Day with a family in

Trip Start Jan 15, 2007
Trip End Feb 23, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, February 3, 2007

So.  Yesterday I took a paid car from Pune to stay with my colleague's family in the suburbs of Mumbai.  The trip was easy down the expressway but when we got exited this hwy we started heading north.  Away from Mumbai.  For what seemed like a long time.  There are very very few road signs and no "city limit" signs etc. so I had no idea where we were.  I had been told that Kalyan (where we were supposedly headed) was a suburb of Mumbai but ever since the expressway we were headed away.  At least as far as I could tell.  It was an hour and a half and I was beginning to worry that I was being kidnapped.  I was sizing up options for neutralizing the driver,  when finally I saw a sign on a business that said Kalyan.  Whew.  Kalyan has a large section of town on a hill.  It was interesting because you could see how people were living there.  I'll try and get a photo. 

It is definitely much quieter here.

When I arrived there was a power cut so I had to walk up 6 flights with my 70 pounds of luggage.  Several rests later I was there/here. It was great exercise.  So I had dinner with the family at sister N.'s house (this is hard without using names).  Since there was no power I played some videos on my laptop using the battery.  Sister N's son got very excited when there was a certain actor on and began to perform the routine for us right there in the living room.  He was very good.  Quite the performer.  There was a couple of lights because they have a battery system and an inverter which I guess converts DC to AC.

It was really nice visiting with family.  Everyone hangs out together and neighbors came in unannounced (like at my mom's in Virginia).  Conversation was very easy and I could see how close and supportive every one is.  I didn't know how to respond to all of the hospitality at times (people pouring water on my hands when I was washing my hands, always asking if I needed anything).  It has been really great.

We watched a video of brother-in-law Kathak dancing.  He was very professional and it helped me a lot that he explained the dance as it went along.  I had always wondered what the gestures meant and so the explanation was very helpful.  I kept repeating people's names so that I could maybe remember a few.  My pronounciations were a subject of amusement and made me laugh also.  Unfortunately my name is easy to pronounce so there was no reciprocity.

After this we watched videos I had brought of sister in the states.  Video of her dancing,  talking about diwali and chasing the kids around the house in Leesburg.  Everyone really loved it and I wished I had brought more.

Late,  around midnight we went to younger brother M's house where there was room for me to sleep.  And what a comfortable bed!  I slept very well.

This morning I hung out with M.  We talked early in the morning about all manner of things half of which I intended to include here but seem to have left my unfortunate brain. 

One story I remember was about his grandfather who raised and cared for water buffalo.  He said that his grandfather was very attached to his herd.  If one was ill he couldn't eat. He was always taking care of them.  When grandfather died the water buffalo continued to come back to the house--then go off on their own to forage.  Eventually they all were gone.  He said his grandfather would have been very sad to see them perish.  M. said that when he was young he became very attached to a young water buffalo and when the family moved to Mumbai he was crying and crying. But sister asked  "where will you keep it?"

We talked some more about the flood.  Apparently it was 2 years ago not 1.  M. said that he became very concerned about his wife and tried to go and get her.  But the rain made the car stall and he had to push it to the side of the road.  It was quite a long story but what happened was he went home to get his motorbike to go and find her but she was there eating chips and asking what he was up to.

We also talked about housing and finances.  He said he chose the house here in Kalyan partly because the monthly maintenance fee (paid by the society, which administers the housing block) was so low and also because it drains well here.

After this M. drove me around and showed me the area around Kalyan.  I got some great photos  (coming).  We went and picked up their son at school and went down to the river where we saw an old light house.  This part of the river is affected by tides.

more later
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