Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Despite the passing of Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, it hadn’t much felt like Christmas around here until recently. Normally in the States we see Christmas decorations taking over malls, stores and people’s yards as early as Halloween. And starting Thanksgiving weekend, I would start planning my own holiday festivities – at least in my head. This year, however, I had not realized that it is Christmastime – my absolute favorite time of year – because we will be away from our home. Therefore, I have not been planning to decorate my apartment, bake Christmas cookies, or even go Christmas shopping at the malls here.

So it is with a mixture of pleasure and sadness that I have come to realize that despite my own self absorption, the rest of the world has begun to prepare for Christmas. I mention that this makes me a bit sad only because I am not preparing for the holiday in the way I am so used to, by obsessing over personalized Christmas cards (we will return to the States too late to be able to mail them), putting up my fresh pine tree (it would die in the heat while we are away anyway) and sipping hot chocolate to warm my insides while my outside freezes its butt off (here I typically settle for an iced cappuccino because most days are too warm for hot chocolate).

Suddenly, though, I am starting to get really excited about the holiday. Everywhere you look Christmas is in the air – the lobby of our apartment has been decorated with poinsettias, there are beautifully decorated Christmas trees in all the shop windows, and even at my gym, and Christmas lights in trees and lamp posts have livened the streets here in Polanco.

Despite not decorating the house, we started getting into the Christmas spirit by taking Asha to the mall to see the trees and have her picture taken with Santa. After several attempts to get her to sit on Santa’s lap, we had to resort to bribing her with her a lollipop – smiles not guaranteed. (Maybe we'll post that photo next time). A few days later, we went to a Christmas cookie decorating party at my friend Tracey’s house, where Asha had tons of fun eating the sprinkles, jimmies and other decorations straight from the box and off anyone’s cookies she could get her hands on. Next week, we may even go ice skating at the Zocalo.

Still, there is something weird about listening to “Let it Snow,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Sleigh Ride” in 70 degree weather.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Luxuries of Mexico City

So I am back to posting on the blog (disclaimer being that while I am the only one who feels I am the better looking of the two, everyone knows that my wife is the better writer, so please forgive me if this drags, or is otherwise on a level below the other posts).

My weekend here will help explain why I love the luxuries we have in Mexico…

HAIRCUT: Friday afternoon I went for a haircut to my usual place, where now know me, and welcome me as a king. I sit in a nice comfortable chair, where first a guy comes around with a stack of magazines for me to pick from, I chose the Latin version of GQ, so I can see all the things I can not afford. Next a different guy comes around with a drink cart filled with coffees, waters, drinks (scotch, tequila, beer, etc). Of course, I chose a beer, although they already know which one I want and are bringing it to me, while someone else was showing me the drink cart. Next comes someone to offer me a manicure and pedicure; I politely decline (because one, I am a man and men don´t do these things, but more importantly, then I would not be able to yell at Rupal when she gets them, not that it ever deters her). Next comes the guy to shine my shoes - sometimes I avail myself to this service - though today I am in sandals so I politely decline (I do reconsider the pedicure, but then decline that as well). Finally, a guy comes around offering me a portable Play Station, but I decline this as well, as I have my Spanish magazine and my blackberry.

Now onto the haircut (in case you forgot why I was here): I fall back into the lounge chair and get my usual haircut AND then the best part of the whole experience when the barber proceeds to give me a neck and back massage. Then as I am leaving, a guy comes up and helps wipe all the hair off of my shirt, while asking if I had my car valet parked (I walk to this place, but it is nice to know they have valet service).

PARTY: That evening, we went to party (maybe Rupal will post about it) at an apartment complex a few blocks from our place. All I can say about this party is that the apartment was huge, modern and one of the nicest (with an incredible view) that I have seen nearly anywhere. The complex offered valet parking, a door man to open the door, hold the elevator open and push the button to the floor to which we were headed. The only thing more he could have done was carry us inside.

