Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wish U Happy Pongal

Pongal - the Telugu harvest festival - was actually on Jan 14 this year. I enjoy it mostly because it marks our one year anniversary here! We arrived Jan 9, 2009 ... with Pongal shortly after ... so it was my first local festival. Last year, I really only experienced it with the "rangoli" (color chalk drawings in front of people's thresholds). This year, we also attempted to fly a kite and visited our neighbor's doll display.

I say attempted because William wanted to "do himself"... so the kite didn't go very far :) A guy we know in the neighboring building, though, was doing a fantastic job with his family. In the evening, he even got a kite up in the air with three candle boxes hanging on the string. Beautiful! Now that our terrace has plants and is pleasant to sit out on, we had quite a fun evening watching all the kites from the roof tops around us.

The doll display is sort of like the Japanese hinasama put out on March 3, especially since it sounds like only families with girls put out the display. The Japanese display is with the various people of the imperial court. The Telugu display is more religious oriented -- they had the goddess Laxmi on top, Krishna and his 10 avatars next, then people in the nine traditional professions (weaving cotton, potting, weaving saris, hmm... I can't remember the other six...), then some other dolls they had collected that they liked (including an English shepherdess who was selling beer!), and then animals at the bottom. I got the feeling that you could have any dolls you wanted out; the order or content wasn't that important.

They also did some ceremony for the unmarried girls - like most Hindu ceremonies I've seen, it involved sprinkling of flower petals and swirling of an oil flame. No one could really tell me much about it except it was a blessing .... so I can't really tell you much! One person also thought it was funny that we came, since William is not a girl (though he didn't get the blessing; we just observed). Thankfully, though, my neighbor pointed out that we don't have much time left in India, so she invited us so we could have the experience.

It all ended with copious amounts of food and the grandmas trying to force me to eat more. This is an absolute staple at any Indian function I have attended!

(sorry for the ugly prose; I'm a little tired and not writing well, but I thought I should write something!)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What is our routine?

As I was preparing tonight to go back to work, I started thinking about our "routine." All the parenting books say it's best to find a routine and stick to it. A regular rhythm helps everyone know what to expect -- and from us, to William, to Patrick, to Sarwary and Shabu, there are many people in the house who could benefit. With many parenting advice topics, from bedtime to potty training, one can find someone who says what one wants to hear. But try and look for a proponent of irregular schedules, and you'll be short on luck.

At the moment, though, I can't think of what our routine will possibly be like for the next twelve months. I will be at work part time for two weeks, and then we take a vacation for a week with Beth - and January is done. The first week of Feb, Beth will be here (hooray!), and after that we'll have about six weeks of normalcy - just enough to settle into a routine - before we (hopefully!) jet back to the US for three weeks. Now March is done and April is off to a good start.

But then, from April 10, William's school is out for summer, so the next eight weeks (until June 10), will have a distinct feel with two boys at home all day. It will likely not be until July - half way into 2010 - that we really start to feel comfortable in a routine. At which point we'll be in the last six months of our time here and starting to prepare to move again. All of this ignores, of course, the fact that babies are unpredictable and change immensely the first year of life. Patrick is a wild card :)

Morals of the musings? (1) Ignore the advice, take a deep breath at the end of each day, and think about what needs to happen the next day. (2) If you only have 24 months to live in a place, it truly is important to "live in the moment" and not think too much about what's around the corner. Maybe it's time to listen to my yoga teacher and actually do the pranayama (breathing meditation) every day, even if I can't do the asana (stretches).

Cultural note: most schools in Hyderabad close mid-April to mid-June during the hot season. Air conditioning is not common, and so the schools need the natural cooling that comes with the monsoons before they can reopen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dealing (again) with moving and "home"

As I've said multiple times on this blog, little things catch me off guard. Today, I experienced it when packing up Christmas decorations. Until today, I had always used two Moravian Bookshop bags to pack up my decorations, which didn't consist of more than a tree topper and tree decorations. After a few years of various gifts from family, however, I now have more home decorative items, too -- and as a result, this year I realized that the Bookshop bags just weren't big enough. Plus, with all the moving in my future, boxes would be much more logical.

