Beggars or Divine Intermediaries?

It seems whenever India is mentioned, beggars are mentioned.  Did I see many beggars?  There is only one that I remember strongly-a man without legs who was on a little wooden board with wheels.  When we stopped to chat with some relatives in the market, he came around to everyone.  Nobody gave him money because he was a known alcoholic.

He is not what this post is about.

What would you think if you saw a man coming towards you leading a cow that had decorations on its horns and forehead?  He stops beside you and seems to be waiting for something.  You could ignore him or you could give him some coins and take blessings from the cow, symbol of faithfulness, gentleness and prosperity.  Is he a beggar?

We were watching a documentary about Israeli hippies in Goa and in the documentary, the above scene occurred.  What was the response of the Israelis?  To yell at the man to get away.  Satya explained the scene to me and said that the man was doing the Israelis a favor by approaching them.

Or women regularly come to your door carrying the goddess Yellamma (Yellamma is known for being a faithful and dutiful wife) on their heads.  If you are the wife of the household, then you worship Yellamma and give the women handfuls of rice for bringing blessings to your house.  Are the women beggars?

This happened when we were staying with family in a smaller town (described in one guidebook as the gateway to “deep rural Karnataka”).  I was a little nervous and stayed in the backround while the wife of Satya’s cousin bustled around finding rice to give them, taking blessings.  Satya later told me that the women were probably curious to see me, a new wife in the family, and wanted to welcome me.  Unfortunately, I stayed in the backround, unclear as to what exactly was happening. Later, I regretted not going to the door.

On my next visit, I hope to be less guarded and more open.

Looking like a Respectable Married Woman in South India

As our trip went on, my clothes underwent a transformation. I wore jeans, a nice t-shirt, little jacket, and my high heeled boots my first day in Bangalore.  By the end, I was wearing salwar kameez, bangles, bindi, chappals, and mangalsutra/thali.

These experiences come from visiting a medium sized city in Karnataka, South India.  Also I visited a rural village, Jog Falls, and Banvasi’s temple.


This was the first transformation.  Our second day in Satya’s hometown we were taken to the shopping district for chappals.  The main consideration was visiting.  Taking shoes off is a must when entering anyone’s home.  Shoes are also considered the dirtiest thing.  Me unzipping the boots each time I was visiting, touching my hands to the shoes just wasn’t going to work.  Plus, wearing boots and socks was hot.  The solution-chappals.    Chappals are sandals that are backless that you can slip in and out of made of leather.  Flip flops made of rubber and plastic are called “slippers” and “sandals” equal sandals with straps that you cannot slip in and out of.

We bought our chappals at a store much like an American shoe store-brightly lit, benches to try on shoes, attendants bringing shoes out from the back, etc.  We didn’t buy them from a market stall, although there are certainly many selling shoes of all kinds.  We bought Bata ones, a brand that seems to be everywhere in India, though not here in the U.S.

Salwar Kameez

Luckily, I brought one that I bought online here.  I quickly learned that despite what Satya said and what his sister said, jeans and a t-shirt was not going to work in India.  When we visited people or when I went out in public I wore either the salwar kameez I brought with me or the salwar kameez outfits given by the wives of Satya’s cousins (one of the nicest things was that as a newish married couple, we received gifts of clothes, money, puja items). 

Did I see women wearing jeans?  Only in Bangalore.  Teenage girls in high school/college can wear them in the medium sized city we were visiting (daughter of a cousin).  One of Satya’s married older cousins, about 40, wore a salwar kameez outfit everytime I met her.  It made sense-she was extremely busy as a wife, mother, and a doctor studying for a new certification.  Other than her, nearly all married women wore sarees all the time.  Especially for formal occasions, married women seem to wear sarees.  When we visited Satya’s old elementary and high school, the female teachers asked me, “Where is your mangalsutra?”  “Do you know how to wear a saree?”  (All the female teachers wore sarees.)

