Monday, September 28, 2009

Baby monitor drama

Most things are going pretty smoothly for baby preparations. Crib assembled (much to Sarwary's and Shabu's delight!), layette shipment successfully packed up from Greg's mom's house (diapers, back up formula, second high chair, etc etc on the way without having to break the bank by buying locally), baby clothes down from the closet and washed, meeting set up with the midwife to go over differences between usual US and usual Indian delivery practices set up for Tuesday afternoon. You get the picture.

Today we went hunting for a baby monitor. This was never necessary in DC, given that we only had three rooms. But, here, with two floors and nearly 4000 sq ft, I'd like to have one. I had seen one or two models in stores, so I figured we'd just purchase locally given electricity differences.

First shock came when we checked out a model and it was $120 for a bare bones monitor, the type that would cost maybe $40 max in the US. But, OK, we realize most people here don't have homes big enough to warrant monitors and local parenting practices don’t really smile upon leaving a baby more than 15 feet away, anyway. So, obviously, a monitor is a luxury good and (looking at the boxes) appears to be imported from China.

Second surprise came when the store offered to test the monitor before we purchased it. Why would they do that? We were kind of confused ... until they actually did the test and the monitor didn't work. Needless to say, we didn't buy the monitor, and after standing around for 20 minutes for the test to take place, I didn't really have the patience (or stamina) for the sales people to go through and try to find a model that worked.

Luckily, we have two outstanding options. I found a store in Fairfax, VA that sells 220V appliances and thinks they have monitors – they’re checking their warehouse on Monday and getting back to me. Of course, we can also always use a transformer with a US monitor, but I get nervous with so many things plugged in since electricity is very unreliable here – so I’d rather just have a 220V monitor.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby coming, too!

William is a pretty talkative and observant kid, and hence usually I take for granted the fact that he generally seems to understand what's going on around him. Sometimes I wonder where he learns things (like telling me the other day we had to watch out for a big cockroach? I don't think I've ever had the occasion to use the word "cockroach" in front of him). Sometimes, it's true, I wish he would learn a little faster not to interrupt an ongoing conversation with what is on his mind.

Yesterday, I was explaining the visiting schedule to Sarwary. With Abby/Nathan, my parents, Greg's parents and sister, and then Beth all visiting over the next four months, I figured Sarwary better know what she's in for! Probably to make sure she understood herself, she turned to William to repeat the visitor list: first mama's friends, then grandma and grandpa, then the othther grandma and grandpa, and then Aunt Beth. William looks at her and immediately said, "And Baby coming, too!"

I've written multiple times about how we keep on talking about the baby coming with William, but how I'm not sure he really understands. I guess the answer is he does understand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Prego update - staying in India

On Monday evening, we had the last "scan" (ie, ultrasound or sonogram) to check up on what was going on with Floyd. Sept 15th is the last day I can easily fly without a dr note, so we wanted to double check that we had no known reason to return to the US. The good news is (for us!) that everything is going well. All measurements appear normal, all body parts visible, etc etc. Though perhaps some in the US will be sad not to have the opportunity for me to visit (and to see the newborn), I think all will agree that it's better not to have found anything wrong!

So, stay put I will. The next appointment is in 3.5 weeks, and then after that I'll go every week for a check up. The date is getting closer! And still no boy's name selected.

We just started asking about all the newborn pre-screening tests done in HYD, now that we've decided we're staying. I'm not 100% sure what's available, but Dr Beth did some research and found a lab that will do all the regular US-screening work for $199 ( if you're interested). They send a complete kit and instructions - it all seems quite simple, actually. I'm thinking we might just do this in addition to whatever screening is done at my hospital, simply because it will be easier for US doctors to read US lab results - and a doctor won't get confused when we bring Floyd back to the US around age 1 for its check up there.

