Thursday, August 21, 2008

Record breaking performance -- 3 medals!

India is celebrating its record breaking performance in the Olympics -- a total of 3 medals, one of which is gold (mentioned earlier). One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Today we went to orientation at Amartya's school. VERY nice. His teacher is a friendly Australian, and his class is about 1/3 Indian, with representatives from several European countries, Japan, and a bunch of Americans themselves representing a wide range of ancestries. We also sought out the Spanish teacher, who is from Argentina and has been here for a few years. Unfortunately, Spanish isn't an option as a class for Amartya, or even as an extra-curricular activity. The sports facilities are very nice, so that is, obviously, what Amartya will be doing. We are struggling with him cause he doesn't want to take the bus, which would pick him up in front of our house at 7:45 in the a.m. We'll see how it goes. I forsee a difficult time on Monday and Tuesday mornings, days 1 and 2 of school.

We still haven't moved into our new place because we still don't have Internet access. We go and wait there for hours, trying to call different phone numbers, but folks don't answer, or say to call back in 15 minutes, or call someone else. We finally got our phone service yesterday by calling a woman with apparently magic powers who turned it on. This followed days of getting the run around. Maybe tomorrow we'll get the Internet there, and then move in, but at the moment I'm feeling rather pessimistic. Slowly I'll start feeling like I live here -- reading Indian newspapers (of which there are SO many that it will be difficult to choose exactly what to read), venturing out by myself , watching cricket-- but right now I'm still feeling very rooted in America.

I always get reminded of just how rich the US when I'm first out of the US, or just back. The things these days include silly little things like how thin and crumply the plastic is in disposable cups, how the tape (still) yellows like it used to when I was tiny, or how the rubber bands (gumbands to you in or from the burg) are SO thin to more major things like needing to heat up the water before you use it (not having hot water on tap all the time, which is actually something we should probably adopt), not printing out nearly as much (ditto), larger sizes of everything, crumbling or non-existent infrastructure. I'm sure I'll return to this topic many more times.

One final comment: while I think that analytically the right comparison with India in Latin America is Brazil, I am constantly reminded of my time living in Mexico City here. From horrible traffic to folks driving backward to get to an exit they missed on either the Ring Road (here) or the periferico (in the DF), to utility workers expecting an extra payment for doing their job, to corn on the cob sold on street corners, to folks begging for money near churches (or temples, or mosques), to people giving the wrong directions, I often feel like I'm caught in a time and place warp. The impressive downpours every afternoon wiping away the pollution also help. I'll need to think more about similarities and differences.

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