Monday, December 31, 2012

Pictures of our life

It's the last day of 2012, and I notice that I haven't posted a menu in a while, so here are a few pictures of the Nesara menu. More to come later I imagine, when I've taken them. I took these because I was so baffled by the different types of curries and wanted to be able to look them up at home!

Sorry they're so blurry. Not sure why that is, since at least of my pics come out reasonably clear!

Here's Liel polishing off a bowl of tomato soup at Nesara. She loves that stuff!

Zion, reading his book.

And Fluffy, chilling in her hammock.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A few food norms

A few nights ago at dinner I commented that I never feel more American than when I'm traveling out of the country. I'm sure this feeling is not unique to me-- there's nothing like being immersed in difference to make you aware of your own cultural practices and beliefs, even (especially?) the ones you've never noticed or thought about before.

For instance, I've noticed that there are rules governing when certain foods are eaten, and therefore when they are available to buy, in India. Of course this is true in the US as well, but unless I were at a diner it wouldn't even occur to me to try to order breakfast at dinner time, and I certainly wouldn't expect to see eggnog in July. Which foods are eaten at which times isn't even something I have to think about when I'm at home. It also helps that for the most part in the US restaurants have different menus for different times, or mark their menus ("Breakfast items only available until 11am" or what have you).

Here in India I don't really know which foods go with which times, and the menus do not guide me. Every restaurant we've been in has a single menu, with no indication of time on it. As a result, we find ourselves regularly trying to order things that aren't available. And the language barrier means that we're often in the dark as to why a particular item might not be available right then (are they out? is it a breakfast food? do they only serve it on Sundays?). Instead the Indian waiters and staff just look at us, shake their heads, and say, "No dosa/Indian food/poori/kesari bath".

None of this is a particular problem, of course. If we can't order one thing we try something else! It's just a small daily reminder that I do not understand this place (yet? I don't know...I might never!).

Anyway, I made some socks out of leftover yarn :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

In thier words 2

Here are some new journal entries from the kids :)


December 24, 2012

I feel sad that so many people in India are so poor. Yesterday I saw a monky chewing a water bottle. A few days ago we got cookies. My favorite cookie so far are butter ones. Are cookies are flavored like: butter, ginger, fruit and nut, pastashyo, and cashew. Daddy said he would give me art lessons.

December 28, 2012

Today we saw balls rolling along little toobs at a technological museum. Ther we also saw cool dinosor exsibit. We also saw lots of cool things with buttons, and a very pretty printing press. We also went to a government state archeological museum were I saw lots of very old things. The technological museum was a lot of fun. We also went to a art gallery.


(December 24, 2012)

We tried to get parota for breakfast but they were closed. My favrot parota is onion. We saw a baby monkey steel a water bottle on the road to the mane part of campus. We had lunch at Prakruthi. My favorit dish was the paneer butter masala. I also enjoyed the samosa and naan. I am enjoying the spicy food here in India. In India to own a restaurant you need to know how to cook spicy food. Until today I was frustrated because I thought I had no chois about what I learnd but today we had a conversation and I learnd that I did have a chois. I no that if I want a job and money I need to learn. I saw this at lunch when the woman wipping the tables looked unhappy.

December 28, 2012

Today we went and saw Bangalore art museums. At science and technology museum I liked the dinosaur which clear realy had mechanical parts because its head and tail moved. My favorite museum was the state archeological museum. I liked the statues of gods. I liked the old fashiond weapons. I liked the paintings. I also liked the old potery. I was glad I did't have to walk and that I had a cab to ride in. I was glad trafic was good.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Our first day of hiring a car to drive us around went pretty well! The only little snag was that the cab company sent two cars and drivers. Clearly some wires crossed on their end- they even sent us texts about both, but we thought it was because the first driver wasn't going to work out after all. We only discovered that there were two drivers when we got in the first guy's car...and got a call from the second guy saying he was waiting for us. Ooops. Second guy didn't seem too pleased, but he didn't seem too put out, either. He also seemed to speak much more English, but at that point we were in the car so we just went with it. The driver we had got us where we wanted to go and back home pretty efficiently, so no complaints.

Wait, I take that back. One complaint. Due to crazy Bangalore traffic/driving and the fact that I've yet to ride in a car with functioning seat belts in the back, I got to practice a mom-move not seen in the States since I was a kid. I refer, of course, to the "my arm will stop you from flying through the windshield" arm flinging. I had the kids on either side of me, so I got to do it two handed!

