Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hello! Or should I say Namaskaar?

Greetings from beautiful Bangalore! Now that everyone at home is heading off to sleep and they are no longer calling me via Skype I have a chance to sit down and tell you all how we have been!

Flame tree (?) outside our flat

It has been a very busy first few days and we are adjusting to everything fairly well. There is so much that I want to share with you that I hardly know where to start! I think I should start with a shower though. Yes, you heard right, a shower. See, at home this is a fairly simple process. Strip, turn on the water and get in and do your business. Well, our first morning here I headed to the bathroom with the intention of doing just that. I stripped, turned on the water and got in. Holy mofo-bejeezus. COLD! Turn right, turn left, still freakin' cold!!!! So I took a very refreshing and quick shower and got out. Well, turns out that there is a water heater that you have to turn on for the shower. That was one of the many, many light switch looking things on the wall. Well, this make sense, India does all that it can- out of necessity- to conserve energy and power in all forms. So usually in each area where hot water would be had will be an individual water heater. Smart.

So, day 2 I turned on the important light switch looking thing, waited about 5-10 minutes and then proceeded with the shower sequence. Ahhh, nice warm water.....wait, it's getting colder... cold again!!! Yikes- that warm water does NOT last very long! Turns out the tank for said water heater is not so large.

Day 3: necessity being the mother of adaptation, we have all switched to taking showers Indian style. This means we turn on the water heater, wait the needed amount of time, and then we fill up a large bucket with the now highly valued warm water. We then use a small bucket/scoop to shower ourselves by hand. Quite effective actually! It sure uses a LOT less water too. I can usually get by with one large bucket full, but need a bit more when I need to wash my hair. Wow. The daily adventures of India!

So, we are currently staying in a flat in the Southern part of Bangalore, Koramangala. It is a very busy area and getting anywhere is quite a challenge. For example, we are very close to one of the larger, nicer malls in Bangalore- it would be a short walk from here. Except that we would have to cross this very busy street. Now doing this in a safe way takes a bit of practice I think, and I don't feel like I am quite up to it yet! So we haven't been there, even though there is supposed to be a good coffee place there (and a Lush, and a movie theater...). I am going to have to brave it one of these day though. In the meantime I am enjoying the view from our balcony as Bryan has the car/driver today...

Here is one of the neighborhood strays...

And here is our flat!
This is actually the second flat we have been in. When we first arrived we were in another, far less pleasant- alright, downright dingy - apartment that smelled rather bad. Then on Sunday they came in and announced that we had to move to another flat. "Why!?" we asked, as we had just unpacked things, and the cats were finally starting to relax a little... Well, we never did find out why, but we suspect that they may have made a mistake and put us in the wrong flat in the first place. Anyway, we are much happier here and the cats are as well (no unpleasant cleaner smells for one thing). Although Benny would sort of like to go outside...

The funny part about being in a "Serviced Apartment" is that I chose this option so that we could feel more independent, make our own meals, etc... Well, it turns out that a serviced apartment comes with service. Who knew? So, every morning there is a "boy" (their term, not mine) who comes to make us breakfast and then clean up the flat. He will even do laundry and iron. The ironing is necessary because there are no power clothes dryers here. Again- lower energy usage- we from the states could learn a lot from the Indians!!!!! So we are getting used to the idea of having someone work for us in this way. Weird.

So, we are here for two more weeks. We got the house we wanted and it is in a good location for Anna's school (she starts tomorrow)- also not too bad for Bryan's work. If you go to Bryan's blog you can see some pictures of the house. It is quite large and is a very modern and newly built house. For you Bay Area natives out there, I think I would describe it as a modern, 3-level Eichler. Very nice design. It is big enough to have guests, but now we have to get some furniture... (hey didn't we just get rid of all our stuff?! yikes.)

My daughter would also like you all to know that she has started a blog as well. She is telling about her experiences here in India. Her blog is called "Curry Pizza".

A glimpse of sunset through the buildings...

I am looking forward to getting all of our tasks and errands straightened out so that we can get out and see the city a bit more. Most that I have seen thus far has been through the car window. But frankly that is pretty typical Bangalore!

Till next time!


MrsFife said...

Good to see you settling in! The flat and house both look nice. Seeing the stray, though, what sort of protection will your cats have if they venture out? I lost a kitten to marauding strays when I was a kid.
Bucket baths rule! But you'll love the shower when summer hits. Speaking of, how's the weather? Do you find it cool at all?
Also, wouldn't a serve apartment have service? I'm puzzled.

