Education is a fundamental children’s right as per the UN convention. I remember back then in 1989 when it got ratified and the public schools in Geneva all had activities going around what are to be children irrevocable rights, and mind you back then Switzerland was not even part of the United Nations but they wanted us kids to care about our own rights as kids.
Yes education should be a right that should be respected, except it is not in many place, and even if some claim they are giving access to education in the country, capitalism has turned this venerable institution into a massive business in India, those with no money should be lucky if they have access to a government school at all and who care if the teachers show up at all, and those with some moolah will find themselves into a cut throat competition to get their kids admitted in what is perceived as the best school around. Newspapers regularly run articles campaign listing the “top 10 schools in town” leading to a craze among parents to get their kids admitted there and only there, who care if Junior needs to travel 3 hours by bus to get there…they want what is best for their kid academically. Except no one has any idea what are the real criteria that decide what school makes them better than another, the newspaper don’t say it.
My area has one of these hyped schools, and if you have a toddler in playschool you start getting all the rundown on this or that school and how it’s better, and how though it is to get admitted there. You have well wishing moms that warn you that your own kiddo should start being drilled about admission interview processes to get a chance to get admitted some place decent. you have the playschool teachers that will urge you to speak only English at home to maximise your child’s chance at getting admitted in any schools. And you have the endless rumors about fees, donations, and what it takes to get into the crown jewel of all schools in our neighbourhood. I heard them all: you need to live or work in the proper district, otherwise you need to prove your connections to this and that MLA, you need to call them over and over again to know when they will release forms. I heard about the fees, the deposits, which is higher than the other schools…And over the month it led me to think, is the school really as good as it claims to be? Can a school that wrap its own admission procedure into a shroud of secrecy good? frankly where all the other mothers would pray and wish to get their kid admitted there simply because they HEARD it’s good rang alarm bells in my head.
In India private schools are after only one thing: your money, and they want good return on the money they earn, namely they want enough State toppers to graduate from their institution so that they can brag about it and attract more people who will think that the amount of 90+ percenters the school produced is a mark of quality…That however doesn’t impress me much. The ability to memorize a text book and spit it back in the exam is not a sign of intelligence, it’s a sign of good memory, a performing monkey trick, and my daughter is no monkey and I don’t want her to be.
So once I got the name of all the schools in the neighbourhood through the grapevine, and their admission paper release dates, I went on radio silence, I went looking at their websites, because you can get a feel of the school by what they show on their page, the tone is set there, they all boast world class facilities, that’s a marketing gimmick, what varies when you know how to read between the lines, and look at pictures carefully is what the put more emphasis on. There are those that will show you kids seated at their desk on every page, boast of their scientific excellence…if your kid is a quiet type that enjoys sitting and listening it’s the school for you, if your kids is like my daughter, these schools that boast academic perfection with zero emphasis on anything else are the ones you should put as your last resort.
I will not name the school I got her admitted into, let’s say that it was the first one to release their forms in the area and was all along one that triggered my curiosity because they put more pictures of kids engaged in cultural events, sports events and art events than they did in putting kids sitting at their desk. I went visiting it first of course I asked the right questions about what their approach to education was, the reply was “all rounded” and I only got to learn more with the brochure they gave us with the admission form.
In India you have an alphabet soup of boards, the one from that school is one that follows the most sought after ICSE board until 10th Standard and then go by the International Cambridge board for the next 2…in a word that is what is referred as “International Schools” in India, except that in the case of that one, it doesn’t have the usual crazy price tag the other have.
Of all the schools in the area it’s the one with the most transparent admission process: first come serve for the admission forms, and final decisions made during the “interaction date”, the fees are displayed on the official board in the school and when and how to pay them as well. to us that was a bonus, so we then decided to fill the form and go ahead and withhold visiting any other schools until we knew about that one.
We got our interaction appointment in December, a process known in other schools as “Admission Interview”. Now I heard the good the bad and the ugly on these interviews, some schools apparently quiz the crap out of a toddler to decide if the toddler is future state topper material, some are more interested in what the parents are like, some want to see what both parents and kids are like…but all in all that is a process you can’t avoid and it’s stressful.
We had no idea what to expect, nobody tells you that, and we were a bit freaked out because Ishita is a bit speech delayed. What if they asked her to recite some poems, quiz her on shape and colours, would they notice she doesn’t speak in very long sentences? Would they decide she is unfit for the school? What if she suddenly decide she doesn’t want to talk and play shy…gasp!
It’s the day before the interview that I decided that the best bet was to just let it be, be ourselves, and see what would come from it.
We arrived 20 minutes early, and ended up waiting one hour past our set appointment because a pushy mom apparently managed to get in front of everybody and the person in charge of ushering people through the principal’s office doors lost us in the middle of it all. During that time Ishita lost patience and started to fuss, you see she was more interested into seeing what was behind the door next to the principal’s one, namely the art room, and a teacher decided to show it to her seeing how she would constantly peek through it, she was then happy, but done with the whole thing and wanted to go home. DH managed to get us back into the waiting line scolding the security guard in charge for forgetting about us. And in the whole 90 minutes we waited there I saw parents coming in with well behaved kiddos, fancy educational toys to keep them busy and parents constantly drilling their kids about colours, shapes and what not…the point at which I started worrying even more, because I am of the class of parents that think a 3.5 year old should have fun and play rather than impress by reciting their ABC perfectly.
Our admission interview came, we first apologised profusely to the principal for entering her office late, turned out she knew all along and apologised to us on behalf of the officer in charge who didn't do his job well enough. She then asked Ishita what was her name and oh miracle Ishita felt like telling her, on a very shy voice but she did. Then she asked me where she was going to nursery class, and what they were learning there, simply put she wanted to know if as a parent I was involved in my child’s life. I told her the name and the fact that at the moment they were learning the alphabet and pre-reading skills at which point the principal said “Oh so she will already be ahead in Jr Kg, because in this school we think kids her age need to socialise, and we don’t really put emphasis on writing until the second half of Sr Kg as such”. And at this point I am pretty sure the principal saw relief illuminate my face, because I kid you not inside I was resisting the urge to hug her. But because that would not have been proper to do so I told her that I was really happy to hear that. She then asked me what prompted me to choose to apply to that school, and in all honesty and simplicity I told her I like the fact they value sports and arts and cultural event as I wanted an all rounded education for my daughter.
At which point Ishita noticed there was some butterflies stickers on the principal’s desk and said “Look butterflies!!!” the principal then tried to get her to talk and asked her if she wanted to sing her a song, but Ishita got shy again so she just offered Ishita a candy and then asked my Husband what was his day like and how much time he spent with Ishita despite his being an office goer. And that concluded the interview, Ishita very shy asked for another candy saying “candy please” while the principal told us to go back to the reception for the rest of the process. At this point we had no idea how it went or if we were admitted. But the minute we entered the receptionist’s desk she told us that all we had to do now was to go to accounting and pay the fee to get her admitted…simple.
