Monday, May 28, 2007

Mi Vida Mexicana

For nearly a week Mommy has been promising to introduce me to some babies, since I am really into them lately. Well, at least in theory. I love photos of babies - especially of me when I was small - and of my cousins Bryce and Ajay. And while I am not all that interested in babies when I see them in person (probably because Mommy doesn’t let me poke them in the eyes and yell “Eyes!”, I do tend to remember them when they are not around. So at any random moment of the day I will yell out “Baby Mischa” or “Baby Mina”, who are Mommy’s friends’ babies. I also demand – the minute Daddy gets home from work - that he show me pictures of Ajay or Bryce on his blackberry. So Mommy thought that I would be really excited to meet some new babies and children here in Mexico City.

To that end, we hosted a playgroup at our house last week, where I met a bunch of children, and my new friend Remi, who qualifies as a baby to me, since she is 4 months younger than I. Then on Saturday I met Mommy & Daddy’s friends Aliseo and Marisol, and their children, Eduardo and Lorenzo. Lorenzo really is a baby – only 10 months old – and Eduardo is almost two. We went to a nice lunch at a restaurant near our house called Buena Tierra (Good Earth), and then went on to the park where I proceeded to smack at least six children (Daddy counted), one of them being Eduardo. I should point out that the beating of Eduardo began at the restaurant, mostly just to see what would happen. And Mommy and Daddy thought my hitting phase was behind me.

In all fairness, though, I did have a very hectic day (we had spent a few hours walking to and browsing around the Saturday market and went to the park earlier in the day as well) leaving no time f
or a nap. Unfortunately, Mommy and Daddy had little sympathy and forced me to leave the park early due to my behavior.

All the excitement of Saturday left Sunday a total bore, with Mommy & Daddy going furniture shopping without me. It wasn’t so bad, though, because I got to spend time with Aurora, my new favorite person.

Speaking of Favorites, here’s a list of some recent ones:

Expression: “Salut!” (God Bless You in Spanish – although I tend to pronounce it “salup” and then laugh hysterically) and “Uh-oh, it broke” (in Gujarati)

Toys: Anything Dora (mostly so I can give her a kiss); Winnie the Pooh ride on car (or any “motorcar” for that matter); puzzles (with which I get frustrated if I can’t figure them out on the first try); balls (I’m learning how to throw – hopefully I haven’t inherited Mommy’s “athletic” genes).

Books: Peekaboo Polar Bear; Shapes; Coco the Chick

Foods: Chicken any style; chocolate cookies and M&Ms both of which I have just discovered (much to Mommy’s dismay)

Hobbies: running around the apartment deliriously, trying to find Aurora and get her to stop her work to pick me up; going for walks; trying to spot “doggies” everywhere we go; taking apart and putting back together my play mat; inspecting Mommy’s elbows; intentionally breaking things so I can use one of my favorite expressions.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Nitty Gritty, Down and Dirty

I’m talking soles of the feet so black that they have no hope of rescue from even the most scouring of pedicures; pollution masking the view of mountains only a few miles away, and faint traces of sewage problems when the wind blows in the wrong direction.

Okay, so maybe all cities are a little dirty, and maybe I am making too much of this because it is my first time not living in the ‘burbs and driving everywhere, and maybe we were warned about the pollution in Mexico City. Still, the grime is taking some getting used to (and by used to, I mean the ability to not cringe when I look at the bottom of my feet or maneuver Asha’s stroller around mucky puddles on broken sidewalks). Our apartment offers little refuge - it seems like the people who lived here before us must never have dusted or sanitized the apartment. It has taken weeks of daily sweeping and mopping to remove the thick film of dirt off the hardwood floors, countless Febreeze sprayings and scented candle lightings to somewhat dissipate the musty, wet dog odor in Asha’s bedroom (though we haven’t completely succeeded), and some serious scrubbing down of walls and shelves to make the apartment livable. But, ah, what a view we have.

Well, okay, the view changes as well, depending on the level of pollution at any given moment. From the pictures you can see what I’m talking about - when the rain has cleared some of the dust and pollution in the air, you can see the mountains in the distance (albeit still a little hazy). Otherwise, it’s as though they don’t exist. Lest we get too used to the view, the pollution troll keeps us on our toes.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My New Digs

It’s been a week since Mommy and I arrived in Mexico and I have to say that it has been very interesting. I love my new home – it is much bigger than my old house, especially my room. Here, I can run around all on one floor, hide in the dozens of closets and explore my new surroundings. We also have a couple of people who seem to be around all the time: Arturo, who runs errands for Daddy and drives us to the grocery store and Costco and even the children’s park if it’s too hot to walk; and Aurora, who helps Mommy around the house and cooks for us when Mommy doesn’t want to (which is pretty much every day). The best thing about having Arturo and Aurora around is that they teach me words and phrases in Spanish, like hola, gracias, and Buenos Dias. There is a children’s park nearby where we go almost every day, but it’s hard to get a turn on the swings because there are so many children there, and Mommy isn’t aggressive enough to grab a swing when someone gets off. Personally, I would’ve knocked the little kid with the lollipop off yesterday if Mommy weren’t looking.

