Sunday, November 30, 2008

Settling In

Well we have just spent our first night in our new apartment; I always find it difficult to sleep well on my first night in a new place even when I am totally exhausted. Even though the walls are thick we can hear a lot of noise coming from the surrounding apartments and neighbourhood; slamming doors, barking dogs, honking horns, construction noise and Bollywood music are fairly constant. Ray and I woke up and were wide awake from about 3.30am which made for a very long day.
At 8.30am our maid showed up to clean etc. She speaks no english apart from the word soap from what I can tell (I am going to be so good at charades by the time we get home). It is becoming very apparent that we are going to need to learn some basic Hindi, so Ray has downloaded some Hindi lesson podcasts from itunes. At the moment we are heavily relying on the phrase book Stephen left behind for us, I honesty don't know how we would have got by the last few days without it.
We spent most of the morning at home unpacking and trying to work out how to get the hot water and washing machine working. As I write (a day later) the maid is here cleaning the floors which she will wash each day, it is amazing how much dust and grime builds up in one day. She did our washing this morning but rather than use the machine she washed it by hand. I have no idea how we are going to dry it as I have not been able to find a clothes drying rack in any of the shops and there is no words in the phrase book to be able to ask where to buy one. That will be my mission for today.
We once again went to the shops to have lunch and buy a few more groceries and bits and pieces for the house. We were dropped off at a big shopping mall but it did not have a supermarket so we decided to take our lives into our own hands and cross the street and walk up the road to one we knew had a supermarket. In Gurgaon the main shopping complexes are basically lined up one long street. The walk was a couple of hundred metres and it was the first time the kids have been confronted with beggars. There were women with babies, young children and the crippled who would all reach out to us and beg for money for food, following us for a while pleading, but we knew we could not give them anything otherwise we would literally be swarmed by people. After we shopped and were waiting for our driver to pick us up there was a little boy about 5 years old who was very dirty in old clothes who hung around and went to each of us asking for money for food, I was going to give him some before we hopped in the car because I didn't want to take a chance as their were so many other beggars around. It was very sad watching him go from car to car as they lined up for the car park begging for money. From what i can tell the people who give even one or two rupee's are few and far between, how they survive I really don't know
 In the supermarket when buying rice and sugar etc they are displayed in enormous sacks. You choose which one you want and they serve it out. We are probably going to need to get someone to shop and cook for us because seriously its just too hard to know what to buy and how to prepare it. We bought some pasta and sauce to cook for dinner but we forgot to buy matches for the stove so dinner last night was biscuits and muesli bars etc... we were too tired to go out and by 6.30pm we were struggling to stay awake. Around this time there was a blackout (so far a daily occurrence) which is when the back up generator in theory is meant to turn on within a minute or two. We have to turn everything off bar the fridge and maybe 3 lights, however for some good reason the generator overloaded our power box so there was no back up power for us (thank God Ray brought his head torch and Hans gave us a small wind up LED light). One good thing that came from the black out is that we met our neighbour who speaks perfect English and offered to help us in anyway he could including interpreting for the maid etc... The main power came back on after an hour or so so hopefully that is the length of it generally. All these challenges and experiences highlight how good we have it in Australia and how important it is that we succeed in this project. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! just finished rearding all of your blogs and have to say what an incredible writter you are Lou, I feel so excited for you all but suddenly awakend to the harsh reality of Indian culture.
So proud of the jouney you have chosen for your family and thankful that you are taking the time to let us know what it is really like for you and the rest of the population in India.