Also, a warning to all the tall women may have problems with readymade salwar kameez outfits.  I’m 5’9” and have a long torso so a lot of them didn’t fit quite right.  When relatives asked my mother in law my size, she said, “Oh, she is about my size.”  My mother in law is 5’2”!  We all had a good laugh over that.  Anyway, my sister tried on some of the outfits and they fit her perfectly-she is 5’5”. 

Also, on the same chappal trip, we bought some Indian-style “tops”.  These were very cute, but again not worn by anyone over the age of 21.  The brands should have clued us in-one was called “18 Fire”.  I had to use the XL size and even that was snug.  Here, I’m a M.  This is not to say all Indian women are tiny-I was not the tallest woman in the family or the widest but readymade clothes seem aimed at the youngest and thinnest women.


One item I could not leave the house without.  I used the little stick on ones that you can buy in a pack at the market for 5 or 10 rupees/pack.  Those were perfectly acceptable.  Satya likes me to wear them.  Without a bindi he says my forehead looks “naked”.  Older women use kumkum (a red powder) instead of the stick on kind.  Do I wear a bindi in my everyday American life?  No. 


On our trip to the market the night before the small Indian wedding ceremony we had my mother in law made sure I had bangles.  Indian women wear bangles.  It didn’t seem to matter if they were married or widowed-they all had bangles.  What kinds?  Gold bracelets interspersed with glass bangles.  What colors?  Green is most traditional for new brides and for weddings in general.  Red is also popular for everyday.  Sadly, my hands do not fold easily so I could wear small bangles.  It seems the smaller, the better.  At first, the bangles took some getting used to because to me, I felt like a cat with a bell on because every time I moved, I jangled.  Now I kind of like the sound. 

I do wear bangles here everyday but only a few on each wrist.  My advice-get the ones with the color all the way through the bangle.  If the color is painted on, after a few months the color will go away and you will be left with yellowish bangles instead of bright green.  Glass bangles seem to be preferred, but they are a bit more expensive than the metal ones.  I think it is worth it though.  Satya bought me some metal ones here and they were annoying.  Glass makes a nicer sound, glitter will not fall everywhere, and if you wear them overnight your arm will not get weird black marks like they will from the metal ones.  Glass ones take a while to find though-I asked at 4 shops here before I found one that carried glass bangles.


If you are traveling to South India and you are a married woman, it is best to wear this.  Why?  Because this is the equivalent to the American wedding ring.  Everywhere we’d go, people would ask about this.  It did not matter if the people were Christians or Hindus-everyone wore them.  Besides it is also important for ceremony.  Whenever a married woman visits another married woman, at the end of the visit they bless each other by applying kumkum and sometimes turmeric to the forehead and the large circles of the mangalsutra.  Sometimes small gifts are also exchanged like rice or fabric for a saree blouse, although the fabric is now mostly for tradition and ceremony and not to really make a saree blouse.

I went with Satya’s parents when we picked out the mangalsutra at the jewelers.  First we selected the chain-small gold and black beads.  Then the large flat circles were selected along with three larger gold balls.  Mine is very similar to my mother in law’s and Satya says it is Maharashtrian style.  I guess that makes sense since we were in Northern Karnataka.   Yes, I do wear the mangalsutra everyday here in the U.S.  I received mine during the small temple wedding ceremony and afterwards felt “more official” and more a real part of the family.


Now I know a lot more about what to expect and how to look like a respectable married woman (I feel old writing that).  Once I did get whistled at in the market-was without mangalsutra, and wearing jeans and an American blouse.  Satya deemed that a great insult and wanted to notify the police (I thought that was an overboard reaction, but he says in the South to whistle at someone else’s wife is a great insult.)  I’m a little nervous though about the next trip.  Satya says that his relatives were “low balling” me and that next time their expectations may be higher.

The Welcome and Houses

So we left off with the bus trip.  Not fun at all.  I DO NOT recommend taking the budget overnight buses in India if you want a peaceful night sleep.  I thought they’d be like Greyhound buses or nicer, but no.  Next time (probably winter 2011) we’ll fly from Bangalore to his hometown.  Or maybe take the train and be adventurous…..this trip we never did get to take a train.