Pikku- Kettu said...

Nice to hear you are doing okay out there!

The new house looks great and I hope you'll get to move soon.

linnakat said...

I do have to ask -- are your switches the opposite way from in the States? Took me a while to get used to that. And planning ahead to take a shower (we've got the water heater switch thingy, too).

Crossing streets in Nairobi can be unnerving, too -- I tend to find a local and cross with them!

Great to see you there and settling in, as well as the cats!

Jean said...

The flat and your pictures are lovely. I love hearing about all the differences and juxtopositions. Like how having a service "boy" is totally normal, but a hot shower is a luxury. I'm glad you and the cats are settling in.

Bogie said...

Dang, you have a "boy"? I need a "boy"! lol

Great post Cindy, I really enjoy hearing about your discoveries and experiences, not to mention just hearing that you're all okay.

I added Anna's & Bryan's blogs to my RSS feed so I'll be getting everyone's POV. I bet you can't wait for that solar heated water, eh?

seltsame said...

Glad you're settling in. I totally forgot about the water heater thing. I remember taking a freezing cold "Indian shower" once in Delhi winter because I didn't know about the heater and screaming every time I dumped a jug of that freezing cold water over my head.

margit said...

Great to hear from you, Cindy! Can't wait to hear more!

SpinalCat said...

OMG, Lush! But how do you use it with crummy showers and no tub?

cookie said...

There was this place in SF I used to love ordering pizza from. They had one with curry. It was yummy!

The flat looks great, and the cat seems to be adjusting quite nicely. In Thailand, they have solar water heaters where the water gets pumped into a huge metal can on the roof and is heated by the outside temperature (always hot there, not sure if it is in Bangalore) so there's never shortage of hot water. They also air dry most clothing in the hot sun.

My parents also have an outdoor kitchen because it's so hot there that adding heat inside is a huge energy waste when they have to turn up the A/C to counter it.

Hope the adventure so far is fun! I'm sure you'll start missing "good old American something" sooner or later. Perhaps yarn? :-)

Maya said...

That apartment looks positively posh! Nice! How about an address or cross streets so I can find you in Google Earth? That would be fun...

We do get used to our luxurious showers here... wasteful, too. Even with low-flow heads, I know we're using plenty of water.

In Central America the water heaters for showers are hilarious... they're electric, point-source, and attached directly to the shower head. Lukewarm water comes straight down at you, and you just assume that since no-one else has been electrocuted in there, that you'll make it out alive too. But they work just fine for the climate and again, so much less wasteful...

Is Benny going to have to adjust to indoor cathood, or are you going to risk him on the streets of Bangalore? Just don't tell him about the mall!

Keep on keeping us posted!


Lynne said...

LOL - your shower adventures sound like Melbourne in the Great Gas Crisis! (Melbourne uses gas a lot - heating, cooking, hot water....) I'd much prefer to not us a tumble drier - I hateses them!
Thanks for the poke to go see Mountain View - it looks great, now to find an affordable place!
Good luck with the settling in and finding furniture (golly, does that ring a bell for us!). Arriving with clothes and some basics makes for a real adventure!

Debbie Ann said...

I love reading your blog, just like when I first arrived, except I still can't get with the bucket shower program - I just take very short but hot showers after waiting 15 min. Our kitchen doesn't have hot water at all.
One luxury I love is going to spa.ce over on Cunningham Rd (sadly a little far from you) and getting a massage and then afterwards they have these huge 40 gallon water heaters and I take a long hot shower.

the flat looks great. I couldn't cross streets either! I have some basic rules - do not mess with buses or trucks. the autos can go around you and the two wheelers will go around you, but watch out for the cars. It is ok to go part way and stop if you can. standing next to someone crossing can certainly help.

Forum mall is pretty nice. For most movies you must buy tickets ahead of time, sometimes even days ahead of time. Different prices for different classes/times. I want to try the super fancy class. I like the bookstore at Forum.

I'm back from Kerala and will catch up with you soon!

You are doing so great, I'm impressed! oh forum mall does have decent coffee in this teeny coffee bean place. When I first moved here forum mall was one of my escapes from reality.

renaissancewednesday said...

Hi! :-) Wow, that shower siuation is interesting. I'm used to hard water, but freezing cold water? Not so much. heh. Your experiences sound really cool so far, though.