Hot Hot Hot !!

 

When all we desis talk of missing India and being home-sick, I don’t think we really had the Indian summer in mind, but somehow may be God thought he would be nice to us and try to replicate some Indian weather here in North America and brought on us this horribly hot summer. When we’ve waited all winter for it to get warm, so we could pretend to be outdoorsy people, we are welcomed by this sweltering heat. At least the local folks here, seem to enjoy sun bathing and putting on a tan, but for us folks from the Indian subcontinent, putting on a tan makes us go from looking brown to looking like unappetizing brownies. Becoming brownie aside, there are a few other inconveniences I have to deal with. 

The grass – The heat is killing the grass. We were away for about 4 days. Once we got back, our somewhat green grass had turned brown and crunchy. You might think I am overly attached to my lawn, but if you had been in my shoes last summer, you’d understand. This leads me into a somewhat unconnected discussion, but it makes for good talking anyway, so let me explain what we did last year. It was our first summer in the new single family home. The front yard lawn suddenly start balding in patches. After some serious “nachchufying” (banter) from me, my husband looked up the internet for what we needed to do to the lawn. Somebody said we should overseed it, so he went to Menards, bought a bag of lawn seed that was on sale and spread it around. It took a good month or so, before stuff started sprouting, and boy what a mess that was. He had bought some different kind of seed. This new variety of grass, lighter green, thinner, taller grass that grew faster than the rest of the lawn started sprouting all over the place. The lawn would look good for about 8 hours immediately after mowing, but by the next morning, the bright green tall grass would be all over the place. Ugh! Walking around the neighbourhood made me want to run a bulldozer over our lawn, it looked horrible. It went from looking like a balding 40-year-old to a 40-year-old hippie. I couldn’t figure out which was better, but both were definitely bad! So this year, after having shelled out a lot of money to a landscaping company so they’d save our lawn from our experiments, I was temporarily relieved to see it nice and green before the 4 days of heat that almost killed it. Now Mr. Baldy is back 😦 

Having a 5-year-old in the house through summer is very hard. Yes, I love my daughter, but she is not easy to entertain, if you take away TV. Having to keep her in the house and postponing the time she can run out of the house because of the heat is no joke. I kind of feel bad for her though, that here she waits for warm weather, and just as it gets here, I am already telling her it’s too hard to go out.

It is kind of amusing that I crib so much about this summer, because I’ve seen a lot worse in India. I’ve lived in Hyderabad, where the heat is so bad, you’d not want to touch the walls. We’ve poured water on the terrace to cool the house down, we’ve poured water inside the house, to cool the floors down, we’ve used air coolers, and desert coolers. We’ve dealt with regular power cuts by sitting in the dark on a pile of sand outside our house and playing antakshari with the neighbours. Those were fun times, at least I learnt the first 2 lines of a 1000 songs without knowing any more than that. I’ve also dealt with the heat in Chennai. It has to be the place that disproves that famous saying “Success is 10% inspiration 90% perspiration!”. Surely, if that was true, people in Chennai must have to be the most successful in the world! It’s that place which makes you re-consider the reasons for bathing – do you really need to bathe so you can generate fresh sweat, or do you need to bathe so you can wash of old sweat?

So, when the mamas and mamis coming from India remark “Chicago romba kuloor nu sonnaa, inga vandhu partha Madrasae thevalai polarke!”, I don’t really know what to say! 😐

Happy Summer you’all!

India trip

Happy New Year everybody! I promise to improve the quality and quantity of posts that I make this year.

Last year ended with a visit back home to India, where needless to say I had a ton of fun, did loads of shopping and ate an unimaginable quantity of yummy food thus adding to my already heavy weight.

If I started writing about all the stuff I did, I could go on and on and so to spare everyone the misery of a mile-long post, I will aim to make is short and sweet thus:

