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Mia Lefkowitz Inderbitzin Class of 1983

August 6, 2008

Mia and family at AES
The Inderbitzins at AES, August 2008.

Wow! So, I thought it was cool that I was living in India again. My family spent the last 2.5 years in Mumbai (Bombay). Now it's super wild that we have taken a new job and moved to New Delhi, and my kids are attending AES! I'm ecstatic! They just started school this week. My son, Oz, is in 2nd grade and absolutely loved his first day. He woke me up early this morning saying, "Mom, we are going to miss the bus! Get up!" My daughter, Tess, starts kindergarten today, and is also thrilled to go. The campus as you've heard from my last report when I visited two years ago is hardly recognizable as it has grown from being able to handle 400 students back in the late 70's to over 1300 students today! It is gorgeous and huge and they are at the moment building a whole new high school building where the old science rooms used to be. The Banyan tree is bigger than ever and still adored by all. (see pic)

We live in Anand Lok, which I'm sure most people haven't heard of. But it is another gated community, like Defence Colony or Vasant Vihar, but about 5 minutes south of Defence Colony. My husband, Kurt, works in Noida, which is the city next to Delhi across the river on the East. About 20 minutes to work for him and the same for the kids to school on the west side (if we drive...the bus takes longer!) He is running two fairly-new amusement parks and malls. (more entertainment for the kids!)

We like our new apartment. All the houses have pretty much been built up from one-story homes to three-story homes, with one apt on each floor. We are on the top floor so we are lucky to have the barsadi (sp?) included, which is a huge area with a garden and tiled area. Great party and play space. We also have a great playground and park right across the street from us. We haven't used it much yet, as the weather is pretty yucky. Still monsoon, some rain and terribly sticky and hot.

We just arrived end of July, so I'm still struggling to find shopping areas for daily food, and things for the house. The regular challenge in India... trying to find where things are. Of course, Delhi is light years away from what it was in the 70's. There are many very modern malls which resemble malls in America. And fantastic movie theaters which are much
Mia, Sue Jackson, Amy Shafer, Li Gwatkin
Front row, Amy Shafer and Li Gwatkin. Back, Mia (Lefkowitz) Inderbitzin, Sue Jackson-Knowles, all Class of 1983.
cheaper than the States. Have to jump to the theater when English movies come as they leave usually within a week or two. The expat community is huge and I'm learning there are lots of activities for parents through the school, expat groups and ACSA. Yes! Speaking of, we will join ACSA! (just waiting for the application process to be finished - takes a long time!) They still have a baseball league there, which I hope to get Oz involved; and maybe I can play as well! Funny that I got MVP for baseball in 1980 and now I can't throw a ball straight for the life of me!

One other update: During my long vacation this summer in the States, was fortunate to get together with classmates Sue Jackson, Amy Shafer, and Li Gwatkin in Maryland.

Come visit me in New Delhi!


August 2, 2007

I had an interesting day... thought you might enjoy it vicariously...

I left the house about 8:20 to drop the kids to school. My morning routine. First we (Farook, our driver, and Tess and I) drove Oz to Rishikul Vidyalaya. (his school) We drive down Carter Road, the street right along the ocean. After dropping Oz off at school, and returning along Carter Road, I have a good view of the ocean as they drive on the left side here, and as front seat passenger, I'm on the far left closest to the ocean. I can see the very low tide and the hundreds of yards of now visible black rocks and pebbles. I take in the view of the ocean, as it's the only nature visible in this over populated, overbuilt, congested city. Any chance I get to look at the vast ocean, rythymic gentle waves, and clear (or cloudy now that it's monsoon) huge sky, is my chance to take a deep breath and feel at peace. And my instincts always make me take a slow deep breath at the view. Very relaxing.

Alas, along with this pleasure, comes a bit of human reality. Along this stretch of rocks you can clearly see a scattering of people, like crabs coming out for air on a beach when the tide is out. But these people aren't here to breath.. they are here to shit. So, there they are, squatting as far from the other person as they can for "privacy" and far enough out from the road so I can't see every detail of their morning ritual. This is not a new sight. This is Mumbai. This is how the ocean is used. By evening, nature will flush her toilet.

As I look forward, on the road, to avoid fixating on what I see on the rocks, my eyes then focus on a dog shitting on the side of the road. Next comes a two year old child scratching his naked ass while his father squats and brushes his teeth with a towel around him. And then the lovely noise and nose of someone squirting snot out. And next to that filthy, white, scrawny chickens stuffed into a cage in a chicken shop, waiting to fill someone's tummy.

All I can do is laugh. There is life here. No hiding it.