DH and I were relieved to have had her admitted in a school that is fitting her personality and be spared the hassle of going over the admission process in another school, we paid the fee, and were happy.
A few days later with the admission process looming around for all, I had the playground moms all asking me what was my plan for the next academic year and if I had narrowed it down as far as my preferences were, I was happy to announce I was done and had her admitted in the school we picked first…only to have them to question my sanity! And asking me why I rushed for that one without even giving the big hyped about so called top school in the area, or even the second “best”, when I told them I was not interested in shady admission process, MLA recommendation, hefty fees or academic supremacy they seriously thought I was disturbed. I told them I was happy with a school that think painting and taking part in sporting activities was as valued as math and physics, especially with a daughter who is far more the physical/creative type than the scientist type. They all admitted that it was indeed one of the good school but less of a brand name than the others.
And it showed once more that all it boils down to in the middle class segment that can afford it, that schools just like what you wear is all about brand rather than what suits the kid. Most of the parents in my area want to admit their kids in a school that make them parent look good and give them something to brag about, while all that DH and I wanted was a school that was going to suit our daughter’s needs. And till date we still speculate that it is probably what got us the admission into that school, the principal was far more interested in what us parents were like and what our motivations for enrolling her into that school was than actually drilling Ishi on her skills. And that if you ask me, is the way it should be.
A while back I was writting about your typical Indian bathroom. Which is pretty much just a room that gets wet all over and is a pain to use and keep clean. The one we had in our old rooftop apartment in Bangalore was the type were you could not even separate with a shower curtain. The ones we had in Navi Mumbai and in the 2011 Bangalore flat were at least having a slight, albeit ridiculous dividing line in the way of a difference of 5mm in height between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom. In Bangalore, we had 3 bathrooms and one was pretty much a storage room/guest toilet. To hide the mess, we did buy a shower curtain. The mess stayed hidden in the shower area and the bathroom remained usable for guests. If we stayed longer we would have upgraded all 3 bathrooms with curtains. But, if you remember well, we had money issues back then too.
The previous flat here in Mumbai had the coolest western style bathrooms with a wet and dry area properly segregated with glass doors and a sink sitting on a counter so we could keep our toilettrie where they belonged instead of cramming them in always too tiny wardrobes.
No such luck in this new flat however. We are back to old fashioned Indian style wet rooms and all three look like this:
This is the one that is attached to the study and is now DH’s bathroom, when I took this pic we were just moved in and still waiting on the plumber and electricians to fix the “common bath” that is now my bathroom. The third wet room is in Ishita’s room. DH and I preferred the layout of the bathroom less room for our own use. Because Ishita is not going to use the shower on her own for years to come, that master bath has become the official storage room where the old shower curtain we had all along went back to hiding some of our mess.
As you can see, it’s a room where there is no distinction between wet and dry, other than the same old 5mm difference in floor levels. you shower in there without a curtain and it is guaranteed that you’ll have water absolutely everywhere.
The first thing we asked the carpenter to do was to put shower curtain rods everywhere (they are basically regular curtain rods because the spring extendable ones you find in the west are very hard to find in India). We also bought wire racks to mount on the walls to store our stuff as the typical Indian bathroom will not let you have a wooden cabinet unit under the sink and usually lacks storage nooks too. These have window sills you can use to put your shampoo bottles on in the shower corner but that is about it. So here is what we ended up doing:
We first bought wall mountable wire racks to store our bathroom essentials as there is nowhere else to put things. If you look closely, you'll notice that even the soap dispenser is not standing too well on the edge of the bassin.
Once the water heater and plumbing in my shower got fixed, I needed a shower curtain. Because, if a single grown up use an Indian bathroom to take a shower you splash a little water all over. Throw a toddler into the equation and you have Tsunami Grade flood on your hand every single time your little sweetie uses it. Making it dangerous to both the parent and the kiddo as it gets slippery. So here is how my shower now looks:
As you can see I made full use of the window area to hold all the shower essentials, and we were fortunate that in this flat the owner thought to put some towel rods. We won't have to try to find a way for them not to get wet on the ground while we shower. And if you think I am making this up, we had to find ways for them not to get wet in all the previous wet rooms and the tiny hooks on the door can’t hold a towel long enough half of the time which result in said towel to inevitably fall on the ground and soak up the wet puddles left by your shower use. And to those Indians reading this now wondering why I shower and not use a bucket…personal preferences cannot be discussed. But I will say that bucket and mug use do not result in less splashing, in fact in all the instances of me, DH or relatives bathing desi style we actually ended up with wetter and more slippery bathrooms than with the shower head.
Anyway notice my pretty pink curtain? I opened it just for the picture. It looks like this the rest of the time:
Since my bathroom is also the common bathroom, I don’t need my guests to have a full view of my wet quarters and choice of shampoos and soaps or a look at my loofah. Ideally they should not have a view of my deodorant and face cream either because in Switzerland it is considered bad taste to let your guest see your personal care items. And I’d like to honour that as much as I can in my home. DH’s bathroom is still curtain less, it’s the next one to get an update but DH isn’t particularly caring about his bathroom getting splashed all over, he pretty much uses it only to shower, and it can remain wet without him caring or having to bother stepping into wet puddles when he go use the toilet and then leave dark footprints all over the house as a result, because he actually like MY bathroom for his other bathroom businesses, and thanks to my little improvement mine stays dry almost all the time. The only exception is when the maid washes it and still doesn’t get that she can use the mop broom to do so, and instead does what every maid will do, pour a bucket or two of water and then use a plastic broom to push the 8+ litres of water down the shower drain, never mind it doesn’t clean well and that all it does is wasting water, that’s what she does despite my having told her a million time not to do it. She was even doing it in my old bathroom with wet and dry areas. So I made my peace with that, refuse to go into endless battles about it, and just drag the mop broom in there after she left to mop it clean and dry.
This little post is just to show that even if you are used to practical bathrooms and inherit a crappy one in India you can still work with it. The curtain rod installed by the carpenter will not cost you more than 1 or 200 rupees, and the shower curtain I have in there did cost me 599 rupees with the hooks. It’s washable, and can prevent a nasty fall due to slippery wet surface.So by all mean a fortune would it be just to prevent me or my daughter from sustaining potentially life threatening injuries.
