A day (off) in the life of…

Bear with. I know that blogs are intended to be catchy, concise communications, but, some days are simply longer than others and I wanted to share with you our day, Saturday 21 July, in it’s entirety.

I awake early (which would be anathema in Blighty) but I’m grateful that at the weekend I can have a slow start. I pull on my sloppy joes/relaxings and go outside to set up the washing machine for a load and I am greeted by a perfect, just opened hibiscus flower on one of our newly acquired pot plants. I pause to enjoy its beauty and to thank God for this gift – then feed the machine.

This is followed by a new tradition (started last week), making Masala Chai from scratch. This is not a daily occurrence as it is quite time consuming – but it is a pleasurable treat at the weekend. Crushed peppercorns and cardamom, cloves, cinnamon bark and chopped fresh ginger are steeped in a half and half mixture of simmering milk and water. After ten minutes loose leaf tea and sugar are added – and after a further 5 minutes of boiling – this delicacy is ready to be enjoyed.

We take our cups outside and sit and sip together to the sound of children being corralled into class to the beat of a drum. Once quiet resumes we recite, read and pray using the Northumbrian Morning Office – reminding ourselves afresh ‘to whom else can we go’ with all of our life, our loved ones and situations of both joy and distress.

We do eventually get down to the  basics of personal hygiene, eating breakfast and clearing up. After a brief visit from C.Roach and friends we clear up any foodstuffs and dirty dishes immediately and maintain a meticulously clean kitchen. We do not want to give them any excuse to return!

During the clear up we hear the sound of the ‘bingle-bongle van’, once mistaken by a UK visitor as an Icecream vendor, but in actual fact, the daily local rubbish collector. Saturday seems to be the only day that we coincide – so we dash into action clearing all bins and recycling and carry it out to the waiting maw to be dispensed with.

It is our day off – but there is Cyan International India (CII) business that we need to attend to. There is to be a CII Board Meeting next week and in our roles as Country and Projects Managers there are papers that we need to print and despatch in readiness for those who will be Skyping in from Kolkata. Our office is a short, but hot and sticky, walk away. Fortunately, we are always greeted with a glass of water and very effective AC.

From here we call an Uber to take us to another part of the city to complete our Permanent Account Number card application for the Income Tax  Department. Now that we finally have our residential permit (whoop), we can apply for a PAN card (an essential part of any financial transaction) which will enable me to be a signature on the CII Bank account and for us to open our own Indian Bank Account. This will make (financial) life a lot easier.

I love being an Uber passenger – it enables me to safely observe this amazingly diverse and colourful city, its various modes of transport, its people – far better than on our daily underground Metro ride.

We are dropped off at the given address on a busy crossroads in Karol Barg just as rain begins to fall. The congested roads are squeezed in between three and four story buildings with small shops at street level and offices and homes above. The shop fronts spill out onto the walkways and these are constricted even further by  increasing numbers of stallholders setting up their wares.

After a fruitless and disorienting initial search we call the office and they tell us they are three floors above the Kotak Manhendra Bank. This location is not immediately obvious so we  draw on our burgeoning language skills and ask whoever we meet ‘Cha ha Kotak Manhendra Bank?’ Unusually, I feel distinctly uncomfortable, vulnerable. It could be the cluttered, closed in and crowded streets, the low hanging nests of live wires in increasingly wet conditions, the aggressive sales pitch of vendors. None of which is new to me. So no – that isn’t it. It came to me in the night why I had felt that way – in all our time wandering the crowded streets of Karol Barg I didn’t see one other woman! Anyway, eventually, having walked a further 500m or so, in now monsoon conditions, we locate the office.

It takes at least four people to process our applications, but fortunately all is in order and our PAN cards should be couriered to us in 10-15 days.

The Uber return journey was a tad more lairy!

We didn’t stay home long as I had an appointment to pick up four sarees and three blouses from a recommended tailor. This involved another Uber ride (never more than £2.00) to different part of town to the home and business of Monica of Navrang Creations. Indian people really know how to be hospitable – you are always offered cool drinking water wherever you go, be it a home,  office or bank. It took time to fit and alter the different blouses so we were invited upstairs into the family’s home and given hot drinks and, especially made for us, sweets and nuts. This home was a typical ‘sasural’ where the business proprietor was living with her husband and his family. The Patriarch was an intelligent and genial man who had spent his life in education – his particular passion (and PhD thesis) being field hockey – so he enjoyed the time I spent in fittings sharing sporting anecdotes with James.

Our journey back was hastened by the fact that we were expecting a delivery from Big Basket. Generally we buy our food and groceries daily from local street vendors and shops – but we have found it convenient to order bulky and specialist goods online and have them delivered. Experience has taught us that delivery people find it difficult to find our home – so we generally receive a mobile call from a lost, Hindi speaking driver seeking verbal instructions. Once delivered the fun part of unpacking is seeing what has actually arrived, as size and quantity in ordering can be easily mistaken. I don’t think we’ll need to buy shampoo again for a very long time!!

Throughout the day we had been exchanging news and photos with members of our family – using the free services of either WhatsApp or iPhone. One of my sisters was off on holiday, another making special memories with her extended family, our daughter sent pictures of our grandson having a haircut sitting in a boat, we heard the sad news that our son-in-law’s much loved grandmother had passed. Our daughter also shared pictures of  our grandson totally engrossed in playing with his mud kitchen which had been lovingly crafted by my father for his second birthday. Precious.

We ended the day playing a couple of games of Rummikub accompanied by the dulcet tones of Beth Rowley. We each won a game – so we quit at that point and headed for bed.

A full and productive day off in the life of two new and contented Delhi residents.