Monday, March 20, 2006
Dear Marc, we're home again. Snow is still thick on the ground here, but other things have changed. Two of my friends have just welcomed a baby boy and we've moved into my parents basement while waiting for our own place to be done.
It took many nice flights to get us back to this silly corner of the world. I tried to sum up our Indian vacation in my head, but a mix of jet lag, red wine and terrific in-flight entertainment (thankyou Virgin Atlantic!) made it difficult to concentrate.
But one thing I kept remembering was the tendancy of many an Indian woman to offer their opinion on myself and my children. Sometimes their frank questions about me were directed to Anders:
"Is that your wife? Do you not control your wife? Why she miss one tooth? Why she have black marks all over her legs?"
He could only respond with the truth - that no, he had no control over me.
I was kind of OK with the remarks about my own lack of perfection, but it irked me when the woman who was doing the metal detection feel up at customs told me "your baby carrier is so dirty, your baby will be sick". She was not convinced by my "it's just sand" response.
We kept Joel happy during the 3 hour delay in Goa by offering him cookies. Indian women all around me told me that "he has baby food in his face". I know. He's 10 months old, still trying to figure out the finer mechanics involved in putting the food where the mouth is.
Here's a picture of art from the international Bombay/Mumbai airport. I have no idea what it is, but it looks kind of Koonsy to me.
Now that you've rested your eyes on all those pretty horses, let's head back to the pool of negativity. The list of comments about Joel was long. To the Indian eye, he was looking "too hot", "too cold", "dirty", "mosquito bitten", "hungry", "tired", etc in absurdum. I'm so happy the Indian people let me keep my baby, since it seemed I was in no way the kind of parent they would have liked me to be.
They would often pinch his cheeks in a very hard way, I'm still surprised he didn't protest more often. Vanja, on the other hand is 4 and shy with strangers. She did not appreciate the pinching and the lifting up on various arms.
Anders came to her rescue, pinching Indian men's cheeks and offering them to sit on his arm. Surprisingly, not one grown man accepted the temtping offer.
India in all, however, was a lovely time, as pictured by Joel, the child so neglected by Indian standards:
Must go wash our dirty laundry. All the Indian clothes are too cold, the Swedish winter clothes have been put away in storage boxes since I thought we would return to a warm Spring weather.
My waiting for the house-look will be an interesting mix of skimpy beach wear and my father's thermal underwear. Got any tips on how to make this work for me?