Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do we have to go?

This is what Zion has been asking for the past two days. Up til then he was pretty gung-ho about returning to New York. He wanted to see his friends, cuddle his cat, play with his legos and run around in his yard. He wanted to meet his new baby cousin, and visit his great-grandmother.

And he still wants all of those things, but it hit him quite suddenly that those things would come at a price, and that the price was leaving India, with return uncertain.

Yesterday, as left Second Temple Road (we'd visited his favorite temple-- the Gangamma temple, and Liel's favorite-- the Nandi temple) he stopped and said, "I can't believe I might never see these beautiful temples again."

His experience is mirroring mine pretty exactly. I am excited to see my friends and family (and yes, our smash faced cat!). I'm excited to eat salad, and be in almost the same time zone as my mom (so much easier for quick phone calls). But the price is pretty damn high, and I'm sad.

Today we went to Malleswaram for the last time. We had our last auto ride. Even sadder, we had our last coffee with Tiju.

Tomorrow, we pack, and have our last meal at Prakruthi.

I will say this: Zion appears to come by his melodrama naturally ;) 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Excuse me, sir...

A lot of the conversations we have with strangers here in India begin with those words. Most of the strangers who approach us are men, and all of them, men and women both, address Robert.

Today we were walking along the road on campus when out of the corner of my eye I saw Zion push his sister. I stopped to demand answers, which quickly turned into Robert and I telling both kids to knock it off and be nice to each other, for the love of G-d.

As wer were standing there scolding our offspring a guy on a motorcycle passed us, slowed down, started to turn around and then apparently thought better of it and kept going.

"That was weird", Robert said, as we all set off again.

Just then the guy did turn around. He puttered slowly back to us, then cut the engine on his bike, hopped off, and addressed Robert.

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Hi", Robert said.

"You have very nice tattoos. Could I take some pictures of them?"

This was a new one. No one's ever asked for pictures before!

"Sure", said Robert, and pushed up his sleeves so the guy could see his...sleeves. The man practically yelped with delight.

"Ah! They go all the way up!"

He took at least half a dozen pictures of Robert's arms from different angles, being careful to get as much of the design as possible. He chatted while he took pictures, asking us where we were from, if we liked Bangalore...the usual kind of casual chatter.

"Thank you, sir", he said when he was done. Then he looked at me somewhat uncertainly. He girded his courage and said, "Could I take some of your tattoos as well?"

"Of course", I said, secretly pleased that my tattoos weren't being left out. He took fewer pictures of mine, and didn't get as close to me as he had to Robert.

He straightened up when he was done and said, "There are people who do tattoos here, but...nothing like this. Nothing like this level of detail and quality."

"The same guy did almost all of both of our tattoos", said Robert. "We're lucky; we just happen to live really close to him, and he's great."

Then our tattoo admirer smiled, jumped on his bike, said goodbye, and gave us a thumbs up as he drove away. I swear, every day here brings new and surprising things! I love it.

Here are a couple of pictures of my mini photo shoot. Note that the guy is wearing a shirt with an American flag, and part of the NYC cityscape  that says, "My heart beats for Brooklyn".

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Leaving makes you popular

Not that we weren't popular before, mind ;)

But we're down to 4 full days left in Bangalore, and suddenly our social (read: meal) time is filling up fast! We want to be able to see everyone and say thank you, and good bye. And yes, just typing that made me feel a bit sad. We've got friends here I'll miss a great deal. Hell, I feel sad thinking of saying good bye to the people who work at Nesara and Prakruthi! Especially Zion and Liel's admirers. The granny who always comes over to pat Liel's back and tuck her hair behind her ears, the auntie who beams when we thank her for clearing the table and pinches Zion's cheeks, the usually surly girl who works at the register who smiles when the kids come up to order more food, the guys behind the counter who crack up watching Zion methodically consume vast quantities of food, and the coffee guy who often pours the kids a little treat when we go to buy tea or coffee. We can barely even communicate to them, and yet they've taken us under their collective wing, and showered us with kindness. We will miss them, too.

