Saturday, July 29, 2017

New Delhi Tour

On Saturday morning, the school treated us to a brief tour of New Delhi. It was great to move beyond the school walls and see some of city. It gave us enough of a taste to get out and see some more.

Salt March
Salt March

Strike up another victory for colonialism. Yay! {sarcasm}. You could call this the Dandi Salt Party instead of the Boston Tea Party.

"The Salt March, also known as the Dandi March and the Dandi Satyagraha, was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial Indiainitiated by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to produce salt from the seawater in the coastal village of Dandi, as was the practice of the local populace until British officials introduced taxation on salt production, deemed their sea-salt reclamation activities illegal, and then repeatedly used force to stop it. The 24-day march began from 12 March 1930 and continued until 6 April 1930 as a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly, and it gained worldwide attention which gave impetus to the Indian independence movement and started the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement." 


Indian Government

"The Secretariat Building or Central Secretariat is where the Cabinet Secretariat is housed, which administers the Government of India. Built in the 1910s, it is home to some of the most important ministries of the Cabinet of India. Situated on Raisina HillNew Delhi, the Secretariat buildings are two blocks of symmetrical buildings (North Block and South Block) on opposite sides of the great axis of Rajpath, and flanking the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House)."


Craft Museum

"The National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum(NHHM) commonly known as National Crafts Museum in New Delhi is one of the largest crafts museums in India.
It is run by the Ministry of TextilesGovernment of India. The museum is situated on the corner of the Pragati Maidan, facing the Purana Qila complex.[1]"

India Gate

"The India Gate, (originally called the All India War Memorial), is a war memorial located astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the ‘ceremonial axis’ of New Delhi, India, formerly called Kingsway. India Gate is a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War, in France, FlandersMesopotamiaPersiaEast AfricaGallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,300 servicemen's names, including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on the gate.[1][2] The India Gate, even though a war memorial, evokes the architectural style of the triumphal arch like the Arch of Constantine, outside the Colosseum in Rome, and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[1]"

Just some random images from the day...

Bureaucratic Blues - The FRRO

The Foreigners Regional Registration Office

On Friday, the family and I got to spend some quality time getting to know the bureaucratic side of India.

Please know that I'm not complaining when I write this as I found the process fascinating. There was, however, a lot of sweat and patience involved.

Step 1
It all started with us standing under a green canopy for over 30 minutes. We stood in line with mostly Africans and Asians although there were the Euro/North American contingent as well. Apparently, many Africans come to New Delhi for university. Fans blew hot air at us. We sweated and sweated some more basting in our own gravy. Finally we got to the front of the line to see...

Step 2
...a man and a woman at a desk. The woman looked over all of the paperwork that the school meticulously prepared. She then passed the paperwork on to the gentleman for...

...Step 3
He wrote a few details in a large ledger with yellowed paper with crinkled edges. The book must've been 4 inches thick.  I signed my name and he gave us a little piece of paper with "60 + 3" written on it.

Step 4
We were directed to a door that led inside to air conditioning. The security guard growled at everyone else but smiled and waved us through. Yay, white privilege {sarcasm - I detest this differential behaviour even though it benefits us}!

Step 5
We went to the waiting room of a typical institutional government office. Along one wall sat 7 men, each at a computer and all wearing a long sleeved blue shirt. Two offices with glass windows were at one end and another row of people - men and women here - lined the opposite wall. Orange chairs were scattered throughout. The day before, a cockroach scampered out from under one chair as a teacher sat down on it.

They were on #37 so we had some time to...

Step 6
...visit and visit some more. The kids played on their iPods with some new friends.

Step 7
#60 came just as I was dozing in my chair. I ran up and handed our paperwork to an elderly gentleman with distinguished greying hair. He flipped quickly from one page to the next; there appeared to be no rhyme nor reason to his flipping. Plus, there was no way he had time to read anything - he just flipped quickly and randomly through our stack of papers.

Finally, he slowly wrote a paragraph in neat printing and directed me to...

Step 8
...the Signing Authority office, which was one of the glass enclosed offices on the other side of the room. There, a man read it over, wrote a line, and signed it. He directed me to...

Step 9
...booth 'B' where I said "HI, HOW ARE YOU?" as friendly as I could. I tried that friendly greeting at every step but these were government employees who sat in this fluorescent purgatory pushing the same paperwork every day. Their minds were numbed from the simplicity of their work. They never looked up nor responded other than the odd grunt. This guy looked over the paperwork and then handed it to the guy next to him who...