I’m a bit under the weather these days with the weirdest case of cold or rather non-cold I have ever had. I sore throat, a mild fever on occasion and body aches, but nothing that degenerated into a full blown nasty old, just a persistent numbness that just makes me want to do nothing at all and rest. To top it DH is away to Bangalore for 2 weeks which means whatever rest I can get I will take it and blogging hasn’t been really on my mind, other than in the fact I have tons of great ideas but zero energy to materialise them into posts.
So since I’m lazy mode but still think updating my blog is important I’ll go on describing my new Kitchen a little. I promised a photo tour of my new place, and I guess it is better to do it one room at a time.
Now I know I did a post on kitchens in India a while ago, where I described all my kitchens over the year and you can go read it here.
As mentioned in that post the previous kitchen was my favourite, mostly because it had loads of natural light, over the months I spent in it I wasn’t a huge fan of the glossy off white marble tiles in there because when you cook in a kitchen it gets messy, and that kitchen with all the magazine perfect look and gloss was actually making you feel like you committed a crime actually using it to cook food, and there wasn’t much storage space considering the size.
Now here is one pic of my new Kitchen:
It’s a bit dark I’ll give you that, and that board on the window in the back is now gone but I haven’t taken a new picture. But the floor is a old fashioned grey marble with not one single tile matching the other that is also matte, the spills don’t show, and that kitchen is slightly narrower than the one in the previous flat and a tad longer, and backs quite a few more cabinets. First there are all the loft cabinets designed only for one thing: storing the never used junk away, you find these a lot in old fashioned Indian kitchen, they kind of replace the basement cell in Swiss apartments. Then there is the fact that on the stove side of the kitchen there are little cabinets under the counters as they would be too deep and unpractical, I have one that was to put the gas cylinder that we use to store the dog food, the cylinder goes under the stove slab, and one deep cabinet in which I dumped things I use but not often. The counter on the other side is a narrow one, namely used to put the cooked dish or stuff you need while preparing the food, and the cabinets below the counter are less deep and therefore far more user friendly to put pots and pans. Above the narrow counter are one class door display for the plates and glasses, two wooden cabinets to put food stuff (they aren’t full yet) and two secret triangular shaped cabinets to fill the tiny space on bot side of the unit/ The stove side has 2 big cabinets for food stuff, and a drainage cabinet above the sink, which I do not use to drain plates and glasses because my Aquaguard unit is underneath and it would not even really drain properly, so I use this one for all my cutting boards, steel plates and bowls.
The fridge doesn’t fit in the kitchen because we bought a wider than average fridge when we replaced ours last year, so the space for the fridge now looks like this:
The cheap metallic shelf we bought in 2010 when we were living in Navi Mumbai to store DH’s old never used books in the storage room and later moved into the kitchen in Bangalore to move back as a bookshelf in the hallway in the previous place is now back in the Kitchen, a bit more rickety after so many moves but still standing and by far the most versatile 3500 rupees we spent. Now I’ll give you that all that is now on the shelf could have fit anywhere else in the kitchen if I decided to seriously cram the cabinets, but I’m all for practicality in a kitchen and I don’t see the point in crowding a cabinet unit or a counter if I can avoid it and since that fridge space would remain unused for it’s intent purpose why not use it for something else?
This kitchen has also two sinks, for me that’s easy to figure out how to use them: Put the heavy pans in one, the breakables in the other when there are dishes. Use one to store dirty dishes and the other to wash vegetables…In Switzerland with sink drain plugs that would have meant fill one with warm soapy water to wash the dishes, and fill the second one with cold water to rinse the dishes before placing them on the draining platform. But these sinks here have no drain plugs. In fact that is the first time I have seen the oh so familiar to me two sink setting. My maid is totally clueless about them, she hasn’t even figured out she can transfer all the dirty dishes to one, soap them all up and place them in the second sink before rinsing…oh well!
You might have noticed in the first picture that one door is opened on an area covered with glass windows. This was originally an utility balcony that has been converted by the owner into a utility veranda, in an effort to protect the washing machine from the elements:
In India the utility space is almost present in every apartment or house, this is the laundry corner, in most place that’s a balcony, in Chennai it’s often a huge area, in Mumbai it’s tiny and in our old flat it was wedged in the hallway in a special enclosure. If your utility room is a balcony or a veranda like above it’s also becomes what would be known as the broom closet back home where you dump all the cleaning supplies and tools. In this one DH and I plan to get some small wall mounted racks to put things like mops and sponges and detergents to keep them organized as we don’t want it to be an eye sore that is seen at the end of the kitchen corridor. Right now I have to keep reminding my maid that NO I don’t want the brooms and mops dumped in one of the 3 bathrooms as we use these for different things and I refuse to shower facing a plastic broom or a dirty bucket or a mop, but hopefully she will get it one day (funny because she was good about that in the other flat and this one has even more utility space).
That kitchen is not looking as fashionable as the old one, but what it lacks in IT quotient it makes up in practicality, my guess is that the owner made quite a few upgrade, she even put lights under the above counter cabinet to make sure we can properly see what we are doing on the working plan. It’s also a kitchen that doesn’t make you feel guilty about cooking, it will look messy after baking or making a full meal, all kitchen do, but won’t make you feel like you ruined it the way you would uglify a super model sending her in stilettos perfect hair do, impeccable make up and a satin gown to run a marathon…if I can make an analogy. It’s probably a kitchen that would make a designer cringe, but it’s a kitchen in which I actually feel very comfortable working.
Ishita is at that age where animals are starting to be really interesting to her, and we’ve been talking about going to a zoo for a while. Upon hearing constant negative feedback about the Byculla zoo in Mumbai we ruled it out completely and decided to drive to Pune this past Sunday. DH says he enjoy driving on the Mumbai Pune Expressway, and to be fair it’s scenic enough, you get to see the hills forming the Western Ghats, this Sunday they looked burnt and dry as the green magic from the monsoon generally leaves when Winter comes, giving them an arid dessert like look:
We left early on Sunday morning, and the drive was pleasant and fast, Ishita even dosed off for a while. We arrived at around 9am to Pune and headed to a friend’s place for breakfast before heading to the zoo after he gave us some directions to head there. Despite clear directions we faced the eternal Indian problem of getting lost as even in cities you won’t see much in way of road signs even if the place you are heading is a zoo that is clearly a touristic attraction. So I whipped out my smart phone to turn on the GPS to confirm what DH thought: we were on the wrong way. The problem persisted even with the help of technology as for same reason Google maps doesn’t list the Rajiv Ghandi Zoo in Pune, or any zoo at all. So we ended up asking directions a million time, with lot of locals apparently flummoxed by the fact we were asking for a zoo they probably didn’t know existed and Ishita was starting to loose patience as she was really into seeing some animals and snakes. We finally got pointed in the right direction and the GPS mystery explained itself as we passed the zoo…Google Maps only listed a vague “snake park” which is one of the attraction inside the zoological garden. Parking the car went somewhat easy, getting tickets was fast, and passing security just a tad too slow for Ishita who couldn't;t wait for the cop to take DH’s cigarettes away and marched forward leaving me panicky for a few seconds seeing the crowd and Ishita gone, fortunately she didn’t make it far and the cop let me run after her first before telling me where ladies should go get their purse checked. Ishita was already afraid not seeing us anywhere and the zoo experience started on the wrong foot for her.