And, despite the summer heat (and the traffic, and the waste disposal woes...) I'll miss Bangalore itself. I could be wrong, but I have this feeling that when we go back to NY we'll adjust really quickly, and our life here in Bangalore will seem like something out of a dream. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Still surprising me

We went to Nesara for dinner tonight. We ordered dosa (less than last time!) and some Chinese food, and while we were waiting Robert said, "I can't believe that we've been to these restaurants (Nesara and Prakruthi) more than we've been to any others, and pretty soon we're going to leave and probably never come back again."

I agreed. And I leaned back in my chair and looked around at the room that had seemed so foreign at first, and was now so familiar. When we arrived in Bangalore I took pictures of the menu (remember that?) because there were so many foods on it that were new to me and I needed to go home and look them up to figure out what they were. Now I know that menu by heart.

And then our food arrived and we tucked in. And Nesara, this place I know so well, surprised me. Because tonight the chutney that came with our dosa wasn't particularly coconuty but it was particularly minty! It was incredibly delicious...so delicious that we ended up ordering another dosa, mostly to serve as a vehicle for the chunety.

This is one of the true joys of India. Even after months here-- after months of eating at the same restaurant for heaven's sake-- it still surprises and amazes me.

(The tea I had after dinner was surprising too...surprisingly over-steeped. Oh well. They can't all be the kind surprise that makes your eyes roll back in your head with delight.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


We have just over a week left here in Bangalore, so now almost everything is a last. I probably won't catalogue all of them, but since the lasts are just starting they're seeming kinda new and fresh so I'll try my hand at it for a while.

Today I got my last grocery delivery from BigBasket. Now that I've used this company for months I can give my final, updated verdict: they are excellent. If you live in India (or are visiting India and need groceries delivered), and are in a city where they operate, give them a shot. The few times I've been disappointed with the quality of something I bought from them they've fixed it right up. Good stuff.

Now, despite the fact that I ought to have a fully stocked kitchen, my dinner options continue to suck. Mostly it's that we're all pretty tired of the 3-4 things I can reliably get ingredients for and cook in the rice cooker. It's a bit after 5pm right now, and I'm staring down the barrel of dinner prep...and thinking I'll be sauteeing some veggies and then adding a "ready to eat" curry and some rice. Which will excite no one, but on the upside, it won't require a 2 mile round trip walk + the application of bug spray. I'm mostly coming down on the side of pre-packaged curry being the better option, but meh. Not thrilled. Maybe I'll smash a coconut to go with it. Or gorge myself on Mysore Pak afterwards. Mmmm. Mysore Pak.

Oh, here's another bit of news from my day! The coffee guy asked me what my necklace was. I was surprised he was asking (it's fairly obvious), but I said, "Ganesha!" and he laughed with delight. Tiju thinks that he didn't expect me to know Ganesha and was pleased (and surprised) that I did. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Golden Afternoon

This morning went to Malleswaram (yes, again...are you seeing theme here?) and finished up our "leaving India" shopping. I suppose that's a bit bittersweet, but since I was having stress dreams about not having done everything I needed to do, I'm feeling pretty pleased. Really pleased, in fact.

One of the last bits of shopping was a little tricky. I wanted to buy fabric for a suit set for my grandmother, which sounds not tricky on the surface. But my gram prefers light colors, which aren't overly represented in the Indian palette, and we're leaving in 8 days, which isn't a lot of time to get the set made. But I triumphed! With great triumph!

First, I found cloth for the kurta that I think is in the right color family, and will look smashing on her. Then I found fabric for the salwars that matched very well (it even got the fabric store worker's approval!). Finally, I took them to the tailor, explained they were for my gram, that she wasn't the same size as me, and told her what sizing and styling I wanted. And she said she could have them done in time for me! Man, I love this tailor. She's rockin'.

Then we ran into Tiju, and had a lovely lunch with him. Once home the kids did math work, reading, and Zion learned about Hanuman (his favorite Hindu g-d) and no one cried or even complained about schoolwork. Admittedly Liel ended up shrieking at Robert over the authentication for the proxy server (I will not miss the proxy server at all!), but still. It was mostly win.

Now it's late afternoon. We have the curtains in our apartment drawn against the hot south Indian summer sun. Zion is playing chess against the computer while Liel watches, narrates, and sometimes makes suggestions. I have dinner cooking in ye olde rice cooker, and we're listening to Huey Lewis and the News. I feel like this is one of those perfect, golden moments where everything is entering my memory all crystallized and sharp and beautiful.

