Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wrap it up- (picture heavy post!)

The Old Guard at hip, new Java City

So there are a few more things I wold like to share about Bangalore.

First, we have heard that there is a good possibility that we will be able to get the house that we liked. Yay! Here is roof top view of the house:

House in Sanjay Nagar

Second, Anna will be attending the Mastery International School. She spent the day there on Thursday and enjoyed it immensely. This is the school:

Mastery International School Bangalore

While she was at the school and Bryan was at a meeting, I was able to attend the OWC* coffee and met many women from all over the world who are also expats living in Bangalore. Awesome.
* Overseas Women's Club

On Friday while Bryan was at another meeting Anna and I did a little shopping. She fell in love with this Sari (although we didn't buy it...):

Sari at Navrathan Silks, Bangalore

And I fell in love with this 7 Rupee (less than 20 cents) coffee!:

Coffee House on MG Road

We also caught Anna smiling about the idea of being the new girl in town! (This one is for Sensei!):
Anna at Soul Cafe on MG Road

On Saturday we went to Lal Bagh gardens/park and saw some fun sights:

Drummers practicing for a performance

"Japanees" Garden

Glass House

Our "Hello Aunty!" greeter. She was so cute!
Marched right up to us, shook our hands with the biggest cutest smile and then had her parents take a picture- so we returned the favor!

Bangalore is a city with a unique spirit and beauty. I am looking forward to our return!

The most exquisite beauty comes from the muddy waters

Friday, October 26, 2007

Desperately Seeking...

So back to the checklist.


Ummm, maybe I need to ask louder.


Yeah. Well, I did actually find the yarn store. Yes, I said THE yarn store. It is the only one listed here. Wednesday afternoon after we had returned from visiting the school, I asked the driver to take me to the shop. I had the address and name from the Knit Map and I showed it to our driver, Manju. (Do contact him if you ever need a driver in Bangalore. His English is pretty good and he is fairly knowlegable about getting around the city!) Manju got sort of a concerned look on his face and said, "Why do you want to go there?" I explained that I was looking to find some yarn for knitting, actually I think I said crocheting as well thinking that he might understand that word more easily. Then he said that he couldn't drive me in there as it was too congested and that there was no parking. I said it was fine for him to drive me close by and I could walk in. He hesitantly agreed and we headed out. Now this shop is located in the Bangalore Central Market area. I guess you would say that it is more of a traditional shopping area and is absolutely packed with little shops in which you could probably find just about anything you would be looking for. Well almost, but we'll get there.

So, I am walking down the street, the only white person in sight, once again alone. But I didn't feel too uncomfortable, I just went about my business and tried to find the shop. I walked, and walked and looked for the shop. It was almost impossible to see any individual signs because there are just so many. The visual stimulation combined with the near constant "beep, beep", people passing going both ways, constantly watching where my feet were landing in hopes of preventing tripping or stepping in any potholes, mud puddles or other unpleasantness. I encountered a local who chatted me up and asked if I had had lunch yet, how about coffee? tea? I politely declined and he eventually left me on my own. But after some time of walking and noting the approaching flyover I realized that I must have passed the shop I was looking for. I spotted a Sari silk shop across the street that had actual windows and doors and so I went over in hopes of getting some help and directions. A gentleman approached and asked if I needed any help, when I showed him the name of the shop I was looking for he commented that it had the best materials and I was headed to the right place. He asked where I was from, why I was there, do I have children, what are their ages, where are they studying.... all typical Bangalore style meet and greet. He then took me outside and gave me specific directions on how to find the shop I was looking for. I eventually did find the shop after a couple of more diversions and they have:

Acrylic yarn.

Embroidery thread.

Cotton fingering/lace weight "thread"

and Silk fingering/lace weight "thread"

So I purchased a 40 g. skein of the cotton and a 50 g. cone of the silk. I will try them out and see what they are like. Total cost? 38 Rupees. That's about $1.00 US.

In which we find a school...

Let's see, where was I? Schools I think-

So, on Wednesday we visited two more schools. The first, Mallya Aditi International School I wanted to visit because it looked like they have not only a strong academic program, but a good arts program as well. They are situated on a beautiful campus with lots of established trees and good buildings and facilities. I believe that they have some connection with a nearby art and design college, but I am not sure. In any case- very nice campus. When we met with the principal he was quite concerned that there wouldn't be a good match up between the American educational system and what they offered. After I explained to him that we were more interested that she receive a well rounded education rather than just having all of her educational "ducks" lined up he was more open to considering her. Then, when I mentioned that she used to attend a Waldorf/Steiner school, he nodded his head and was much more welcoming. So we took a tour of the school and interviewed with the Upper grades coordinator, but in the end Anna just did not feel comfortable there. I think if she were younger and we were able to start at the beginning of the school year rather than right in the middle, she might have been more willing to consider it.