MOVIES: Saturday night we went to a movie with our good friends Eliseo and his wife Marisol. One of the theaters in Polanco offers VIP seating, which means, for one thing, we reserve our seat location when purchasing tickets. The theaters are filled not with the traditional seats in stadium seating, but rather with leather armchairs which lean all the way back and have a leg rest that pops up - basically like sitting in first class on a nice airline carrier. The chairs are in pairs of two, so each set has its own area to place purses, food, etc. Each set of seats also comes with a thick blanket (Rupal did not share with me - but it was nice to know it was there). Before the movie starts, a waitress comes around takes your order for not only the usual movie stuff like popcorn, soda, candy, but also like food like pizzas, hot dogs and ice cream, and most importantly, drinks (beer anyone?) I am not sure how good the movie was, but the accommodations were so good that I fell asleep for about an hour, and let me tell you, this was the best money I have spent in a while.

So this is my life here in Mexico - it is tough, I know, but I have learned to deal with it. I did not get into the live in maid or the driver we have who runs all my errands (like paying bills, picking up dry cleaning, etc), but I suppose this is enough for one day.

Friday, December 7, 2007


It could be that I am completely ready for potty training, or I could just be going through some really weird phase that Mommy & Daddy pray I outgrow before my teenage years, but lately I get overtaken by this urge to remove my pants. It happens at random moments of the day(though luckily always at home - so far): I could just be playing in the living room or having quiet time in my crib when I feel this sudden urge to remove my pants and hang out in my diaper.

Well today Mommy walked into my room after naptime to find me again without any pants on. I had strewn them, as well as my diaper, across the room, and was standing up, dancing in my crib, buck nacked from the waist down.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Wear My Sunglasses at Night

It seems that the older I am getting, the more of an opinion I have about my appearance. At first I was only picky about my clothes, insisting on wearing certain shirts, or refusing to change my pants. But lately I have discovered the beauty of accessories: boots and purses and sunglasses, oh my!!

To that end, I have become obsessed with wearing my sunglasses all the time (and this has nothing to do with Mommy losing hers (Another Loss of An Inanimate Object). I wear them during the day – at the park, to school, while eating meals, drinking milk and generally just hanging around the house – and even at night, when it is so dark with them on that I sometimes bump into things. But I still refuse to take them off (and heaven forbid they fall off – it is a tragedy of gigantic proportions). Daddy says I remind him of that 1980's song by Corey Hart (whover that is).

Last night Mommy did manage to convince me to remove them when I went to sleep – I didn’t really want to, but she’s sick so I thought I’d throw her a bone by complying.

I am turning into quite the little fashionista, wouldn’t you say? At the very least, you can say I have a bold sense of style . . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Giving Thanks

I had expected (and at some level hoped) that Thanksgiving this year would pass without much thought or attention. It’s not that I don’t love the holiday and all that it represents, rather it was being away from home during this time, knowing that family would be gathering and we would be missing out, that made me want the day to go by like any other ordinary Thursday.

But even here in Mexico there were many references to the holiday – with the American television station broadcasting Macy’s Parade preparations, Mexican radio stations acknowledging the day for all Americans living here, and even emails on the Newcomers website by Americans about where to buy turkeys and canned pumpkin.

So I was especially grateful that my friend Christine and her husband Kip invited us over for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at their house. It was wonderful to be able to think about and appreciate the holiday and have good friends to share it with. And this year was a treat for both Sonny and me – he got to eat turkey on thanksgiving for the first time in years, and I got to experience my very first turkey dinner. Even though I didn’t eat any turkey, there were a number of delicious side dishes that Christine had prepared, as well as the traditional pumpkin pie for dessert.