  • Visited Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmedabad (first time).
  • Took a few minutes to get accustomed to the number of people who looked like me once I got off at the Bengaluru international airport.
  • Weather was just perfect!
  • Traffic in Bangalore was horrible horrible and more horrible!
  • Cornered several times by my non-existent Kannada skills.
  • Enjoyed pre-wedding get-togethers with my cousins and wedding celebrations of my cousin to the maximum possible extent.
  • Loved mehendi, pattu podavais, malli poo and dressing up my daughter for all three sessions.
  • Watched (and almost relished, I dare say) my husband get a typical madras bashai dose from a taxi driver as he tried his hand driving in nungambakkam after 4 years.
  • My daughter loved the attention from the thathas, patis, kollu thatha-patis and innumerable uncles, aunts and cousins.
  • Suprised that I enjoyed my Saravana stores shopping experience – I had a personal shopper and all that. Apparently there is a group of folks there who watch out for NRIs and the like and assign shopping assistants. Wondered how they identified me as an NRI when I was in a salwar and had malli poo in my hair. May be too much English to a 3 year old.
  • Scared by the utter lack of time to enjoy life by my IT counterparts in India.
  • Bought a small baby oil bottle, one mysore sandal soap and a bottle of shringar “chaandhu” at a Naadar kadai for Rs.97 and felt stupid for pulling out Rs.50 note.
  • Celebrated a very traditional Karthikai at my in-laws in Madisar and everything. Ate a lot of kadalai urundais – don’t really care for the pori urundais.
  • Went bonkers shopping for handicrafts in Ahmedabad.
  • Ahmedabad is a nice city – no crowds, bearable traffic and easy parking.
  • Shamelessly bought a lovely hand-embroidered diwan set for Rs. 500, then bought cushions, and now hunting for a diwan on the Ikea website. All “thalai keezhai”.. ya I know.
  • Provided daily menus (not healthy ones, only tasty ones) and made my mother dish out everything I wanted to eat, thus adding several pounds 😦
  • Changed an unbearable number of yucky diapers because my daughter got a Rotavirus infection.
  • Found a new hobby – playdough!
  • Made sure I packed all 4 bags to the maximum possible extent and now struggling with trying to find a place for everything I bought.
  • Bid reluctant bye-byes to everyone back home.
  • Successfully answered the question – “I see a lot of H1Bs adjusting their status to Green card. Why do you think they do that?” asked by the immigration officer by saying “Everyone has their own reasons!”
  • Happy to be back home and still have a job!
  • Damn it’s cold!

Here are a few pics..

Update:

And how did I forget this??  I spoke to Maami quite a few times and felt like I had known her all my life!

Less tourists more fun!

Since, it has been decided that of late I’ve been capable of writing only about going to India, going to other places or about movies that attract painfully long comments, it’s now time to write about the latest vacation I had. Yeah, yeah… all you folks in India are saying not again! But you see, we hard working desis in the land of america, are not lucky enough to get unexpected bandh holidays, or unknown and uncelebrated festival holidays. We get one long weekend per season, and since we do not have to catch a kovai express or a dadar express back home, we usually fill up our gas tanks with a sigh and go in search of some waterbody that has a semblance of a beach.

This time, we went to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. It is a quiet place in the upper peninsula (UP) of Michigan on the border with Canada. Even though upper michigan, more specifically Mackinac Island is a place well frequented by desis, this part of UP is probably not as well known or well visited by tourists. Saulte Ste. Marie’s claim to fame is the Soo Locks. Ships of all sizes that travelled from Lake Superior to the lower great lakes had to unload all their goods at Sault Ste. Marie. They were then transported around and loaded into other ships on the other side, until they decided to build the Soo Locks. The Soo Locks then helped ships move across from one side to the other in spite of the 21 ft drop. After a 2 hours boat trip on the Soo Locks, we caught up some sleep and then headed to the local beach at Sherman Park. Sherman park is the town’s only public beach and even though it is not any where in the league of ‘namma Marina beach’, it was a fun place, mainly because it was clean and not crowded. The water here was really shallow, about knee length for about a quarter mile in. So, needless to say we enjoyed ourselves a lot just pushing around each other in the water and wading all the way to a tiny strip of sand some distance in. We also witnessed a beautiful sunset from Sherman park.

Sunset at Sault Ste. Marie
Sunset at Sault Ste. Marie

On our way back from Sault Ste. Marie to Chicago, we decided to take part of the scenic Lake Michigan Circle tour through Wisconsin. We drove along Lake Michigan and had a view of the lake for most of the journey. On the way, we stopped at the sight of a beautiful beach and lighthouse at Manistique, MI. If at Sault Ste. Marie, we had not bothered to take pictures, because we were too busy getting wet in the beach, this place was waiting to be photographed. It was such a peaceful and calm feeling, just looking at the vast expanse of water, the lone red lighthouse and the waves crashing on the rocks.

Manistique Lighthouse
Manistique Lighthouse

In all it was an ideal vacation. We had a good drive, enjoyed the journey, just did what we felt like without having to stand for hours in queues, enjoyed good old nature and came back happy to be home. Definitely makes me believe, that we should look for places like this rather than rushing to the usual NYC or Niagara falls.