winners and losers

Life doesn’t work exactly like it used to. At one time I could drive (myself) to Target and get just about anything I needed. Now, there is no driving myself and no Target. In fact, no real grocery stores–that don’t drive me crazy–in my area at all. So what’s a girl to do?

Improvise.

So I have been trying to figure out how to do/make things that were once so easy, but now are a real challenge. I’ve also tried to bring a little of my culture into the lives of the people here, whether they like it or not.

So here’s some things I’m going to share just because I’m really tired right now and feel like rambling.

1. Beard trimmers are not a good replacement for hair clippers (can’t find them here at all). Just ask Bud about his most recent haircut. Oops.

2. Chicken hot-dogs are disgusting even if I cover them in corn batter and try to make them corn-dogs. Both ways they are still disgusting.

3. Teaching your maid the meaning of “Kiss my grits” could eventually be risky, though I do hope someday she puts it to good use and reports the results back to me.

4. Discovering that they call cilantro, coriander, has greatly improved my attempts at Mexican cooking.

5. Making corn chips and taco shells is not easy when you don’t have the right kind of mesa. In fact it’s impossible and to keep trying for one hour with the same result is insanity.

6. I can actually make brownies without a box. Who knew?

When I do manage to create something from scratch and it’s good, I’m totally amazed. I guess I never realized how dependent I was on fast food, canned goods and frozen stuff. I might actually hug a Publix or Kroger the next time I’m in one. Oh, how I do miss their bakeries, neatly lined isles and stocked shelves so.

And if I ever run into the guy that conned me out of $40 because he claimed to be a representative of our cable company, I’m definitely going to tell him to kiss my grits. On second thought maybe not… I’m not sure grits translates here. Maybe “kiss my chapati” would be a better way to go.

Homemade corn-dogs... they were as gross as they look.

buckle your seatbelts… oh wait, there aren’t any

For a few days now I’ve been wondering what to write–a blogging writers block of sorts. Then, tonight, as our auto rickshaw was sitting dead in the middle of a busy street, and I was praying like mad, it occurred to me that I could write about that. Genius.

Usually, the process is easy. Find an auto rickshaw, negotiate a price, cling to the children as we careen down the crowded streets, dodging a few people (maybe a cow or two) and ultimately to this point, arriving safely, albeit windblown, to our destination. Tonight, we left the mall and found an auto after the Hubs shrewdly negotiated a fair price. Our driver had an argument with some other drivers right before we took off, then he jumped in and we peeled out onto the highway.

We don’t usually like to tell them how to get to places, but the Hubs did try this time to no avail. The driver totally went the wrong way and ended up circling us all the way back to the mall. Let’s try this again. So we start in the right direction now after a fifteen minute detour. The Boodler has now fallen asleep. How, you might ask? With music blaring (the kind with a crooning man and a woman with an excessively high pitched voice accompanied by a barrage of flutes and drums), he was passed out totally and missed all the fun.

Our driver was a little more uninhibited than most we’ve had. And by that I mean he drove like a madman. There were a couple of close calls with motorcycles and pedestrians, but thankfully no buses. We were at a stop, in the middle of three lanes of traffic when our rickshaw quits running.

Crank, crank, sputter, sputter. Nothing.

The same continued for a while as cars and buses whirled past our headlight-less ride. The Hubs was praying. Bud, our oldest, was praying and I was praying. It seemed like we sat there forever, though it was only a few minutes I’m sure. Music still blaring, Boodler still sleeping, and I’m wondering if a bus is going to not see us there and crush our entire family. I clung to my little Princess, who is bobbing her head to the music.

I know what some of you are thinking… that just doesn’t sound safe. Well, it’s probably not by American standards. By any standards, really. There are no five-point car-seats for kids. No airbags. And I’m sure in a crash test, the auto rickshaw would be reduced to rubble. But this is South Asia and this is how we travel. Even the taxis we rent don’t have seat belts for those in the backseat for reasons I do not know.

Finally, the rickshaw starts and after a few feet stops again. He starts it back up and lays on the gas and for the rest of the way home our driver tries to keep us from going dead. After a very long ride and a variety of sights and smells along the way, we reach our apartment and I am finally able to breathe again.

So this concluded my harrowing tale of how we get around until we get a car (oh please let it be soon!)– in a three-wheeled go-cart made of aluminum. Jealous?

funny little things

Well, I’m finally learning that you should never assume things here. For example, if you want to eat lunch and it requires a microwave, never expect the power will be on right when you want it to be; also, I shouldn’t expect, though my default programming does, that when you order some mangoes they will be edible and not two days too ripe; and finally, you should not expect that any appliance you buy here will A) work without a good hit or two and B) will work at all or C) go in the spot you dreamed it would go due to the fact that there are like three different types of outlets in our apartment (why can’t there just be one size fits all? I foolishly ask).

 

My Local Target

So life here is always an adventure of sorts. Men will probably always blatantly stare at me in malls and as I walk to my “Target” down the street. Some are so bold they just look me straight in the eye for uncomfortable amounts of time. I’m glad I still haven’t had to buy underwear yet, because it’s mostly men that work in department stores and it might send me over the edge if they try to help me find a bra.

I’m trying to make peace with all the things my worldview says is reasonable, sensible and what my reality is. It is tough going some days. But some days it just makes me laugh as this jewel down below did. I didn’t know that all this time I needed to check and see if the glass I was purchasing was veg or non-veg, not that I was planning on eating the glass, but rather eating on it. Glad we got that cleared up.

Veg Glassware

 

 

Love this label!