(A word about Huey Lewis and the News. I've loved them since way back in the day...the day being the early/mid 80s. My parents owned all their records, and my brother and I loved listening to them and "dancing". That's in quotes because it mostly involved jumping off the furniture and running around like crazy people. Anyway, as the 80s, and then the 90s wore on there was very little Huey in my life, aside from the nights I'd come home to find my parents dancing to him in the living room, usually to "Buzz Buzz Buzz". Once, when we were travelling in Costa Rica, it came out that my mom thought the lyrics to this song included the line, "the sound of your little boy Stanley", which had the rest of us literally crying with laughter.

Then, when I was doing my PhD, Robert and I spent a fair bit of time wine tasting in Santa Ynez, and made some great friends at our favorite winery. I even worked in the tasting room for a short while. And that winery (Buttonwood) had all vinyl Sundays, instituted by our friend Graham. And all of the all vinyl Sundays included a lot of Huey Lewis. It was really idyllic-- picture the tasting room of a winery in the beautiful Santa Ynez valley. Sun streams through the windows, there's a lovely breeze and a view of vines, orchards, and mountains. There are happy people tasting wine, happy people pouring wine, and Huey Lewis and the News blasting at a perfect volume. It was pure delight, believe me. As if all that weren't enough, my friend Pete and I have spent many a happy evening drinking wine and watching Huey Lewis videos. All of which is to say, I associate Huey Lewis with some of the best things in my life: my childhood, my brother, my parents, Robert, wine tasting, my family and good friends. And now I can add India to that list!)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Adventures with auto rickshaws

Auto rickshaws are one of the primary form of motorized transportation around here. If you google "auto rickshaw bangalore", or ask someone in Bangalore about the autos, you'll get fairly pessimistic responses. "The drive won't want to use the meter", I was repeatedly told, "but you must insist!" and "Don't get in the auto if he won't use the meter!"

But, at the risk of jinxing myself, every auto driver I've used has automatically turned on the meter. I figured we'd just been lucky, which may be the case, or perhaps attempts to skirt meter use are more common in other parts of the city. I have no idea.

Today we went to Malleswaram to do some shopping after lunch. We had to walk a bit before we found an empty auto, but the first one we saw agreed to take us where we wanted to go, and as usual, switched on the meter. The shopping itself was excellent, and I just adore Malleswaram more and more each time I go there. Parts of it kind of remind me of Barcelona, of all the damn things. It's such an alive neighborhood, full of families out shopping, fruit vendors, bakeries (the scent of these reminds me powerfully of Mexico when I pass them) and cloth, cloth everywhere. Many streets have huge shade trees arching across them, and there are women sitting on the sidewalks selling strings of devotional jasmine. Have I mentioned that I love Malleswaram??

Anyway, after we did our shopping we got an auto back to the institute. But for the first time ever the driver didn't turn the meter on. We asked him to, and he did, but told us it would 20 extra. We said no, and he said he'd take us for Rs 100. The normal cost of this ride is Rs 50, so again we said no, and asked him to let us out. "80!", he said. "No, 50. We do this all the time, it costs 50", Robert replied as we piled out of the rick. "80!" said the driver again.

Luckily another drive had just deposited a family where we climbed out, and we asked if he'd go to the Tata Institute. He said he would, though he wanted more to take us through the campus. We were happy to have him drop us off at the New BEL road gate, so we agreed on 50 and set off.

About halfway there a tiny, black cat streaked across the road in front of us. The driver was immediately concerned, and looked back anxiously. Then he pulled over and stared at the place where he'd seen the cat. Finally he pulled all the way off the road, cut the engine, and jumped out. He walked back to the little median with plants in it and peered around for the cat. He asked some onlookers about it, and looked around some more. Eventually he came back, smiled at us and said, "Cat! On road." and spoke to a nearby auto driver, presumably about the cat. I found his concern for the animal very sweet...I can't think that too many cab drivers in the US would be that concerned for an animal they didn't actually hit.

And then we headed off again, and were safely deposited at our front gate. We still have a few more shopping errands, but our time here is rapidly running out.

So with that in mind, I think we'll head to Prakruthi for dosa tonight!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My grandmother's sari, with a blouse

Today I picked up the pink blouse the tailor made to match my 50+ year old sari that belonged to my grandmother. I think the color is OK, or maybe even nice, with the sari, but I'd like opinions, please! I will say that the pink of the blouse matches the pink of the um, warp (or weft?) of the sari pretty much perfectly.

