Tag Archives | India

Monday Listicles: 10 Photos, 10 Wishes

This Monday’s listicle comes at the request of Kim, at Zook Book Nook: she’s having a new baby, maybe even right this very minute, and she wanted to create a series of blog posts about “the senses.”  This week’s series is about “sight,” so we were asked to put together our ten favorite photos.

The people who really know how to work this here newfangled internet thing did pinterest and instagram and all that stuff, and others simply posted lovely, wonderful photos, probably culled from their immaculately cataloged digital archives.

Yeah. Well. Yay for them. Me, not so much.

Husband has done an admirable job of cataloging many of our photos but many (most?) are scattered around any number of hard drives, any number of photo file systems.  So some things are right there where they should be but, for instance, most of 2005 is missing.

So I can’t put my hands on my favorite photos, or not all of them anyway, but here are some photos that could be seen as wishes…

1. May your diapers never account for most of your total body weight:

two year old Caleb

2. May you know the joy (mostly) of an older sibling:

boys, City Palace in Jaipur

3. May you know the joy of silly hats (and silly walks, also fart jokes):

4. May you have the gift of imagination and the empty time in which to exercise that gift:

5.  May you have the gift of music:

Washington Square Park, NYC, 2010

6. May you have the gift of art:

sand painting, Union Square Park NYC, 2011

7.  May you have adventures:


8. May you have mysteries…

a screened window, Humayan’s Tomb, Delhi

9. …and beauty…

Rub-al-kali, The Empty Quarter

10. …and peace:

Sedgewood, New York State


Continue Reading · on November 28, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, birth, Children, family, Monday Listicle, NYC, NYUAD, Travel

walking in Jaipur

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  We’d just zipped through the City Palace in Jaipur–carvings, screens, gorgeous mosaics—and the Jantar Observatory was closed, so we thought: let’s just walk through the Johari Bazaar and then meet the taxi driver back at the City Palace parking lot (read: dusty square ringed with small food stands, flower stalls, dogs, cows, beggars).

The taxi driver (who spoke almost no English) said “sure? walking? sure? sure?” (Translation: “are you tourists out of your freaking gourds? walking through Johari Bazaar at rush hour? There are cows in the gutter smarter than you are!”) My Hindi is, um, nonexistent, so I nodded and smiled and nodded, “yes, yes, walking,” the driver and Husband exchanged cell phone numbers, and off we went, on foot, into the scrum.

Caleb’s seven-year-old eyes saw some of the poverty and dirt but mostly he saw only the adventure: look a goat! look a cow! look an elephant right there in the road!

The previous day, we’d been in Ranthambore, the tiny village outside the tiger preserve, where the poverty we’d seen had been, you know, picturesque: we’d been bumping along in an open jeep past roosters walking down dirt roads, pigs ambling along the sidewalks, half-dressed children tossing around a ball, small stone houses with tin roofs covered with ivy and bougainvillea.  Poverty…but pretty. The way tourists like their poverty.

But now we were in a city and the poverty was no longer just local color.  We used to live in New York, so homeless people on the subway or sleeping on park benches are, sadly, pretty typical sights.  My kids are aware (sort of) that not everyone has what they have.  What struck Liam was the sheer scale of what he was seeing: scores of kids begging, babies playing in the dirt, cows munching on garbage, flies everywhere. His grip on my hand got tighter and tighter—he couldn’t see the affluent residents of Jaipur whipping by on their motorbikes or in their tinted-window cars; he didn’t want to see the moon rising over the pink buildings:

he wasn’t amused by the decorations on the elephant wandering by:

or the statute of Ganesha tucked high above an arched passageway:

To get to the actual street of the bazaar you have to cross the traffic circle of death.  You think, oh, it’s just a street, I know how to cross a street. Except…there are no traffic lights, no crosswalks, and no traffic cops. There are, however, tour buses coming this way and tuk-tuks coming that way and motorbikes coming every which way and whoops there’s a taxi and shit there’s a rickshaw and whoa that’s a commuter bus and JUMP! the last two feet to the island in the middle of the circle in order to avoid a car swooping around the curve.

Caleb was scared but excited. He thought it was like a human video game.  Liam burst into tears. I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO DIE. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on November 23, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, expat, shopping, Travel

Delhi Driving

There is a Formula One racetrack in Abu Dhabi.  Before I moved here, I had no idea that people “follow” Formula One in much the same way that people follow baseball or football (both the pigskin kind and the run-run-kick kind).  The racetrack raises a chicken-and-egg question for me: did they build a racetrack here because Abu Dhabians drive like maniacs, or do Abu Dhabians drive like maniacs because there’s a racetrack in town?  Do people in Indianapolis drive like maniacs because of the Indy 500?

The game here seems to be “how fast can you go between stop lights,” a game that’s also known as “ha-ha you didn’t know I was changing lanes, sucka.”  Maseratis, Ferraris, Porsches, the occasional Lamborghini, flash by in blurs of color and tail pipes, while the taxi drivers try gamely (terrifyingly) to keep up.  In order to move traffic more quickly, major intersections have “free right turn,” a lane that allows cars to turn right without stopping or slowing down for traffic signals or pesky obstacles like pedestrians.

Up until November 3, I thought Abu Dhabi would be a terrifying place to be a driver (it’s also a hair-raising place to be a pedestrian).

What happened on November 3, you ask? Simple. We went to India.

We’d arranged to be picked up from the airport with Namaste Tours and then to have a half-day tour of Delhi the next day with the same driver.  We figured that for the rest of our stay in Delhi, we’d manage on our own.  Our drive from the airport was so hair-raising, however, we decided on the spot to hire the amazing Prem Singh and his white Innovia mini-van for our entire time in Delhi, and our time in Agra, too.  (If you’re ever in that part of India, you want Namaste on your speed dial. In all senses of that word. Trust me. You want Namaste at the wheel). Prem:

Because Prem was driving, we were free to watch (with a white-knuckled grasp on our seatbelts) the Darwinian game of chicken that passes for driving in India.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on November 17, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Travel, UAE

Monday Listicle: Are You on Vacation? Or a Family Trip?