At any rate, our driver was only a few minutes late (our address seems to confuse people- the second delivery guy from Big Basket called to tell me he was lost. Which was unfortunate, because not only could I not help him, we couldn't understand each other. Luckily he got here in the end), and we arrived at the Visvesvarya Industrial and Technical Museum about 30 minutes later. Our driver parked in front of the museum to wait for us.

Our first stop was the Dinosaur Corner. It contained one life-size, slightly mechanized dinosaur that roared at regular intervals. Liel did not care for this roaring monstrosity, oh no. But Zion liked it-- in fact, he later told us he thought it was the coolest thing he saw all day.

We went on to the Engine Hall, the Electrotechnic room, the Fun Science room, the Biotechnical Revolution (lots of genetic engineering stuff here) and the Space exhibit. The kids liked the Engine Hall best I think- lots of buttons to push and gears to turn.

Here's a cool, steampunk-y engine.

While we were in the Biotechnical Hall Liel decided she had to pee. This is somewhat unusual for her, as she detests most public bathrooms and can hold it practically forever. But, I took her off to the bathroom. When she saw that it was a hole in the ground (aka squat toilet) she eyed it rather unhappily. But, she did attempt to squat over it (I held her up to make sure she didn't slip). After a few seconds she announced that she couldn't pee and we left, me hoping she could hold it for a couple more hours, and feeling very grateful that our apartment has western style toilets!

There was a pretty sweet environmental conservation poster in the museum too. Here are some of my favorite bits.

After a couple of hours at the science museum we decided to head to the art museum that was close by. Our driver was asleep in the back of his car, so we decided to let him sleep and walk over to the museum, which was quite close.

There was some confusion about tickets and where to buy them, mainly because it turns out that the Venkatappa Art Gallery and the State Archeological Museum share tickets, and the ticket counter is at the State Archeological Museum. We hadn't planned to do all 3 museums in one day, but as it turns out that was an excellent idea, as the art and archeology museums were quite small (especially the art museum, which was really just a gallery of one guy's- Venkatappa- work. I'd read there was another gallery that had other art, but the upstairs was closed so if there was more we didn't see it.

The State Archeological Museum had some really cool art and artifacts, but virtually no information about them. Most are labeled with what the are ("arrowheads", "sword", "veena", "Mysore style"), and some have dates, but that's it. I would have loved more information! I'm sure they'd love to be better funded too. The tickets were less than half the cost of the science and tech museum next door...not sure why that was, other than that the archeology museum was smaller.

The building itself was pretty sweet- awesome red stone.

There was a cool outdoor walking area with some old stone sculptures.

My favorite part inside was a really amazing panel of paintings depicting different scenes from the Ramayana.

Here's Rama and Surpenaka.

And here's Ravana kidnapping Sita.

The museum also had a cool collection of instruments, including sitars and veena. I was especially delighted with the veena, because in Sita Sings the Blues, one of the shadow puppet commentators says that Ravana was so devoted to Shiva that he would play the veena for him with is intestines.


They also had some cool Ganesha statues



The Buddha

And even a plump pegasus!

I didn't take any pictures in the Venkatappa Gallery, but Robert did so you should check out his Facebook pics if you're interested (and friends with him). I did get one of the kids outside the gallery, however.

Don't they look pleased?

All in all, it was a lovely day! And I couldn't believe how cheap the entry fees were. We paid Rs 20 each to get into the science and tech museum, and a total of Rs 12 to get into the archeology museum and the art gallery. For those of you playing along at home, our entry into three museums was less than $2. Total. For all four of us.

The only moment of panic came after we'd been home for about 30 minutes, when Liel looked around and said, "Mama, where's Fluffy??"

I've rarely seen Robert move that fast. He was working in our room and came bolting out with a look of panic on his face (I'm sure there was one on mine, too). Liel was on the verge of tears (a howl had already escaped her lips). Zion looked up from the table where he was writing in his journal and said, "Fluffy is behind you, Mommy!".

Clearly that kind of fright calls for a gin and tonic. And since I now have both of those things (and limes!), I believe I shall have one.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cabs and Christmas

The other night, just as we were falling asleep, Robert and I were startled into wakefulness by a loud banging sound. Like a gun. And then we heard it again. Then silence. Eventually we decided it was nothing to worry about (I mean really, what else can you do??) and went back to bed.