Asha had a great time as well, playing with Christine’s dog Sacha (and feeding her cookies), and hanging out with her pal, baby Charlotte.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Loss of an Inanimate Object

While we had a nice time in Cuernavaca last weekend and desperately needed some fresh air and time away from the city, the experience was marred by a major loss: that of my Fendi sunglasses. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I never, ever buy expensive accessories like sunglasses, wallets and key chains because I have a propensity for losing them. So this splurge on a pair of sunglasses that cost more than the combined cost of every other pair of sunglasses, wallets and key chains I have ever owned was momentous. And it's not just that they were expensive - it's that they made me feel gorgeous and glamorous no matter what else I was wearing. Therefore, I am typically vigilant over them. I suppose, then, that it only takes a second of being careless that your life – and accessory collection – changes forever.

It all starts out innocently enough. You go into the restroom of a fast food café to change your daughter’s diaper, take off the sunglasses and place them on the sink. You become preoccupied by the fact that you must change the diaper while she is standing up (ever
so-grateful that it is only wet and not dirty), because there is no changing table, and focus on pulling up her tights and cowboy boots afterwards, all the while guarding the door to avoid getting hit in the arse when it flies open. You forget to grab the glasses on the way out, and three minutes later when you return to get them, they are gone. Just disappeared off the face of the earth (or into someone’s pocket book), and no amount of badgering the cafe employees about whether anyone has turned them in is going to bring them back.

For anyone who has read Asha’s post Lost Manju: Reward If Found
, this occurrence is likely to sound familiar. We forget something in a public place, realize it, return within minutes to find it, and it has vanished. Of course it is our own fault for forgetting the item in the first place, but I can’t help but feel annoyed. There have been numerous times I have lost or forgotten items (anyone sensing a theme here?) at stores and restaurants in the U.S., but upon my return to find them, someone has always turned them in to a cashier or manager. So far in Mexico, I have only found people who seemingly pounce on someone else’s forgetfulness and pocket the item in question.

The thing is that I know all Mexicans are not this way, and I am determined not to let these experiences mar my opinion of an entire population. And if I think about it carefully, I can recall a couple of instances in the U.S. where I have actually had my wallet stolen, not because I forgot it somewhere, but because someone actually pick pocketed me – and I don’t let those instances affect my opinion of Americans in general.

As for how I am recovering over this devastating loss: let’s just say that I am following in my daughter’s footsteps when she lost Manju. I wake up at night crying, “Fendi lost, Fendi gone . . . I love Fendi.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Lovely Weekend

We are just finishing off a long weekend here in Mexico because of a holiday called “Day of the Revolution.” I have no idea what revolution we are commemorating (I play the ignorant foreigner on this one), but what I do know is that this was a great chance to get out of the city and get to a colonial town I have been dying to visit called San Miguel de Allende. As usual I waited until the last minute to book a hotel, which on any ordinary weekend would not have mattered, but on this major holiday resulted in every single hotel and bed and breakfast being booked solid. So we had no plans for three days, and I was dying to do something a bit different than just go to Lincoln Park yet again.

So we decided to take a day trip to Cuernavaca on Sunday (on Saturday we did our usual breakfast/market/Lincoln Park during the day, and then went to the movies at night). Cuernavaca is about an hour and 15 minutes from Mexico City and is known for its eternal good weather. It is a popular spot for weddings, and boasts wonderful Spanish courses for foreigners, but mostly it offers Chilangos (Mexico City dwellers) an escape from the city, some fresh air and great hotels with swimming pools. Since we were there only for the day, we walked around the zocalo (town square), ate at a charming outdoor restaurant, and took Asha to 1975-style Chuck-e-Cheese type of place where she rode mechanical horses and boats for $1 a pop. Truly a great way to spend a Sunday.

Today we returned to Chapultepec Park and went boating. It was a lovely day to be outdoors – about 68 degrees, not too sunny – with leaves crunching under our feet along the way. The manmade lake at the park is lovely with great views of some of the cities’ tallest buildings that tower behind the trees that flank the lake. (Chapultepec Park reminds me of Central Park in every way, except that it lacks an ice-skating rink.)