Knowing that the Pune zoo has banned plastic and ask people to pay deposits on plastic bottles to prevent them from polluting the park I didn’t pack anything, Ishita’s water bottle is made of aluminium and was allowed inside without me paying anything. By then Ishita was clinging dear to DH and not too interested in looking around.
We headed to the snake park first knowing our reptile loving daughter would be cured of her bad mood instantly, but she ignored the monkey’s pit on the way there.
The snake park delivered, Ishita was exited to see crocodiles, turtles and snakes, they are her favourite and she has stuffed toys at home representing them. DH and I saw the snake park in Chennai in the past, and the Pune one is similar, though between the two I found the one in Chennai giving far more information about snakes and the species found in India than its Pune counterpart.
Here are some pictures I took there:
After getting Ishi back into a good mood with the reptiles we went seeing the other part of the zoo. Now like many zoos in India they only have indigenous species, don’t expect to see giraffes and zebras like you would in other big names zoos abroad. And I actually LOVE that part, I never really like seeing exotic animals in the zoos I visited in Switzerland, they felt out of place. The Pune zoo also has big enclosures that truly mimics the animal’s habitat, with the result that like us you might not get too lucky at seeing a lot of them, Ishita was a bit disappointed not seeing them clearly. We saw a porcupine, the bears were sleeping in the distance and both the white tiger and the orange one were sleeping in the back of their enclosure, DH and I could make out their presence in the tall grass knowing what to look for, Ishita could not, same with the resident leopard. By then Ishita was tired and not interested anymore so we called it quits not bothering to see the few remaining animals. The zoo normally has electric cars that makes it convenient for people with small children to roam around, but that day the service was not available so we were left walking with Ishita in our arms (she is heavy for such a little peanut that she is). The zoo doesn’t have a whole lot of animals but lots of trees and greenery, making it a great picnic spot from what we saw, and thanks to the plastic ban, it’s one of these few places I visited that is not littered with bottles and chips wrapper, the only food allowed inside should be wrapped in paper or reusable plastic boxes that I suspect people have to pay a deposit for at the entrance.
Here are the pictures I took of the zoo part :
The porcupine was staying in the shade as it had just been served some fruits by the zoo staff and was more interested in eating than walking around.
Some spotted deer I had to zoom on with my camera, enjoying the natural shade from trees, this was the maximum zoom on my camera, if it gives you an idea of how far they were.
This is a kind of big antelope called Sambar.
We drove back to Mumbai and Ishita feel asleep in her car seat, by the time we reached home I realised I was coming down with something, I had a sore throat for a day or two before, but was suddenly feeling body aches. I spent all of Monday with fever and feeling numb while Ishita was at home due to a school holiday that wasn’t a holiday for DH.
The other day I decided to make a pizza myself from scratch at home, including the base, mostly because I am getting sick of having to exclusively depend on some big name franchises to get one, especially since I find them oily, and not so tasty to begin with. And before I continue any further, I don’t care about the “You should have used whole wheat instead of white flour” and other health tips, so pretty much keep them for yourself. It’s not like we are eating Pizza everyday, and where I come from they are still pretty healthy despite using a white base. Granted whole wheat is healthier and I agree to that, there are dishes that just taste better without, the pizza of my childhood included.
Now if you live in Switzerland you actually don’t have to prepare it from scratch, because supermarket chains have come up with the pre-cooked pizzas, the base is pre-cooked, the toping on top raw and sold in the fridge section rather than the freezer one, meaning these are fresh and won’t keep more than a day or two in your fridge at home, you still need to bake them for about 15 minutes to enjoy them, the base is thicker than what you get at a traditional Italian restaurant, softer too but still far thinner than what Pizza Hut or Domino’s offer (both franchises have very limited success in my country anyway).
Now that I am done giving you the rundown on Swiss pizzas, back to mine, if you please. I have in the past tried the store bought pizza bases you find in supermarkets in India…simply put, they are DISGUSTING…there said it, half of the time I ended with a base that had a sweet after taste, and in any case they turn rock hard solid in the oven after just a few minutes, long before the toping you put on top is cooked enough, and it usually disintegrate on the plate with the topping sliding right off the base.
Making my own pizza dough was something I wanted to do again (I already did a few times in the past) for a long time, but never really got the energy or time to do it, to be frank Pizza became synonym of “Easy way out” on a hell day and making you base and topic and baking it and making a side of garlic bread again from scratch is anything but so.
We had a cold spell hitting Mumbai last week and this is the kind of weather that makes me crave taste from home even more, in a few words, perfect time for a home made pizza, ours turned out to be huge as the recipe I have for pizza dough could easily make two medium ones, but to do that would have meant me freezing half of the dough before letting the yeast do all of it’s yeast-y magic and I didn’t think of planning. I had a pack of frozen chicken bacon in the freezer left, grated pizza cheese in the fridge, all I had to do was make a tomato sauce from scratch, slice up some mushrooms and voila!
Because my daughter actually loves the garlic bread that comes with a pizza more than the pizza itself I googled it and found an easy recipe to follow and we had our meal. DH is usually not that much of a pizza fan, but he ate a whole slice this time around, Ishita did the same, if that is any indicator of taste. The garlic bread is something DH insisted having in his tiffin the next day and what looked like a ridiculously huge amount when I baked it was actually so good it barely lasted 24 hours.
Here is how I make my pizza dough:
2.5 cups of white flour (maida)
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
7g dry yeast (with the yeast sold in India you might need to double that)
2 tsp sugar
1) In a mixing bowl mix the flour and salt and make a well in the middle. Dilute the yeast in a little warm water along with the sugar and pour into the well, cover the yeasty water with some flour and let it foam. Your yeast and flour will be ready to receive more water and be knead into a dough when the yeast water foams and oozes out of the flour covered well.
2) Add water gradually and knead to form a smooth elastic dough, once you achieve that consistency knead and fold the dough for 5-7 minutes then cover with a cotton cloth and let it rise for about an hour. if you plan to freeze half of it for later do it BEFORE you let the dough rise.
3) Pre-heat your oven at 220 degrees Celsius WITH the tray on which you plan to put the pizza on once the dough has risen, knock back your dough and roll out to a 5mm thick circle.