The bus stopped and we got off into a rickshaw.  From the rickshaw to his house was not far.  When we arrived at his house it was such a relief!  And we had such a warm welcome!  Satya’s mom and another cousin welcomed us and blessed us.  We were given a small bucket to wash our feet off before entering the house.  Also, everything was beautiful-the yard had been cleaned, the house repainted, and the entryway was decorated with colorful lights and garlands.  There were rangoli patterns on the sidewalk and a big “Welcome Home” sign. 

One moment was a little tense-as a daughter-in-law I was told to put my right foot on the threshold.  Then a nail was placed between my big toe and second toe and tapped in.  After my foot was removed, a cousin finished pounding the nail in. 

We had something to eat.  I think it was banana and maybe tea.  I don’t think I ever ate so many bananas as when I was in India.  Then it was nap time! 

We woke up to the sound of voices and found out more relatives arrived.  Most of the time everybody was spoke in Kannada.  Despite my intentions, I never did learn much before I went and while there, only picked up a few more words.  Body language does go a long way, though. 

In the evening we did some visiting.  It seems that every day around 4 pm our rounds of visits would begin.  This caused some stress because in India relationships seem much closer and much more almost political.  We had to be careful of who was visited and in what order. 

I loved seeing the different houses.  From what I could see, most people were either lower middle class to wealthy.  Many, many people had new houses.  Like others have commented, the value placed on furniture seems to be different.  Furniture does not seem important and often seems to be multipurpose because it seems in India you never know how many people you will need to entertain.  In many houses, the house would be absolutely gorgeous and so were the floors.  The floors would often be of fancy stone.  The first room where the entertaining would take place was often sparsely furnished.  There would be those ubiquitous plastic chairs (the patio, stackable kind here), and often a twin bed to sit on.  Sometimes that would be it.  Some homes did have fancy furniture-rosewood couches, but that was not the norm.

Every house did seem to have a “showcase” though.  This is where important gifts are kept-everything from large idols to photographs of grandkids.  Usually the showcase is built into a wall, has 2-4 shelves, and has a sliding glass or plastic door.  Maybe in the U.S. the equilvalent would be a mantel.  Magnets have not made it over to India yet.  I did not see any refrigerators covered in magnets. 

Overall, “stuff” in India did not seem important.  Traditionally, things like gold or land are what people save up for and really care about.  This is changing a bit, but not much.

The trip, Part 1

Where to begin…….First off overall the trip went really well.  I made some minor faux pas, but did not permanently wreck anything.  The trip was definitely easier on me than on Satya.  I think he just had too much to worry about and feel-returning home after nearly 10 years and worrying about whether I was having a great time and realizing how much India has changed. 

We left from NY and were nervous about missing the plane which made for tense train rides.  Once we got to the airport we relaxed.  Flew to Germany.  First plane was very nice-very cushy and modern. We landed in Germany late at night for our 8 hour layover.  Discovering that  water was $8/bottle was not fun.  The Frankfort airport was not very clean and we never did discover where the showers were.  Got on to the plane and discovered this one didn’t have all the amenities of the first plane-no personal video screen and stuff like that.  We also made another mistake-we ordered the “special meal”.  We felt pretty special to receive our food first, but then discovered that we somehow got on the vegan meal list instead of the regular vegetarian one.  We noticed others had some very tasty meals beside us. 

Landed in Bangalore.  The new Bangalore airport is very nice and extremely modern and clean.  Some people complain that it doesn’t reflect India at all, which could be true.  The bathroom was very clean-when one person leaves the stall the attendant briefly cleans the stall before you enter.  We were funneled through a place where a guy was sitting near a camera.  I guess the camera was a thermal one aimed at people’s foreheads to see if they were feverish.  Did not see anybody get stopped. 

