Archive for August, 2015

First we take London, then we take Delhi

August 9, 2015

We arrived in Delhi on July 29 via London where we spent a fabulous 5 days. The kids had never been to Europe, so for a few months now I had been selling the trip to London as the reward for months of preparing for this life changing event, which is living in India for 2 years. We visited the usual touristy landmarks: Trafalgar Square (the lions were a hit!), the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, and of course we took in a play in the West End, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Nico had read the book so we thought it would be fun to see the play. We weren’t disappointed, the play was terrific. Both Nico and Annabelle were giddy taking the tube and would constantly repeat the stop announcements: “mind the gap” and “watch the step between the train and the platform.” They find the British accent “funny” as they don’t consider their accent, well, an accent. I felt like my kids had stepped off a farm with no exposure to the outside world! But they were just being uninhibited kids with no care whatsoever as to how their behaviour was perceived by others on the tube. Now that I think of it, no one seem to care one way or the other, too buried in their newspaper or zoned out in smart phone land to notice.

We stayed with Charlotte in Kentish Town, our wonderful and gracious host. Charlotte offered housing to me back in 2001 when I embarked on my master’s degree. She offered to put us up for our days in London. Back then her boys were boys, and now they are both men attending university, and we are debating politics and current affairs at the table! Debating with babes, at least in my mind, but then again the mind sometimes gels in time. Charlotte is part of my London scapes, and I stay with her whenever I am in London.

The kids love taking the plane because this means unlimited screen time. We are fairly strict with the screens back home, so it’s Christmas for them when we take planes. I think Annabelle watched Big Hero 6 twice.

The flight to Delhi was smooth. At arrival, we were graciously greeted by Gauri who is the community liaison for the High Commission. She was a sight for sore eyes after the 8 and half hour flight from London. A driver from the High Commission accompanied her and once we retrieved our 7 suitcases, we set off. Our first views of Delhi were those of the chaotic traffic, but the trip to the High Commission compound went without a hiccup. The kids were amused by the direction of the traffic, the traffic circles, the countless people, and tuk tuks. We’ve now taken a few tuk tuks since arriving, and while we ride these auto rickshaws, we are approached by children selling trinkets or begging.  Annabelle has concluded that she doesn’t like the fact that there are poor people. It makes her sad.

The first weekend, we hit the ground running, jet lagged and all. We had to sort out lots of administrative things, for the house, work, and British School where kids will enter Year 5 and 8 respectively. We visited the Train Museum, ate a local restaurant in Malcha Marg where Annabelle was referred to as “baby” by the server, and Nico as “my friend.” We walked around the High Commission to orient ourselves, and visited the Khan Market, an upscale, ex-pat oriented market, with everything you could find: electronics, books, food, toys, stray dogs, rich tourists and locals, and begging children and widows.  I don’t like looking at people, nodding my head in the negative, or staring through people when I can’t deal with the humanity it represents, but it is a coping mechanism, an easy way out.

It took me a few days to adjust to the time change, and tell myself, I don’t have to see all of Delhi the first weekend! I need to remind myself that we are here for 2 years, and that there will be plenty of time to visit and explore. Besides, it feels like 40 degrees most days, and it is monsoon season, so best to leave some of the more adventurous outings for the fall.

The kids started school this week. It was hard getting them out of bed at 6:50! Annabelle cried the first day of school, and was quite anxious the night before. Happy to say that after 3 days at school, she is already more confident in her new setting and has made some new friends, including a young girl from Paris named Aurora. We met her teacher on Friday who confirmed Annabelle will have some additional language support starting tomorrow. The school follows the British curriculum so there are some minor adjustments for both kids, but the school staff has been reassuring and we appreciate its emphasis on an international education with an Indian soul. Good immersion!

We settled more into our diplomatic community this weekend. There are many families on the compound and slowly families are coming back from their summer breaks in Canada as school starts here earlier. The kids have easily made new friends and the gender and age ratio looks good for both of them! There is an open door policy around here so kids go from house to house for good times, it feels very neighbourly and welcoming. I am happy to be here.

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