Step 10
...entered details in to a computer. He then said "go to counter 5" for...

...Step 11
Here, another guy at a computer tapped away for a long time. He printed 4 pages, called "Kitch" and then said "go there" pointing to...

Step 12
...the Signing Authority again for the last signature that we needed.

The Final Product
With our paperwork completed, we headed to the vans to wait for the rest of our colleagues to be pin-balled around the room.

When we travel, we need to have these documents with us at all times. And, on the plus side, we get to do this every year! :)

It was 4.5 hours all told from the time we left the school until we returned and as monotonous as the process was, I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dangerous Monkeys, Shopping, Delhi Belly, the Privileged Bubble

Ayah & Dhobi

We came home yesterday and Sujata had the place clean up, beds made, cupboards all washed out and more. After a busy, jet lagged day, it was so nice to come home to a clean place.

And today is Thursday, which means our laundry is placed outside and Vineet will take care of the rest! We just needs some hangers and a steam iron and we're good to go.


When Sujata came to work, a huge monkey was sleeping outside on our staircase (we live on the top floor). It took over an hour for her to get by the sleeping simian.

The kids are freaked out now by the monkeys because we've heard some horror stories of how vicious they are and how they carry rabies.

I might buy a Monkey Whacking Stick (TM) and keep it in the staircase in case we need to chase them away.   It's not like it is Planet of the Apes - yet!?!?!

Medical Care

We had a presentation from the school's medical department yesterday. Wow, is all I can say!

They have a full time doctor on the premises and we can go to her anytime we need to. They'll take care of pretty much everything so we are well taken in that regard (and any regards when it comes to AES).

They gave us a rundown on how to stay healthy (drink lots, mosquito repellent, and if you can't boil it, cook it, peal it, or wash it then don't eat it). All vegetables and fruits must be washed in a bleach solution (or something similar) as human feces are often used as fertilizer. Yum!

After supper last night, I had a touch of the Delhi Belly - just a minor gastrointestinal adjustment to Asia. Kirsi woke up at 2:00 in the morning with the same thing but is fine now.

Shopping and Jamie Oliver's

The school took all of us newbie's on a shopping trip to Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj neighborhood. We finished off our shopping with a large group supper at Jamie's (as in Jamie Oliver) Italian restaurant. It was a great way to
relax and get to know the other new teachers.

But, the trip reminded me how much of a privileged bubble that we live in. We go from the very modern, beautiful AES campus and travel to a mall where you buy whatever it is that Louis Vuitton makes, Tommy Hilfiger clothes, Apple products, electronics, furniture, groceries, and then go to Starbucks for coffee.

But you see the real world on the van in-between locations.

Children sell flowers at red lights. Autos (tuk-tuks) and trucks and cars jostle for positions making a 3 lane road 5 lanes - the only rules are you have to honk a lot and 'he who has the bigger balls, goes first.' Drivers will stick their hands out the windows to signal people in the next lane that they're cutting in front. It all seems chaotic and rude for polite Canadian drivers but it works. There were signs, though, saying that this was a 'high collision' zone so drive safely.

The curbs are painted in alternate black and white rectangles. Speed bumps are called speed breakers. The foliage is beautiful and the humidity moisturizes your skin.

Kirsi and Aidan got a brief glimpse in to the real world. Kirsi asked "why do they honk so much?" The thing is, there weren't that many honks compared to other parts of the city or other parts of Asia where the horn is one of the most important parts of a vehicle.

We're looking forward learning more of the real world here. It'll happen soon enough but we need to make sure we're set as a family and that we're ready to for the start of school, which is not that far away now.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monkey attack, Maid & hired help, Food, and Day 1 in the Books

The doorbell rang this morning and a very shy, humble young man in his 20s introduced himself as Vineet. Vineet is our dhobi.

Every Monday and Thursday morning, we leave our laundry outside our door. Vineet takes and washes, irons, and folds the laundry and returns it to us by the end of the day.

Kirsi, Aidan, and I are having him do our laundry. Dana is doing her own. This service costs us $70 CDN/month.

For all of the sweating that we're going to do here, we feel it's worth it.

This afternoon, we met Sujata, who will be our maid. We had phoned her months ago while still living in Canada and arranged to hire her when we arrived in New Delhi.

She seems very nice and the family took to her immediately. She has worked for AES staff before so she knows the ins and outs of campus life.

