India / Thoughts

Last Week

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I haven’t been blogging much this week, obviously.

The most boring reason is that we’ve been, well, boring.

I’ve spent the last week scrubbing floors, getting badged, cleaning out cabinets, going to check-ins, getting a cellphone, interviewing housekeepers and standing guard over Will as he took 2+ naps a day while getting over jet lag and his cold.  There were no cribs when we first got here so, to prevent any Charlottesville-style dismounts onto the hard tile below our bed, one of us has to either be in bed or near the bed while Will sleeps.

Which makes for some very thrilling days of folding laundry next to the bed, eating toast for lunch, getting up at ungodly hours to clean before Will, the human tornado wakes up, and writing and rewriting posts that ultimately seemed far too boring to bother publishing.  Throw in monsoon rains and the requirement that someone be home when workmen (so many workmen!) are here and it’s been a very busy week about which there was absolutely nothing to blog about.

But, things are coming along.    This morning, after a rather disheartening run at car-buying, we stopped by Sarojini, a one-stop-shop for export runoffs, luggage, produce and all-things-plastic and sparkly.

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The market was just opening for the day.  Vendors were carefully folding up the giant blue plastic tarps they use to cover their wares.  Families piled out of tiny hatchbacks in the parking lot. Coffee and tea wallahs carrying faded mauve-colored plastic canteens and stacks of tiny plastic cups competed with the sunglasses salesmen for our attention.  Neatly swept piles of garbage dotted the puddle-soaked alleyways, soon to be dismantled and trod under foot once again.  A slight breeze blew, keeping the flies at bay and sending the delicious stomach-rumbling smells of cooking onion and spices and fried dough wafting over the chaat stall countertops and across the market.

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Things seemed more orderly, less chaotic than I remember from my time negotiating similar markets down in Chennai.  Maybe it was the time of day, maybe New Delhi is just a very different city.  Or maybe I’m just a different, less wide-eyed person than I was back then.

I’m still figuring out how to wrangle my increasingly squirmy toddler whilst taking photos and I’m also still figuring out how to process our experience here thus far. This initial shift from back-water, boondock Consulate to one of the biggest, best-equipped Embassies in the world has been a bit jarring–in ways both good and interesting.

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I’m not sure what I can write right now that won’t be proven wrong by experience or more and better information over the next few weeks and months, but I will say this:

We like it here.

On Friday I had 25 pounds of organic and natural produce and meat delivered to our Embassy gate, including organic arugula, chorizo and water-packed fresh mozzarella.  A basket of food so heavy I couldn’t actually lift it cost less than one quick run to the grocery stores in Arlington.

After two years in Chengdu, that kind of bounty and availability is nothing short of jaw-dropping.  And that’s not even counting the commissary and vegetable stand not 30 feet out our front door.  We want for nothing here I think.

We went to a play-group yesterday where there was a lot of talk about air pollution concerns and worries about taking children outdoors.  Chris and I were actually a bit incredulous.  After living in China, it seems our standards for what’s unhealthy are very warped.

Our friends from Chengdu have been absolutely amazing, reaching out to us, sending potential housekeepers our way, and introducing us to people.  We are so lucky to count them as friends.   I also had the unique pleasure of going to lunch with someone last week who is even more fun and wonderful in real life than she is on her beautiful blog.

On the other hand, I still feel very much like the new kid at school.  This is definitely a “make your own way” kind of place here.  It’s too big for the “everyone’s included” mentality we enjoyed in Chengdu and I’m still trying to figure out how people form circles of friends here.  We’ve been so lucky to meet and reconnect with some wonderful people here already.   Even so, it’s always awkward to be the only Mama at the kiddie pool who doesn’t know everyone yet.

The thing is, this Embassy is so big and the expat community is so huge that I’m sure half the women I see around the compound are probably also looking at me wondering whether I’m new or old or someone they should be saying hi to too!

There are many aspects to life as part of this mission that we are still getting used to and so much of this city that we haven’t seen yet and are anxious to explore. It’s hard to say how much of what we think of this place will still ring true over the coming weeks and months. We’ll see, won’t we?

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7 thoughts on “Last Week

  1. Glad to hear Will is getting over his cold and great that he can sleep through all the workmen coming through. So impressed with your cooking while settling in. Four weeks in and I still can’t channel my culinary creativity (not that I had much to begin with). Luckily, there is a wide array of good restaurants here and we’re getting more and more daring with the street food. Btw, it is so nice to be in touch with someone who is going through the transition process at the same time, a reassuring camaraderie. Thanks for keeping up with us!

  2. That’s tough about the crib and having to sit close by. I’m glad to hear Will is on the mend. I love the photos of the ladies buying their knock-off bags. Your description of the market first thing in the morning was wonderful.

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