We had the option of renting a peddle-boat or a row boat (they have kayaks as well, but with Asha that wasn’t exactly an option). Given our physical state, Sonny and I opted for the peddle-boat, thinking it would be the easier of the two to maneuver. I’m not sure if we were correct in our assumption, but I certainly haven’t felt so out of shape in a very long time. Unfortunately we forgot our camera both in Cuernavaca and this morning at the park, so I have no pictures of us to upload (this one is from http://community.iexplore.com/, just to give an idea of how pretty the park is), which is really a shame because Asha looked adorable peeking out from under the huge orange life-vest she had to wear when boating.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


While I was a bit disappointed to have missed our first Day of the Dead here in Mexico, I was fortunate enough to have been in the States during Diwali this year. Diwali is the four day festival of lights that marks the end of the Hindu calendar year and start of the new year. Of course there is a rich religious history behind the holiday that I cannot get into, in part because I don't recall all the details. What I do know, though, is that some of my most memorable childhood and even adult memories are of this holiday, when my parents and I would do a puja on the first day, and my mom would cook special foods. On the day of Diwali itself, we would hold a puja at my dad's office, with all of our extended family and close friends participating, followed by an elaborate dinner at one of the relatives' homes which was always decorated with lights and candles. It has always been a very special holiday in our home, and I cannot imagine not being around my family to celebrate it.

So I was particularly thrilled to be there this year, when being away from family and friends has been difficult sometimes on the most ordinary of days. And I was glad to have Asha participate in the celebration as well, because the older she gets, the more important I feel it is that she understand and appreciate at least this one religious event. While our family gets together on Thanksgiving and Christmas and has big celebrations, Diwali is the one event that is at its heart Indian and Hindu, and that is something I want to make sure my daughter understands is part of her culture and heritage, no matter where in the world we live.

* Image obtained from http://virtual4redemption.files.wordpress.com/2006/10/diwali.jpg

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

(Image obtained from http://www.digitalscrapbookplace.com/gallery/data/507/419kskold_dia-de-los-muertos.jpg)

When I am Mexico, I am accustomed to remembering holidays or other important days in the U.S and feeling nostalgic about being away from home. But today I experienced nostalgia about being away from Mexico on an important day. Today marks one of Mexico's most important holidays - Dia de los Muertos. Sounds a bit morbid from the name (and even some of the pictures you might see online, as the Mexicans have this fascination with skeletons), but the sentiment behind this holiday is actually quite beautiful: remembering and honoring loved ones who have passed away.
My understanding is that Mexicans believe that the souls of the deceased come back to visit once a year, and in honor of this visit, they create altars in their homes and at gravesites with pictures and sentimental memorabilia of the deceased. They also cook some traditional Day of the Dead foods, as well as foods that their deceased loved ones used to like. One of these traditional items (and one of my favorites) is called Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead), and it is a cross between a donut and a huge kaiser roll, but softer and coated in sugar. Sounds gross, I know, but it is delicious and unfortunately only available at bakeries in the days leading up to the holiday.

I feel a bit regretful that we are missing our first Dia de los Muertos in Mexico (even the children at Asha's school are creating altars in their class to place photos of lost loved ones) - I really hope to be in Mexico for this holiday next year.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Mommy is really thrilled that we are in New Jersey right now, for more than the obvious reasons of shopping, eating and seeing everyone. She loves the fall weather and the leaves turning colors and drinking pumpkin spice coffee. Most of all, though, she was really excited to take me trick-or-treating. While we went last year, I was still pretty young and naive and didn't have a clue what all the fuss was about. But now I think I'm starting to figure it out - you dress up in fun clothes and go around to people's houses to collect candy in your little Halloween basket - and boy did I have a blast doing that!