Once the oven is hot, take the pizza tray out with oven mits and place your dough on the hot tray. Immediately cover with your choice of topping starting with the tomato sauce (store bought pasta sauce will work great if you don’t want to make your own), then the vegetables or other topping you want on it, then sprinkle some grated cheese on top. I don’t use that much. On the pizza you are seeing in the picture which is a large one we used half a pack of grated pizza cheese from “Go Cheese), Add some toping on top of the cheese, in our case this was only the bacon and olives that went on top.
4) Bake your pizza for 15-20 minutes until the crust is turning golden brown and the cheese bubbling. Now the reason I must not stress enough that the tray on which you place your raw dough must be HOT is that the fresh toping on top of the pizza will prevent the dough from really cooking in the center of the pizza if you don’t make sure the base is getting some heat from the plate it has been placed on. If you place your pizza dough on a cold tray and put everything in the oven the topping and exposed crust will be overcooked and taste horrible by the time the center stops being gummy. The reason why in traditional Italian clay or brick ovens the pizza is placed directly on the stone bottom I must add.
The garlic bread recipe I used can be found here
I was planning to blog about a lighter thing today, but my mind is racing with ideas and thought of what India is awakening to these days. I blogged about that horrible rape a lot, the fact is that it has raised a lot of questions within India. And It would be actually more accurate that probably for the first time since India won it’s independence people are back to questioning in huge amounts rather than let yet another calamity slide away.
In the 9 years I have lived there I have never seen the media and people question and debate what would have been just another brutal rape a few years ago, forgotten just after a few hours with people moving on with their lives. The girl the Times of India nicknamed “Nirbhaya” which translates as the fearless one or the brave one, is still on everybody’s lips and make ink flows. For the first time since I am in India I see people willing to take over the fight she started by not going down easy. She may have lost her life, but so far her spirit still lives, weeks after her death and I fervently hope her spirit will remain in peoples memory for a while.
Her brutal assault and rape has left none insensitive, from the nincompoops that still want to blame her from what happened to her, to those waking up from a slumber and demanding answers from their governments, to the protests and clashes between police forces and peaceful protesters it sparked has raised a lot of points pertinent and less pertinent.
Two of these being repression and individualism.
These two are in fact at the center of an identity turmoil India is finding itself in. Some said India is sexually repressed and that it is the reason why rapes occur more often here. Some blamed the Western individualistic culture for what happened. But the way I see it, India is not just sexually repressed, it’s so in a wider social way.
It is a country that despite calling itself a Democracy still has a strong Feudal mind-set. It is hierarchized and divided into communities that stick together and live side by side but without really seeing an interest into mixing with one another or understanding one another…Bird of a feather flock together the proverb says. Politicians divide these to rule which creates even more tensions. it’s a country where the community to which you belong defines you instead of you bringing something to the community as to define it. Over the year I have heard various statements of “In our community we do this and that that way because that’s what we do” without people really knowing why they really do it for, they just know that if they don’t they will have the disapproval of some elders for not following rituals to the dots. I had friends telling me that they didn’t mind the fact meat came from killing animals and even said they were curious about trying to eat some meat but that because they were from this and that community they could not because “it’s not done in our community” always with a sense of fear that one Aunty will find out spread the word and they would loose their place in said community being a pariah of some kind.
I’ve heard and read countless time how the West, the Evil moral less West has no values, no sense of community and promote individualism. These statements of course come from people that have no idea what the so called West (which apparently includes anything European and American without any idea about the fact we are speaking about different countries and cultures within that group) is all about. I come from the “West” I travelled across Europe, and North Africa for that matter (but that’s another topic). We have communities, we have morals, and we have different cultural practices, we just value the individual within a group as much as we value the community. The freedom of being of one person is as important as the freedom of the whole group, it is recognized that you can be who you are as you are and still belong to a community without people sending you into exile for not following every single traditions. Of course it doesn’t always go smoothly, we have tensions just the same, but I’ve seen far less politians playing on them to divide in order to rule back home than what I see here.
Back home people would say I wish I could do that longing for better skills or better determinations. In India I heard a lot of “I wish I could do that but I can’t because it’s not accepted in my community”
I see symptoms of this social repression everywhere though, the West might be blamed for being individualistic, but I have never seen so much of it transpiring in India: It’s people buying a flat in a big residential complex that will change the size of their windows without care of what it could do to the structure of the building (Go drive to the NRI complex in Navi Mumbai if you don’t believe me), the one that think he is such a VIP in one building that he can transgress Housing Cooperative rules by parking his car in no parking zones, abuse the security staff for telling him to move his car, the one that is just too good to have the same main door as the other flats on the floor and will change it into a lavish over the top one and possible break the lobby’s marble to add his own. It’s the one who will pimp his car so much that if he decides he wants green headlights despite the law saying otherwise he will get it and bribe every policemen pointing that out to him. It’s the idea that just because you do thing that way you should continue to do so even if what you like to do is throwing garbage out of your window and who cares if it falls 18 floor down on the head of the person that lives on the ground floor and was lounging on their balcony when you decided to throw potato peels out clearly being above using a dustbin like everybody else. It’s the idea that just because who you are you can push, bite, belittle and insult anybody you deem below you. In the evil West we call it lack of civism and lack of consideration for others. In India I’m seeing it as an outlet for repression. It doesn’t make it better, but the fact is that your community define what your status should be what type of wedding you should have, what type of amount is appropriate to shell to organize said wedding, what type of food shall be on your plate, what type of job is suitable, what type of schools your kids should go to, where you should hang out, what you should read in public, what you should wear…without much attention about what YOU as a human being and individual want to be that there are some things that are bound to go overboard where the community is not having too many rules for you to adhere to.
India is probably in that awkward phase we would call teenagehood in the lie of one human being torn between what her parents are telling her to do and the possibilities ahead of her and the choices she will inevitably have to make, choice that in the end will be hers and hers alone. The teenagehood period is stretching to it’s end and with the recent event I have the feeling we are witnessing an India slowly coming of age, into the grown up world realising that now is the time to make some choices, changes that will transform her identity forever, faced with the hard decision of figuring what to retain from her parents and what to acquire on her own, and where the boundaries are lying.
Is the Western model of individualism as evil as mom and dad said? Is their cultural heritage all worth sticking to? India grew up in one model, embraced the other in a mindless way without thinking too much about what was good or bad about it and now find herself having to sort things out, the old generation will urge her to go back to simpler times regulated by traditions nobody wanted to question too much, and her peer will urge her to embrace modernity in its integral form…If only it was so simple, the truth is that there is no right or wrong here, there are only choice one can live comfortably with for the years to come to be made, and it always end up being about balance.
And this is this balance India is now trying to find.
