Wednesday, February 28, 2007

too much work!

ok, so things are hotting up on the work front for both of us. Paige is furiously preparing her application and course design for her childbirth education certification to be completed. And I am drowning under program plans and consent forms and study designs. My project is slowly getting more and more defined and consequently more and more scary! Thinking concretely about working with the police or doctors is really frightening at times. I suppose I am conditioned to think these are impermeable institutions as well. they certainly think so! fortunately i have found a few that are open to working on the issue of gender based violence so there will surely be some progress.

aside from that i suppose the only new development is that i am homesick. i guess it takes me a while since this place is so familiar is so many ways, but just like clockwork, at about 6 weeks, i am missing home. i remember when i was growing up and we would come here for our summer vacations, about halfway through the trip i would feel inconsolable, and then before i knew it, it was time to leave, the second half always seemed to fly by. well i have way more than 6 weeks ahead of me and a hell of a lot of work, so send me love.

(hope you haven't forgotten my email!)


Saturday, February 24, 2007

WE ARE ONLINE...and we are real aunties!

I had no idea that this would bring so much joy to me in my time here. That a simple ethernet cable with the power of broadband coursing through it would lift 50% of my daily tension and frustration. but it is done, in fact i am blogging from my very own ibook. ahhh....the simple pleasures.

so much has happened since the last set of posts. we took a little trip down to Mysore, home of a spectacular palace and many mellow city sites. some new photos on flickr give you a sense of how it is. we had some good food and fun market time but mostly it was great to get out of this big city and drive through some countryside and feel a slower vibe.

perhaps the single most important thing that has happened (after our internet connection) is my cousin Suchi had twin boys last friday! scrumptious little Ritvik and Roshan came a little early but are healthy and hairy and absolutely adorable - i mean check out those pictures!. i can't wait to meet them in person. sending big love to the BIG new family in Montclair.

so now that we are online, we are setting up the webcam and welcome any and all to start chatting online with us, y'hear?

our skype names are 'freesuru' and 'soypich'
we're waiting for your call!

Friday, February 23, 2007


we still have no internet. don't get me started. really. i've turned all (okay, maybe not ALL) my rage at incompetent people who never show up into productive energy which is spent writing a course design for my lamaze certification. it's extremely tedious and time consuming, but i need to get it done in the next week and a half, apply to take the exam in april, and start studying.

i've finally met tulika, an indian woman who i'd been e-mailing with from the states. she is also in the certification process, though a little further along than i, and a hell of a lot more knowledgeable about the birthing scene here in bangalore. sadly, the cesarean rate in urban hospitals throughout india is 70-80%, and women are given very few choices during labor and childbirth. routine practices include shaving, episiotomy, continuous fetal monitoring, and allowing only one support person in the delivery room. tulika told me that if a woman wants to move around during labor, essentially she has to lock herself in the bathroom, and move around in whatever way is comfortable for her while she pretends to pee! sigh.

this just in: the internet guy has promised to come in 45 minutes. while we've received countless empty promises of internet installation (even, "i'm on my way, madam!"), i'm encouraged by the fact that someone came today to wire the flat.

our social lives have continued to be quite busy; pics of new and old friends coming soon. the kick-off this week was a super fun live performance by ozomatli. while that was hard to beat, there are many other events to look forward to: shai's experimental film festival, leslie's sangria party, family meals, and greta's visit!

Monday, February 12, 2007


so i've added a flickr badge here, which you'll see to the left, under our photo. click on that to see more pictures. it shouldn't ask you for a password. there are a few photos so far of our flat and neighborhood. if you don't view as a slideshow, you can read captions. see surabhi's recent posts below! we're hoping for internet at home tomorrow, but i'll believe it when i see it...


general strikes are pretty miraculous experiences in bustling cities like bangalore. everything just stops. everything that is, except the barking dogs and squawking crows. they never take a rest. but the rest of the state is taking a day of rest. no shops, no rickshaws, no buses, no markets, nothing. the city is quiet and almost idyllic.

the natural beauty is much more evident without all the vehicular exhaust clouding the atmosphere. paige and i ventured out to our friend's place this afternoon to borrow some wireless time (hence the sudden burst of blogging) and it felt like we live in the country...deserted roads and stray roosters pecking at the dust, distant noises of two wheelers whizzing around and giggling girls clustered on balconies.

the strike was called throughout the state of Karnataka in response to the verdict of the council settling the Cauvery water dispute. Much tension was anticipated after the annoucement of the verdict because it seems Karnataka was expected to release much more water to Tamil Nadu than they wished to. When an interim verdict was passed 16 years ago with a similar expectation, there was mob fury and rioting all over Bangalore between Kannadigas and Tamilians. so anticipating the same again, the police presence was impressive and peace reigned.

for us, this means one more day without internet access, as our guy could not get over here to get us connected. one more day without necessary repairs done. and one less day of work!

it's not all bad...

hi aunty!

this is how children in the street greet me. "hi aunty"

when did that switch happen? when did i become old enough to be an "aunty"?

growing up desi in the states, we learned to call all elders 'uncle' and 'aunty' as a show of respect as well as a performance of kinship. i mean we all knew that we weren't related, but by some twist of fate we all ended up in that harsh white world and were bonded together as a kind of family. this meant that we had all sorts of cousins who felt as important and close, if not more, than those real blood cousin-brothers and sisters over on the subcontinent. but we weren't actually related...a strange fact that is hard to explain to people who have not had an immigrant experience in their known history.

here people grow up surrounded by people just like them. generations of people. you watch people around you grow and change and become uncles and aunties and know that one day you too will be one. not in the real biological way necessarily, but in that generic, respectful, we belong to one another kind of way.

so when i share my horror at being referred to as aunty with a few friends here, they shrug...well of course you are an aunty to a 10 year old, what else would you be? you are 3 times her age!

i guess i thought those categories were fixed. i didn't know i could grow into being an aunty. with so few desis around in those early years, i suppose i didn't realize that there were others growing to take my place as the kid and i would have to grow up. that eventually i would look as busy and tired and purposeful as an aunty.

but if i think about it, i am all of those things. and more. i worry about the details, i try to feed people more than they want, i love matchmaking....oh this is getting too scary. there's no hope...i might as well enjoy it!

(send biodatas! there are matches to be made!)

with love,
suru aunty

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

send earplugs and wi fi...

so the move is over and things are slowly falling into place, but there is a lot to get used to. the noise for one. between the three different calls to prayer resounding thoroughout our neighborhood and the street vendors calling out their wares and the constant sounds of crows and dogs, we are lucky if we get 6 hours of deep sleep...but hear-os to the rescue! so glad that paige brought a large supply of them, i never knew that earplugs would be so important to me.

we are also stuck in the void of internetlessness. it is such a lifeline...i think we sometimes forget how connected it makes us feel. fortunately i have regular access at work, but i am rarely ever at a desk so it doesn't feel like much. hopefully it will be sorted out soon at home. we are having trouble figuring out if someone is trying to get a bribe out of us or if there is a genuine problem. but Paige has been struggling valiantly to make it happen and i am sure she will succeed.

everything feels like a struggle here in the beginning. just figuring out where to get basic household things, how much to pay for things, the shortest route to get somewhere. it all gets so exhausting. and all this compounded by strikes and other random disturbances. no wonder everything takes longer here!

despite it all, we were able to have a fun little housewarming party last friday night pulling together our assortment of friends, some of my old peeps and some of paige's new internet finds and a few unknown friends of friends, creating a warm and fun atmosphere. with paige's perfectly timed party mix and lots of food and alcohol and of course a surprise birthday cake, it was definitely a good time. photos to follow, paige is the technophile in the family...

ok... back to work!