This type of service makes me think (a) how small the world really is today and (b) how different life in my line of work must be compared with 20+ years ago.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Taste of Japan

We had to plan a small outing today to a place with clean toilets. In the almost complete effort to potty train William, we decided he was ready to be out of the house for more than the 30 minutes when we walk Bagwelle or play in the courtyard in the evenings. We racked our brains about places we know with clean toilets and decided a trip to the import grocery store followed by lunch at a food court in a posh movie theater complex would fit the bill.

First, before you get nervous, the potty-training part of the experiment was a success. We were out for two hours, no accidents, clean toilet facilities availed of twice, and only one fit thrown at the very end when it was nearing nap time. Good job, William!

Two points, however, stand out as even more exciting and satisfying ... if you can imagine that. First, the import grocery store had large quantities of Dr Pepper. This means that Karen (Greg's mom) does not have to import her own when she comes in December. We bought a 24-day supply, since one never knows what treasures might show up at the import grocery store when. Good news for Karen!

Second, we sampled "Ebisu" for lunch at the food court, specializing in okonomiyaki and yakisoba, two of my favorite Japanese foods. The yakisoba was fantastic, and the okonomiyaki pretty good, considering we're in Hyderabad with no Japanese restaurants. It helped that the stall imports the proper sauce from Japan (Otafuku, I think it's called; the one with the smiling lady face), imparting an authentic flavor. The prices were Japan-style, too, to round out the experience :) I balked when I realized my okonomiyaki cost just as much as my upscale Indian buffet lunch yesterday, but then I decided to think about the price in yen and not rupees.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It's the little things that catch me off guard here. I expected differences in traffic, in food, in English communication, in cleanliness ... but I didn't think I'd have problems with sheets! As I think about it more, it doesn't surprise me, but my present predicament still caught me off guard.

Here's the situation: some how, last night, in all my squirming trying to find a comfortable position for sleep (it's getting more difficult to do), I ripped a hole in my bottom sheet. I suspect there must have been a small hole in the sheet in which my toe got caught. But, I'm not really sure. All I know is that I heard a ripping noise and my fitted sheet was torn.

This morning, I went to the dresser which has all the linens, only to discover I had no more fitted sheets left except the set for the guest room. And the "welcome" sheets provided by work for us to use when we first arrive and then leave are only flat sheets (no elastic) that fit awkwardly on US-sized beds, especially with a squirmy pregnant woman. And, even if fitted queen sheets were available here, all stores are closed in mourning of the Chief Minister's sudden death in a helicopter crash.

I thought I had brought more than two sets of queen sheets, but apparently I hadn't. It's not really something I ever thought about in DC, what with 2 BB&Bs and numerous other linen stores readily accessible seven days a week. Regardless, here I am, thankful that we don't have a house guest right now. And thankful that we have pouch mail so I can get a good supply of sheets in 3 - 4 weeks!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Throwing elephants in the water

Today is the final and most important day of Ganesh Chaturthi, which means it's a little crazy around here. The city is filled with roving bands of revelers accompanying their family or neighborhood idol of Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. Most of the groups have drums and dancing. I saw one tonight that had a group of guys twirling themselves as they twirled their swords and six-foot metal poles with the rhythm of the drums. I kept my distance from those guys.

But the real highlight was going with the Consulate contingent to Chowpatty beach. The Ganesh idols are all eventually immersed in water of some sort (don't ask me why), and the main place in Bombay is Chowpatty, the beach right in the middle of the city. The throngs there on this day are said to number in the millions. As snooty diplomats, of course, we were not among the multitudes, but were on the VIP viewing platform with other diplomats and unidentified Indians. We felt rather like the the royals in Gladiator or some other movie where they're up away from the crowd, reviewing the procession, watching and waving. Anyway, some of the Ganeshes are pretty impressive, up to 20 feet tall and with big accompanying crowds.

We stayed for about an hour and half before deciding that the Ganeshes all pretty much look the same, and that we had gotten the idea. But the festival goes through the night, and as I type I can hear booming music, drums, and fireworks. Wild stuff.