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

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!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Home Cooking

My mom came to visit this past Thursday for what has been a wonderful but too short trip – at least for me. While I realize that this is her vacation, and she probably wants and needs to relax a bit, not to mention spend every waking moment with Asha, she has spent half of her time cooking for me. We have taught Aurora how to make some basic Indian food (I say basic, but most of this proves even too complicated for me), my mom has made chutneys and dals and dough for rotis – enough to freeze and use at a later date – and home cooked some of my favorite foods (which amazingly taste just as good as at home, despite the restricted ingredients available to her here) nearly every day.

Around the strict cooking schedule I had devised, we did manage to get in some sight seeing and spend a lot of time with Asha. On Friday we went to Teotihuacan to see the Aztec pyramids – as you can see, the Mexican rainy season was true to form, because it began to pour about five minutes after we arrived. That didn’t stop us from climbing as much of the Moon Pyramid as was permitted, and to the top of the Sun Pyramid (the third highest pyramid in the world, according to Lonely Planet). For once I didn’t feel guilty about not going to the gym.

Over the weekend, my mom, Sonny, Asha and I went to the arts market at the Sabado Bazaar in San Angel, a charming district in the city with cobblestone streets and historic buildings. It was a lovely morning and after some shopping we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that had better atmosphere than food. It was worth the mediocre food, however, to sit outdoors on the patio while a mariachi band serenaded us. The shopping didn’t stop there – earlier today we went to a local market for souvenirs, and then to a toy store, as my mom insisted on buying Asha another toy (because as we all know, she is so deprived).
Now that my mom’s visit is coming to an end, I realize just how much I miss her, and all of my family. While it is one thing to talk about what’s new on the phone, it is so much better to talk about “nothing” in person. And of course, this visit has just reinforced how much I rely on my mom – not just for cooking but for everything from decorating my apartment, to parenting issues to just chatting about nothing in particular.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Adding Injury to Insult

For the past few months Mommy and Daddy have been engaging in negotiations on the scale of world peace on the subject of . . . cutting my hair. I have finally started to look like a girl, in part because my hair is very long and can support adorable little hair pins. Unfortunately, I tend to pull out the hair pins after a few moments (Mommy looks so happy when I let her put them in my hair that I don’t have the heart to stop her - but they are quite annoying after a while) and ultimately put them in my mouth. This results in Mommy scolding me while I try to look at her through the hair in my eyes.

So last weekend Mommy finally capitulated and agreed to get me a haircut. Daddy compromised and said that it can remain long in the back and on the sides, but must be short enough in the front to not get in my eyes. Somebody should tell these people that only one parent should be in charge of my grooming, because the end result between such a compromise is that I now look like Jim Carey’s character in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” (All I am missing is the chipped front tooth.)

As if a bad haircut wasn’t enough to be upset about, yesterday I got so excited to see Aurora after being out all afternoon (combined with being overtired at an hour past naptime) that I ran directly into the wall and slammed my face into the door frame. The end result: a lot of weeping and a little bruise. I think I just wasn’t used to being able to see so clearly without any hair in my eyes.