We found Satya’s dad and cousin and the taxi and drove off.  It was about 3 am Bangalore time.  Then we entered the hotel Satya’s dad picked.  Satya’s dad calls it an “old-timer’s no-star hotel”.  What does that mean?  There was a toilet, but no shower just buckets.  No towels.  Flimsy sheets.  Hotel workers were sleeping in the hallways.  The hotel had a convenient location-right beside the bus stand where we’d catch the bus going north later that night.  Unfortunately, the hotel was insanely loud. The hotel was located at a corner and right below our window was the roof of a Ganesha temple.  Even at 4 and 5 am it was loud and at 6 am rush hour seemed to start up.  I don’t think either of us slept. 

Around 8 am we decided to give up sleeping.  We met Satya’s dad and cousin and then walked a few blocks to have idlis, rasam and tea for breakfast at a small restaurant.  Then we did more walking around Bangalore.  Bangalore seemed extremely noisy and busy but not in a very antagonistic way.  It seemed gentler than New York City, for example.  Satya noticed a lot of changes.  10 years ago there were more trees, less cars, less people.

We went to the government store.  The building seemed to sell almost everything from shoes to wooden statues to sports equipment.  We didn’t buy anything though.  Next was the Sapna Bookstore.  This had multiple floors and many books, dvds, and cds.  Next were the government buildings.  We took the rickshaw which was an adventure.  Rickshaws in Bangalore are definitely not for the faint of heart!  Only use rickshaws on short trips…….at the end of the trip we were in a rickshaw from one end of Bangalore to the other.  That experience will not be repeated! 

As others have said, horns are used for everything-when turning, when at an intersection, etc.  Later on in the trip we kept seeing big orange dump trucks filled with manganese.  On the back, the trucks said something like “Honk please”.  Horns seem to be crucial for safe driving. 

After looking at the outside of the government buildings and going to the park, we met up with another cousin and his family.  He had rented a minivan.  Minivan is a much more comfortable way of traveling than rickshaw!  We went to lunch inside a hotel.  One cultural difference was soon apparent-kids can run everywhere in India!  His cousin had a daughter who was about 3 but she would go to other tables and talk to other families and then go to the entrance of the hotel. When she strayed too far, she’d be called or brought back, but she was never forced to stay put or told “Don’t talk to strangers”. 

After doing some shopping and stopping at their house it was time to rush back to the hotel to catch the bus.  We just barely caught the bus.

Bus travel is not for the faint of heart either.  We did not travel on the new, fancy buses, but on the older ones-not too clean, no ac, no bathroom onboard (although that was probably a good thing).  After just managing to catch the bus, we settled in.  The trip would take about 10 hours and there would only be one bathroom stop.  The bathroom stop was at a small roadside restaurant (Indian equilvalent of a diner maybe).  Sleep did not come easy on the bus either.  The road was extremely bumpy (Satya explained that it was because in some places the road gets wiped out each year because of the monsoons), very noisy because of the horns, and there was lots of construction.

I’ll leave off here for now…..

Preparing to Visit India, 3: Visiting the Travel Doctor

This had been part of the preparation that scared me, but turned out to be much less scary than I expected.  I had visions of a doctor pushing a hard sell of all sorts of painful injections, but this did not happen at all.  Instead, we filled out some paperwork, received a big packet of information, had a long talk with the nurse practitioner, and went on our way.  It was made easier by the fact that Satya had already told them exactly what we wanted-the oral typhoid vaccine. 

We were running about 5 minutes late and were worried about having our visit cancelled, but they told us, “No, don’t worry.  We don’t have that many people come in.”  Maybe in a recession fewer people are willing to pay that much?  Also, even with good health insurance nothing was covered by either of our plans.  Or maybe it is the fear factor?  Nobody enjoys getting vaccinated.

Our total bill for everything came to $350: the consultation (could not get the oral typhoid without a consultation), 2 doses of the oral vaccine, 1 non-absorbable DEET bottle, and one mosquito repellant to be sprayed on clothes.  We also left with prescriptions for anti-malarial pills and for pills to cure traveler’s diarrhea. 

Here are some of the tips we learned:

Satya’s immunity to local Indian germs has vanished.  After 9 years of living in the U.S., his immune system and digestive system are like an American’s.

