Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We have a house!

Remember the house I was chasing? Well, we bought it! After a whole month of back and forth with the owner we finally settled the deal! But even after buying it I was not sure when we would be able to take over, since Sadhu (owner) was still living there and had no concrete plans of moving. I mean, he did want to buy a house in the village he is going to and move, but the houses he saw were never good enough or had some problem with inheritance or with papers and nothing materialized. I must admit I freaked out a bit: 3 bank accounts (in 3 continents) were all swiped clean and still I had nothing to feel like I made a good decision. A. got quite mad at my reaction, since there was a 4th account that was not empty so I should not be complaining about money, but for me it was indeed a shock.

The house buying was 2 weeks ago yesterday and suddenly Sadhu called me Monday saying he was moving today (Wednesday)! He still did not buy the house he wants but he arranged with the owner that he will stay in it until they figure out the paperwork. So I just got a call saying he is on his way and the house is mine! I can barely believe it! Now there are some renovations to be done before moving in, but they are small and hopefully we will be able to have a house to call our own in a few weeks! This will be the first time that we have a permanent place to live since Raleigh (USA) over a year and a half ago, since in the mean time I have moved 7 times! Yay for unpacking!!

And to give you an idea of what the jungle house (as A. calls it) looks as of now...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This past weekend I flew to São Paulo to meet A. and on Saturday was my sorority reunion. Sororities in Brazil are a different from those in the US (or elsewhere??) but you get the idea: 10 girls of different years in college living together. And all that in a 3 bedroom house! It definitely resulted in many half crazy experiences, some fights, lot's of laughter and cheap living too! And a lot of hazing, of course. Like getting down on your knees to introduce yourself to elders and if someone elder than you kneels you lie on the floor. (Maybe that's why lying down to greet my in-laws in India did not feel that awkward??) But overall the hazing is all about getting to know other people and breaking the ice, not forceful or dangerous.

Sort of like that... hehehe

At first A. was completely against it. He said he did not take part in any of this at his university, and since he studied in the same city he lived before, his college experience was quite different from mine. When we arrived at the house and the current girls living there came to introduce themselves to me, A.did not know what to make of it all. Then at some point when we were at the bbq someone elder than me knelt and, to A.'s dismay I was lying on the floor. Soon afterwards he started getting used to it to the point of asking if I could make so-and-so kneel just for the fun of it. Yes, I could, but I did not want to be so annoying. It was really nice to see lot's of people I had not seen in years, to realize that the girls in college now are really not different from us back then.

A. also appreciated that the younger girls kept his beer glass full, to the point that he did not want to leave. The bbq started at noon and by the time we got to my mom's place it was 10pm. Not bad :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Incognito or not.

Our situation in Brazil has been quite funny.

At my job I work with mostly internationals, speaking Spanish and English more than Portuguese. After lunch with a few colleagues the other day, when I was explaining about ids and other documents in Brazil one of them asked me (in English):
"And how do you know all this?" she asked.
"I'm Brazilian and my husband is Indian, so we've had to navigate the maze a bit..." I replied.
"Oh... I guess I made the mistake of assuming you are American.". 
Yup, she did. 

Then yesterday when I was calling some language classes to ask (in Portuguese) about Portuguese classes for A:
"I would like to know the time of the classes..."
The lady replies: "It depends on the level, I guess yours is advanced?"
I would have liked to blurt out: "As advanced as yours, are you going to be taking them as well??" What the hell? Portuguese in my native language!

And in the mean time, as long as A. does not open his mouth he is taken to be Brazilian. People don't quite know which part of the country he comes from but he's been making up jokes about coming from some faraway place in the Amazon that most Brazilians have not heard of, just to crack up after the second sentence. 

I guess it all goes back to how to define fitting in. I would definitely like to be recognized as a local. But on the other hand, as A. has been experiencing, Brazilians are very friendly towards foreigners, so at least there is no negative in being taken for a gringa

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Indian in Brazil

It's been a while... A. has arrived in Brazil, spent 2 weeks in Brasília and is now in São Paulo. I'm really proud of his courage and fearlessness in taking on the challenge of a new country. Different from the other places we've lived, now he is a foreigner and I'm a local. Previously we had both always been foreigners which has good and bad sides to it. If both are foreigners you can both bitch and sigh at the idiosyncratic ways of the new place but you have to figure your way around. If one is a local, figuring things out is easier but sensitivities about the new place are also higher (in this case, from my side).

Not this one...

For example, there are tons of bakeries in Brazil, usually one every few blocks (in cities) since Brazilians like to get their breakfast bread fresh each day. This is something that I always missed while living abroad so I did not take it too nicely when A. asked: "Where can I find bread like in France?". Well, first of, the French are renown worldwide for the quality of their bread so it seems a bit much to expect to find it in any bakery in São Paulo. I think it is a matter of adjusting expectations with what the country has to offer and also about figuring out what is out there.

This one!!

Like I was super surprised when A. said he found an Indian place close to his apartment. And it even sells dosas! After a few visits his enthusiasm died down though: their dosas were rice flour only and their biryani was made with local rice. Oh well... the last visit sealed it: a Brazilian that went with him had beef (!) curry and had to ask for extra chilly! I guess it will be a place to go when all else fails and home food, despite being fake, is missed.

And finally a note on the abundance of Indians in Brazil: none! I mean, for a country with a huge population like India, with large immigrant communities in so many places it is astonishing to find out there are 200 families in the entire country of Brazil! As the embassy here in Brasília told A. when he visited: "Congratulations! On your arrival you have increased the population of Indians in this city by 10-20%!"