life in this country

Did you know that in order to get a washing machine, you first have to order it, a man delivers it (on his back), and drops it off, and then another man comes to hook the water up, another man comes to hook the electricity up, and a final man comes to demonstrate how to use the washing machine? Or in order to be able to cook, I must first buy a stove, then call the gas man who delivers my gas cylinder full of gas that will last about a month, have to get another man from the same gas company to deliver a pipe to connect the gas cylinder to the regulator, and get yet another man to deliver the regulator that connects the pipe to the stove? And to top it off, as foreigners we must go through hoops to get the gas company to agree to give us a regulator in the first place? Or in this country there are two different types of mattresses...one is simply foam in various sizes and densities, covered to fool any foreigner into thinking it's a mattress just like home, and the other is a mattress with coil in it, in only one size: 4 inches thick?

All of this was extremely exhausting to cover this week. And I didn't even get into the buying the fridge, getting the electricity inspected, trying to reach the internet man, special ordering a queen sized bed with queen sized mattresses/foams in a country with only two sizes of beds, twin and king, searching for a computer desk and chair, finding rugs, bedspreads, shower curtain and rods, pillows, and various household items.

BUT...our queen sized bed showed up yesterday evening. The queen sized coil mattress with a 2 inch foam mattress, all covered with material, arrived on time last night. Our bedspread showed up, along with the rugs and pillows and blankets and spare bed sheets. All we need now is to install the shower curtain rod and shower curtain and we'll be almost done! So as much as we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, we are now settling into a wonderful new house that with all the small added touches, will become a home in no time.


and the flag was still there

My language helper, Priya*, has made it clear to me from day 1 that she is not a cousin of mine. Instead, she is devoted to something else, and I've been sending money that she could turn to the light. I found out last week that she is married to a man in the States, who she married in a court ceremony this past August. He lives in the US, but is planning to move to another English country, and take Priya with him. It may sound strange to us westerners, but it's actually very common for the men to go work in the west, come back to find a wife, and either take her with him abroad, or wait to earn more money to either come back home or bring his wife to him. Well I had been sending money that both Priya and her husband would become cousins both so that neither would be in the way or harm of the other. I thought, he's in the States, it's highly possible the boss would put someone in his life to bring him on the narrow path. Today I found out the saddest thing: turns out Priya received a call from an American woman last week, who had looked at Priya's husband's phone and called Priya, whose number was on the phone consistently. This woman, Amy*, claimed to be the real wife of Priya's husband, and they had been married over a year ago, making Priya's marriage void. Priya said she was shocked, and stayed in bed and cried for three days. She and her family will be traveling to visit her "husband's" family to make arrangements for annulment. (when Priya confronted her alleged husband about this, he didn't deny it, but merely said, "Amy should not have called you.") She is very distressed and hurt, understandably. Just this morning, in my quiet time, I had asked the boss to provide an opportunity today to share, and in the instant that Priya told me this, I knew what I needed to do. I told her I would send money for her and her family. She then told me that she wonders if she did something so horrible that the gods are punishing her. I told her that my husband and I eat the bread, and asked if she had heard of our bread, and she nodded and said she actually owned one! (bridge!) I told her we believe the bread, and it speaks of a boss who is always forgiving when we ask, and not a boss who punishes us physically for every wrong we do. She continued to tell me of how hurt she was by the whole ordeal, and I shared with her my personal story of the time in my life when I felt so lonely and empty, and turned to the name above all others, and he gave me peace. I told her I would send money for the boss to give her peace as well. She was very grateful, and I'm hoping for many more opportunities to share with her.

Is it "understandably"? That reminds me too much of the whole supposedly/supposably thing, and I'm afraid I sound like uneducated.

I've been watching all the weather reports on CNN today, very concerned for my family and friends back home. The reporters were in several cities, one of which was where one of which is the small town my husband's extended family lives. In both of those shots, the reporters showed the flags that were flying behind them, pointing out in one the two flags remaining, the American and the state flag. He said the American flag had initially been intact, but now was in shreds. The state flag flying next to it was in perfect condition. In the other shot, there were 3 flagpoles, 2 of which were empty. Again, the only flag to remain (and in perfect condition, I add) was the state flag. I love America. But is it wrong that I had an immense, gleeful pride at the fact the state flag remained over any other? Anyone else with me on this? If so, we probably are as arrogant as everyone says we are.

I'm waiting to hear from my family and friends that our town is safe, and the surrounding areas are safe and unharmed as well...


on the other side of the law

Our trip to the town south of us was pretty uneventful. I mean, the busride was pretty exciting, with breakneck speed turns to the right, and then the left, and then the right, and then the left...it's no wonder the woman to the right of us threw up out the window. But it wasn't that bad...they showed a movie, it only took 4 hours, and we even had a potty break. The town we went to was such a change from the town we live in now, it was almost like two different countries: the weather, the size, the culture, even the forms of transportation were way different. But the best thing was all the stores! Oh, it was almost like going to Linens n Things, except about 1/20th of the size. I did get everything I need for the kitchen, which was lots of fun.

On our way back today, we had to get a taxi because we had too much stuff to bring back. On our way, the taxi driver informed us that his vehicle was not a registered taxi, and so it was illegal to take us across state borders as tourists. When we got to the guards at the entrance of our state, they tried to stop us, but from what we gathered of the rapid language was our driver was saying, "No we are not a taxi," and then the guard blew the whistle and told him to drive over and stop, and our driver just took off. Husband looked at me and said, "I think we just ran from the cops." It was very weird.

Well, we ordered our bed today, and the men we ordered it from spoke no english, so we'll see how the bed turns out. I did learn in language study how to say certain bedroom words, and other stuff, so we'll see if I said, "We would like to buy this bed," or something totally different.

We did hear that we'll be moving in a day early into our house. I can't wait to be able to set it up! Dinner's here - a girl's gotta eat.


settling in

In 7 days at the most, we should be shifting to our new home - 2 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bath, nice sitting room, dining room, kitchen, and a gorgeous third floor stone terrace. We are so excited and anxious to be in our new home, but the best thing is that the hotel we are staying at is just down the road from our future home. So we can get out in the community now to meet our new neighbors for the next few years! I've already found a great tailor (even though they seem to forget about the drawsting on my pants, but it's a minor issue when you find someone who gets your clothes right on the first try and is literally just a walk down the road) a very friendly lady at a cloth shop, and a nice dry cleaner. For the language study, I've already said that an hour a day needs to be spent practicing in the community, so I went yesterday to the cloth shop. The lady, her husband, and two friends were hanging out in there, and they invited me to sit and chat. Hardly any of them spoke English, so it was perfect. I know about .0001% of the language, but it was fun trying to communicate anyway, and it was helpful. Today, I went to pick up my dry cleaning (I'm so ready for a house where I can wash my own clothes and cook my own meals...I never thought I'd say that) and the owner invited me backc for some chai with his small sons, mother, and wife. Their home was just a curtain away from the shop, and we sat and chatted. They brought in chai and some snacks and we talked, and I got to practice a little of my language. Before I left, I learned how to say, "My husband should meet you." We were then invited (three times before I left) to a birthday party next Monday evening. They told me I should not eat before because it's a dinner party, and warned me once again several times to not eat. We are so excited that the community is opening their homes to us so soon.

Speaking of language, I found a language helper! The internet cafe owner found her for me, and she is wonderful. She is nice, and close to my age, and knows both English and the language very well. She can be a little aggressive at times to teach the way she wants, but anytime I point her back to the book, she readily acquiesces. Did I use that word correctly? I think my brain only has room for a certain number of words, no matter what language. It happened this way when I was in France, too. I try so hard to add vocabulary, but I think my brain has a quota, and my English disintegrates. It doesn't help that all day you speak basic words and talk with an accent to be understood better.

My language helper told me that if we go to the large town that directly south of us, we can get much better bargains on our household items we have to purchase. Then, the hotel that we're staying in informed us that the hotel was fully booked for the 21st-23rd before we made our reservations, and so we would have to leave the hotel for those two nights. They did make arrangements for us, but it was a scary hotel, so we decided that would be the best time to go to the town to shop, since we have a good friend there we can stay with. It all worked out perfectly, and so tomorrow we are leaving. On a bus. I'm a bit nervous about the busride, but I need to become a little lower maintenance, since I am a tourist, afterall.

I am so excited to see a new town! But we need to pack...


we made it! (again)

So we're here, safe and sound, and a little chilly, in our city. We love it! It's so weird that after so many weeks of scrutinizing pictures for any new clue about the town, we are now in the area of all the pictures! I have to say, this is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Ranks right up there with Paris (gasp!), although of course in a very different, nature sort of way. (Paris, of course I still love you!)

So, we've been meeting difficulty finding a place to rent. Our property dealer (not called a realtor here) was not the brightest of fellows, but he was very nice and drove us all over the area that he wanted to show us. (note: not necessarily the areas we wanted to see) We desperately cried out to the boss yesterday, seeing as our hotel budget is about to run out. (the company gives us about 7-10 days to stay at the hotel, and maybe a few more grace period if we need it. Today is day 6) We sent money for the first new book our boss wrote, the 6 chapter, where he says he clothes the birds and fields, so won't he take care of us as well? then, my husband went to chat with the men who he has made a friendship with at the hotel who work there, and one guy gave us a reference for 2 new property dealers! Of course the boss sent that to us. We contacted both of them, one of whom showed us a place today, and the other will be showing us about 4-5 tomorrow.

The one he showed us today is perfect. Absolutely beautiful! After going back home, I opened up to my favorite passage of the book, the thrid chapter of lam. I've always loved the part where he's faithful and new meries every morning. But today I read a little above it, and it mentioned, "I remember my homelessness..." I started crying when I read that. He is so faithful, and doesn't forget us, even the small things, like not wanting to stay in a hotel any longer. Now we at least know we have this beautiful place, and maybe even something better!

So many things have happened since we got here, I don't even know where to begin. We are staying in a former prince's summer bungalow. (don't get the wrong impression - it's nice, but not the Ritz, not that I've ever stayed at a Ritz to know) In one wing, a former queen lives in the hotel still. She's 95, and sticks her head out the window every now and then to spit or hang dry her bras. (I'm not kidding) My husband told his front desk friends that he wanted to meet her, but they quickly shot him down. "She is not keen on meeting people." Anyway, on the top floor of her wing is where her servant lives, which we didn't know at the time. 4 of us were sitting out on the terrace garden, which is right next to the queen's home, and this man sticks his head out of the window and threw something as hard as he could on the ground, then left. We were stunned, but then looked at each other and laughed. we thought maybe it was a teacup or something, becausee it broke. then, he sticks his head out again and throws something ELSE out! We were laughing about maybe it was his daily ritual, at 5:20pm to throw something out the window. Anyway, we were talking a little more, then all of a sudden the tree next to the stone wall of the queen's house starts moving, and this man falls over the wall! He got up and ran over to where he had tossed whatever. He had the goofiest look on his face! My husband went over to see if he needed help, and he asked for help to find his cell phone, which apparently was what he threw out the first time that broke into several pieces. Husband helped for a little bit, but shrugged and came walking back. One of our friends with us asked, "Did he find all the pieces?" and husband pointed at his head and said, "No, he's missing some pieces." haha! One of the hotel workers came out a little later and said that this guy is always causing some sort of disturbance. Later on, he climbed on top of the wall and walked it balance beam style, which this time we got a picture of. I'm going to try to post it on the blog just because it was so funny.

Wow that was a long story, and so I hope it wasn't one of those "had to be there" stories. Something exciting is that my husband met our man of peace this week, or at least one man of peace. He is very friendly, is a reputable man (he introduced husband to the former mayor of our town, the longest running mayor here) and his wife is actually our ppl grp, from a village, and he said he would take us to his wife's village sometime, so it would be our "in" to the village! We are very excited about this.

Well since I'm paying by the minute on this blog, I should get off. Hopefully I can post more sooner than later.


language study!

So, this week in our classes we've been learning how to learn our language. We've learned a little bit so far (count to ten, ask "how much?", tell our auto driver to turn right, left, stop, and how to buy ice cream) An example of ways to learn a language is asking "dumb-smart" questions, which are questions you already know the answer to, but it helps with language practice. For instance, we went to our ice cream vendor on the corner, and bought some ice cream. As he's counting out the change to give me, I asked him, "Do you have change?" He looked at me so funny when as he handed me the change!

Anyway, they teach us to study 6 hours a day; 1.5-2 hours is learning from our language helper, 3 hours is studying on our own what we learned, and 1-1.5 hours is getting out in the community to practice. (and ask dumb questions!) So this morning we actually got to sit with a language helper for an hour and a half! It's so cool - I learned how to say several items, like book, pen, paper, etc. Also, they had us a learn a 'monologue' to practice out in the community today. I learned how to say: "Hello. My name is [Name]. I am from America. I am learning [Language]." So the object is to go up to people and tell them this, and maybe even point to items and count to ten. I know, it takes a lot of guts, but have I ever really been known to be shy? Plus, these people LOVE foreigners! Just today, we were in an auto, and this Accord-type car pulls up (with 8 people in it!) and my husband nudges me and says, Those girls are looking at you. Tell them hello. (there is a hand motion with hello, so they can tell that's what I'm saying) So I did, and of course they all smiled REALLY big and did it back, and then the men in the car tried to get my husband's attention, and he told them hello as well. They were rolling down their window to talk to us when the light turned green and we took off. So see, these people will love the fact that us crazy fools are counting to ten with them.

They also told us that once we do our monologue, a lot of times, people will rattle off a ton of the language to us, and that's when we say again, "I am learning [language]. Goodbye." haha I can't wait to get out and practice!

We had lunch with our supervisors today. They are such a nice couple, with tons of experience in our work. The husband is taking us to our town on Saturday, and Sunday we are going to go to a national office! Or at least we think it's national. It's where a cousin coworker (not with our company) and his American wife go, and since they have a little contact with our supervisors, they invited us to join them. It's so weird to think that by Tuesday, my husband and I will be alone, although we have the reassurance that our boss will always be with us. We've been with people guiding our way for the past 13 weeks, and now it's time for us to take the lead. We are hoping that much money will be sent ahead of us for many things: safe travel, apartment hunting, great neighbors, easy setup of our home (we've heard some nightmare stories already about how slow it takes to get furniture, appliances, and all that), and being able to find language helpers and national partners easily. I know our boss takes great care of us, and has these past weeks, so I'm not as anxious or nervous about it as I would be otherwise. More than anything, I'm just so excited!! We've been looking toward this day for I don't know how many weeks now. It's almost here!

Well, I need to get back to language study. We learned the alphabet today (it's not Roman, it's Devanagri or something like that) and even though it looks so pretty, it's going to be tough. But today was so relieving to have one of those, "Aha!" moments, where it clicked. We can finally see how it works, and after practice, we'll be able to read and write. I never thought that would be possible! (come on, silly, with the boss all things are possible! even weird languages!)

Back to school, back to school...