Afterwards I called a school that I had been trying to get a hold of, Mastery International School. This is a new school in Bangalore, but isn't too far from the area we would like to live in (I cannot express how important this is in this city!). Even though I was calling at the last minute they were willing to have us come over right then and show us the school. Once we arrived Anna almost immediately felt at home there. The interesting thing is that the school, being new, is still working on the building and grounds and all I can say is that it in no way is as nice as the other schools that we have visited in terms of cosmetics. BUT, Anna likes it very much and I think they have a good mix of the American philosophy of education (which is very rarely able to be applied in US classrooms!) along with International standards. It is a very good fit and she spent the day there yesterday attending classes and trying it out. So, we found a school!

At this point I have to mention something else. You might notice that I do not have a lot of pictures. I have felt very self conscious about taking pictures here, particularly when I am on my own. I think that Sheetal made a good suggestion (see comments on my last post) that I would blend in more if I wore local clothing. I fully intend to do this, particularly since this style of clothing is far more suited to the climate here than my western jeans and t-shirts! I just need to get some time to do some shopping. So, I don't have a lot of pictures to share. I have decided that before we return I am going to have some business-Moo cards made so that I can tell people that I am a writer (a blog counts doesn't it?!) and this will give me some context for taking pictures. Particularly when I went to the market area on Wednesday to find the "yarn" store- Oh I SO wanted to take pictures!!!! But just take all of those thoughts and feelings that I described in going to Thomas Cooke and multiply it by about 10 or 100 and you might understand that I didn't want to pull out my camera. But more on that adventure later.

In the meantime here is a picture that we took from the rooftop terrace of one of the apartments that we didn't like. (The view the other direction was of a large construction project!)

More later!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mission: Bangalore

Oh the adventures I have had!
Normally I try to avoid merely giving a day by day accounting of what I have been doing but I think in this case it might be needed. So here goes, a report:

Monday we were finally able to meet with the company representative who is going to be assisting us with everything we need to do to get ourselves here. We sat through a presentation on all that he does and does not do and we were supposed to ask any questions that we might have. Of course, I was feeling like I hadn't gotten quite enough sleep at that point, so thinking of questions was difficult at best. But, we did our best and then were met by a Real Estate agent who showed us some homes in a popular expat area of town. Now. Bryan and I are not necessarily ones who are impressed by "prestige" or bells and whistles. These communities were nothing but prestige, bells and whistles. I know, some people like that. That is fine, but me? It makes me feel uncomfortable. It does seem that many of the people we have met assume that we want to live in a gated community surrounded by other expats. Well, we would like to experience India. So these places we saw were not for us. Oh yeah, given driving times, there are also approximately 1 hour away from any of the schools that Anna would be attending. No thanks.

Now I did have a little adventure Monday afternoon though! We had some US dollars that we wanted to exchange and since Bryan had a meeting, I was on my own to take care of this. I have to admit to feeling a little uncomfortable going out on my own, but like Bryan said, if we are going to live here I am going to have to get used to this. Okay. I can do this. I grabbed our cash, my passport, my cell phone and my courage. I headed down stairs and hailed the driver. I told him, "I need to go to Thomas Cooke, on MG Road. Do you know where it is?" He shakes his head from side to side and says, "yes, okay". Then he just looks at me. So I repeat, "Thomas Cooke on MG road? Do you know it?" "Okay", he says, still nodding his head from side to side. Hmmm. Let's try a different way, "You don't know where Thomas Cooke is?" "No" he says. Aha. Okay. So, I grabbed the lobby manager from the hotel and had him explain how to get there and we were off.

Now, this driver who we spent most of the day with (he was new to us this morning) was almost silent for the entire day. Occasional comments and responses to questions but that was it. Well, he was an absolute chatterbox with me! He went on and on about everything we were passing by and asked me questions. It was really something. I am thinking that perhaps there is a bit of an intimidation factor with Bryan but I am more approachable? Not sure. So, we get to MG Road and find a sign that says "Thomas Cooke" So I hopped out of the car and was to call the driver once I was done so that he could pick me up again, since there was no parking on MG Road. I walked up to the building, feeling very, well WHITE. It has to be said. We stick out. A lot. There is no blending in here. So, they were doing construction on the building and the elevator/lift was non existent, so I walked up the stairs, gingerly avoiding the wet spots from the rain on the marble steps and the disaster that could come from that, while the jackhammer from above was ringing in my ears. Two flights up and there is is Thomas Cooke! I open the door and everyone stops and stares at me, but no one moves to offer me any help. I don't see any signs anywhere that say "Foreign Exchange" so I just stand there. Alone. White. Finally one of the courageous employees approaches me and asks, "May I help you madam?" They are very polite here. Archaically so. ("What is you good name?" being a common phrase) So anyway, when I said that I was looking for the foreign exchange he informed me that I was in the wrong building- turns out the building I was looking for was two doors down. Well, sort of. It was two buildings down, through a passageway, behind the building and up the stairs. But is was there. Money was exchanged. Time to call the driver cause I am suddenly feeling very nervous carrying this wad of Rupees in my purse and being all alone and WHITE. Dang! (Actually I think I said out loud something less polite) What is the frickin' country code again? I tried and tried but I could not figure out how to make that phone call on my phone! So I walked out to the street and tried to figure out what to do. Did I know how to walk back to the Hotel from where I was? Maybe, but streets around here are a little disorienting and there are very few street signs. I wasn't panicking but I was feeling at least a tad nervous, and then- in the distance I spotted OUR CAR!!!! I was so happy! I did a little hop and scurried down there feeling incredibly grateful and lucky. I came back to the hotel and felt like I had just accomplished Mission Impossible.

Tuesday was less adventurous but we did visit one school, The Canadian International School, and we then had the opportunity to look at more housing possibilities. The first place we looked at was an "Independent Bungalow". This was actually a lovely house that we would be absolutely thrilled to have. Of course we wont be here for a little over two months yet, but "they" are going to see if it is possible. I get the impression that this particular house is well below our allotment, but was quite nice! Anna likes this room:

Split level room with view of front garden

Our Real Estate agent seemed very concerned that we find a house that was appropriate to "our status". I hope that I don't have to tell all of of you how strange this feels to me. Whatever. I do admit to wanting to find a house that I will feel comfortable in for the next two years. This is a big change. But all that said, I love Bangalore. This city's energy and friendliness are amazing. Yes, it is crazy and chaotic, but somehow people take it all with grace and a sense of humor. You get the sense they feel that we are all in this together.

I am going to leave you for now since I am having problems uploading pictures. More next time!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

There's No Place Like...?

One of the reasons we have come to Bangalore is to answer the question, can we adapt to the culture here and also is the culture something we will feel comfortable with? There are things I need to have:

There are things that Anna needs to have:
Cheeky teenage apparel?


Now what about the city itself? Do we feel comfortable here? That is a much more interesting question. The city is what it is. It is not an American suburb, which actually I am glad for. We went for a walk earlier today up to one of the shopping areas. As we were walking we attracted numerous auto rickshaw drivers who wanted to give us a lift or a tour. When we said "no" they just followed us. Which is fine, kind of annoying, but okay, I can ignore them. But the increased exhaust from those lovely two-stroke engines I can do without. We wanted to head up to Brigade Road and so we decided to cut through a neighborhood. That was actually pleasant! Once you get off the main drags it is amazing how much quieter it is. No one pestered us and we were able to get a glimpse of people hanging out in the park or talking on a street corner. We even saw a lovely house...

We did finally make it up to Brigade Road where we found the Cafe Coffee Day and some fun sights:

I think Bangalore is getting a little self aware. As you drive around you notice these (handpainted!) signs with clever slogans

Advice for drivers of two-wheelers

or sometimes just obvious statements like,

"Keep Bangalore clean. Do not dump trash or urinate here"

Some of the more helpful signs will even let you know where the nearest public toilet is!

Traffic is something else and absolutely impossible to convey. As we went up to Forum Mall (one of the nicer malls in Bangalore) the roads were more and more packed. Inside the mall was merely a non motorized/wheeled version of this. People aren't pushy though. It is just sort of a cosmically moving stream that you have to find your way in to. You can't wait for some one to let you in, you just move into it. This is particularly true as you are trying to cross a street. You have to find your opportunity and move. Don't stop or you will be in trouble! No wonder they have so many helpful gods here! Wish I had some pics of the mall to share with you. But afterwards, needing something to eat, and finding the food court type place at the mall to be just a little too crazy (hey- I can't bear the one at Valley Fair either!) we decided to have our driver take us to some place where we could sit down and get some food that Anna would find palatable - the kid doesn't like Indian food! So, we ended up at Pizza Corner, and yes, it is on a corner. Anna had some pineapple pizza and Bryan and I shared a "Desi Pizza", Paneer Tandoori pizza. Dang! That was good! Anyway, while there I did get a nice pleasant photo of a teenager...

Oh yeah.... Pizza?


(Now I just need to find Boba...!)


Hi everyone!