According to some backward government officials and enlightened beings I won’t fail to mention before I start.
India has had people stating the most ridiculous reason as to why rape occur in the country, and if you are not living here or reading the paper you might even wonder if they aren’t made up, I assure you they are not, and I am going to list some of the ones that sprouted in the papers recently in the wake of the Delhi gang rape. As a prelude to what will follow, here is one that is rather infuriating and prompted me to write the blog post about stopping to blame the west. Because you see this smarty pant actually stated quite seriously that crimes against women occur only in “India” but not in “Bharat”. Bharat being the traditional rural apparently so righteous India. What is ridiculously funny if it wasn’t angering is that all the solutions to crime against women I’ll list below have been cooked up by people living in “Bharat” or close to it, where let’s remember rape do NOT occur in the first place (yeah right!)
- Chowmein cause hormonal imbalance that leads to rape, I went over that one in a previous blog post you can read here. And apparently an assortment of other junk food stuff as well, the only way to be morally pure is to eat dal-sabzi-roti???
- Bengal’s CM, a woman I might add, blamed rape on the fact that men and women interacted too freely…if we read between the lines, that means we need to segregate men and women and prohibit interaction…darn considered that we are like every other living species on this planet driven by an urge to perpetuate our species I wonder how that will be the solution by repressing natural instincts. But hey since men misbehave in India but not in Bharat, I think we should let them stay in said Bharat and declare India separate nation were only women are allowed…problem solved right?
- Schoolgirls to wear their school uniform overcoat at all time. Pondicherry came up with this one, never mind it’s a hot tropical climate, apparently what cause rapes is school girls just wearing the prescribed skirt and shirt, But then some people in Rajasthan are pushing a move to ban the school uniform skirt all together, they should wear salwaar suits or trousers to school…I wonder what will happen when they realise that’s not going to prevent rapes…ban girls from going to school in the first place?
- The Delhi gang rape victim was as much to blame for what happened to her, this is was a self proclaimed Godman from Gujarat spilled this week, just in time for me to want to hammer my head in the wall permanently. Apparently to avoid the rape she should have connected to the rapists and call them her “Brothers” and beg for their mercifulness, because Brothers will not rape their sisters of course, bound by a religious sense of duty. Never mind that the rapist that lured her into the fateful bus called her “sister” when inviting her into the bus…so he already considered her a sister and still raped her…SWEET. Apparently she should also have chanted the “Saraswati mantra” before boarding the bus to gain knowledge and avoided being caught in such a situation…darn I am not Hindu does that mean I need to carry a Tarot deck to check my future before taking every steps of my life?
-Still in today’s paper, another Khap Panchayat in Haryana decided to ban mobile phones for BOTH boys and girls and ordered girls not to wear jeans and t-shirts as it is not a proper dress for girls! And just to be on the safe side they are also banning alcohol and DJ parties too, the message is that girls should stay home and cook chapatti and dal for their brothers and fathers to prevent them from going out eating chowmein therefore preventing hormonal imbalance that will cause the males going out of control and rape a girl that decided to still go out of her house…Now we know from where rural exodus stems from, the young generation might not move to cities just to get better job opportunities but also to not die of boredom.
- Girls should marry at age 15, that’s what another Khap Panchayat declared as a measure to curb rape incidence (These Khaps really have the solutions to all the problems huh?).
- Don’t cross the “Lakshma Rekha”. Lakshman Rekha being a brand of a toxi chalk used to draw lines in the kitchen to curb the roaming of roaches and ants, if the pests cross the chalk they die. Used in the contest of women, the idea is that men draw the line and women who cross it will have to face the consequences and are blamed for their stupidity doing so, the other side of the line can be filled with asshats morons that like to call themselves MEN but are an utter insult to Manhood in the first place, but that is still the woman’s fault. My question is is the toxic chalk line drawn on the kitchen threshold or are the women allowed to go to the main door to pick up the milk left in the milk bag? Provided they wear a camping tent and a chastity belt doing so not to provoke the milkman in the first place…of course!
- Don’t go out after sunset, there are numerous version of this one that have done the round, apparently women going out after dark are up to no good and should be the one to blame in case of a rape. Including the Delhi gang rape victim who according to…gasp a Woman Scientist should have known better than to be out after 10pm and should have surrendered to her 6 rapists to avoid loosing her intestine…that statement was made while the victim was still fighting for the life she now lost in hospital. The curfew thing is always disturbing to me, but even more so in this case where the person blaming the girl for what happened to her is a WOMAN…hell no not just a woman but an EDUCATED woman in the field of science, a field of study that is still male dominated the world over!
Not one of these supremely enlightened beings want to even look at the fact that rape is not about sexual pleasure in the first place for the rapist but all about the trill of being in control of another human being they see as weaker using sadistic brutality and force. It’s not the time or place at which the woman was out or what she was wearing that is to blame, it’s just accepting the fact that these “men” are just sick and inhuman. Once that will be accepted maybe the social stigma of reporting a rape will also go down and more sexual predator brought to justice.
In French anything that has a little something about them (and I mean THINGS not people) is described as having a “cachet” (pronounced cashay) which translates as “a stamp mark” describing said things their uniqueness or personality trait. Flats in old buildings or neighbourhood steeped with history are said to have a cachet. My studio apartment in Geneva was one of these, it was located in one of these century old row townhouse that have generally tiny apartments located atop a shop arcade on a main road or in a commercial district. Mine was on the top floor of one of these houses (the ground floor was a beauty parlour) and what made it special was that it was in the attic of that house, complete with it’s slanting ceiling to give a charm and all the problem that goes with it: water seepage due to a roof in need of restoration, cold winters due to poor insulation, stifling hot summers due to the fact clay tiles retain heat…but it was pretty and cosy. The flat could be described in English as having a soul. Not because that place had a particular history, there are hundreds of these houses still left in Geneva, but because the house at a time were human dimensions still mattered, where having a life somehow still mattered and people didn’t want to feel boxed despite living in an apartment.
Now with all the moves we made across India, DH and I have visited a lot of flats, and whenever we can we actually prefer the less glossy-glitzy-posh ones over ones that may not look designer perfect but gave us a feeling of being at home rather than parked there at the end of a busy day working. Inevitably the ones we like have enough windows to let natural light in, and good ventilation, rooms that suggest we are still human beings who enjoy their leg space rather than bunnies in a hatch or chicken in a cage. Who wouldn’t?