Her main duties will be cooking and cleaning. She took cooking classes in Vietnamese, Thai, and Mediterranean cooking. She, of course, can cook Indian food as well. We gave her some rupees yesterday and she will buy all of the cleaning supplies (broom, mop, etc.) and "liquids".

It's going to be a busy year at school so having Sujata and Vineet help us at home will help to bring balance to our lives.

Kirsi and Aidan...
...have been troopers. We're all battling jet lag but they just keep on trucking. They love it here so far and both have said that it is better than they imagined it would be. They can't wait for school to start and are making friends already.

They were able to spend lunch and go on the campus tour with us. After that, they spent time with the other new hires' children in a room staffed by school EAs. They were just able to play, have fun, and get to know each other.

During one session, all of the children were outside running around having fun when a quick, monsoon rain hit. We look outside and everyone is under cover of the deluge except Aidan who is standing in the open getting soaked...and smiling.

Monkey Attack
After all of the sessions were done, I gave the kids the key to the apartment so they could go and rest while we took care of some business at school.

They were greeted by three monkeys who were blocking their path. A guard came along with a stick and started whacking at the monkeys. He finally chased them away so the kids could go back to their apartments.

Both Kirsi and Aidan are a little freaked out by our furry neighbours now.

School Food
Starting at 11:00, we had the best lunch ever at school. I talked to Viveet, the head of food services at the school and he said that everything is made from scratch. He oversees a staff of 60 who provide food for all of the students and staff.

We can even order food from him for ourselves. One staff member had him make supper for he and his family for their first month because it is so clean, healthy, tasty, and affordable.

It is not uncommon for parents of students to order large quantities of food (rice, meat dishes, breads) and pick it up at the end of the school day when they pick up their children.

If we wanted food, all we would have to do is email him what we want the day before and it will be waiting for us after school is done.

Both Kirsi and Aidan will have lunches at school this year. They'll accommodate Kirsi's gluten sensitivity.

The rest of our day revolved around quick introductions of all staff, a campus tour, and getting our school issued laptops. Dana got an iPad as well. MaBook Airs, y'all! Nice!!

I was able to meet the tech team and immediately liked each and every one of them. They are very qualified people. I had met one of them when I had visited for a basketball tournament during our time in Sri Lanka and he is still working there.

Jet Lag
I was supposed to stay awake until 8 or 9 to help combat jet lag but I fell asleep a little after 6 and awoke at 12. Now it's 2:23 AM so I'm going to hit Publish and try to sleep a little.

Thanks for all of the comments on Facebook. I'll try to respond to them all but apologize if I don't get to them all as it's a little busy.

Hope all of our friends and family around the world are doing GREAT!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Day of Firsts at an International School - Geckos, monkeys, and humidity oh my!

We arrived in New Delhi late last night to a warm welcome from the admin and support team from the American Embassy School New Delhi. It was nice meeting the people that were helping us get here in person. They've been very efficient and helpful in navigating the sea of paperwork of applications and visas.

Jet lag had me up at 4:00 in the morning and I immediately checked out the Hindi Devotional playlist on Google Music. I'm really digging the mellow, groove. Click on the link, turn up the music, and keep reading. Aidan is really digging the music, as well.

So far, it's been a day+ of firsts.

  1. Kirsi and Aidan's first long international flight as independent children. They did a great job of navigating all of the steps involved in international travel and are pros now.
  2. Our new apartment is really nice - a video tour and pictures to come. Kirsi "loves our apartment, it's awesome."
  3. A gecko on the balcony at 1:30 in the morning sent the kids screaming to the safety of the apartment. Pigeons sent Kirsi screaming to the apartment, too.
  4. Rhesus monkeys (we think - 1 male, 1 female, and 1 baby) on our roof. The male walked right above Derwin's head and didn't pay him any attention.
  5. 27 degrees Celsius and 94% humidity at 7:10 in the morning.
  6. 70 Air Quality Index, which is considered to be Moderate according to the AQI. Just for reference sake, Regina is usually around 15 on a bad day.
  7. We are already unpacked and settled that way. We still have items to purchase but that'll happen soon enough.
Our day starts at 11:00 and involves lunch, a campus tour, and an orientation to life in New Delhi.

I got POOPED on at Jurong Bird Park & Mass - Singapore Day 3

So, while the kids were feeding lories and lorikeets nectar from a cup at Jurong Bird Park a bird swooped overhead and dropped a liquid po...