Saturday, February 20, 2010

Risk and Reward

We have a big dilemna at our house: should we encourage sarwary to
apply for the cleaning position at the consulate? Obviously, for us
this would be a huge loss. I have no idea if we would be able to find
someone as cabable as she whose personality also fits so well with our

But for her, the benefits are tremendous, if she were offered the
position. First, medical care. If any of her immediate family had to
be hospitalized, most - if not all - of the cost would be covered,
avoiding significant potential source of debt. Second, job stability.
She wouldn't have to worry about finding a new employer every 2 years
and how the new family might treat her. Third, retirement fund. I
haven't looked into the details fully, but she would be eligible for
the "provident fund" sponsored by the indian gvt.

True, she'd be back to being a "cleaning lady" and not treated
practically like a member of our household. No one would be there to
buy an extra present for her kids at their birthdays or give her
unused household items (eg, her son gets a lot of hand me downs from
william). And she'd give up the chance that maybe some family in the
future would take her to the US for a posting, enabling her to earn in
two years what would take 10+ years to earn here.

A classic case of risk vs. reward!

From an american citizen perspective, it's interesting to see how my
government can make such a difference in a local person's life by
applying US employment standards across the world. True, it costs more
-- but at some level, it's applying American ideals and not being
hypocritical. Maybe the difference isn't so great for our local
professional staff, but after reading about how even the "labor" staff
get the same privlages and benefits, I was very happy with our
standards. A job like this in india can make a huge difference in
someone's life - even if she would be "just a cleaning lady."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wish us luck!

We had a fun adventure with Beth through Madhya Pradesh, from Delhi to Khajuraho. It was supposed to be a train journey, but, well, fog in Delhi delayed trains upwards of six hours and with our limited time we ended up just hiring a car and driver. More pricey, yes, but we're talking India prices, thankfully.

I was slightly disappointed by lack of train rides ... which is perhaps why Greg and I decided not to cancel our weekend excursion this weekend. It originally started out as a big group trip - 14 people! Then some international visitors had their flights change, so three people dropped out. Then another couple decided to take the four day weekend (Mahashivaratri + President's Day. Hooray for double holidays!) to fly north to Amritsar and Dharamsala. Then others got spooked by the (real) rail roko potential (i.e., protesters camping out on the tracks) because of the Telangana unrest. So we were down to six -- us four plus another couple.

Tuesday, one person of the couple got sick. It unfortunately happens in India with some regularity, but the timing was quite unfortunate! Especially since between their trip back to the US in Feb-March, and ours in March-April, and our impending departure at the end of the year, the chance to take this trip together was essentially shot.

Not seeing another good weekend, Greg and I opted to just go it alone, so to speak. We will be taking an overnight train to Hampi and back again. We have absolutely no idea what to expect of the train (our only India train experience being the Shatabdi Express - and on this trip will be in 2nd AC class, the best this train has) and we have absolutely no idea what to expect from the two boys. The next three days are a black hole, but hopefully we'll emerge safe, sound, and happy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

A General Mellowing

On vacation last week (blog report post due!) and back at work full time this week, I had two instances where I realized I've mellowed out a lot when it comes to parenting. I'm not sure if it's because I have to under my current circumstances, or simply because I've already had one baby - probably a combination of both - but my outlook is definitely more relaxed.

1. At a Bengali "restaurant" in Khajuraho. We were sitting at our table, waiting for our thali (set meal). The place was well swept, all plastic chairs were in tact, metal tables weren't rusted, and Beth's chai was even served in a china cup with match saucer. For a $1 per person meal, in the middle of a small Indian town, it was clean.

Then, as Patrick reached out and touched the table ... and a few seconds later a stray dog wandered by our outside table ... I all of the sudden envisioned all the mothers who vigorously disinfect mall food court tables with disposable Clorox wipes. The reality of being here - and my adjustment to accept a general state of dirtiness - even to the point of having considered the restaurant clean - hit home. I'm now, by default, subscribing to the "let kids eat dirt" method of building immunities.

2. At home, with Sarwary. As I've mentioned, as smart as she may appear, she's illiterate. Thus, all communication is verbal by necessity. There's no way I'd get a "daily report" like William's day care did - what time he ate and how many ounces; what time wet and poopy diapers were changed; how many 15 minute segments of tummy time. Instead, I just check how many bottles are gone off of the shelf. She tells me if it was a good nap day (seems to be defined by naps of at least one hour) or a bad nap day (only dozing; no long stints) and how many poops. And, to my surprise, I'm Ok with that. Patch and Wm are both all smiles when I come home -- what better way to judge how their day was?