The problem nowadays in cities and especially in Mumbai is that space has become a luxury, and not only that, it has also become a license for developers to build ultimately crappy apartment towers which they sell at an over inflated rate, and to justify their outrageous prices they quote the name of this and that architect apparently famous, blind you with ground floor lobbies all done up in imported shiny marbles, mirror works and chandeliers, state of the art elevators that let you admire your rear through the 3 sides mirror, rigid garden landscaping, most of the time with a club house boasting the latest fitness equipment and swimming pool to make you forget that your personal living quarter will only account for about 1000sq ft of the 1700 you paid for and are finished in cheap cement, basic electrical fittings and vitrified white marble, to really woo you they will if they are kind enough throw in a semi modular kitchen (cabinets below the counter but not above) and a “Kholer” wash basin and tap in your bathroom (Look for the 2 crores you pay we got you a 3-4k imported tap in your bathroom…FREE!!!!).
We rented flats in these type of buildings, twice, the first time was in Navi Mumbai, and you all know it left is rather unimpressed as as designer the tiles were in the bathrooms and Kitchen, and how modern the tap fixture looked, the pipes inside the wall were substandard and could not hold the water pressure, resulting in me calling the plumber every week to fix a leak, and which in the long run turns into water seepage in the walls and growth of black mold (which is a health hazard). The second time was in the flat we just left last December, it was fortunately better built and the bathrooms were nicely planned, but the layout of that flat was the same as the layout of the flat in Navi Mumbai, and the same we saw in many of the flats we saw before settling for the one we are now living in: The main door opens directly on a big empty space that will be your living room (meaning anybody coming to do a delivery has a nice view of your living area) right after the living room you get a tiny kitchen, then a long narrow hallway usually take you to the rooms with the master bedroom inevitably being at the end of the hallway. Hallway that is in every case a ridiculous loss of square feet that you can’t furnish with anything bar a few pictures on the wall which you’ll never get to appreciate as it is also badly lit.
We’ve seen that layout over and over again, and in rental properties it means the landlord also left the default fixtures, so you get industrial white walls, tube lights, and this dreadful cold glossy uniform oh so trendy nowadays marble floor that will not even forbid you to step out of the shower with damp feet, a floor that looks good only freshly mopped and is ridiculously high maintenance.
They are one size fits all, and typical of a urban culture in which you are to fit the cookie cutter mould, the advantage is that when you move from one flat in one part of the city to another flat in another part of the city you don’t really have to wonder too long about which furniture goes where, you can replicate the layout.
These flats might be a symbol of the New India, the emerging economic powerhouse, but boy are they BORING, and high maintenance too.
Our old flat was great, with bay windows, and tons of natural light, but because it was basically that soulless industrial place the only thing it tolerated was soulless minimalism and pristine order to feel great. The floor looked crap after we brought back our dog from a walk, Ishita’s toys scattered around made the place look suffocating, the bedroom while bigger than the one we have now looked stuffy if we put anything more than the bed and the wardrobes in it (right now we have the bookshelves in a small room and it still look bigger than the old one did). And too many pots and pans out in the kitchen made the place look tacky (arrrgh these people actually use the kitchen to cook!!!!!!!!).
Our new place in many ways make us feel like we are in a bigger version of our good old Bangalore flat. It was built 10 years ago, in an area that was back then barely developed, people still valued life outside the office and it therefore has far more human proportions. It has 3 bedrooms each with big but old fashioned windows. the main door opens on a narrow hallway in which a shoe rack still fits, meaning that the random stranger delivering parcel will not be able to get a glimpse of your life and put a price tag on it. It also means that there is a space where you can drop your shoes and bags before entering the rest of the home. Each bedroom is big enough to accommodate a king size bed and let you walk around it (newer fancier building don’t all let you have that luxury trust me). The living room is smaller than what it is in the latest designer complex, but still fits my dinning table and sofa without looking crammed, and a big balcony extend from the living room living us a nice pleasant out door sitting area through some French doors. Space we plan to furnish with bean bags and lots of plants and is the closest to a terrace we’ll ever come to in Mumbai. We left the master bedroom to Ishita preferring the other one for ourselves, It is smaller than even our big bedroom in the flat we just left, but the bookshelves do not dwarf it the way it would have done in the old place.
The kitchen is narrower but longer and definitely darker than in the old place, but for some reason looks more functional (even though I could not put my big fridge in it), and I even told DH that if the flat were ours instead of being rented by us it would still be easy to upgrade the kitchen and make it cheerful than it would be in a newer building.
This older flat from a simpler time that was not too long ago has that “cachet” or soul I was talking about. It has that homey feeling, it is forgiving to a little mess, it doesn’t make you feel like you committed the ultimate crime of cooking in your kitchen instead of ordering take out and let you live a life outside our workplace. It also has a much nicer view than my old one, it opens on a small, a bit wild, not too manicured garden, but I’ll let you judge in picture.
This was the view from my old place:
Granted I have bars on my balcony and they are repainting the outer walls at the moment, but you see what I mean about the place being a bit more human now. The view from my bedroom has lots of trees too but do not give on the same side, and above all it is PEACEFUL, I don’t hear any traffic or construction work up there…bliss!
I’ll give you a photographic tour of my new place in one of the coming entries.
Fortunately the Delhi gang rape from last month is still making ink flows in Newspapers, and using some kb in the blogosphere, and I am all for it, don’t let the issue die the way that 23 years old girl did, honour her fight and make a change.
That said I am still irked by those who blame rape and crimes against women on the West and its influence in India. Once again this is the good old finger pointing game India is so good at it that is at play. Once again criticism cannot be tolerated by some and the need to reject the fault on a third party arise. In the past 9 years I have lived here, I have seen this game played a lot, I even witnessed it at a discussion panel organized by the TOI in Bangalore, the topic of the hour back then was the traffic jam and road conditions in Bangalore, the purpose was to get the authorities and the media together to discuss the situation and what could be done constructively to solve the issues at hand. It was a 3 hour long discussion in which not one of the single government body in charge wanted to even acknowledge that the situation was as bad as it was, and it was always another’s body’s fault not theirs. The only one at that discussion panel offer concrete and simple solutions was the Commissioner of Traffic Police, who said that fining and punishing will not solve the problem, what the city needed was some education on how to behave on the road. Sadly his solutions got lost in the discussion, but I was for myself glad to see at least one person make sense.
But I'm digressing here, my apologies. The issue at hand right now is how half of the country (actually less than half considering the alarming gender ratio) is treated in the country. India may be referred as Mother India, but she too has apparently wished to have sons over daughters.
Over the past 2 weeks I read a lot about this rape, the good the bad and the ugly, each is entitled to their opinion of course, but here I am left to wonder why oh why it is that when anything cannot be swept under the rug people blame the West? Hasn’t India won it’s independence over 60 years ago? Doesn’t that mean India as a country has the power to make their own choices and mistakes and should therefore be fully held accountable as an individual body when mistakes are made? I see a lot of ridiculous aping of Western culture going around here, actually some of the worst from it at times, but no one even shoved it down Mother India’s throat or threatened her with a gun to do so, it was her choice, as poor as it was India is to blame, not the West.