I just figured out that “listicle” = list+article.  Pretty slow on the uptake, hmm?  Stasha’s listicle topic today is, appropriately, 10 things that make a perfect vacation, a topic chosen by Hope at Staying Afloat.

I have a lot to say about vacations, but first a key clarification: “vacation” is something you do that probably doesn’t involve family members other than, perhaps, a partner-ish type person.  When you travel with family members, you’re on a “family trip.”

Once you have these two paradigms firmly established, you will no longer experience the shattering of expectations when you arrive at your scenic locale, kids and spouse in tow, only to find that you’re staying in a rental apartment that doesn’t even come stocked with salt and pepper, your kids are hungry, and everyone is wondering what you’re going to cook for supper.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had some amazing family trips since we left New York, almost exactly three months ago, but I wouldn’t say we’ve been on vacation, exactly.

With our recent trip to India in mind, let’s review the family trip/vacation concept, shall we?  For my purposes, “family trip” includes two boys under the age of 11. Your “family trip” might include an in-law whose very presence is the human equivalent of nails on chalkboard, or a sibling who wants only to scope out chicks, or an irritable poodle who needs to be walked at inopportune moments.

1. Vacation involves a large bed, preferably with those fancy tempur-pedic mattresses.  You sleep on zillion-thread-count sheets and there is room to spread out. You may even be in this bed alone, without your partner, because, perhaps, your idea of a perfect vacation means traveling alone.  In either case, a vacation becomes a family trip when the four of you stay in one hotel room, with one big king-size bed and one cot. Three in the big bed, one in the small bed.

2. A vacation means traveling on the Maharajah express, where the sleeper compartments look like this:

or like this:

A family vacation means traveling in a sleeper compartment that looks like this:

3. A vacation means eating delicious, locally appropriate food, prepared exactly as you like it and served whenever you’re hungry.  A family trip means searching for pizza in the middle of Delhi. (Ironically, of course, the best brick-oven pizza we’ve eaten since we left New York we found in Amici’s, in Delhi’s Khan Market. Gotta love that global kitchen. Nevertheless, there we were, in the heart of Delhi, eating pizza. Furthermore, we went there twice).

4. A vacation means sleeping when you want to, where you want to. A vacation–especially if you’re a parent–means rediscovering the kinds of sleep you used to have when you were single, or dating, or had just started shtupping your latest shtupping partner. Remember naps? Remember waking up too early in the morning and going back to sleep? Remember having sex in the middle of the day and then dozing off afterward? Yeah. That is a vacation.  A family trip is…the absence of all these things, including sex (see entry #1, above).

5. A vacation means no set itinerary, no list of “to do,” no need to plan anything. A vacation is a long aimless stroll through a new neighborhood, or leisurely contemplation of the work in a museum, or sitting somewhere lovely and catching up on back issues of The New Yorker (or junkier pleasures, like Vanity Fair). A family trip is “I’m tiiiiirrrreed….”  “this is boooorrrrring….”  “this fort looks just like the ooooother foooort….”  “I wanna see a tiiiiiggggggeerrrrr…”  “I’m thirsty/hungry/angry/tired/thirsty/hungry/bored…” Aimlessness leads to whining.

6. A vacation means doing things you might not do in your regularly scheduled life and enjoying the break from routine. A family trip means that some semblance of routine remains in place: children need to be fed and watered regularly, they need to be reminded to brush their teeth, they need to be tucked into bed, they need to be separated from one another lest they kill each other. Same shit, different country.

7. A vacation means unplugging from the world, losing yourself in the timelessness of no work, no deadlines, no phone-calls, no meetings.  A family vacation (in our tech-addicted group) means “where’s the ipad? where’s my DS? why does he get the ipad? where’s my DS? it’s my turn for the ipad! where’s my DS?” …  (in their defense, the boys were reading on the ipad and not playing plants versus zombies. I have no defense for the DS, which turned out to be buried in my suitcase. I have no idea how it got there, I swear).

8. A vacation means a time to reflect and reconnect, with yourself or with people you love….Hmm.

Wait a minute. I think that we may, actually, have done a little bit of that on our family trip. It was the first time we’d been away from Abu Dhabi together since we arrived here, almost exactly three months ago, and our nine days of constant togetherness (and I do mean constant. Review #1) actually brought us together, once we got past the bickering about whose turn it was to use the ipad. Even the youngest of us knew we were somewhere amazing, and our wealth of experiences gave us all something to talk about, marvel about (and, yes, okay, complain about).  And being away made us think about Abu Dhabi as the home we were coming back to.  On the night we left Delhi, I asked the boys if they felt like Abu Dhabi was “home,” and Liam nodded and went back to the concluding pages of The Hunger Games. Caleb said “yes because home is just where the love is.”

So there you have it. We had a family trip. It was amazing but definitely not a vacation. Husband and I, as the grand finale for his 50 29th birthday celebration, are thinking about a trip to the Maldives. The boys are probably going to have to come with us because we don’t have anyone here we can inflict them on to take care of them for a long weekend. That said, however, we’re definitely going to stay somewhere that has a “kid’s club.” That way it can be a family trip in which everyone gets a vacation.

 

Wow! Cookie’s Chronicles linked this post with her “Best of the Blogosphere” for November. I’m so flattered to be included with the other writers on this list. Thanks!
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Continue Reading · on November 14, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, family, Monday Listicle, Parenting, Travel

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