We went to Aunt Jackie and Uncle Scott's house, where their son Dylan was Blue's Clues, and Aunt Melanie and Uncle John came too, along with little Johnny who was a skeleton. I dressed up as a fairy - don't we all look precious? I'm not sure what my favorite part of the night was: ringing the doorbells, walking around in the dark outside, or collecting candy in my basket (though I do know that the whole experience was so much more fun because I got to go with my two boyfriends). Or maybe the best part was the HUGE tub of candy Uncle Scott had for the trick-or-treaters, next to which I felt absolutely no shame in parking myself and helping myself to about seven lollipops.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dancing Queen

As of late I have acquired a bit of an independent streak: I get strong urges to help Mommy and Daddy around the house with chores as mundane as wiping down the sink after brushing my teeth, to cleaning up the toys in my room, by announcing, “Asha do it.” I also have very strong opinions about what I want to wear each day, and often dress in layers of clothes that do not match because, even though I want to wear a new item of clothing, I cannot bear to remove what I was already wearing. So there are days I walk around the house wearing a bathing suit over my pajamas, go to the park wearing a pink Dora shirt over a blue princess shirt and blindingly bright pink socks. Or, I go to school wearing the same princess shirt I wore to the park the previous day and slept in the night before. I figure cleanliness is overrated, though I suspect it is torturing the obsessive-compulsive side of Mommy's nature to allow me to be seen in public this way, so I think my dirty shirt days are numbered . . . .
I have also acquired some new hobbies: I absolutely love coloring and drawing – on paper, on the dining table and all over the hardwood floors. (Mommy is counting on this addiction to help get us through a five hour flight back home with our sanity intact.) I also love to dance, a skill I am practicing every time I hear any bit of music anywhere. As you can see, I love to shake my little tushy . . . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Inner Competitiveness

Anyone who has crossed my path over the past couple of months knows that I am taking Spanish classes at UNAM (Universidad Autonoma de Mexico). After having tried out Berlitz and International House, this is my third attempt at learning Spanish since we decided to move to Mexico. And I have to admit that I absolutely love my class over at UNAM – for one thing, this satellite “campus” (i.e., building) where I take the classes is a mere four blocks from my apartment (with Starbucks on the way). Plus, my instructor is wonderful, and the material is interesting and easy to follow. The biggest draw for me, though, was the ability to meet a bunch of other English speakers in my class. Of course nothing ever goes according to the image in my head, so the first day of class I walk in to find 5 Koreans, 6 Japanese women and 4 Haitian musicians – none of whom speak any English.

Despite this little glitch, I really like the people in my class, and am forced to practice my Spanish (and my ever-so-quickly-fading French with the Haitian guys) since I can't communicate in English. I also really love being in a classroom again and learning something that requires more brain power than “The Wheels on the Bus.” So I am really into this class, and despite having to endure Sonny’s teasing about how I need to get a life and am taking this class way too seriously, I want to do really well. No, I don’t mean really well. I mean better than everyone else.

All of a sudden I find myself taken over by this overwhelming need to kick everyone else’s butt in the class. I didn’t know that after being out of school for seven years I still had this petty competitiveness in me, but apparently I do. Must be from all those years of law school and private practice alongside some very serious and aggressive individuals. And the fact that I have not had any intellectual stimulation since I stopped working a year and a half ago. But I refuse to hide this shameful, petty part of me any longer, even though I know that someday soon I will need to reign in this unsightly part of my personality for Asha's sake.

But in the meantime, I’m off to work on my oral presentation, because I must make sure that mine is the absolute best one in the class . . . .

Thursday, October 11, 2007

*Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

It probably comes as no surprise that Sonny and I eat out pretty often, even here in Mexico City, where finding vegetarian food – let alone good vegetarian food – is difficult. The weather here is temperate year round so most of the restaurants in Polanco offer sidewalk, café-like seating. One thing that comes along with that, though, is the barrage of vendors who walk past the sidewalk tables every few minutes trying to sell everything from Mexican shawls to plants to lottery tickets. At first this was really annoying – ok, it is still really annoying – but lately it makes me more sad than irritated.