As an added bonus you can see my "still have a lot to learn" sari draping!

Here is my sari in what I believe is a pretty standard sari drape, worn by women across India.

I think this is called the nivi drape actually. Here's another of same, with the shoulder bit sort of pleated/bunched. If I did this properly it'd be pleated, and not bunched at all. It would also use a pin, and I have no pins whatsoever at the moment.

Here's a closeup of the really beautiful pallau.

I've noticed that a lot of women here in Karnataka wear their saris with an extra wrap around the body and tucked at the waist. I have no idea what this drape is called, or if it's distinct to this region or not, but I'm really fond of it. It brings part of the pallau to the front, and makes the sari feel extra secure.

So, that's my heirloom sari! Please tell me what you think of the blouse-- does it match well? If not, what would you suggest for a better match? I asked my friend Bitasta, who took my blouse fabric shopping if she thought that the color I'd picked out was an OK match or too bright and she said, rather enigmatically, "Are you going to wear the sari in India?" I said something like, "Um, I don't know. Maybe?" and that was the end of our conversation. I'm not sure if she meant that the color was a terrible match and any Indian would know it, so if I was only going to wear it in the US it was OK, or if she meant that the color was too bright for American tastes, but fine for the Indian palate, or??? So any thoughts are greatly appreciated! I totally adore this sari. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cloth, unformed

Today we did a bit more shopping. We went back to the stainless steel shop, because it turns out that once just wasn't enough. And in fact I wish I'd more already, so if I get the chance I'll be back for a "third time's the charm" trip! The people in the shop are super nice too, asking the kids what grade they're in, where we're from, if we like living in Bangalore, if we like Indian food, etc.

Since a couple of the things we bought are for us, and not gifts, I can tell you about them. We bought thali platters, like these:

Just a wide, shallow platter. Normally around here these come with a bunch of rice, some papad, and various curries, rasams and sambars in small dishes. I figured we could use them that way, and also use them when we have "movie night", aka when we eat in front of the TV. So much less spilling when you're eating off a thali!

We also bought some South Indian coffee tumblers + dishes (not sure what those dishes are called!).

These are great for hot drinks, especially for the kids, who can pour a bit of their drink into the dish so that it cools very quickly. I suppose, while I'm on the subject, I should mention that both children have developed a taste for coffee since we've been living here. They only get a sip/spoonful but they sure do enjoy it!

Then we went to a cloth center. Oh. My. I could've spent hours there! So much beautiful cloth on bolts,  each richly colored and full of potential. I need to learn to sew much, much better. And then I need to come back to India! Or, alternately, I could buy a shit-ton of cloth now, bring it home, and use in the hopefully inevitable someday when I can actually sew properly.

Luckily for Robert and Zion, there were chairs for waiting.

Seriously, look at this place! and that's only about 1/6 of one floor.

Here I am, grinning like a damn fool. Just thinking about this place makes me beam!

I bought some (cough) cloth, and delivered it to the tailor shop on campus, to be turned into kurtas, salwars, and churidars. The madam said she'd have them done for me on the 26th, so stay tuned! I'm actually going back to her tomorrow with a couple of kurtas that I already own to try to discuss fit. I want totally sleeveless kurtas, and I'd like the arm holes slightly deeper than standard Indian fit. I also need to explain how long I want them! This all seems a bit daunting for our combined language skills, so I might bring Tiju along to help me out. I mentioned this to him today and he said that it was fun for him, because he never goes to tailoring shops otherwise. Have I mentioned how crazy busy Tiju is?? And yet he so kindly and cheerfully agrees to come along and help with my little troubles. We are so lucky to have him as a friend!

We only found this out when we got back home, but while we were in Malleswaram today a bomb went off there. Thankfully no one was killed, but 16 people were injured. This is by far the closest I've ever been to such a violent act, and it is rather sobering. Amazing how much of our lives are shaped by luck, and grace. 

