For the long weekend, and because I'm tired of looking at boxes we need to unpack still after a month, we decided to drive out to Rajasthan and stay in an ancient fort that is also a hotel. Our room is literally on the side of the mountain because one wall is actually the mountain. Child 2 and Child 3 are really enjoying the novelty of a rock wall in the room and Child 3 was ready to climb up it until she noticed that it was a little dirty, because mountains are made of rocks and dirt. So we're just enjoying looking at the rock wall rather than scaling it. She's going on a zip-line down the mountain tomorrow, so that will have to do. The hotel, in case you are wondering, looks like this:
That is not my photo, although it's pretty much what the view from our room looks like. I would post my own pics, but I can't get my iPod to connect to the internet because apparently I cannot figure out how they spelled my name which is the wifi password which I need for my iPod, but not my computer, which is pretty typical for India. I'm learning to not ask why because there is no why, it just is what it is. I used to hate that phrase for being trite and circular, but it describes life in India so well--it is as it has always been and will always be.
Accepting that fact has made some of the differences and challenges of life here easier to take. For example, I've learned to download videos to my hard drive so that when the internet is out for days, I still have something to do. I don't even blink when the lights go out and then on and then out and then on. I eat what is offered that I can eat, and I don't really mind that it's the same thing over and over or is sometimes just rice. After about a month of the same order every time, when I come into the restaurant on the compound, they see me and say "mediterranean chicken with no pita, french fries on the side?" And I nod yes. I walk into the canteen at 9:45 every morning and they automatically get out two Diet Cokes because it's what I order every day. I'm fond of routine, so I don't mind it. India agrees with me in that way.
Driving in India does not agree with me, so I have refused to get a license and why should I when I have a thing called a wallet and it can pay for my taxi? Granted, taxis are sometimes dodgey, so we have hired a driver whom I shall call Bentley and who is rapidly becoming my favorite person in the world besides Husband and the children. Driving, or rather riding, with Bentley is a treat because he has been driving for Embassy families for 19 years and oh does he have some good stories! Like the time he was driving down from Shimla which is on a mountain and the breaks went out and he didn't want to say anything because he thought it would make madam nervous. Um, I'm thinking he was correct there. And about how he grew up next to the Corbett National Park and used to see tigers on his way to school early in the morning. Bentley is a treasure. He is also a very good driver because he constantly has to avoid other cars, scooters, rickshaws, cows, dogs, small children, and the occasional elephant. Also cars like this that tend to meander all over the road like a slow flowing river just placidly going along oblivious to the rest of the traffic around it.
Now, about the food in India, I think it is actually good for me. I have been healthier here than I was back in the US and I made it 10 weeks without a single sick day, which for me is a record. Although the sick day was yesterday and it was a doozy and I was really worried I would not be able to come on the trip to the fort which is called a non-hotel hotel and I guess refers to the fact that people's rooms are made of mountain. I booked and paid for the hotel in advance, so if I wasn't well enough to go, that really would have sucked, and although I'm sure Husband and the children would have enjoyed it anyway, I would have been stuck at home alone with The Dog. The Dog, if you were wondering, has adjusted well to life in India and has stopped barking at every single thing and only barks at about every third thing. The guards and Bentley have figured out that she is all bark and no bite and Bentley agreed to look after her while we were gone since Husband would be driving us. The Dog tolerates Bentley, mostly, and he says things like "Dog, I am coming, so you can begin barking now!" So when I woke up this morning without a fever and didn't fall over when I tried to stand up, I decided I could leave The Dog and go as long as we did nothing, and that is what I plan to do for the rest of the weekend. This blog post will be as productive as I get.
Worrying about your children is not better than a brownie, and sending them off to college and worrying that some crazy person with a gun will shoot them is even worse. I can only imagine the heartache that the parents in Oregon whose children were killed are going through--and in my imagination it is bad enough. To Child 1, I am glad you are safe and that this hasn't happened at your school. But the thing that makes my heart clench is the word I left off of that last sentence: yet. Because until America figures out that the death of children by someone with a gun is unacceptable, it could happen anywhere and that terrifies me. So for Gandhi's birthday, I am praying for peace and sanity and that my fellow countrymen might find the courage and strength to fix this problem before someone else loses yet another child to senseless, preventable violence.