June 2010

White Minaret. Bangalore, India. Copyright billi-jean.com

There is, perhaps two kilometres or so from our hotel, a minaret, ornate and beautiful, standing high above the skyline, it’s white a striking contrast against the green of the trees. Five times every day, the Islamic Call to Prayer is broadcast from here, calling the devout to pray.

I’ve heard the call to prayer, of course, on television, but I had never heard it in person. I had no idea it was so beautiful or so moving. It is always blended with the softened sound of cars and their horns on the main road some ways away, the hammering of construction, the occasional barking dog and once, a fighter jet.

Hearing it, has the effect of cementing whatever I’m doing at that moment in my memory. The first time I heard it I didn’t expect it, only because I hadn’t thought it through beforehand, I guess. I froze. I had been making peanut butter and jam sandwiches and I stood there, in the sunshine and tropical breeze coming through the open kitchen window, bread in one hand, knife in the other, and listened until it was over.

I’ve had the same experience several times since that first time, pausing while sorting laundry, or while doing dishes. It was several days before I noticed the minaret in the distance. Several days more before I was able to get a good photo. When I can, I like to stand on the balcony in the dark, embraced by the aromas coming from the kitchens of the apartment block nearby, feeling the velvety night air, and listening to that final call of the day entwined with the distant sounds of the city. It is a beautiful ending to the day.

We arrived in India at the start of the Monsoon Season. What this means, as far as I can tell, is that there is sun for at least part of the day, often much of the day, then cloud cover for part of the day, then it rains for a while. And then it’s probably sunny again. But don’t quote me on that; I’ve just arrived ;)

When it doesn’t rain, it’s hot. When it does rain, it cools off (they call that “Winter” here. I call it “Not Even Close” lol).

Monsoon Clouds. Bangalore, India.

I love how brightly the houses and apartments are painted, and then contrasted against the lush greenness of the trees. When the light is just right, everything seems to be almost lit up.

Monsoon Clouds. Bangalore, India.

And when it rains, oh, it rains. We got caught in it one day, eating dinner on the patio of a downtown restaurant.

Monsoon Rain. Bangalore, India.

Every time you thought it couldn’t rain harder it did. There was no violent wind, and only occasional thunder, but an incredible amount of water was falling from the sky. It rained harder and harder until it sounded like a thousand fists pounding and a thousand feet stomping. It was magnificent. It lasted an hour or so.

Monsoon Rain – Flooded Street. Bangalore India

When the rain stopped, the temperature had dropped significantly, the air was fresh and everything felt clean. As we drove home, the trees still dripped. I saw children playing tag on the sidewalk, wearing woollen hats and winter coats, and women pulled shawls tightly around their shoulders, while I was perfectly comfortable in my cotton and short sleeves. Many of the roads and walks were flooded, but it was all just taken in stride. Pedestrians rolled up pant legs, and sandals are quick to dry anyway. As soon as it was safe, vendors pulled back the blue tarps they had thrown over their stalls when the rain began, and it was business as usual.

Mango seller. Bangalore, India.

We’ve been here more than two weeks already. Wow. Our first days here are now just a blur of jetlag, attempting those first grocery shopping trips, jetlag, the first round of house hunting, jetlag, hours at the police station applying for residence permits, jetlag. . .

We were jetlagged ;) And let me tell you, a three year old with jetlag is not something I’d wish on an enemy lol. It was well into the second week before the brain fog lifted. I felt like my head was stuffed with cotton. Christopher was awake for the day every day at 3AM, but so were Mark and I. Jordan seems to have been born to travel: he didn’t suffer at all from jetlag and is the only one who has not experienced any uh, digestive issues. *ahem

It is an interesting condition to never be sure you will be able to make yourself understood, or that you will understand what others are trying to communicate to you, or be sure that you will able to find what you are looking for, be it groceries, household goods, or clothing. Almost everyone speaks at least a little English and is willing to make the effort to help you. But occasionally that isn’t enough. So far there have been no life-threatening situations or general emergencies, so we just do our best and move on :)

Jordan and auto rickshaws. Bangalore, India.

I have managed to figure out how to get basic groceries. We’re still living in a hotel without cooking facilities in our room, so beyond the ingredients for pb&j, boxes of cereal and some juice, we don’t really need much else. Well, except chocolate. And we’re having no trouble finding that. I have been doing my shopping research, though, in preparation for moving into a house. I bought some bedding and a toaster. The local huge, western-style grocery store has almost everything I’d need, though the grocery stores in general are short on fruits and vegetables. I assume that means I’ll have to go to the proper fruits and vegetables market. There is one near here but I haven’t been as I wouldn’t be able to do anything with any food I bought. But once we’re moved that will be one of the first places I go. The truth is I can’t wait.

Decorated post. Bangalore, India.

(no one wears hats anymore, anyway)

Before we’d been in India two weeks, we had our first celebration: Jordan’s 14th birthday. –> melt down about one of my children being as old as fourteen deleted <– I’d secretly packed some gifts in my luggage before we left Canada, and I picked up another once we were here. I even found wrapping paper, streamers and balloons. Quite a feat when dealing with jet-lag and a foreign country ;)

The morning of Jordan’s birthday, the Wee One and I snuck around, wrapping gifts and putting up decorations, before summoning Jordan for the first round of paper-tearing. He got lots of help with that and was very pleased with his gifts. Jordan gets his love of electronic gadgetry from me, so choosing gifts for him is pretty easy :) Later, we made the trek to a local ice cream parlour for Birthday Ice Cream and on the weekend, we went downtown for pizza – and monsoon rainfall. The only thing missing from this celebration is cake, and since I can’t bake one in a hotel, we’ll do that when we’ve moved into a house. There is nothing wrong with drawing out a birthday celebration over days or even weeks. In fact, I recommend it :)

Happy Birthday, Jordan! :)

The beginning…

Bangalore, India

We’ve been here for a week and half now. It doesn’t seem nearly that long.

I think that getting out of Canada was harder than any adjustment we will have to make here in India. We sold our house and put almost everything in storage. We carried eight suitcases with us on the trip and shipped a very few other things as well, but not much.

Bangalore, India

We have arrived at the beginning of Monsoon Season, so there has been rain most days, but also lots of sun. We’re living in a hotel until our house is ready. We’ll be here another two weeks or so.
It’s beautiful here, and we’re very happy :)

Bangalore, India