Adventures in India
My husband worked for a consulting engineering firm for many years and got to travel to exotic places around the world, including Pakistan, Thailand, Guatemala, Jamaica, England, Brazil, and Italy. Our family took great vacations for a number of years on those frequent flier miles, ‘though it wasn’t easy on the family having him gone so much. In 1994, he and two coworkers were sent to India to be project managers on a number of coal-fired power plants being built on the West Coast by private Indian companies. Imagine a row of barefoot women walking down hill to the construction site in a rainbow of saris, carrying pans of wet cement on their heads, then walking up hill for the next batch. Infants sleep lazily in the breeze in makeshift hammocks fashioned from their long scarves, or dupattas. Business in India requires many more meetings and much more discussion than it does in the US*, and as time went on it became apparent that he would be in Mumbai for a number of years. The Indian company arranged for our then 11-year-old twins and I to join him.
above, the girls and I on the ubiquitous elephant ride. While we rode around, we watched the Indian lawn mower, at left. At right, Hub and the girls take off shoes and don headscarves in order to tour a Sikh Temple in Delhi.
What amazing adventures we had! Although we were able to travel quite a bit while we were there, just living in the outrageous city of Mumbai was an adventure every day. Tiny islands were joined over the years to make one giant city which has swelled to 18,000,000 people with the transition from a rural economy. Over one-fourth of the population is homeless, adding to the natural chaos and giving us bleeding liberals much to deal with psychologically.
We had a surprise bonus in the fact that all the sixth-grade girls at the American School of Bombay were of Asian origin. Dae-Woo was in the process of opening an automobile manufacturing plant at that time, so the girls got to hang out with lots of Korean girls. Through play dates and school affairs, we were able to learn a lot about Korean culture in addition to Indian culture. My girls had been elite athletes, competing at the state level in gymnastics, and have always irritated the hell out of little boys with their physical strength. That and the fact that they are not demure little personalities made them a force to be reckoned with for the sixth-grade boys. After the first week of school, I got a call from Mrs. Shaw, the headmistress, who tried to stifle her laughter while informing me that one of our girls was being disciplined for slugging a boy who kept stepping on her heels and making her shoes come off.
* Those who’ve done business in Asian countries will recognize my astonishing diplomatic skills in this statement.
As you can see, I am incapable of being wordless when it comes to India. It was an amazing and wonderful experience we’ll all carry with us throughout our lives. More to come.