Last weekend we went out to breakfast and throughout the meal robotically replied “Gracias, no” to the various merchants trying to sell us tacky cell phone accessories. As Sonny was checking the bill, I noticed a shawl vendor looking over in our direction. I’m not sure if he was looking at us or was just lost in thought, but I suddenly felt curious about him and others like him. What must he think as, day in and day out as he watches customers eating overpriced meals at trendy restaurants, putting down 500 pesos for a meal without thinking twice? What are the lives like of these men and women who travel from shanty towns to the more affluent neighborhoods of Mexico City calculating how much bargaining they can afford with customers? And how can these people possibly make ends meet by selling relatively inexpensive items which, during the course of our 45-minute meal, it seemed no one was interested in buying?

Poverty is not a new sight to me – after all, I have visited India enough to have many vivid memories of emaciated beggars in tattered clothing, some carrying clearly famished children in their arms. In fact, the impoverished people I see every day in my little area of Mexico City could probably be classified as middle class compared with the abjectly poor people I have encountered in Mumbai, not to mention in rural parts of India. Still, it breaks my heart to see these peddlers, and even children no older than 6 or 7, with dirty hands and faces, trying to sell a pack of gum to restaurant patrons for 4 pesos (40 U.S. cents) while we feed Asha spoonfuls of imported ice-cream. (I won’t even get into the panhandlers sitting outside Lincoln Park, hands outstretched, while their children nap under a bench.)

One of these days I am going to come home from a restaurant not just with leftover food, but with an ugly plant, a gaudy shawl, or a fake leather cell phone case just to ease my conscience for saying “Gracias, no” all those times with a mouth full of $8 pancakes.

*E.Y. Harper

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

They Say It's My Birthday

Yesterday I officially turned two years old, although the celebrations began on Monday when Mommy brought a birthday cake to school for me. After lunch all the children in my class sang “Happy Birthday” and “Las Mañanitas” (the Mexican Birthday Song). Unfortunately Mommy was too enamored with me and all my classmates sitting at our lunch tables and looking so cute that she forgot to videotape the singing, but she did manage to get a few pictures.

Yesterday, on my actual birthday, I awoke to a house decorated with balloons and Dora. Mommy being Mommy, obsessed a bit about not finding any Dora decorations, so she bought a huge Dora drawing book, colored some pictures and hung them around the apartment. (Yes, she knows she needs to get a life, as Daddy has repeatedly told her). It was well worth her and Daddy’s efforts, though, because when I saw everything I was so excited I couldn’t stop squealing in delight.

Then in the afternoon, we had a little birthday party at home. It was very low key by Mexican standards (which usually includes huge piñatas, inflatable castles and/or live animals) – just 7 of my buddies ranging from the ages of 2 ½ to 10 weeks over for cake, ice cream and toys. There were no toddler meltdowns but I think all the excitement of the past two days got to me, because I was feeling a bit cranky and whiny. Luckily I didn’t totally lose it until just after everyone left.

Although I didn’t get to see my grandparents on my birthday, I did talk to them, and I got a bunch of birthday messages from my Mama, Kaka, Mommy’s cousins, aunts and uncles, and even from Daddy’s relatives all the way in India! Plus I got some really cool birthday presents from my amigos, like books and art supplies. Too bad this birthday thing only comes around once a year . . . .

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weekend Getaway

Having visitors lately has given us the great excuse of doing some sightseeing in and out of Mexico City. We took Dada and Dadi to Xochimilco to ride the garish gondolas (and buy plants for the apartment) and to the the Zocalo (which at night is all lit up in the national colors, as this is independence month). But best of all was our long weekend to Acapulco.

Since Mommy and Daddy are not huge fans of the Jersey shore, this was my first ever excursion to the beach, and I have to say that I just loved it. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the Puerto Marques Bay, in the more serene area of Acapulco. The ocean was warm as bath water and the waves were very gentle, so after my initial caution at trying something new, it was nearly impossible to get me off the beach.

The hotel also had three swimming pools to choose from (while Mommy preferred the infinity pool for her swimming, I stuck to the main pool which had an adjoining kiddie section). I spent an awful lot of time in there, and even made a friend, Lucca. It turns out that he and his parents live not too far from us in Mexico City, so hopefully we’ll be having some play dates in our future.