Monday, April 15, 2013


You might remember, back in the early days of our India adventure, that I mentioned that the food here was much spicier than what we usually eat in NY. Robert and Zion loved it from the start, I quickly adapted, and Liel...not so much. She is super sensitive to spicy food. Super sensitive. I have a fair amount of sympathy for this, because I was the same way as a kid (my mom used to put ketchup in my burritos instead of salsa. And yes, I am embarrassed to be admitting this in a public forum), but I have still felt sad about all the delicious things she's missed out on while we've been here.

But! Last night!

We'd gone to Prakruthi for dosa, because holy crap, it is so hot that I can barely face cooking. And the fact that I'm still slogging along with my rice cooker kitchen is getting more and more frustrating and boring, but of course we're leaving so soon (16 days) that there's no point changing it up now. So anyway, I weighed my options (2km walk in 94 degree, 6pm heat? Or cook?) and off we went.

Now when you order dosa around here you always get a coconut based chutney on the side, and then depending on what type of dosa you ordred, you get another dipping sauce. Plain and masala dosa come with sambar, while onion and set dosas come with some kind of curry. My favorite dipping curries are the ones that feature turmeric and potatoes, and that's what we got last night.

And somehow, Robert managed to convince Liel to try some of the dipping curry. And even more amazingly, she liked it, and didn't find it too spicy! Of course it isn't spicy really at all, but Liel might have a bit of a stubborn streak (no idea where she got that from), and usually knows whether she will like something well in advance of actually trying it. And trying it had never yet, before last night, changed her mind.

Anyway, we sat there, all of us eating dosa dipped in deliciousness and talked about how lucky we are to have gotten to live in Bangalore for the past 5 months. It's a great town, and the entire experience, even the rice cooker, has been amazing.

It did cross my mind to wonder what Liel could have learned to eat, and enjoy, if we'd had another five months here. But I can be kind of greedy like that. It's kind of like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...if you give a girl 5 months in India, she's going to ask for 5 more months...

Friday, April 12, 2013


Before I came to India my friend Sayantani told me that, "shopping in India is the most fun!" I have to admit, at first I didn't see the charm. My shopping experiences in the early weeks mostly involved a huge, American style mall, and tiny, cramped grocery stores in my neighborhood. I preferred the grocery stores (at least they were new and different, if not entirely delightful), but I wouldn't call shopping in either of those places "the most fun".

Things improved when I discovered the Karnataka Crafts Council shop, and the fruit and flower market in Malleswaram. And they improved even more when my friend Bitasta took me shopping in Malleswaram! Our first trip was to buy petticoats for my sarees (all two of them), but after a few weeks I realized that I needed more things, and since shopping with a friend is more fun than shopping alone I asked Bitasta if she would go along again. Luckily for me she very sweetly agreed!

So today, in the heat of the afternoon, we set out. We couldn't find an auto, so we just walked down Margosa Rd until we found the shop Bitasta wanted-- some place that sold silk sarees. I didn't want a silk saree, but I did need cloth so that the tailor could stitch me a blouse to match the saree my grandmother gave me.

(Side note: this saree is beautiful. Pure silk in robin's egg/seafoam and bright pink with gold thread. It was given to my grandmother when she lived in Nigera in the 1960s by an Indian friend.)

It took a while, but we finally found a cloth that seemed a pretty good match. It's cotton, as none of the pure silks or silk/cotton blends were close enough. I'm nervous that the pink is too bright, but we'll see how it looks when it's stitched up.

After that we stopped in to another shop so I could buy a gift for my new baby niece, Ada. As we were leaving Bitasta pointed out that they sold children's sarees (which are really a skirt with pleats sewn in and a pallau, plus a blouse). Back in we went! Liel has been coveting a child-sized saree since we got to Bangalore, but I hadn't even seen one (in a shop or on a child), so I didn't think they made them! Liel chose a really lovely one-- purple and gold. We have 4-5 weddings this fall, so I think she will get good use out of it, and it looks completely awesome on her. As I bought it she squealed with delight and told me she was the luckiest bat in the world, and loved her bat mommy who bought her pretty sarees. Heh.

Our next stop was to buy glass bangles. I love glass bangles. They're colorful and beautiful and just fantastic! I amused Bitasta and the clerks at the shop by buying nearly every color they sold. Then we went to a stainless steel shop...but I can't say why, as I want what I bought there to be a surprise for the recipient. Which I feel is pretty likely, because (much like the Spanish Inquisition) nobody expects a gift of stainless steel!