While all of this is great, the best part about being in Mexico is that I am with Daddy again. He was living here by himself for nearly two months in a hotel, and I know it was very lonely for him. He worked a lot, which he still does, but then the only thing he had to look forward to when he got back to the hotel at nights was watching episodes of the West Wing and Miami Vice on DVD. (By the way, anyone ever heard of a guy named Don Johnson?) So I know that Daddy is as happy to see me as I am to see him.

I do of course miss hanging out with my grandparents because I used to see them every day, (although in some ways it’s like I never left because they sure do call a lot). And I miss my cousins and aunts and uncles – in fact, I talk about them all the time to Mommy. And I make Mommy sing the lullaby my Dadi (Daddy’s Mom) sings to me every night, and the prayers my Nani (Mommy’s Mom) says with me. And every time I eat papaya (which is a lot) I think about my Dada (Grandpa) because he used to feed it to me in New Jersey. So even though I am enjoying my days here, not having them around is hard for me. Mommy and Daddy think that my recent clinginess and inability to sleep through the night is somehow related to missing my family and my routine from New Jersey. I don’t know about that, but I do know that now is the time to milk this for all it’s worth – pretty soon I will get adjusted to my new life here, and their guilt will ease up. Which is why I am taking this opportunity to demand balloons every time we go to the park (only Daddy gives in, though – I think it’s the additional guilt of being away from me for two months), ignoring Mommy when she tells me not to throw things from my high chair, whining until I get to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed at night and generally just insisting on having what I want when I want it. Good times for all.

Posted By Asha

Friday, May 11, 2007

Arriving in Mexico

I first arrived in Mexico two weeks ago to settle the house and generally get things organized, leaving Asha behind with our parents for a week. On the flight over I was diligently reading “The Expat Survival Guide” which I had obtained from the Newcomers Club of Mexico City. Filled with everything you need to know about moving to Mexico City – from hiring a maid to their version of 911, and even a lowdown on the metric system for those of us who shamefully can’t figure it out – it has been a godsend. However, it suddenly occurred to me that despite my lame attempts at learning Spanish, I really can’t communicate with anyone. I don’t even know how to write a check because I can’t count high enough to write the numbers. By the time I landed, excitement was quickly waning and full blown panic had set in.

What the hell were we thinking? We had a perfectly nice life in New Jersey, and we decided to leave it all for what – a little excitement, something different? And even if wanted a change from life in NJ, we could have moved to the west coast, or Canada, or even London, where at the very least we could speak the language. Somehow that wasn’t glamorous enough for us when we were making the decision – we wanted to live where we could speak another language (though truth be told, I had thought I would be brushing up on French or learning Italian).

So here I was in Mexico, coordinating the movers, hiring the maid and communicating with our driver to get me to the nearest Walmart by using the few words I knew and inventive gestures through Charades, and of course with Sonny’s and Consuelo’s help as well. Things were going surprisingly smoothly – the movers actually came when they said they would, got all our furniture and boxes into the apartment and started unpacking all on my first day in Mexico. The remainder of the week was dedicated to unpacking (efforts are still ongoing), trying to open up a bank account, maneuvering through a Spanish speaking grocery store (Superama), visiting a couple of schools for Asha and learning the lay of the land.

Over the past couple of weeks I have found much to love about our current location – great city views from our apartment (while NYC was always my dream but not in my destiny, I am happy to have these views as substitute), a Starbucks around the corner (the most basic necessity of life), a Blockbuster next door to the Starbucks (while there is no substitute for Grey’s, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, I’ll become a movie junkie at rentals for only $2.50), a few bakeries within blocks where we have been going daily to get fresh bread, numerous cafes on every block, and a park just across the street from our apartment where Asha can get her fill of watching “doggies” and ride in her wagon. Yes, I can certainly get used to city life – something I have always craved.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am just a bit lonely or that I miss our parents terribly, or that I feel horribly guilty for snatching Asha away from them when they are all so attached to each other. I wish that I could be around on Mother’s Day when both my and Sonny’s family gets together with our moms and our brothers and my grandmother. And I wish that every time Asha asks for one of her grandparents, or uncles or cousins, I could say “We’ll see them tomorrow” like I would in NJ instead of saying “We’ll call them tomorrow.” But the one thing that I am trying to keep in mind is that this experience is for two years, and we will be back home after that if that is what we want. So now is the time to have new experiences instead of dwelling on what I am missing back home. I have a feeling, though, that I will have to keep reminding myself of this, at least for the next several weeks.