and I took the opportunity to snap a couple of pictures.




Autos are three wheeled vehicles with one wheel in front, and two in back to support our enormous girth. And with the above, you now know where the gas tank is located. At the station, there are separate lines for autos and for automobiles. Fueling stations for cow-drawn wagons are elsewhere. (that's a joke people)
As far as I could tell, the fuel was self-serve, but attendants stood and accepted your money. I assume cash only at the auto pumps, since I didn't spot any credit card machines. I can't speak for the automobile pumps. One of the auto drivers mentioned that gasoline was subsidized by the government here in India, and I'm not sure whether that also applies to automobiles or not. Maybe that's why they have separate lines for each. (though the auto fuel dispenser clamped on much like a butane nozzle, not sure whether the automobile dispensers are like the ones in the US or not)

And while our driver was visting with the money collectors, I took the liberty of snapping a picture of the controls. This model was a fancy one, as in most of the other autos we've ridden in, there is a crank shaft on the floor near the driver's left foot to start the vehicle. The autos don't idle well, and so the drivers normally kill the engine when we're stopped in traffic, then yank the crank shaft to start it up again when we need to move. But the one pictured above started with a control on the dashboard. I'm sorry I didn't get it in the picture, but there was also a switch labelled "G" and "P", Gas and Petrol? Is there a difference? I have no clue.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I've gotta say, I'm very impressed with the speed of construction crews over here. In Tulsa, the downtown road system (and other streets elsewhere) have been under construction for what seems like an eternity. I don't know whether it's just that I don't drive as much over here, or whether I'm telling the truth, but it seems like their roads and bridges go up twice as fast as ours.

But I get goosebumps when I see their housing construction. All over Bangalore, apartment complexes are in varying stages of completion. Most buildings here, including our apartment, are made entirely of concrete threaded with rebar. Which makes the below even more unbelievably scary to me:
(Double click the pic to make it larger).



Instead of using metal supports, it is very common to see tree limbs/posts jammed under a building to provide support until the concrete beams are added. Crazy!

Also, we see many half-built buildings with tarp strung up on rope to create "walls", and people live under them to provide support. We really aren't sure whether it's the homeless who do this, or whether the construction workers live there to get a jumpstart on the day. Either way, I know I wouldn't get any rest worrying about the posts coming loose and the ceiling crushing my sleeping body.

As for the scarecrow in the first picture, I have no idea what it's for.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
One thing my children are learning to love is the lack of car seats. We usually hire an auto to take us places within our neighborhood, and if we are going long distances, we pay for a taxi. In the taxis, we generally require the kids to at least sit down on the seats instead of standing up to peer through the windows, mostly because the cars can actually get to highway speeds, while autos generally don't go faster than around 30mph (this is a wild guess-I'm still totally baffled by the kph vs mph conversion, my brain wasn't made for math)

But for autos, since they aren't even equipped with seatbelts, we allow them to stand up and grip the metal handles for support. Scary? I think so. But any time I feel like I'm being a little too overprotective, I just look to the vehicles next to us on the road.

I grew up riding horses, and even then the idea of riding side-saddle scared me to death. This lady is brave!

Speaking of live animals, some of the cows actually work around here.

And this picture is blurry because these guys were sailing past our moving vehicle at an amazing speed. Who needs a car when you can pile three people on a bike? I'm betting we could get Tyler on the handlebars and we could all ride.
Monday, August 22, 2011
So - someone else broke into our house last night.

He dropped in from the roof, pulled out our window unit air conditioner from our upstairs bedroom, and proceeded to break the lock on our front door.

I was able to describe the offender as around 6 feet tall, with dark blond hair and slight build.



Sound familiar?


Yes, you are correct. My husband broke in to our apartment. As we had enjoyed our last experience at the theater, we decided to take the kids to watch "Spy Kids" on opening weekend. We laughed, we cried, we ate and drank our weight in popcorn and Pepsi. And then we caught an auto (rickshaw) for the ride home.

We stepped out at the complex's front gate, and were halfway to our apartment block when Jason said "oh shoot." Sometime during the movie (we hoped) our apartment keys had fallen from his pants pocket. That option was certainly the most hoped for, as it would be next to impossible to locate our auto driver in the literally thousands of auto drivers in the city.

As we do not have spare keys (if you remember from a previous post, our owner 'does not believe in spares') Jason notified our maintenance office and they helped him onto the roof and with the removal of the window unit.