We also managed to venture out of the hotel to go see a dolphin show at the acquatic park, and then on to the famous cliff divers at La Quebrada (the divers jump into that narrow strait between the cliffs that you can see in the picture below).
After such a fun beach vacation, I’m counting down to our trip to Cabo in December!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Abuelos! Abuelos!

Despite having moved 3000 miles away from home, I sure do see my grandparents a lot – not that I am complaining, mind you.

Last weekend Dada returned, and for the first time brought Dadi with him. We have been having tons of fun together – we went to the park where we rented a remote controlled boat, then boarded the Lincoln Park Express (that’s what I like to call the tractor powered train that runs around the park). I also tried my “feet” at a trampoline – I don’t know if you can tell from the video below, but while I loved the idea of being able to jump on something that I wouldn't get yelled at, I had a hard time actually doing it. In the end I just ended up bouncing all over the place by virtue of the older kids around me jumping.

Mommy and Daddy are enjoying having Dada and Dadi around almost as much as I am – Dadi has been cooking for us a bit, and she and Dada come to pick me up from school with Arturo so that gives Mommy a lot of free time to read, study Spanish, and finally get her hair cut. Plus Daddy has taken a few days off from work, so the house is so lively and full of people.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Viva Mexico!

This past weekend was the celebration of Mexican independence, and since Mexicans love to party, even their independence celebration lasts two days. It begins on the evening of September 15 when the Mexican president stands atop the National Palace overlooking the Zocalo and addresses the crowds that have congregated below. The celebration reaches a climax when, in a commemoration of Father Hidalgo’s call for independence and liberty back in 1810, the president closes his remarks by ringing the same bell originally rung by Father Hidalgo, and shouting, “VIVA MEXICO!”

And thus begins the independence holiday, which lasts into September 16, the actual day of independence.

Anticipation of El Grito de Indpendencia (The Shout of Independence), however, starts weeks before when streets, houses and buildings are decorated throughout the city in the national colors of green, white and red. Buildings are swathed in the biggest Mexican flags you have ever seen, and vendors set up shop on every street corner selling flags, balloons, sombreros and other memorabilia.

While we thought it would be a fantastic experience to stand amongst the crowds at the Zocalo and experience Mexican nationalism in its highest form, we ended up celebrating the holiday from our apartment, listening to the fireworks in the distance and the blaring car horns below. I was a bit disappointed as I was told that the atmosphere at the Zolaco is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, only warmer and a bit more dangerous. However, too many people cautioned us against going. After all, the party-going people that they are, the Zolaco was sure to be filled by way too many Mexicans, many having consumed way too many shots of tequila . . . .

Saturday, September 15, 2007

An Eclectic Group

One of things I had envisioned about life as an expat (aside from sipping cappuccinos at sidewalk cafes in different cities each weekend) was meeting people of different nationalities and backgrounds. I imagined going to dinner parties and making friends with Europeans, South Americans, Asians who spoke various languages, had lived all over the world and could share their different perspectives on life overseas.

Well, the other night I was invited to a ladies night at a friend’s house where, in addition to fantastic food, I met a number of really interesting and nice women from all over the world. One thing that amazed me about them was that every single one of them was fluent in at least one language aside from her native tongue. In fact one woman, a Brazilian national, was fluent in four languages: English (after having met her French husband in London), French, and Spanish aside from her native Portuguese. Another thing that was incredible was that most of the women were raising trilingual children – with success – which gave me hope for Asha.

After a few bottles of wine, we moved on to the boisterous portion of the evening with a bilingual game of Pictionary. Imagine eighteen less-than-sober women yelling out guesses to bad drawings in broken Spanish and English . . . .

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Get a Room

I have never really considered myself a prude or anything, but the amount of PDA I see here in Mexico City takes some getting used to (perhaps there is a conservative Indian side of me after all). Everywhere I go – from parks to the movies to fast food restaurants to street corners – I see couples engaging in amorous behavior. I am not just talking about hand holding or the occasional kiss. It is more along the lines of sitting on each other’s laps while embracing and whispering into each other’s ears, long periods of kissing and even the occasional sprawl on the grass with one person laying on top of the other doing God-knows-what. No wonder this is the one of the most populous cities in the world. . . .