Most of you are probably not familiar with the Moravian Bookshop ( ), the oldest continuously operational bookshop in the US (since 1745). It is intimately tied in my mind to Christmas; the majority of my Christmases have been spent in Bethlehem, PA with my grandparents. We would always have a trip downtown to see the "old city" lit up and a browse through the bookshop. I have annual ornaments from the bookshop through 2001 when they stopped making them for some reason. Thus, packing away my Christmas ornaments in a Bookshop bag seemed seasonally and sentimentally appropriate.

As I packed my ornaments and other knick knacks away in two Pampers Cruisers Size 4 boxes, I actually teared up a bit. Then I packed - and unpacked - and packed again - and unpacked again - the two Bookshop bags which I think must be at least six years old and have served me well all these years. In the end, I decided to put the bags in my "nice bag" pile, perhaps to use to bring a pie over to a friend's house at a later date (they have really nice, big, flat cardboard-reinforced bottoms; great for a pie plate).

Logically, I know this makes sense. It would be quite ridiculous to have two bags packed into boxes and shipped around the world, only to be unpacked for a few short weeks each year - and even then, when I unpacked them, what would I do with them? And it provided me with yet another example as to how, in this transitory lifestyle we've chosen, I have to make decisions between logic and sentiment. Logic doesn't always win out, just by the way :)

A general note

Between lots of visitors and the holidays (not to mention the new baby!), I've been too busy to post. In the meantime, what has happened? A Christmas eve service like no other I've been to, a three day trip to Jaipur, showing favorite HYD spots to Greg's family, New Year's brunch with friends (we're not quite up for a big NYE bash these days). And some how I've found myself with only one month of leave left, but still with many things I'd like to know. You would have thought I'd know better than to make a "to do" list while on maternity leave.

Patrick is doing great - last night he actually slept from 9PM to 6:30AM. Needless to say, after about 3AM, I didn't sleep well and kept tip-toeing over to his crib (2 feet away) to check if he was still breathing. Maybe tonight, if I'm lucky enough to have a repeat, I'll sleep, too. He's generally a pretty chill baby, which is good since William still requires a lot of attention. Wm just talks so much and runs so much - it takes a ton of energy to keep up with him! Wm loves "Patch" (an occasional nickname, since he pronounces his little brother's name as "Patch-ick") and, if I'm not watching closely, Wm will hug him a little too vigorously. The little one doesn't have much of a memory yet, so I'm hoping the small bonks from intended hugs aren't damaging their future relationship.

Amongst the various Christmas presents, Wm has latched on most to his new work bench and a Thomas puzzle. He will spend a good hour hammering and screwing; he takes after his great-grandpa. We even had to pack up a subset of the tools to bring to Jaipur, which caused some confusion in the security lane as Wm was adamant they be packed in his carry on. Luckily, engineers are well respected in India, so the security guard took one look at the wooden tools, looked at me and Greg and just said, "Engineer, ahh?" He thought we must be crazy pushy parents, trying to get our son hooked early on studying engineering!

Karen and I have been surprised how quickly Wm picked up on the puzzle. It's a big 24 piece puzzle, and so far Wm has put it together at least five times each day. By now, he really understands how it works and is getting much better at putting the pieces together by himself. I was surprised because we have some of the wooden puzzles where you are supposed to put the animal in the correct hole - but Wm never seemed too interested in them. This "regular" puzzle, though, fascinates him, and he'll continue to play with it until it is complete. Now if we could only find an airplane puzzle ...

That's the general update - Wm is still playing full steam ahead, and Patrick is still growing (13 lbs, last weigh-in). I'm sleeping as well as I could hope, Greg is doing whatever Greg does :) All seems to be starting well for 2010, and I'm trying not to think about the fact that we'll get our "bid list" in mid to late February.