If we had to only choose one vaccine to get, typhoid seems like the right one.  We trusted the advice of Satya’s family on this one-his uncle, mother, and sister.  We were told our chances of getting typhoid were 1 in 50 for every week spent in India.  We will be spending 2.5 weeks in India.

Why oral typhoid?  I hate shots and it protects for 5 years compared to 2 years.  The drawback is that it is strict-1 every other day.  Antiobiotics have to be stopped 10 days before taking it.  Pills should be taken 2 hours after eating and you cannot eat for at least 1 hour afterwards. 

Hepatitis A is the next disease of concern.  Our chances are 1 in 200 for each week spent in India.  We may get this vaccine from his uncle, the doctor, in India.  The vaccine would be effective almost immediately.  Or we will wait until before our next trip to get it.

I was impressed with the mosquito repellants.  One can be sprayed on clothes and gives protection for 6 weeks or 6 washings.  Strong stuff in theory!  Shall see how it goes in reality…….

We were warned about the rise of dengue fever in Asia.  Nothing can treat or prevent this disease beyond mosquito repellants.

Going to big supermarket pharmacies can be a lot cheaper than pharmacies like CVS or Rite Aid.

If you do go to a travel doctor, expect the consultation part to take a while.  We were there nearly an hour and a half!

What disappointed me was that the advice was not very specific.  At the beginning, we did have to fill out a questionnaire about what kind of settings we’d be in (family, local hotel, first class hotels, camping, etc.) , but the advice was not really that specific.  She assumed we’d be visiting the Taj Mahal, when in fact we will not be even close!  Are our chances of typhoid really 1 in 50 in Karnataka or just for the country as a whole?  Perhaps that is asking to much……..

Overall, I do feel more prepared after the visit.  What were your experiences?  Do you recommend it to others?

3 weeks to go!

Preparing to Travel to India, Part Two

In personal news, Satya successfully defended his PhD thesis last week!  We are so happy. Now that is done, our attention has turned to India.  There are seven more weeks to go until our trip to India. It will be my first trip to India and Satya’s first since he left in 2000.  Most or all of the trip will be in Karnataka. 

So far, here is what we’ve done to prepare:

Bought some travel guides.  We bought Lonely Planet South India and Rough Guide South India.  Our favorite is Rough Guide South India because of all the great background information it has, like reviewers on Amazon have also noted.  We have a huge list of places to see, but I don’t know how we’ll divide our time between staying with his parents and visiting and going off for little sight seeing trips.  Some of our must sees are Hampi, Gokarna, Pattadakal, Badami, and Jog Falls.  Everyone also keeps recommending Mysore to us.  We got a good laugh at how his cousin’s village was referred to as “deep, rural Karnataka”.  Soon I’ll find out what exactly that means.

Restarting my Kannada lessons.  I’m following a course provided through Mysore University’s Central Institute of Indian Languages.  So far, I’ve been impressed with the exercises that follow each lesson.  Some exercises are relatively easy, like find this letter in this word which is a matter of simply matching letters.  Others are more difficult, for example, make 10 words out of these letters.  It also shows how each letter is supposed to be drawn.  I expect I’ll be able to read some simple words, know the alphabet, and say some simple sentences IF I continue studying. 

Researched health hazards and consulted with family.  Satya’s sister was trained as a doctor and his uncle still practices medicine as a village doctor.  The strong recommendation is to get a typhoid vaccine.  We haven’t done this yet, but time is getting short.  Satya has decided we will only eat what his mom prepares for us, but I don’t think that will work in reality.

Clothes.  This is a sticking point a bit with us.  Satya thinks I should just wear my regular clothes, but my belief is more one of, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”  I think I’ve channeled some of my trip anxiety into “What do I wear?” I’ve also ordered a cotton handloom saree from  They have a great website about traditional sarees and the saree arrived very quickly after I ordered it.  I went online to and purchased two sarees and two salwar kameez outfits.  I wanted to have a saree to practice with before I go so I can drape it competently and know how to move in one.  The salwar kameezs are for sightseeing.  Temperatures are going to be around 80 so I thought they would be easier to move around in than jeans.  Unfortunately, ordering online is a bit tricky when one does not have a good idea of clothes and measurements.  They are too small. I also bought two salwar kameez suits yesterday at an Indian clothing shop nearby, but I have a strong suspicion they are too big.   Still have yet to get bindis, bangles, and mangalsutra.