I just wanted to put up a quick post letting you all know that we are in Bangalore! We are here for a week for our "pre-visit" and it is presently Sunday morning here. We came in late last night at about 12:10 a.m. The Bangalore airport is a small unimpressive building, but our bags were waiting for us by the time we came out and then was the adventure of finding our driver. We thought there was someone who was going to pick us up, but we weren't certain. When we asked the dashingly dressed (pressed Nehru jackets and dress slacks) "hosts" - not sure what else to call them -and they indicated that the man from our hotel had just stepped out. When he came back he did not have us on his list. Hmmm, well perhaps there is a private driver waiting for us?- we headed out the front doors of the airport and saw drivers lined up with signs all along a walkway leading to the street. There were so many signs! Easily 200, and so you walk along trying to find a name that should be familiar (after spending roughly the last 24 hours traveling and thinking that perhaps you have had a couple of hours of sleep at best!). Luckily Bryan found our driver, and luckily there WAS a driver there for us and we were in our car and driving away without too much trouble.

Driving away from the airport I quickly realized just how different it really is here. There is rubble, I'm not sure you can call it garbage, along most of the roadways. We zipped a long, passing cars, bikes, "two-wheelers" (scooters/motorbikes) and yellow motor rickshaw taxis. I have been looking at maps of Bangalore for months in an effort to get to know the layout of the city and I was pleased to know that I was able to figure out two of the roads we were on! It was something to see them in person though. So, apparently this driver is "ours" for the week, I think. We were really a little out of it when we arrived. But our driver, Shankar, is going to return to pick us up at noon today (it is currently about 9:40 am Sunday) and we are going to check out the city a bit. Anna is in the other room alternately watching Hindi music videos and cartoons, channel surfing I guess. She wants to go to a mall today and I will get some pictures to share with you our adventure-

Till next time here is a little Bangalore driving for you...At least listen to the sounds as this is what I hear through our hotel window. Beep!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


20 degrees Celsius is 68 degrees Fahrenheit
30 degrees Celsius is 86 degrees Fahrenheit


I can do this!

40 degrees Celsius is 104 degrees Fahrenheit
10 degrees Celsius is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

A little trickier, but I ought to be able to memorize that as well.

Now. Hindi and Urdu script are a totally different thing. I mean, how am I going to remember this:
A bit of Hindi

or this:
The same in Urdu

Yikes. My husband is descended from a long and distinguished line of polyglots. He majored in Slavic languages and Computer science. Two of the trickier language families in my opinion. Me? I am a sadly typical American with very little ability in this area. I took French in 7th grade and then was not able to continue when I moved since my new school didn't offer French. Then in High School I was lazy and didn't want to take a foreign language. It wasn't required for graduation then -can you believe that? So, I didn't take it. I went on to take a little Spanish in college and now the two languages are hopelessly confused in my brain. "Muy bien, garcon"

I am working on learning some Hindi though. It's interesting because the characters are so different and yet, somehow they look sort of like they should sound. Not sure how to explain that but it's true! We will be leaving to go on a pre-visit to Bangalore/Bengaluru next Friday - luckily most people speak English though!

Now, since this is a knitting blog, I will share some knitting news. I am done with the Mystery Stole! Can't show you yet since I still need to block it. But it is nice to have it done. Actually I have a couple of projects that are waiting for blocking since I am done with the main body of the Print o' the Wave Stole as well. I just haven't had the time to do a lot of work on my knitting stuff lately. Last week for example I spent three whole days dealing with getting passports and visa applications sent off. Didn't do much to help me fight off the cold that hit over the weekend. Argh. Hate that kind of thing. I am also deep in the throes of sorting through books and trying to sell all of my homeschooling books that I no longer need. That's a lot of books! Oh well. Wish me luck in keeping my sanity these next couple of months. I am trying to set a little time aside every day to work on something creative, but I'm not sure I will end up having much to show for it in the end... well- actually - if it helps me to stay balanced, that will be quite an accomplishment after all!

Oh wait! I do have something else to show you! I went to the TKGA show a couple of weeks ago! Well, I decided that I had to since I would be in India when Stitches happens! Helllloooo. These things are important you know! So I got:

Also, while there I was a little overwhelmed trying to make a decision about what fiber to purchase, so I went out to lunch. I was sitting all by my lonesome since some people weren't able to join me, and along came someone who was obviously another TKGA attendee (the large yarn filled bag was a dead giveaway). I invited her to join me and we ended up having the most lovely conversation. She was an amazing woman who had come all the way from Vancouver Washington. Now, she had an absolutely beautiful name, I think it had an "sh" in it somewhere, but I cannot now remember her name for the life of me. If you happen to read this please comment and say "Hi!" Anyway, just another reminder that knitters (and crocheters!) are awesome people!

Oh yeah, and that fiber? I did end up making some choices. What do you think? Very nice, no?!