Our lock unfortunately requires a key from BOTH sides of the door, so they were forced to remove the entire mechanism before the door was open. And poor Jason had to take--yet another--auto back to the theater to retrieve his keys (FYI - he did).

So, all's well that ends well. We have to replace our lock and use the deadbolt until then, but look on the bright side. It made a pretty good blog post!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I couldn't bring myself to take pictures - it's hard for me to do anything subtly here because I'm being stared at for being pale already, and I really don't want to seem rude - so you'll have to take my word for this.

In Oklahoma, you see friends walking down the street together. If they're getting along particularly well, you'll see some back-slaps, a good-natured body shove, and maybe a quick shoulder squeeze.

In Oklahoma, you see couples (married or otherwise) walking down the street together. If they're getting along particularly well, you'll see hands laced together, arms resting around the waist/shoulder, or some more, ah, blatant displays of affection.

Well, surprise surprise, things are different here in India.

Here, if friends are walking down the street together, you'll see more of the couple's behavior than friends. It's particularly disconcerting to see two men holding hands or draping their arms across each others' waists. But it happens here all the time. And it's very, very normal.

On the other side, I don't see much of the couple behavior from actual couples. I can't say for certain it doesn't happen, but I don't remember seeing a man and woman doing anything from the friends column, much less the couple's.

I asked Jason whether any of his co-workers try to hold his hand when they go out for lunch. He says no. I'm guessing his "don't touch me" vibe is working just fine.

Saturday, August 20, 2011
Maybe I'm just crazy, but I've noticed a distinct inverse relationship to India's supply versus my demand.

For example, below picture shows my bottle of conditioner standing next to a regular container of Bath & Body Works body creme (8oz, for all you guys out there). As you can also see, the conditioner bottle is slightly crumpled; this is due to the fact that I tried to strangle it for the last drops just this morning. Who decided to sell conditioner in 3oz bottles? And no - this is the usual size here, it's not a travel sample. The shampoo however, comes in a 5 oz bottle. What? Doesn't everyone know you need AT LEAST three times as much conditioner as shampoo?



The same holds true for kitchen items. Only the "foreign" store sells microwave popcorn, so Jason has learned to make do with the stove top, pop-it-yourself version. Here's a picture of the package size.

 Pretty normal, right? Well, it is. . . until you put it next to the oil he uses to pop it. Geeze, we only need about a teaspoon.

And here's the smallest - yes you read that right - the smallest container of Soy Sauce in the store - a whopping 25 ounces!
Last but not least, our choices for bowls. Now, don't get me wrong, we CAN find different sizes of bowls-and have done so-but I wanted to show you the two sizes that came in our "6 person place setting" box. Any bowls considered "normal size" in the US must be bought individually. In the box sets, you get either a) serving bowls or b) tiny "ice cream" bowls.




I'm learning to adjust - except with the conditioner. Every time the store clerk gets a new shipment, I buy one shampoo and three conditioners. They think I'm strange. Yes, I'm the creepy doomsday prophet stocking up on beauty products instead of canned goods. If only Soy Sauce was good for my hair. . .


Friday, August 19, 2011
Sorry guys, my grueling work schedule (napping, eating, reading books) has prevented me from writing a deep and insightful blog post today. Instead, please enjoy some random pictures from my iPhone, taken at a restaurant called Griglioto's (Tim's favorite).

This is a picture of the "burgers" section of the Griglioto's menu. Notice the complete lack of beef. . . I asked about the "Chef's Special" Burger, since it describes it as a meat burger. It was made of chicken. I tried the lamb burger, and it was really good, but it can't beat beef. Hey, I'm from cattle country!


The above is probably one of the big reasons Timothy has decided Griglioto's is his favorite place to eat. After your meal, the server brings a bowl of the above for use as after dinner mints. Jason and I were not fans- he thought they tasted like cough syrup. I agreed, because they tasted exactly like Nyquil's licorice flavored yuck. The kids however, had no problem scarfing them down. We got back way after their bedtime, so I didn't get a chance to properly test whether they were asleep so fast after we got home due to the late hour, or the cough syrup in the dessert.

Happy Friday Everyone, today will be a great day!

Trust me. I'm from the future.


Thursday, August 18, 2011
I'm a month in to my residence in Bangalore, and I've just now started missing some culinary American staples (not stopless).

Which is bad, because I really don't know how to cook. And even if I did, it's hard to find the Indian equivilant of some everyday American ingrediants.

So here's the story - I've been craving a good meal of biscuits and gravy. Or even a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit (McDonalds only serves McMuffins here - yuck). I'd even take the Chick-Fil-A version of a chicken biscuit.

But they are not to be found. I had to make them myself. I found a recipie online, made of Crisco, flour, and buttermilk. So I went to the store.

Flour - check. Plain white flour is very easy to buy here. It was available at the little store just outside the apartment.

Crisco - sort of check. I found some vegetable oil mix with the same consistency. After a lengthy discussion with the grocery store employees, I had to admit this was the best it could get.

 Buttermilk - Check. Oops. Uncheck. The only buttermilk I could located was "Spiced Masala". Which sounded a lot more like premixed egg nog than I was willing to experiment with. I finally decided to "make" my own with regular milk and vinegar. I wasn't looking for perfection, just a close approximation of a biscuit.

The Result - massive fail. Despite several adjustments to my toaster oven, they all came out hard on the outside, and terribly soggy on the inside. Back to the drawing board.

I tried a new recipe today made with flour, sugar, egg, baking powder, ghee (butter), and milk. It turned out better, though the biscuits barely rose in the oven at all, and they're pretty dry. Which means I need to learn how to make sausage gravy. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Lately I've been catching the news as I wander in and out of the living room throughout the day, and there's been almost non-stop coverage about this man known as Anna, who began a "fast unto death" to protest the corruption in the Indian government.

You can read the details on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Hazare

I'm just sayin', I've never seen someone fasting as protest to the government. Interesting stuff.
Anyway, right now he's in jail, I'll let you know if anything more exciting happens.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Gobi Masala
This dish is made from cauliflower, and it is yummy.
The cauliflower is cut, rolled in a flour/ghee mix and then cooked in a mix of masala (a combination of spices - this one came out of a pre-mix, so I honestly can't tell you what is in it), onion, tomato ketchup, and cilantro. The result is fried cauliflower with a slightly sweet, slightly spicy taste. So far, this is my favorite dish in India. (And Timothy's - I sorta let him believe it was chicken. :) Amazing how much better it was when he didn't know it was a vegetable.)


Dal (Corn)
For this Dal 'soup', chopped up kernal corn is cooked into a soft mixture using a pressure cooker. Tomatos, cilantro, onion, and a small amount of oil is mixed in. This is used as a "dip" for the chapati shown below.


Phulka Chapati - Unlike yesterday's chapati, our cook rolled this out, then added some butter (ghee) to one side. Then she folded the dough in thirds, then rolled it out again. Doing this caused the chapati to puff up with air when she placed it on the hot skillet. Pretty cool looking at the time, but you can't really tell from the picture above. It also tasted the same as yesterday's.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Huge apologies for the guest appearance of my hand, this is why I'm an accountant and not a cameraman.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011
To start this off, nobody technically "broke into" our house. I, being a particularly disgusting housewife, decided to shower around 6pm in the evening. This is around when Jason normally gets home, and we only have one key to the apartment complex (the owner 'does not believe in spare keys'). Afraid the kids wouldn't be able to let Jason in the apartment if he made it home before I got out, I left the front door unlocked.

Stupid. I know.

Well, imagine my surprise when I'm digging through my dresser, wrapped in a towel, and I hear "Madam!" from downstairs. Timothy runs up to tell me "old cook" is here.

You know, the one we fired. Actually, we tried to fire. The day I finally had enough (the same day she called to tell me the latest 'I need two days off' had turned into a week), I had told her that "I'm sorry, but I don't think this is working for us at all. We need someone we can count on to be here each day, and from what we've seen, that is not happening with you." She tried to argue with me over the phone, but I told her to expect a call from Jason (she had the attitude that she didn't have to listen to me because Jason was the one who hired her).

Well, for the entire week, Jason tried to call her, and she dodged our calls. Voicemail on cell phones is not common (or not available, I'm not sure), so we had no way to officially terminate her employment except through SMS/texting. We did so.

Apparently, she thought she'd have better luck in person. Knowing that I leave the door unlocked for Jason in the evenings, she let herself in while I was showering. NOT a mark in her favor.

Especially when my children were downstairs. Argh, I'm still shaking. Can't tell whether it's because I'm mad, or scared that I left my kids downstairs with a disgruntled former employee.

Long story short, I told her in no uncertain terms that she did not work for us anymore and she was no longer welcome in our apartment.

I locked the door behind her. Sorry Jason, but you'll have to ring the doorbell from now on. I guess I'll be showering with my cell phone on the sink.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Our new cook made us dinner tonight, and it looks really good. We haven't tried it yet, since we're waiting for Jason to get home from work, but I'm optimistic. Since the cook's "translator" was here (her daughter speaks English), I asked a lot of questions.

(As a side note, I'm very pleased she is willing to do the shopping for me, since many normal things like flour and corn are called atta and dal) Maybe I'll have some fun and compile a food translator while I'm here.

Tonight's menu - Chapati with Indian Egg Curry




I'll do my best to explain the process, but I was in and out of the kitchen playing with the kids, so try at your own risk.

For the Chapati - Mix wheat flour (Flour here is called Atta) with water and a small bit of salt and oil. Roll into golf-ball sized balls, then roll flat. Brown both sides on a pancake griddle. They come out looking exactly like you'd expect home-made tortillas to look like - only they taste better.

For the Egg Curry - Dice onion and tomato, place in pot with a small amount of water, oil, and salt, then cook/simmer covered for 10 minutes or so. Around halfway through the 10 minutes, add chilies (and garlic seasoning - ours is missing this, as I had none in the kitchen). Place (boiled) eggs in the mixture and you're done.

I forgot to ask how you eat the eggs - I'm going with the old fashioned fork approach, but the tomato/onion part I'm assuming you dip and eat with the chapati as done with most currys.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Since I've lost my cook, I've been forced to find some vegetables I acually recognize, so my first stop was the tiny produce shop directly across the road from our apartment complex. Even though they offer free home delivery (it seems everywhere in India does this), I decided to walk over and peruse their wares.

Luckily, most of the vegetables were ones I've seen before. I bought some 3 apples, 3 potatoes, a handful of okra, 3 tomatoes, 1 pinapple, and 1 onion. Yum! All for less than $3. Can't beat that. No wonder vegetarians are so common here.

Anyway, the trip was uneventful, but Timothy borrowed my iPhone and took some snapshots, so I thought I'd show them off here.

peppers

A random assortment of grains - corn, rice, wheat based.
I really need to figure out how to cook with this stuff.

A shot of the store's wall display

Peas
 (yes you shell them yourself here, though I have found the shelled frozen variety elsewhere)

I have no idea what these are - I tried to ask, but the cashier did not speak English.

Our friendly cashier.
My kids will be total brats by the time we head back to the US, because their blond hair and blue eyes make them exotic, and the people here are very excited to meet them, even if their attitudes leave much to be desired. (We went during Tyler's normal nap time, and he was cranky)
Thursday, August 11, 2011
We went to the store today after we met daddy for lunch at McDonalds. On our way back to the apartment, we stopped at the small pond/garden just inside the security gate.


Not sure whether you can tell or not, but there are tiny tadpoles swimming on the lilypads. Timothy was so excited! We had just finished a lesson that talked about how tadpoles grow up, lose their tails, and grow legs before they fully turn into frogs. Maybe we'll get lucky and catch them in their mid-stages.

And while we were still dancing in joy over the find, Tyler found a lizard! And not just any lizard, a HUGE one. He asked me what kind it was, and I had to tell him I have no clue. Any herpetologists out there?

The ability to require my children dance before eating candy.

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To be fair, they both offered to dance first.

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Monday, August 8, 2011
I'm going to have to fire my cook/nanny. She called today - after not coming to work - to tell me that she won't be able to make it in until next Monday...yes, a full week from now.

So Jason and I have decided that she can keep the 1500 rupee advance we gave her for August and we'll call it even.

Wish us luck on finding a new one. Until then - gasp! - I'll have to cook my own food and watch my own kids.

Ridiculous, huh? I feel so snooty.....
Sure, we all speak English, but we still have a hard time communicating.

For example, my maid originally worked seven days a week, coming every day at eleven. Well, I wanted a day where my house belonged to myself, so I attempted to tell her that Sunday could be her day-off. It took me thirty minutes, and an accidental mention of the word "holiday" before we understood each other. So, for future reference, "day-off" = "holiday"

Another fun time is when we're trying to get somewhere in a taxi. Day before yesterday, we needed to buy a battery backup to ensure our internet stayed on during the time when the power went out and the backup-generator kicked in. Jason decided to take us to Staples - you know, the home of the Easy Button. Well, here in India, Staples is not pronounced with a long "a" as you would assume. Here, the word sounds a lot like "Stop-less".

