Saturday, 11 April 2009

Wherever I lay my hat (or hang the nappies) that's our home

I haven’t yet described to you our new home. It was a close call between this place and another apartment which was within a tower block but had lots of amenities including children’s play park and swimming pool. For a while we thought we’d go for the other place, for Maya’s sake, and we even gave the agent the green light on it. However, it didn’t sit right with either Andy or myself and when we swapped over to this little apartment, we felt far happier about it. No surly security guards, no arduous journeys up and down lifts all day and no people watching over your shoulder the whole time (it probably wouldn’t really have been like that, but there were huge amounts of people packed into a small space in the tower block).

This also means we had to kiss goodbye to the pool and the play area but hey, who needs a kids’ play park when we are living right next to one of Bangalore’s much coveted green spaces (actually yellow is a better way to describe it but I’m sure the monsoon will help turn it green). I say coveted because there ain’t much open space in this city these days. Bangalore must have been truly stunning at one point – it’s still known as ‘the garden city’ and although all those poor old gardens have been churned up and paved over, many of the roads (busy thoroughfares included) remain tree-lined and you’re never more than a stone’s throw from a beautiful old banyan or bright red and purple may blossom tree (Maya’s nursery is even situated bang smack under a mango tree – how great is that?). Because so little open space remains, from about 5am each morning, our park fills up with dozens and dozens of strollers, power walkers, people meditating, doing yoga, breathing exercises…It is an amazing sight. This continues until the strength of the sun becomes too much and then the park is virtually empty until evening time. This is when we hit it, because each and every night, there is a small central area where lots of parents and their children go to gossip, wheel around on small trikes and play ball games. The locals seem fascinated by us and our offspring (though absolutely nobody believes Maya and Lily are girls) and we’ve met some very friendly people. I’m sure the park will become a regular feature of our time here, particularly as Maya is now the proud owner of a plastic yellow Disney scooter. It is truly hideous but Maya loves it and that is the important thing.

Other things in our area are a chai stall at the end of our road (fantastic, but we’ll get teeth rot if we go there too often), a gym on the other side of the road that allegedly provides Bollywood stars with their fitness regime and blurts out loud music from 6am to 10pm each day, a café called Cocoa Sweet which, as the name suggests is full of sugary goodies, and a mangy old dog and her two pups.

As for the house itself, well we have more room than we had before, put it that way. This is partly because we have far fewer possessions here but I’m pretty sure the floor space is greater than what we had in Godmanchester, so this is good news for Maya and her scooter. We have a small kitchen (no change there), a lovely big open plan lounge / eating area, two good-sized ensuite bedrooms and a small puja room (the blessing room where locals would place icons of the various Hindu deities; I’m afraid we’ve filled it with smelly shoes though – no offence intended). We hired all the furniture from a big warehouse supplying second hand furniture – that was a fiasco in itself – it was a crazy hot day and Maya decided to climb all over what must have been pre-colonial furniture and came out with black dust and grime smothered all over her. We’ve got a funny old assortment, a bit rough around the edges but it’s absolutely fine. We’ve even got a washing machine (installed by a charming man who was genuinely passionate about washing machines but he also wanted to talk about Jesus with me for half an hour after the installation) – a big bonus as it can wash the nappies. No launderettes will accept soiled nappies (fair enough) and ‘fraid I draw the line at doing them myself! (Fiona, you are one of a kind!!)

Our ‘security guard’ (basically, every office / shop / apartment block has a guard) is a sweet, skinny man called Amar and he’s always around to help out. He lives in the basement (seriously) with his lovely wife who has started to do some cleaning for us every few days. This is an enormous help – the floors are white marble effect and get filthy dirty within seconds of letting the girls loose on them and yes, I know, I know, I could do it myself but I don’t need to go over the arguments of why we’re getting help: to provide employment and because we can afford it (although I’ve done just that – am I trying to convince myself?!) Another local character is the nameless, faceless man who lives outside mine and Andy’s bedroom and starts his day (and ours, thanks very much) with a loud and violent hock. For those of you unfamiliar with hocking, this is gathering all the phlegm in to the back of one’s throat in a swift, guttural motion and spitting it out as far as it can go. Our neighbour obviously has a lot of phlegm to clear as this can continue for up to ten minutes. Yum yum.

One final thing which I haven’t mentioned is that the fan dials are too high for Maya to reach – HOORAY! This means they are under the control of the grown-ups (boring thinks Maya no doubt) and we can all stay wonderfully, mercifully cool.
So, we’re getting settled and the walls are starting to fill up with Maya’s beautiful creations from nursery which is helping give the place colour and life. All we need now is some visitors – there’s plenty of room here so if you don’t mind sleeping beneath strung-up nappies (clean ones of course!) then go and book those flights!

1 comment:

  1. I am SO glad I'm woken by my mobile's alarm and not by a hocker ...