Bathroom changes.  I’ve used some Indian products before like Sandalwood soap at my sister in laws or most recently Shikakai for hair.  Those things are all good and I love how clean Shikakai feels and how easily it rinses out.  I’ve researched bathroom procedures in the book “Going Abroad:  The Bathroom Survival Guide”, but I have not practiced.  Satya’s parents have a squat toilet and use water instead of toilet paper.  Getting used to that will be one of the biggest challenges, I think.  Satya said that when he got to the US, toilet paper struck him as disgusting as was how the shower/tub is usually in the same room as the toilet.  Now it will be my turn to adapt and logically he is right that the Indian way is probably cleaner and is better for the environment. 

Gifts.  We don’t know what to do about this.  I want to get some simple gifts for close relatives because that is what my mom has always told me is correct guest behavior-always get something for the people who are letting you stay with them.  I also really want to get gifts for his cousin’s kids, mostly because I like buying toys.  Satya is not keen on this though.  He says he does not want the kids or any other family members to associate us with gifts.  Also, his sister and her husband, who married into a more status oriented family, must always go to India carrying suitcases filled with gifts according to a list dictated by her mother in law. 

Cultural differences.  Here are some from my sister in law and from Satya: lots of noise, lots of wildlife (his parents have a group of monkeys living in their yard and lizards are common in the house), lots of people visiting and dropping in and out, people being much more open about their opinions and with advice. 

I don’t know why I’m freaked out so much.  Satya keeps telling me that I just have to be myself and relax.  I think part of it is that we’ll be seeing his extended family and lots of his old friends.  We’ll also be probably meeting a cousin Satya might have married if he had stayed in India and wanted an arranged marriage.  So the stakes are higher than if we were just going as tourists.  I want to make a good impression and not look like or be “the ugly American”.


Lingayat Practical Philosophy

This past weekend, Satya, myself, and his parents went to the temple together.  This gave me the opportunity to learn more about their beliefs and how they practice their religion. 


Here are some of their observations and mine:


“Any nice day is a good one to go to the temple,” This was said by my mother in law.  One of the hardest things for me to understand is that there is nothing like the Sabbath or Sunday to them.  People go to the temple whenever they feel the need or desire to do so. 


“Too much ritual, not enough devotions,”  This was said by my father in law.  The central god of the temple we attended was Venkateswara*.   There was a ceremony taking place there in addition to the usual ceremony with the aarti, the hat put on people’s heads for a few moments (Shiva temples don’t do this, but this was a Vishnu temple), the coconut drink, and the prasad.  This ceremony involved bathing the idol with milk, showing the god the offerings, etc.  The priests chanted in Sanskrit.  Satya was able to translate a little of this…prayers for peace, prayers for the cars of the believers, prayers for North America, etc.  After hearing the chant for peace, Satya and his dad were ready to leave, but then the ritual began again.  Also, at one point the priests came out and led a procession around Venkateswara.  The people carried their offerings (lots of milk, coconuts, and bananas) behind the priests.


Lingayats are a bit like Protestants or Quakers believing in simplicity. 


*A note about Lingayats and Venkateswara…according to Lingayat lore, Venkateswara stole money from one of the Lingayat gods.  To this day, Venkateswara is known as a rich god and at some temples there will be Lingayats chanting for the return of the money.  Despite these things, Satya’s mother was sitting right in the midst of the crowd during the ritual in intense contemplation.  Satya, his father, and I were sitting more off to the side.


“Do your best and whatever happens, happens for the best,”  and “Do your best, and leave the result to God,” common sayings by members of Satya’s family, including himself.  This covers things large and small.  For example, when Satya was in high school and was taking the tests that determined which school he was eligible to attend, his English score got messed up (he spoke English from the age of 2 and went to English medium schools, so I believe him that the score was a mix up.)  Anyway, that meant his cumulative score was one point shy of qualifying.  Was he bitter?  Nope.


