India, chopped, fragment (draft, incomplete)

We’re flying home, the last leg of a very long week of traveling. Since I’ve used my frequent flyer miles, I’ve scored a business class ticket, while Jiten is sitting in economy. This has caused me some measure of guilt , somewhat assuaged by him winning the right to take my seat during the first leg of the trip on the way to India. We’re flying Air France this time. I’ve always found the stereotype of French rudeness a bit of a myth; All my experiences of being in France have been excellent ones, and every French person I’ve met has been friendly and easy to talk to.

There are several open seats here in business class, including the one next to me. I waited until the plane took off, and after the seat belt sign turned off I asked a passing stewardess if my brother could sit in the seat next to me. Her Gallic nose twitched in irritation, and before I could even finish my question I could see her overly done lips pursing themselves to form the singular and overly loud “No”, before she continued striding away, her hair pulled severely back into a bun.

I hate her. She is a bitch.

Yes, this trip has been long.

It’s been a crazy week. Just last week we left home on Monday afternoon, getting into Paris in the morning and having only a few hour layover in Paris before continuing on to Mumbai. Like I said, Jiten won the right to the first leg of the trip, and after he explained the situation to the amused stewardess (I believe she asked, “How much did you pay him to take his seat?”) the stewardess took it upon herself to send me some champagne. The trip to Mumbai was relatively uneventful. There was a talktaive French Cambodian business woman sitting next to me who talked nonstop during the first hour of the flight, regailing me of her stories of living around the world. She gave me the impression that her children had a better relationship with the nanny that they did with her. (“There are some things nanny’s just can’t do, especially when your kids start to get older”, letting me into the biggest parenting secret of the decade.) Although I had dread memories of Mumbai from last year, the transit from the domestic to the international terminal was relatively easy, and we were soon on our domestic flight into Ahmedabad.

Since we were only here for 5 nights, we decided to stay in a hotel rather than try to stay with family. None of our family have guest rooms per se, so we would have to make do. While that might be fine in other circumstances, the fact that Jiten and I both need the internet and Jiten especially needs access to uncomplicated (and safe) food, we decided to make the expense. We had originally booked the Courtyard Marriott, a brand new hotel there in Ahmedabad. However, we had gotten an email and a phone call the week before we were due that the hotel would not be open, and that we were to be booked into another property. Jiten, the wheeler dealer that he is, asked for a free upgrade or room, and suddenly we were booked back into the Marriott, with a free nights stay and a free shuttle ride from the airport to boot. We found out later that the actual opening day for the property was Thursday, so legally they couldn’t charge us for Wednesday. Still, it was a beautiful property, more applicable to a regular Marriott (or even a JW Marriott) as opposed to the Courtyard.

We got there Wednesday morning early, and the driver picked us up from the Airport. We were his first ever pick up, poor thing. Wednesday was pretty much dedicated to resting – Bhavesh visited us briefly in the morning to drop off the cell phone. Then we slept a little too long in the afternoon (failed wake up call!) but we did manage to see Ba in the evening. She’s amazingly energetic and alert, and she’s getting around great. She is singularly focused on making sure that anyone that visits her (including us) eats as much as possible. Even when confronted with Jiten’s dietary restrictions, she still finds ways to try to foist food on us. Still, it was great to see her in such good spirits, and we visited with her for a while before heading back to the hotel.

Thursday we went to see Ba in the morning again, and we ended up seeing Hetvi and Sanvi briefly who live next door. Sanvi is an amazingly tiny little creature – she’s not even 9 kilos, and she’s just turning two. (Compare that with Annika who’s almost 5 kilos probably and she’s not even 2 months old, and Jaanav who’s 10 months and almost 11 kilos!) Nehal than met us at Ba’s, and picked us up for lunch. We ended up stopping at Tanvi’s salon, and then did a bit of shopping before going back to the hotel to rest. (Finding traditional clothing for kids under 2 is surprisingly difficult. Nehal even called his sister-in-law, who is a fashion designer, to tell her that she might want to cater to this neglected market segment.) I found a couple of outfits that Annika can grow into, at least. We then went back to visit Ba and see Hetvi and Sanvi, since we had promised that we would see them again. We then had to go back to the hotel since JIten had a work call that he needed to make. We then followed that by meeting Nehal and Tanvi again for a really nice dinner at a restaurant called Pepperazzi. We didnt eat dinner til closer to 9:30, which I think is fairly standard for life here.

Friday we got a late start to the morning ; We intended to visit Ba, but we woke up later than expected and the car to take us to Nadiad (for the Sangeet program for the wedding) was due to pick us up at 1. After a brief misunderstanding by the driver (he was waiting at the wrong hotel) we got into a car to take us to Nadiad. It takes about 90 minutes to get there with traffic, so we were there in the early afternoon. We got there right as the grooms side was getting there (they had taken a 10 hour bus trip from where they are in India to Nadiad, where the brides side is from) and so we got to see everybody at the same time.

We rested a bit and caught up with people and then went to the ring ceremony and the sangeet. We ended up leaving around 10:30 or so and got back late.

Saturday morning was the wedding day. We ended up leaving the hotel later than we originally planned, so by the time we got to Nadiad we missed the Grah Shanti at home and hit the lunch time crowd. We ended up spending some time with family, and since we had a few hours before the wedding started, we decided to go to visit with some of the family there. The driver took us through the labyrinth that is the old town part, where the alleys are so narrow you can barely pass a bullock cart through, let alone a car. He did get us there (with a tantrum or two thrown in, the fam had to have a talk with them) and we visited with folks and got changed there before going back to the house next to the wedding area. We were privileged enough to see

Sunday

Monday

Jiten won the Shah Chopped 2010 competition, although he did win by just one point.

We met at their house, where I got a chance to preview the available ingredients in the pantry and where the baskets were revealed to us. The appetizer basket included pineapple, scallops, and horseradish. For the entrée, we had to use Flank steak (never cooked it before!), Shitake mushrooms and

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My introversion, home as a castle, and wanting differently for my children

 

 

 

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