(Photo courtesy of http://www.bygonebyways.com)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Starting School

Last Wednesday I started school for the very first time! (We don’t really count those three months in day care when Mommy attempted to go back to the firm because I was so young and it was for such a short time). My new school is a Montessori that I will be attending every day for three and a half hours, although last week I only went for a couple of hours each day. Mommy was a lot more worried about me starting school than I was, especially in light of losing my Manju just a few days before. At the risk of touting my own horn, though, I must admit that I did quite well – I only cried for a minute on my first day, but was quickly distracted by the gentle golden retriever in my classroom, and the other children. I even got to draw with a pen (something Mommy rarely lets me do after the time I drew all over my pants in ink).

Thursday and Friday were a bit rougher because, the smart cookie that I am, realized that this school thing is going to be a daily occurrence. But my teachers, Miss Melissa and Miss Nicky, have told Mommy that once I am inside the classroom I have fun dancing to music, painting and doing crafts (in the picture below you can see the beaded necklace that I made in school today). There are lots of other fun things, too, like a playground outside, puzzles, books, blocks and little pottery and china just the right size for me. I also have my own plant, (which Mommy and I bought especially for school) that I get to water and take care of.

Even though I do miss Mommy while I am in school, I am having a lot of fun. For one thing, I really enjoy learning even more Spanish - so much so that Mommy worries a bit that I will forget English and Gujarati. Plus, I get to put a family picture of Mommy, Daddy and me on the cork board in the story corner, where all the other children have posted photos of their families, so I can feel like they are always with me.

I am also consoled by the fact that two days per week while I am at Montessori, Mommy is in Spanish class, and the other two days she claims to go to the gym – if that is true, I definitely got the better end of the deal than she did!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lost Manju: Reward if Found

Anyone who has ever met me has likely met my blanket Manju as well – because I never go anywhere without it. In fact, Manju is world renowned, as my relatives and friends in the US, India and Mexico know it. While Mommy had tried for a long time to get me to use one of my many beautiful and soft baby blankets, there is something about rough, flammable material that is inherent to a dollar store blanket that I find comforting. So she gave up that battle a long time ago.

Well, the other day Nani, Mommy and I took a walk to the grocery store and I accidentally knocked it out of my stroller just before leaving (Mommy is sure of this as she recalls specifically handing it to me as we approached the checkout line). A block and a half later, Mommy realized that it was missing and ran back to Superama to find it, to no avail. In the days since, no one has turned it in to the lost and found. It seems that in the seven minutes between us leaving the store and Mommy returning to find it, someone with really bad taste and even worse karma has taken Manju.

In the meantime, I have been in serious mourning. Manju has been my security blanket, my best friend and constant companion for half my life, and I find it difficult to sleep, drink milk, or even sit in my car seat without it. Even Mommy misses Manju, but she has tried to explain to me that Manju has been lost. Still, it breaks Mommy and Daddy’s hearts when I repeat over and over again, “Manju lost, Manju gone,” or wake up crying, “I love Manju.” So they have tried to find the roughest, cheapest quality blankets to replace Manju, but they are all either too pretty or too soft to be the real thing. After all, as anyone who has ever seen it can attest, there is only one original Manju.

Just Like Old Times

When I lived in NJ, I used to see my Nani at least a few times a week (not counting the month and a half I lived with her). These were some of my favorite times as we would play games and sing songs and just be silly together. I’m relieved to discover that nothing has changed, even though I haven’t seen her in almost two months. We spent these past few days visiting some fun places together, like the San Angel market, as well as some ordinary ones, like the grocery store. My favorite moments, though, were when she would play her version of “Ring around the Rosy” with me, and rock me to sleep while singing a lullaby. No matter what we do, though, we always have a blast!