“What do you do?” and its close relatives, “What can I do?”  and “What to do?”  This follows the above.  Some might call this resignation or a bit of cynicism, but usually signifies a recognition that not everything is in one’s control.  I hear a version of this everyday.


“Take the prasad, it is very important and carries blessings,” said by his parents.  Many believers will bring milk, cocunuts, or bananas to the temple.  These will be taken by the priests to be blessed.  Then, some will be returned to the giver.  Some will be offered to temple visitors.  Satya was hesitating about taking these, but his mother took a banana and split it into four parts for all of us.  I’ve heard that at some temples in India, free meals are given to visitors.


Learning about Lingayatism in particular and Hinduism in general is an ongoing process for me.  I learn tidbits here and there.

Preparing to Travel to India: How To?

It looks like our trip to India may finally happen at the end of this year.  People have been telling me I need to prepare, but I don’t quite know how.  On the bright side, Satya’s parents will be living with us for another two months this summer so that will help some. 


For all those non-Indians out there, how did you prepare?  One piece of advice I heard was to travel to the Southern U.S. states to get a taste of how the bug situation will be.  (The furthest south I’ve lived is Virginia so I haven’t really seen giant bugs).  I’ve also heard that watching travel dvds and reading books is useful.   I have read some of the typical classics already Malgudi Days, Maximum City, etc. 


How well did your preparations prepare you for the reality? 


What shots did you get?  I heard there is a new anti-diarrhea one which seems practical.  I hate shots, but there doesn’t seem to be another option. 


For all of you Indians, what do you think foreigners need to know about India before they arrive?  How do you recommend they prepare? 


I think for this first trip we are going to stay around Karnataka, especially Northern Karnataka which is Satya’s home turf.  We are planning to see sites like Hampi, Gokarna, etc.  I’ve always wanted to see Kerala too for some reason.  Satya also has an idea of seeing the Himalayas-maybe Darjeeling or Shimla and maybe even the country of Bhutan.  We shall see……my honeymoon ideal is more of the kind of a houseboat in Kerala while his is the frozen Himalayas. 


Also, his place doesn’t seem to fit the stereotypes of India.  He isn’t from a huge, sprawling metropolis and he isn’t from a poor, isolated village.  Are there any books that focus on more mundane India?

Cyber Grandpas: Staying in Touch Across the Miles

My niece’s grandpas are among her biggest fans.  I didn’t realize how much until they both sent me an invitation to join Facebook.  Satya’s dad sent me an invitation to join Facebook last week and yesterday it was my sister-in-law’s dad who sent out the invitation.  I thought it was pretty funny that my father in law in India is now urging me to join Facebook.  Very weird….


Skype was a whole new experience for me last summer.  Last summer Satya’s mom dressed me in an extra saree so I could be presented via Skype to Satya’s uncle (his father’s brother) in Scotland.  Satya’s uncle was visiting his son in Scotland to see a new grandson.  When Satya’s parents returned to India, Satya and I continued using Skype to talk with his parents.  I even bought a computer camera/microphone for my parents for Christmas so I that I could Skype with them.  My family is slower to catch on to the wonders of Skype….perhaps it is the lack of babies?

More Interracial Couples in the Future?

The New York Times just published an article about how there seems to be a bias for boys among some immigrant groups in the U.S.  The article in particular focused on the Chinese, Indians, and Koreans, as groups that seem to have this bias.  (The article also noted that Middle Easterners also have a bias towards boys, but did not mention which specific ethnic groups nor did it show the exact statistical numbers for Middle Easterners.)

 The article mentioned that among other groups in the U.S., people seem to have a preference for girls.  People in the U.S. will say things like, “Girls are less trouble than boys”.  Also, I think in the U.S. people also think that girls are more likely than boys to care for elderly parents.

Will there be more mixed couples in the future?  Maybe.  All those boys will have to marry somebody someday, right?

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries