I’d forgotten about this part. This “we’re home but not really home yet” part.
I find myself mentally rearranging furniture and obsessing over what colors to paint, practically willing our shipment to arrive so that we can make this house feel like a home as fast as possible. Our meager belongings–a shopping bag here, a bottle of bug spray there, a pile of check-in papers loitering on the stairs sit awkwardly, untidily in the first places we find to put them down. It’s as if, subconsciously, we can’t bear to tidy up too much because, if we do, we’ll be hiding any trace of us actually living here.
That, or we just know that as soon as all of our stuff arrives, we’ll just have to take everything back out to organize again. Probably that.
Our kitchen here is fantastic, spacious even, full of enough cupboards to hopefully hold everything we have for it. But to really make use of it we need to fill up our spice rack and restock our pantry again. It’s a slow process, one that inspires some very creative dishes. Chris made French toast our first morning–using crushed up Cheerios for “sugar.” Last night we made shrimp cooked in bourbon (yea, I know-but delicious!) and rice. When not pretending we’re contestants on some Food Network cooking show, we’re eating lots of toast and fruit, something I remember well from Chengdu.
Except in Chengdu, you couldn’t walk ten paces down the street without running into a dumpling shop or a fancy Sichuanese restaurant or a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint serving dishes on tiny fold up tables on the sidewalk. We ate out a lot our first few weeks in Chengdu. Here though I’m not entirely sure where these sorts of neighborhood-y type places might be. I know where the Mediterranean and the Chinese restaurants are in the nearby neighborhood, but funnily enough, I’m still working on locating the Indian food. That we’re all still falling asleep by the time the restaurants open for dinner at 7pm only complicates matters.
There’s an incredible assortment of food to be had here–I even found quinoa and chia seeds at one of the crowded stalls at INA market–but we’re still not used to rupee conversions yet and keep reverting back to Chinese RMB. As such, I see the price “300” for a bottle of sesame oil and I think it costs $50 dollars, not $6. By the time I’ve realized my mistake, I’ve already walked away..
We’ve gotten out walking and taken cabs out of the Diplomatic area a few times now and I’m beginning to realize how different an environment this “compound living” thing really is.
For the past ten years, I’ve been so used to walking out my front door and being in a real, bustling neighborhood–whether it was my college town, the neighborhood I lived in in Chennai, Adam’s Morgan and Mount Pleasant in Washington, D.C., the WuHou and Tongzilin areas of Chengdu, even good old Rosslyn.
Here there are neighborhoods, but there are also wide boulevards, gigantic Embassy compunds and quiet–it’s so much quieter than I could have ever imagined in India.
It’s beautiful–don’t get me wrong. I love the greenery, the glimpses of interesting architecture peeking over high walls and imposing-looking gates. This is India too, just not the India I’ve ever known.
We’re slowly, slowly adjusting. My old favorite Indian-brand of shampoo is in our bathroom now and there’s a new cotton quilt on our bed that didn’t come out of the Welcome Kit. The staff canteen here makes Southern-style dosas two days a week and I’ll plan on being first in line the day after tomorrow to try them out. I’m beginning to realize that the things I used to know and love about living in India aren’t as far away as they seemed our first day or two in town. We just need to make the effort to go out and find them.
And, as several wise, wise women have counseled, it takes time to make a new place feel like home. To get ourselves and our kid used to new routines, new norms, new ways of doing things. In a few short weeks we’ll have figured out the housekeeping, we’ll know where to shop, we might even have found a neighborhood Indian restaurant and made a few friends.
But until then, I need to remember to have patience. We’ve got two whole years here, there’s no need to rush.
Only had time for a few quick shots while Will wrangling at a few markets. Above is from Khan Market, below at INA. Oh and Will taking a school tour.