So that was my excellent shopping trip. It was particularly idyllic today, despite the heat. The roads were pretty shady, and we passed tons of pushcarts selling fruit, and people shopping and selling on the sidewalks.I think there might be one more in my future, and that both pleases me and makes me sad. I can't believe I might only get to shop in Malleswaram one more time! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We've come a long way (but are still piglets)

We haven't had dosa in upwards of 2 days and the kids were not happy about it. So tonight we headed out early (by Indian dinner standards) to have dosa.

But when we got to Prakruthi it was mobbed! At least 2 dozen people in line, and not a single available table. Robert sighed in a very sad yet resigned way and headed for the back of the line, but I suggested that we go to Nesara instead. Sometimes I have my moments.

So we walked over to Nesara. It was a bit crowded for the time of night, but we got the last booth (the kids favorite) and settled in.

We didn't need to discuss our order, because we always order the same thing when we have dosa dinner at Prakruthi. At Prakruthi. That'll be important in a moment.

The waiter came over, smiled and held his pen and notebook ready.

"Three plain dosa", said Robert. The waiter nodded and scribbled in his book.

"Two masala dosa", Robert continued. The waiter looked up, surprised, and did a quick mental count of the number of people at the table. Four. He raised is eyebrows, but wrote down the masala dosa too.

"One onion dosa", Robert went on. The waiter's eyes bugged out and he stared at Robert in disbelief. "And one set dosa."

At this point the waiter actually laughed at the apparently absurd amount of food we were ordering. Robert and I laughed too, partly out of embarrassment, but mostly in amusement at the shock our huge American appetites were eliciting. The kids were oblivious.

While we waited for our food I noticed a white couple across the room taking a long time with their menus...a sure sign that they hadn't been to Nesara often. And I'd never seen them around campus before. So I was not surprised that when a waiter came to take their order confusion promptly ensued. My guess is that they tried to order Indian food, not knowing that at the IISc restaurants it's not available between about 4-7pm. Robert and I tried to decide if they spoke English and needed help, as things didn't look like they were clearing up, but then one of the managers came over, and after a lot of head shaking, pointing, and finally some head bobbling everything seemed worked out.

And then our dosa came.

Now, the dosa at Nesara are more expensive than those at Prakruthi. But so is everything at Nesara, so we hadn't thought much of it. However, in the case of the dosa, at least, there is a reason for the price difference. And the reason is that you get more food. Probably about 50% more food. Suddenly the waiter's shock made more sense (though in fairness, the people who take our dosa orders at Prakruthi still sometimes laugh about them, and we've been making them about 3 times a week for months).

But we plunged bravely in, and managed to eat nearly everything we'd ordered. The fact that we didn't actually eat it all is just another indicator of how very much food there was, because I think this is the first time since we've been in India that we haven't eaten every last scrap of food at our table. We're like locusts that way. Or piglets.

Piglets are much cuter than locusts. Let's go with piglets.

Monday, April 8, 2013


The other day I measured Zion's head. Which is, you know, a perfectly ordinary, motherly thing to do. I'm sure my mom measured my head annually. Sure of it.


Anyway, I measured his head. It was 22", but that was a pretty meaningless number to me. I knew Zion had always had a pretty big head, but I wasn't even sure how big my own head was! So I continued on to logical move B and measured Robert's head.

And it was 22".

So in disbelief I measure Zion's head again. In case I'd fucked it up the first time.

It was 22".

"Oh my G-d", I blurted out. "Robert, Zion's head is as big as yours is!"

We marveled at that for about 2 seconds, and then had the kids put on their shoes so we could go to lunch.

Zion was hanging out with me while we waited for our food to be ready. We chatted about this and that (which is to say: he talked at me about his current book and/or game obsession), and then he hugged me. I patted his head and said something like, "You sure are getting big!"

"Yes", he said, looking pleased. "And it must be pretty embarrassing for Daddy that my head is already as big as his!"

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Robert and I have been married for ten years today. Ten years. It blows my mind! And then I try to imagine what it must be like to have been married for twenty years, or forty, or sixty...and I hope that I am lucky enough to find out someday. 