Later it occurred to us that we might've been hearing fireworks. It was about midnight, and the day was turning to Christmas. Why a primarily Hindu nation would shoot off fireworks on Christmas was an open question, but after we heard fireworks a couple more times on the 25th and 26th we decided that was probably what we'd heard. Surprising how heart-pounding those things can be when you're not expecting them!

Yesterday, when we were having lunch at Nesara, Liel said, "Mama, there's a star of David!". I looked, and yes, nestled among the Christmas decorations was a star of David, made of red and green tinsel. I'd never seen anything quite like it, so I took a crappy iPhone picture for posterity.

On a wholly other note, we've hired a cab for tomorrow. Virtually every mode of transportation in Bangalore (aside from owning a car and having a driver) seems fraught with irritation and inconvenience. We are told that the auto rickshaws, which are plentiful, have a strong tendency towards dishonesty and unpleasantness. "Insist that they use the meter!" our local friends tell us. "Don't get in if the driver won't turn the meter on!" Instead, various friends have recommended various cab companies, which will rent you a car and driver for 4 or 8 hours. The trouble is, all of them, every last one, has horrible reviews! And I don't mean just one horrible review- I mean nearly half of all reviews (or more) are 1 star. Complaints range from late cabs to non-existent cabs, bookings canceled at the last minute, drivers who demand more than the agreed upon price, or take longer than necessary routes (of course we'd have no idea about this, but the rental only includes a certain amount of kilometers so we'd be easy prey!), drive like maniacs, and indifferent customer service. So what's a family who doesn't own a car in Bangalore to do?

I felt totally paralyzed by all of this. Which recommended but terribly reviewed cab company would be most likely to deliver us a car with an honest driver? I had no idea.

In the end we booked a cab with a company that no one had recommended (save one internet review that was so glowing as to raise the suspicion that the owner of the company had written it). We chose them because they didn't require that we pay a portion of the fee upfront. Less risk in case the cab is late or doesn't show, plus we don't have to pay the rather unreasonable fees our bank and credit card charge for overseas use. We're hoping to spend half the day out tomorrow, going to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum. Wish us luck! I will, of course, report back :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A bit of lunch

I like pictures of food. I like descriptions of food too, but actually seeing the food really adds to the imaginary event, at least for my simple mind! So much easier if I don't have to imagine what something looks like (yes, I realize how incredibly lazy that sounds).

Anyway, I thought I'd indulge myself, and you, and share a picture of part of our lunch yesterday. This is the "North Indian Mini Meal" from Prakruthi.

Ok, here's what we've got, as best I know/can describe it. On the left, around 9 o'clock is roti and some kind of yummy cracker thing with whole spices in it. Then there is an okra dish that I really loved- slightly smokey. Next we have dal, channa masala (I know the local name for that one! It's a chickpea curry), tomato soup (included with virtually every thali around here), raita (but with rice in it- never seen that before), and actual rice. But clearly not plain rice, rice with stuff in it! And the cucumbers and onion in the middle. We'd already tucked into this before I thought to take a picture- it was more pristine when it was handed to me.

I don't have any other food pictures right now, so I hope you enjoyed that one! I'll take more as we go along. Yesterday we finally figured out what these doughnut-y looking things we've been seeing are called, and we're hoping to be able to order some today. They're called Vada and they're made from lentils and onions and spices, and fried. Fried is really the important bit. Deep frying their food is the way to show your family that you love them!

Years ago Robert gave me a deep fryer as a Hanukkah gift. When I told my friend Ysette about it she sighed happily and said, "Oh, so romantic!" I like the way that girl thinks. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

First Indian FO

This FO (finished object) was started and completed here in Bangalore. I'd had the yarn for ages, and I knew I wanted to use the two colors together, but couldn't quite figure out how. Then, shortly before I left New York, it hit me. The yarn wanted-- no needed-- to become nerd chic video game sweater! So I put the yarn in the "must bring" pile, and lugged it along across the oceans. Luckily for me, the fabulous lisseut on Ravelry had already charted out the Space Invaders aliens, so all I had to do was build a sweater around them. Colorwork (using two or more colors to create pictures in your knitting, for the non-knitters out there) is not my strong suit. I've only ever completed two colorwork projects before this, and they were both really small. I've learned a few tricks along the way for dealing with things like long floats, but it's slow going, and kind of hard on my brain. Which is really a longish way of saying: this project was challenging for me! Be impressed! I'm growing as a knitter!

So, without further ado, I present you with my latest creation. The pictures were taken by Robert, on our teeny little balcony :)

The colors in the close-up are not accurate, but you can see the cute little aliens a bit better in it :) I'd say our old skool inherited iPhone camera is performing pretty admirably, wouldn't you? Oh and I don't have a close-up of it, but can you see the dot matrix-y color transition on the sleeves??

So there you have it my first Indian FO. After I finished it I spent most of a day trying to decide what to knit next. Limited yarn supply = limited options! Eventually I settled on a shawl (I won't say more about it right now, so you can coo over it when it is done), and set about winding the yarn. I was pretty stressed when I started winding, but just winding the yarn, becoming absorbed by the beauty of the color and the feel of the wool in my hands, helped me to feel more peaceful. Of course, most of the credit has to go to Robert, who listened to me talk while I wound yarn, gave his own opinions, and was generally the best EVER (as usual), but still. Yarn has magical healing properties, I know it.

Finally, Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate, and a happy what would be 104th (ish) birthday to my great-grandfather!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Menu and banana leaf

Today we had lunch at an outdoor cafe on campus called Prakruthi.  At the request of one of my legion of fans, I took pictures of the menu, so you can all play along at home! I'm also hoping to figure out what some of these things are before my next visit, via the magic of the internet.

So without further ado, here is the menu!

On the walk to and from Prakruthi we walked through some of the forested bits of campus, which was lovely. The weather in Bangalore is so outstanding in December! On the way home the kids found a banana leaf on the path, which was somewhat surprising since there aren't any banana trees to be seen in the immediate area. They both wanted their picture taken with it. It was a banana leaf celebrity!

Lunch, incidentally, was super delicious. Our basic meal plan at the moment is to go out for either lunch or dinner each day (usually lunch) and then I cook something delicious in the rice cooker for dinner. Tonight I'm making toor dal with cabbage, cauliflower and carrots, seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric and cilantro. Nom!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cocktail report

Before we arrived, I'd been told that alcohol in India is pretty spendy. Since we're living on a Fulbright stipend, I figured we wouldn't be indulging in cocktail hour with the frequency to which we are accustomed in New York! And in fact, for 3 weeks there has been no cocktail hour whatsoever in my life.

But on Friday Robert brought home a bottle of Kingfisher beer (for him) and a bottle of gin (for me). The Kingfisher was quite inexpensive (Rs 85 for a liter), but the Bombay Sapphire was Rs 2000. I think it's the imported booze that'll really set you back!

I haven't much been in the mood for cocktails, but Robert polished off the Kingfisher on Friday night, and reported that it wasn't very good (but it was a hefty beer, at 8% alcohol). But, as I type, Robert is mixing me up a drink that, if it proves to be any good, I shall dub a "Gin Bangalore". Apparently the liquor store only sold tonic by the case, so Robert, being a quick thinking guy, bought a bottle of a local lime soda called Limca to use as a mixer.

Hmm. Robert just brought the drink over, and while he feels its pretty good, I'm thinking that this is not the Gin Bangalore. I'll have to keep experimenting before I find that. Or drinking more of what I've currently got, as the second and third drinks of it have been considerable improvements over the first. Either way.

Anyway, we returned to our local liquor store today, and Robert bought five or six more Indian beers. So far he's tried the UB Export Beer (that stands for "Up Beat", yo, and is for sale in Karnataka only, despite the "export" in the name), in both the strong (8%) and regular (5%) iterations, and reports that while the strong one is passable, the regular is "not very good".

First cocktail report from the Indian field, over and out.

PS Apropos of nothing (especially since Hanukkah is long since over)- have you heard the latest Matisyahu offering? Zion and Liel are super digging it, and Robert and I are right there with them!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dot Matrix

You remember the old dot matrix printers, right?

Of course you do. If you don't, then take a stroll down to my parents' office, where they still actually have one in use! It's a relic from a bygone era, still zipping along with noisy abandon.

At any rate, despite having had the flu and a raging sinus infection in the past 3 weeks, I've managed to find a little bit of time and energy to knit. To be honest, I think it's one of the things that's been keeping me sane. I already wish I'd brought more/different yarn, but some of my dear Ravelry friends are working on that for me, so I really can't complain!

But the dot matrix printer. The sweater I'm knitting has a few things in common with ye olde dot matrix. First of all, it has sections where the knitting actually kind of resembles dot matrix printing, and secondly, it has some of these guys on it. And they're from the same era and resemble dot matrix printing :)

I take no credit for the awesomeness of the space aliens-- I used a chart that lissuet over on Ravelry created-- but I am going to have one super fly old-school gaming sweater in a few days! And don't worry, I'll put some pictures up then.

You were worrying, weren't you?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dish Soap

I'm having kind of a sad morning, but what better way to cheer up than to write about the vagaries of Indian dish soap?

The most common brand of dish soap around here is Pril. I bought a bottle of the lemon type a couple weeks ago at Kwality Big Bazaar, because as everyone knows, lemon and dish soap go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

Oh Pril.

At first everything seemed fine. It suddsed like crazy, and my dishes appeared cleaner after using it than before soap and sponge touched them. In fact, it had too many suds for my taste, but I was willing to overlook that.

But once I started cooking (and not just using the dish soap to wash cereal bowls) I began to notice that my dishes still seemed oily, even after washing. So I used more soap, which helped. A little. A few days later, when Robert mentioned that the dish soap kind of sucked and left grease on the pots and dishes, and I knew it wasn't just me and my mediocre dish washing skills. I eyed the bottle on my windowsill with increasing dislike.

Then Zion spilled some curry on one of his shirts. Regular laundering didn't remove it, so Robert tried a trick we use at home and applied dish soap to the stain.

I shit you not: the dish soap stained the shirt. On top of the curry stain, which it utterly failed to remove. Who the hell has ever heard of dish soap that stains??? This stuff is like the anti-soap! Here is Zion's poor Jewish Farm School shirt, now with attractive yellow splotches. It's a feature, not a bug, right?

So to sum up: Zion has a shirt with curry and dish soap stains, and my actual dishes are left oily after washing. Well played, Pril, well played.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rice Cooker Buffalo Stew

I was pretty surprised to discover that the folks at Big Basket sell buffalo meat. I'd sort of anticipated not eating red meat for the duration of our stay, so I was pleased to find it, even though I'd never cooked buffalo before.

I had two choices for buffalo purchase: cubed or minced buffalo. I went with cubed, figuring that a stew was pretty likely to turn out OK in the rice cooker. And you know what? It did!

I hate to call this a recipe, because I'm relatively certain that anyone with more than a rice cooker and a handful of ingredients could improve upon this, but eh. There've got to be people out there who are only cooking with a rice cooker and a few things, right? And one of them might even find this post someday! So with that in mind, I give you my highly sought after, top secret recipe.

Rice Cooker Buffalo Stew

1 med onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced (or something approximating minced. I only have one knife here, so my "minced" is really more like "roughly chopped, trying to make sure there aren't too many huge hunks")
3 carrots, chopped
2 biggish zucchinis, chopped
1 lb buffalo stew meat
2 T tomato paste

Put the onion and garlic in your rice cooker along with a little oil. Set the rice cooker to "cook". When they start to brown (or when you get tired of waiting for them to brown, as I did), add the meat. Stir it a few times, and then add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir some more, to evenly distribute the tomato paste, and then add the carrots and half of the zucchini. Pour in enough water to nearly cover it all, and put the lid on.

Now I'd read that you can slow cook a stew in your rice cooker by setting it on "warm". And while this may be true for fancy rice cookers, my little one is as lo-fi as you can get while still using electricity. I brought the mixture to a boil, flipped it to "warm" and felt sassy and sophisticated...right up until I discovered, half an hour later, that my stew was just sitting there. Warm, yes, but certainly not cooking. So after that I alternated between boiling the fuck out of it ("cook") and letting it cool down so that the meat might not be as tough as shoe leather ("warm"). I don't exactly recommend this method if you have other options, but if you, like me, are cooking on a wing and a prayer then I can tell you that it more or less works.

After two hours of alternating between "cook" and "warm" (or two hours of simmering if you're the high society rice cooker type), add the rest of the zucchini. Give it another 30 minutes or so and call it done. Or let it cook longer, either way. I had to call it done then so I could use my rice cooker to actually cook rice to accompany the stew! Some of the more sinewy looking bits of meat were slightly tough, but none required protracted chewing, so I'm calling it a win. And what's more, my family agreed with me! Zion even had seconds.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On buying groceries in Bangalore

Considering the fact that we haven't been here very long I feel like I've written a lot about groceries. In New York I do a big shopping trip at Trader Joe's every two weeks, and supplement from local sources as needed, and sometimes that still feels like I'm always going to the store! Here, with the local markets so small and crowded, grocery shopping has actually started consuming even more of my time and thoughts!

Before I even arrived in India I knew that there were several grocery delivery services in Bangalore, so once we had our internet up and running I started looking for one that delivered to our neighborhood (a challenge in itself, since I'm still not sure which neighborhood we live in. Google maps says Mathikere, but if that's correct we're on the very edge of it. In fact, we appear to be on the edge of 3-4 different neighborhoods). It turned out I actually had choices! But it also turned out that I couldn't order until we had working cell phones, since a cell phone number was one of the required fields for ordering.

So I spent a week filling a shopping cart and looking for reviews of the companies I was considering using. Aside from the glowing testimonials on their own websites reviews were pretty thin on the ground-- perhaps because these services are new or not commonly used yet. And when my cell phone turned on yesterday I promptly placed an order with Big Basket. Why Big Basket? Well, they had a fairly large selection (including some organics!), come out to my corner of the city, and I read someplace that it was started by some former tech guys looking to go into business for themselves, which reminded me of my brother. So there you go: practicality and emotion, blended together, the basis of all good decisions! I requested delivery today between 10am and 1230, did my best to fill in my address, chose cash on delivery (LOVE this option!) and hit send.

Within 2 minutes I had a phone call (with a woman who spoke excellent English) confirming my address and landmark (Bangalore addresses are sufficiently confusing that giving a nearby landmark is standard practice. Actually I think this is standard in most of India, but I've only seen it in action here so far). Later I got text messages confirming my order, and telling me that it was packed, ready, and out for delivery.

This morning at 930am there was a knock on the door, and my groceries had arrived! The delivery guy was very polite, and also spoke good English. Here's a picture of most of  my order.

I got:

-2 kg spinach
-1 kg organic tomatoes
-1 kg organic carrots
-organic cauliflower
-4 zucchini
-250g cilantro
-3 chermoya
-1 kg baby bananas
-2 kg sweet potatoes
-2 HUGE bags of garlic (I thought I was buying heads of garlic, not bags.  I think I have at least 30 heads of garlic now!)
-peanut butter
-a can of gulab jamun, as an experiment
-yogurt (not pictured)
-1 kg boneless chicken (not pictured)
-1 kg cubed buffalo (also not pictured- and will clearly require a report of its own!)
-1 kg oatmeal
-toilet paper

Not a bad haul, right?? I don't have a clear sense of how Big Basket's prices compare to the local stores, but they seem reasonable to me based on what I have seen-- the whole lot I just bought cost about $39. Expensive stuff was the meat (buffalo was $3.25, chicken was $5), the peanut butter ($5!! and not a big jar), and the toilet paper ($4.75). I tried to get PB without hydrogenated oils, and I may have succeeded...hydrogenated oils aren't listed in the ingredients, and this PB cost more than the ones that did list it. So...maybe? We don't buy peanut butter at home since Liel is allergic, but we can't get alternate nut butters here, and so we're now leaving the remaining almond butter and sunflower seed butter that we brought for her and the rest of us are eating peanut butter. Anyway,  I now officially have a crush on Big Basket, and absolutely plan to keep ordering from them! Oh and it's probably obvious, but I'm not being paid to endorse them, or to write this review. Just posting to help out anyone else in Bangalore who is wondering which grocery delivery service to use. I can't speak to the others, but so far I love these guys!

Our daily life, so far

We're slowly starting to settle into a routine here in Bangalore. Most mornings Robert goes to work, and the kids and I do school work. If Robert doesn't have a lunch date, we walk over (about 20 minutes across campus) and meet him for lunch. So far we've been going to the same place every time, a restaurant called Nesara. It's got yummy thalis, but wow is service slow! After about 20 minutes we usually end up having to flag someone down to take our order. This is more difficult than it sounds, as the waiters are very, very good at avoiding eye contact. Yesterday I literally had to throw my arm out in front of one to stop him walking off. He had taken the order at the table next to ours (they'd come in about 10 minutes after we did) and was doing his best to ignore us. Upon being forced to acknowledge us he was quite polite ("Oh, you haven't ordered!?"), and this also appears to be par for the course. Once we actually order service becomes just fine- food comes quickly, orders for coffee are taken in a normal time frame, and the bill and change come promptly. I'm not sure what it is about getting or initial order in, but eh. So far it's worth it!

Generally speaking my goal is to cook either lunch or dinner most days, but not both. The maid we thought we'd hired last week decided she'd rather not work for us after all, and never showed up. Since our apartment is quite small Robert and I decided to forgo a maid for the time being and just do the cleaning (easy) and the laundry (less easy) ourselves. Not cooking too much is part of this plan :) I don't want to give up cooking entirely however, as I enjoy cooking and like the control it gives me. Since the damn induction cooker continues to defeat us, I'm currently relying on my rice cooker for all meal. So far I've found that I can cook rice in it (of course) but also dhal and potatoes. For lunch today I cooked potatoes with zucchini and cauliflower for me and the kids and it was pretty yummy! I'm sure the copious quantities of butter helped with that, but still. I've got one pot and one knife and I'm making decent food! When we go out to run errands this afternoon we're hoping to buy an electric frying pan. Keep your fingers crossed we can find one.

Yesterday we decided to change some US dollars for rupees, which turned out to be an adventure in itself. There are at least two banks on campus, so we went to Canara bank because it was closest to Nesara. About 10 minutes in 2 different lines there revealed that you can't change money there unless you are an account holder, so we went on to the State Bank of India. Three lines and 45 minutes later we'd successfully exchanged money. I'm really grateful we were able to do so (and got a decent exchange rate too) but man, those were the slowest moving lines ever! Robert spent about 25 minutes in one line with only 3 people in front of him. The kids were super patient, and I read an article about the Indian Institute of Spice Research, and the 50th anniversary of the Cardamom Group while we waited. Robert did the actual line waiting, bless him.

Today I placed my first online grocery order! It's supposed to be delivered tomorrow, so stay tuned for a full (and thrilling) report.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In thier words

Before we left New York our across the street neighbor gave the kids a lovely blank journal, so they could write about their experiences in India. Since they were sick for a week they haven't written much, but here's what the have so far.

But first let's start with a super cute picture of our young authors in their new Indian clothes, shall we (yes, she's still working on smiling on command, why do you ask)?

Zion first.

"December 5, 2012.
I am in India at the Institute of Science in Bangalore. There might be gecos living in our house. Daddy has loked us in twice now. Our internet does not work. I am so exitited to be in India. I have been enjoying the parota we have been having.

December 6, 2012
Today I saw giant centiped outside campuss. Yesterday I saw four cows on the street. A back and white cow was standing in the street mooing. I had North Indian food for dinner last night. When we got home last night we saw bats.

December 17, 2012
Yesterday I got a new Indian shirt. Soon I will g see Daddy for lunch. I saw my fith cow yesterday. Last night we saw lots of bats. On the last night of Chanukah we had pizza and I enjoyed it."


"December 5 2012
I am in India and having fun. My problem is that we have no oven. The flight here took hours. I think we have gecos in the house. We don't have very much food.

December 6 2012
When we were coming home to campus I saw a gient centapeed. Yesterday I saw a black and wight cow holding the traffic. Last night I saw a bat flying around a tree. I wish that daddy never locked us in to the house. When we went shopping we couldn't find the right store so we had to go to a new store. We found the right store on the way back.

December 17 2012
Yesterday I got an Indian outfit. My Indian outfit is yellow with flowers. I had a relly fun Chanukah a few days ago! I saw a black cow. It was just standing. I got bagals (bangles) for Chanukah. For Chanukah I also got a unocorn figure I relly wanted. The unocorns nam is Stellina and she has stars on her."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Neighborhood, 1

I'm guessing I'll have more than one of these posts, hence the 1 attached to this one :) Here are some pictures taken around our neighborhood in Bangalore, along New BEL, road over the past few days. For the full effect you should know that the weather has been incredible- low 80s, sunny, dry, slight breeze.

This is the carpentry shop that is directly across the street from our gate at the IISc.

 If you head left (which we always do- all the shops, restaurants etc are that direction), here's what you see.

A local menswear store- gotta love the name!

Me and Liel. I guess that sign indicates there is a pedestrian crossing in the area, but for the most part the locals seem to ignore such suggestions, and so do we. As our friend Sapta says, we need to embrace the chaos!

Local cow, chilling. The kids were so excited to get a PICTURE of a cow that I took this, even though I felt like a complete tool for doing so.

And finally, this really cool gateway over one of the road by our apartment. I'll try to get a better one, but the center has various g-ds in it, including Krishna.

So there you go, a few glimpses of what we see outside our door every day :)