Saturday, May 23, 2015

Year One? Check.

The end of our first year has given me time and reason to reflect and to look forward. I've reflected deeply on where we are, where we were, and where we are going. I've pondered a lot about the losses I've had this year: an aunt, a friend's husband my age, a young and vibrant niece, my grandfather. I've struggled with being so far from family and friends as they've had illnesses, endured hospital stays, birthed beautiful babies, celebrated jobs, birthdays, and holidays, and married soul mates. And I've questioned a lot of what we are doing. We are truly halfway around the globe which is quite a distance to travel or try to coordinate timing of Skype calls. So is it worth it? Am I happy to return to Delhi after our first year? Are we putting ourselves too far from friends and family when we long to be near them during these celebrations and losses? Is there a way to balance it all?

A few days after returning to Delhi from Germany this past Christmas, we were walking back to our apartment from dinner a neighborhood over and Evan confessed that he had somewhat lamented leaving Germany for Delhi. After all, we were flying from a modern, clean, green countryside to a city with many of the opposites. Quickly, he added that those feelings had been replaced by a feeling of "home" and of finally knowing how the city works and how our family fits into the world of Delhi. I instantly confessed that I had felt the same way on the flight back to Delhi and that I also felt incredibly at peace with being in Delhi once we had landed. Arguing taxi fares and knowing where to tell the driver to turn to get you home were things I avoided in the beginning and are now par for the course; in a way, doing this makes me feel like I am a part of the breath that Delhi heaves. 

So Happy First Year and thanks for the support. We've made it through our first year and Ev and I feel like we are in the right spot for our family. We are surrounded by an incredible group of people here and know that our friends and family are waiting with open arms for us when we come back for holiday. And these are the things that have made me grateful during the cold and smoggy January days and during hot dry May days. These are the things that make me love the life we are living and the adventures we are having. I know there will be losses and moments that I wish I were home but I also feel at ease knowing that we are making sure we are present for our family and friends in other ways.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Apartment Tour - Part 1

With less than 11 days until we fly out, seems like it's a good time to finally post my "apartment tour" I promised... oh, I don't know... 5 months ago. 

So a bit of background.
We live on campus and it turns out campus is a rather beautiful place, especially in the Spring. Campus housing takes up a small but significant footprint of the acreage and there are three main buildings with a playground/grilling area for staff to use. We also have access to the facilities on the main school grounds. The downside to campus life is that there isn't much privacy. If you are grilling out or out playing, chances are at least one other family has a similar idea. Not always a bad thing, but it's one of those things to be considered. We feel incredibly blessed as our apartment is quite out-of-reach. We are nearly ground floor and have a semi-private area of shaded grass off our balcony. Granted many others can use this as well, but few do and we've enjoyed quite a few Sunday mornings out there with just us and the kids. 

Our building entrance is just a small half-flight of stairs (you can see it in this post, along with other photos of our apartment on our first night in India). This post will only show the entrance and main living areas of the house (basically two rooms with a kitchen off of the dining area). So here are the photos with explanations in the captions. At the end I'll post a YouTube video of the same space for those who are a bit spatially impaired or want to see the amateur skills.


From the vantage point of the master bedroom hallway - front door is on the left of the picture, living room ahead, and kitchen just to the right, out of camera view.
Same vantage point as the photo above, but you see the kitchen and the dining area. 

Awful lighting, but a panoramic of our living room. Access to the balcony is to the right.

Much more civilized lighting. View of the living room.

Vantage point from the rock wall corner of the living room. Looking towards the dining room/entrance.

Panoramic of the kitchen. It's not clean as Evan was cooking bacon. Bacon. Any mess is acceptable when bacon is involved.

Dining area. Kitchen is to the left and master bedroom hall is on the right/ahead in the photo. Vantage point from the front door.

Now for the YouTube link of the amazing video:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dharamsala


Long weekend in early May = a chance to get out and about in India. We spent the first weekend of the month with another family in Dharamsala, north of Delhi with the plans to take in some cooler air and mountains amidst the 108 degree temperatures we were feeling here.

Dharamsala was just what we needed, too. From flying with the BJP President, Amit Shah, to visiting the official residence of the Dalai Lama to breathing in the refreshing air, we most definitely felt the sense of refreshment on this trip. 

We stayed at an amazing place, Glenmoor Cottages, which was about 10 minutes away from McLeod Ganj and set in the mountains. It gave us all a sense of privacy and Ev and I have noted that we would be more than happy to stay here on a subsequent visit. Each family had a cottage to themselves and I certainly enjoyed waking and listening to the birds in the mornings and observing the bright blue skyline (it honestly looked photoshopped). The owners were incredibly pleasant and offered wonderful conversation after breakfast each morning, and the nights were cool (cold, in fact) and a nice change from the 80 degree nights we were used to. 



We were able to take a few walks into McLeod Ganj. Of course, we visited the Tsuglagkhang Complex, where the Dalai Lama resides. We also did a bit of shopping on the street, ate some spicy Tibetan foods, and explored quite a bit.




The location of the cottages also allowed us the opportunity to take a very nice day hike with the kids up the mountain. Oakes was a trooper and hiked the entire 6 miles without whining while the little girls all rode on backs to save the parents from walking at a snails pace. We passed many monks as there was a temple at the top of the mountain and I'm not sure if they were happier with their souvenir photos of monks and blond girls or if we were.