Ten years ago we were both PhD students. We had a kind of shoestring wedding that turned out to be incredibly gorgeous (thanks in largely to the beautiful setting-- Santa Barbara can't be beat-- and our awesome friends and family). It was like a fairy tale. A fairy tale with freshly grilled burgers, a donut cake, pink sparkly Birkenstocks, and a day spent outdoors in absolutely perfect spring sunshine. We were too broke to go on a honeymoon at the time, and it was the middle of the semester anyway. We hoped that someday we'd have a proper job or two, and be able to afford a fabulous anniversary trip. 

In the decade between now and then we've both finished our PhDs, had two kids, and lived in Ohio, New York, and India. We've made offers on four houses, but haven't actually bought one yet. Robert got tenure (and tenure sleeves). Our lives have been full of homeschooling, knitting, cooking, gardening, grading, teaching, reading, playing, travelling, writing, and mixing cocktails (not necessarily in that order). 

And today, here we are, in Bangalore! I'd say the past 4 1/2 months here have been a pretty fabulous anniversary trip indeed. The kids made us anniversary cards, we'll have lunch and dinner at our two favorite restaurants, watch a movie with the kids, mix a couple of gin and tonics and try to stay cool. 

I am so blessed it takes my breath away. Not only have I had ten years with my beloved, the best husband and partner I could ever wish for, but together we have all of this as well. What an amazing world. 

Friday, April 5, 2013


Mango season has begun here in India, and I'm so happy to be here for at least part of it! I love mangoes, and had been told that mangoes in the US simply didn't compare to those available in India. And now I can taste and decide for myself!

I bought two different types of mangoes this week- the small sindhura mango, and the larger badami mango. The sindhuras I bought still aren't ripe, but today one of the badamis was, so Zion and I ate it (Robert wasn't home, and in any case he and Liel both find magoes, "just OK"). It was delicious! It was so delicious, in fact, that within 10 minutes of finishing it Zion was lying on my bed staring at the ceiling and wondering if any of the others were ripe, and if they weren't, when they might be. After a few minutes of this he got up and went to the kitchen. He came back, mango in hand, to inform me that he thought this one was ripe.

"I'm obviously not as experienced as you, mommy", he said, "but I think this one is ripe. It's skin is mostly yellow, it is squishable, and it smells delicious."

I thought it could use another day, but this new did not deter Zion, who wanted to try it right now. So I peeled it, and we ate it (and I think I was right. The bits I got, closest to the pit, were on the sour side. But the bits Zion got were sweet as sugar!). Zion declared "the king of mangoes".

After that he checked all remaining mangoes, sindhura and badami alike, in case I'd missed any other ripe ones. He sadly reported that I had not, but made note of the ones he thought would be ripe soonest.  Then he told me about his mango-checking strategy.

"When a mango is ripe it will have a good color-- yellow, or orange, or red--, smell delicious, and squish", he told me.

So there you have it :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Summer, with various bugs

It's summer here in south India. And yes, it is hot! Temps are hovering around 100 most days, and lows are only in the high 70s at night.

A few nights ago we had a huge thunderstorm. That was pretty cool (except that the thunder kept me from sleeping. In part it was just the noise, and in part I was worried that the kids would wake up scared, even though they've never done so in a storm before. But this one was really loud! Eventually I got up to check on on them. They were both sound asleep, sprawled across their beds. In the morning they expressed surprise upon learning there had been a storm at all), but we've had bit of rain each of the next two days, and now there is standing water all over campus. In addition to my general hatred of mosquitoes, I now have the additional concern of diseases they carry. So I'm really, really hoping that things dry out again soon.

And then tonight Robert came home from some interviews he'd been doing in the city and announced that the termites were swarming outside. Which was, in fact, somewhat obvious at that point as the 10 seconds the front door was open allowed about a dozen flying termites into the apartment. This is my first encounter with flying termites; I'm hoping they don't swarm for long!

Finally, there are the ants, who for some unknown reason are swarming the kitchen with extra vigor, and paying particular attention to the faucet on the sink. I gotta admit, that's a new one for me. Luckily the resident geckos are also paying extra attention to the kitchen, or at least hanging out there more, so I hope to see a decrease in the ant population soon. We see one tiny gecko pretty often. He had an accident to his tail, making him easy to identify, and leading the kids to name him "Stumpy". The adult gecko they spotted in the hall tonight (no doubt gorging on termites) has been christened "Fatty".