Archive for December, 2009

Welcome party

My parents threw a welcome party for Virj in India two weeks back and it was a big success. We had close to 80 guests of all ages and Virj enjoyed meeting all of them. He ran around the entire time, climbing up and down stairs and playing in the play area set up for the children. Thanks to all the family members, friends and neighbors who graced the occasion with their presence. As usual for any Indian gathering, the food was excellent, but unfortunately I can’t take credit for that. My dad and brother made all the arrangements starting from renting the space to choosing the catering service and planning the decorations, entertainment, lights, photography, etc. Believe me this was not a trivial affair given that all of this involved separate contractors and the fact that managing people in India is an art form, which sadly, I’m gradually loosing over the years. Our trip with Virj has made us realize this more acutely. Though we are used to the sheltered life that our families provide when we visit, a kid makes some of this absolutely essential at the day-to-day level. For example, it’s hard to move around the city without a car and a chauffeur to deal with the crazy traffic! It’s also useful to have a nanny and making sure that the other helpers show up on time everyday for smooth functioning. All of this is incredibly difficult in a fast growing economy where there is more demand than supply and considerably less job loyalty among the domestic help…here the word “managing” seems to carry extra weight over everything else. However, I will reserve this topic for a future post and for now share some of the lovely pictures from the party 🙂

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12 2009

India Travels

Last month was particularly busy with work and other activities that includes Virj’s birthday. I will have to trace back and post about them soon. But to stay current, I will start by posting about our trip to India.

We finally dared to make our long awaited trip to India two weeks back. The flight was relatively painless despite a very active toddler and our nightmares about the experience. It’s amazing that Virj only managed to throw up once thus far in spite of the long flight, his new surroundings, fighting jet lag and with his history of acid reflux. He is certainly enjoying the constant attention from relatives and grandparents and is short of being bubble wrapped and put on a pedestal 🙂 However, even that couldn’t protect him from the dreaded mosquito bites or an ER visit within the first week due to an accident while playing outside. But nothing seems to deter Virj from thoroughly enjoying himself!

As for us adults, we are finding it a little more difficult to cope. Over the years I have become more a more sensitive to the surroundings when I visit, especially the pollution, the rising population and cars on the streets, which contributes to crazy traffic jams and the high noise levels. However, this time what’s affecting me the most is the constant din whether at home, on the roads or in the shopping malls (which I’m gradually getting used to now). On our few trips out we have visited some of the new state-of-the-art movie theaters and shopping malls in Kolkata that certainly compares to any in the US. Of course you first have to get past the tight security check before entering them. And, forget about getting a bargain at these places…the prices often compare to that in the US especially for the American brands. And, there are no “sales” to look out for! I often wonder how common people can afford to shop at these places on a regular basis.

On the other hand, the dichotomy between the rich and poor continues to be glaring once you leave the malls and fancy hotels or restaurants and are out on the streets. We found beggars right outside the malls…probably a good place for getting spare change!

But I’m willing to overlook these nuisances just to be able to be with family and enjoy the super-duper delicious food. What was I thinking when I expected to lose weight on my trip? My mouth starts watering even from the smell of the neighbor’s kitchen 🙂

Here are some pictures from our trip so far. It’s often hard to take photos in public places because people seem to be quite paranoid. As an example, see the shot of the sales person at the Crocs store asking me to stop photographing. Clearly someone unaware of the benefits of social media marketing and the favor I’m doing by posting about his store online. On the other hand, the guy at the dosa stall in the food court made special welcome dosas for us when he realized we were new to that place….this is India in a nutshell! 🙂

Authentic dosa at a food court in India Special welcome dosa for us
Crocs store at an Indian mall Paranoid sales person at Crocs store

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12 2009