The movies and serials have been criticised for the longest time, and in the past 9 years more and more edited. We have no reached a ludicrous level at which innocent fart and butt jokes are cut out of Richie Rich (a kid movies), words like “Beef” edited out of Friends to make these English Channels “Appropriate for family viewing in India” Nothing wrong, I actually agree, if India is offended by certain things by all mean cut it out, but why only in English movies?
In Richie Rich there is a scene in which Richie poke a class mate on the but with his fencing sword that took the cut on WB channel….fine…but then why oh why SRK slapping Kareena Kapoor’s butt in the song Chamak Chalo is not cut? If you don’t know what I am talking about, I posted about that song last year when my daughter was made to dance on it for the schools annual event and you can watch the clip there.
Butt slapping that I might add is considered eve teasing in real life…which has me wondering what kind of message is given there.
It’s also the odd that songs like Sheila Ki Jawani aren’t edited out of the movie when airing on TV, but Jamie Lee Curtis pole dancing in True lies is. Again, I agree where the pole dancing in that movie might be a bit too much for family viewing, but most of Bollywood item numbers are as bad if not worse. Some of these hip thrust and gyrating look like soft porn, and in the Evil Morally Low West, these dance move do not leave the confine of strip club. But yeah the fact it’s a product of Mother India then a bunch of people air-humping each other in a mayhem of sequins is far more appropriate for a 3 years old to watch and emulate. Heck it’s apparently even deemed cute to have kiddos dance these choreographies in reality TV shows. And before some of you go invoke the finger pointing game and tell me that the West is no better with Toddlers and Tiara.
Agreed, Toddlers and Tiara is crass, and is heavily criticised in the US where it airs.
The point is that just because US or any other Western country is doing something tacky, crass, and morally discussable it doesn’t mean India doing it is fine. It’s the good old very childish behaviour of a kid caught red handed doing something bad that replies “But so and so is doing it too”…the appropriate reply from a responsible adult to such finger pointing is usually something along the line of “If so and so decides to jump off a cliff, would you do it too?”
India, time to wake up, stop the blame game, when you have an opportunity to shine and be a bigger person than the other countries around by creating better laws, just do it. Don’t go saying stupid things like “But they have a lot of rape case in US too” Rapes are demeaning, crass, disgusting, and a crime there too, so instead of reminding the West they have crimes against women too, just grow up, and do something about the dirt in your own home! Introspect instead of finding a scapegoat to blame your own wrong doings upon. The world will show you a lot of respect if you pull out of this mess with flying colours.
First of all sorry for the lack of new posts, as you can imagine I have been busy, packing, moving, celebrating Christmas, recovering from the effort of packing and moving, and celebrating New Year (quietly at home with take out chicken and a few movies).
It actually all boils down to figuring out a new routine, the constant in every move, and the one you really can’t fully adjust to until you unpacked all your boxes, and slept the stress away.
This time around since we relocated around the holidays, Ishita’s school had their last day on the 21st of December, then I had the good idea to enrol her for their Winter holidays activity class, so that she still get to spend 2 hours with her friends and do some fun activities when I would not really be fun myself.
With each moves there are some things you need to get used to, for me it’s the morning routine that takes time to get back into. In our old building the morning was punctuated by a concerto of doorbell rings that frankly was driving totally insane. It is common in India to have all kind of services and they all come in the morning, so here was my “ding dong” parade going:
6am: Maid showing up to cook chapatti and clean the flat, sometimes she would be in a rush and leave a few tasks undone then.
7-7.30am: the milkman would come, the system was that you bought a stack of coupons in advance and would hand out as many coupons you wanted in exchange of packs of milk.
8am: about once a week but never on the same day the car wash guy would come to ask for the key to clean the inside of the car.
9am: twice a week the clothes ironing guy came to pick up the clothes, then ring the doorbell again the next day around the same time to drop the pressed clothes back
9.30am: the maid would come back again, or to finish what she didn’t do earlier or ask if there was any dishes that piled up between 6am and then.
10-10.30 am: The garbage collector would ring to see if we had garbage to dispose of.
Some days we had people coming to collect their monthly fees as well. between 6am and 11am by the time Ishi was in school I would be interrupted all the time, DH could only squeeze his daily walk before office, Ishita being your usual 3 years old makes million requests and it never failed, Murphy’s law would have it that the instant I would just go to the bathroom to relieve my bladder the damn door bell would ring again, never mind taking a shower, I learnt to move it to the evening instead of the morning simply because I hate being disturbed when I do so. The only ones I could have somehow cut were the milk man and the garbage, the milk man by putting a bag on the door handle with the coupons inside (there was no way to hook said back to the door though…damn designer posh doors!) and by dumping the garbage behind the door, which I tried to do, realising that it didn’t stop the lady from ringing it, apparently not connecting the dots between a big garbage bag by my door and the fact I had already left the garbage for her to pick up.
In the new flat we found out that the milk comes before 6am and our doorbell making such a cutesy bird chirp noise barely audible from our bedroom when we are still sleeping meant we would not collect the milk in person, so I took a canvas bag, and pleased to have good old-fashioned doors could hang it to it, now the milk man pick up the coupons in the bag and drop the milk in said bag, we just have to remember to put said bag out on the handle the night before. The maid comes at 6.30-7 and that’s the only doorbell ring I get in the morning, the garbage collectors pick up the bags around 11am in the the stair case where people put the bags for them, the ironing guy only comes when you call him via intercom or by telling the security booth downstairs. And frankly I LOVE this system much better, that gives me back a grip on how things go. As much as I like having these small services in India, I hate their imposing their presence on me turning me into a wind up toy the whole morning long. As I mentioned several time: I am NOT a morning person, I need things to go to MY pace, and a million ding dongs in the morning is more likely to enrage me than help me.
In a way my morning routine became more fluid and simple with this shift, but still have me trying to find my groove. And right now I try not to fall too much into it because the Winter activity class is at a different time than her regular school timings, it’s also half an hour shorter.
In the old building going to school was just taking the lift downstairs going to the next building in the complex and drop her there. Now I have to take a 10 minutes brisk walk to get there (15 with Ishita since she has shorter legs), my new building is on the top of the hill in my enclave so going down is fast, coming back up give me a cardio work out (I deliberately do a 10 minutes power walk back up the hill after dropping Ishi). All in all There is about 40-50 minutes of walking to and back from school in my day, not bad in anyway, but definitely a new routine to get adjusted to.
Therefore here is the reason why I have been quiet, but I’m getting there, and am ready to be my good old blogging self very soon.