Go figure.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Yes, I know, we already have one. Unfortunately, I think we have differing ideas on what consitutes a job.

She sees her job as a quick and easy way to get some money. I see her job as services in exchange for money. But since the outset, we haven't seen much in the way of services.

Her first day was Monday the 25th. We'd negotiated that she'd come at 11am, cook lunch, then watch the kids until 4pm, when she'd cook dinner, then go home. So when Moday rolled around, I made sure the kitchen was clean. I had pen and paper ready for her to tell me what appliances she would need.

But 11am came and went. And so did 12, and 1, and, well, you get the picture. Tuesday she showed up, told me she'd been sick the day before. Sure, no problem...I've been there myself. So I got her cell number and tried to give her mine. Her phone wasn't working, so she told me she'd put it in the next day. She stayed for her full shift on Tuesday, and I got a lot done. Yay us.

And that was the last time she worked a full shift. From what I can piece together, she works for other families in or near our apartment complex, and she has an invalid husband, and a thirty-nine year old son who is developmentally around six years of age.

So a normal day goes like this. She shows up around noon. I say "you're a little late. Aren't you supposed to be here at 11am?" And she says "I was cooking for someone else and my shift was late". I say "OK, let me type up a bill you can take to your other employers - they owe me for an hour of your time" (ok, maybe this part is in my head)

At noon, she cooks lunch, then I put the kids down for a nap. Then I go in their room and tell them to be quiet and go to sleep. I wait ten minutes, then I take Tyler upstairs to split them up, and wave at my nanny as she sits on my couch with the remote. I get around an hour of peace, then I go downstairs and ask the nanny to take them outside, explaining to her that when she says 'sun is too hot for them' that I understand she doesn't want to go outside, but that the kids will be fine and she's welcome to take some water with her. (Note: the weather here has been hovering around 75 degrees Fahrenheit at noon)

Around this time, she gets a few calls on her cell, and either her husband has been injured by the son, or the husband is alone in the house when people are coming over. This routine is pretty normal, except for a slight change on the 1st. Today the emergency is not so great that she can't wait for Jason to come home from work and pay her.

And don't even get me started on how often she's asked to borrow money from me. I often find myself wondering how many of her stories are real. I'm thinking I'll need to find her other employers and compare stories. Because I really don't want to fire her...some emergencies happen at the most inopportune times....in fact, most of them do. But I'm also a bit suspicious of their regularity in her life. Either she's super unlucky, or a very good storyteller. Time will tell.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Today, eight years ago, I put on a dress. My sister would tell you I put it on over swimsuit bottoms, because I couldn't find any clean underwear, but she'd be in trouble if she did.

Eight years ago, Pat Burroughs rushed back from a vacation to fix a melted cake. Eight years ago, Bettye Crutchfield frantically repaired the damage from an overnight storm in my parents yard. Eight years ago I stabbed millions of potatoes, chicken, and carrots onto kabob sticks and handed them over to J.R. to grill.

And Eight years ago, I managed to talk four girls into wearing the same outfit at a formal event....AND managed to get my dad in a tux.

But most importantly, I got married to an awesome guy who takes me on really cool adventures on other continents.

Happy Anniversary Jason!
Monday, August 1, 2011
I think the kids are getting tired of hanging out with just me here at the apartment, so when dad was home, Timothy successfully begged his way into watching Smurfs 3D at the Forum Mall.

We went online to look at the showtimes and to buy tickets. I found the movie, picked the time, and changed the ticket quantity to 4....then I was flummoxed. There was a box for "class". We quickly decided to wait until we got to the theater to buy the tickets, so we could ask someone what "class" meant.

For Smurfs, it didn't actually matter. The only class available was "classic", but here in India, the theaters have different types of seats, reminding me of the system in the old English play houses in Shakespeare's day. There were "classic" seats, which basically meant you were paying for the movie and a seat only. Then there was "gold" seating, which gave you access to a server and basic food and drink. Then there was the "premier" seating, or "the works". With the movie, you were served an entire meal, plus food and drink for the entire show.

Another interesting thing to learn. They stop the movie midway through for an intermission. We took the opportunity to order 4 ice cream sundaes from our server. Yum!

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