I continue my day. I drop off Tess to her school, Harmony Montessori, (wishing her Harmony at school!) and proceed to my gym for some exercise. I have a good workout for about an hour. Nothing special, get to catch up on life in America as I watch "E! News" on the personal TV monitor on my elyptical machine. How sad that "The Simple Life" with Paris Hilton has been canceled. I take my daily shower at the gym because they have hot water and good water pressure there, unlike my home bathroom. I just have to make sure I jump out of the way for a few seconds when the water pressure suddenly pumps up and scolding hot water decides to shoot out of the shower head. Just every 20 seconds or so.

I had just survived a week of hell getting my magazine to the printer. My laptop broke down (an unusually large flash of lightening followed by clap of thunder I believe was the cause of my suddenly bedridden computer and internet.) I brought the patient to a service center and after a couple days of biting my nails, we successfully retrieved my data so I could work on another desktop machine at home. Then that machine decided to breakdown. Meanwhile, the internet modem was replaced and working and within a day was dead again, but this time because they shut off our service because we had used up our monthly allowed megabytes. I immediately wrote a check, got the service turned back on. Took the second computer to get serviced, and with that working and internet working, I did eventually get the magazine to the printer on time.

Soooooo, after 5 days of nail-biting, today I chose to relax and stay away from the computer (yes... i'm here now.. but i had to share). I decided after the gym to head to the mall. In any other country I would have found a good movie to go to, but my options are slim here. I already saw " Zodiac " , didn't want to see " Die Hard " without Kurt, and so I think we'll both miss it cause it will probably be gone tomorrow, and my other option (beside four hour long Bollywood movies in hindi) was " The Grudge 2 " . So seeing a movie was not happening. Instead, I decided to venture out to the big Mall in search of birthday presents for a kid's party tomorrow and a tie rack for Kurt.

Kurt has developed a new hobby since moving to India. Being fashion conscious. Looking 'smart' and stylish was never much of a concern for Kurt in the past. But since moving to India, Kurt has discovered quality name brand shirts (Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Armani, etc) at a tenth of the cost that they sell them in the States, because they make them here, but sell extras locally at outlet stores. Kurt started with maybe 5 shirts and now had close to 100.. maybe even more. I've stopped counting. And he's decided that he needs to buy ties for all his shirts it seems. Ties are not easy to find. Quality silk ties with nice designs are hard to find, but Kurt has stopped in every store, and in every country he'd traveled to and every airport tie store in the past couple years and has managed to accummulate at least 40 new ties. That's big numbers with ties. And you can't just hang them on a hook, or a hanger, as they slip off, you can't see all your options cleanly.... NEED A BROOKSTONE STYLE TIE RACK.. (or indian equivalent).

So I decide, on my day off, my chance to go to the BIG mall, I'll go find him a tie rack. Now, in the States, one stop to Target would probably do the trick... or Brookstone at the mall, or over the internet actually. Inorbit is one of the largest malls in Mumbai. In a northern suburb. I had recently gone to Hypercity, the big "target/walmart" type of store next door. They appear to have everything, but still, whenever I go looking for something specific, I never seem to be able to find it. The downstairs floor sent me upstairs for it, the upstairs floor sent me downstairs for it. They didn't have one. They suggested I needed to go to the big mall to find something like that. So, here I was, at the big mall. Inorbit. Two major department stores, Lifestyle, and Shoppers Stop, plus a low cost target-like store called Spencers, and 4 floors of all sorts of stores. I started at Lifestyle looking for a present for the birthday party. I go to the toy section, and like all stores, way too many employees just waiting to help you....And the typical scene starts. "Hi, where can I find "art" supplies, or projects?" She looks at me, walks away down an aisle towards somebody else, they talk to each other, I walk around, they walk around. I find what I need because they have no clue where anything or what products they even carry. Why do I even open my mouth? I move on to the men's clothes section. "Do you sell a tie rack? Something to hold men's ties?" They talk to each other "Downstairs." I walk downstairs. I ask, "Do you have a tie rack here?" they look at each other, look at me, "Upstairs." Thanks! I walk next door to Spencers. "Do you have a tie rack?" The 5 men hanging around the men's clothes look at each other, try to figure out what I'm talking about.. I repeat the question using sign language, a "manager" walks by and says, "No, we don't carry tie racks". I go into the mall. I walk to a high end men's suit, shirt and tie store. Surely, they will know where to buy one! I walk in and announce, "Can anyone tell me where I can buy a tie rack?" The closest man takes me to the tie section. "No, I want to buy something to hang lots of ties on for the home! I don't want to buy a tie." He looks confused. At the counter a man and his wife making a purchase, appear to be wealthy and know english better. "Do you know where I can buy a tie rack?"
"You can't get one here."
"You are telling me you can't get a tie rack in all of India???"
"Of course you can. Go to Shopper's Shop they sell everything."
"But I've been to a different shopper's stop and they didn't have any."
Defensively he says, "India is a growing country, of course you can find a tie rack here. You can get anything here now!"
"But I haven't found one yet!" I storm out.. feeling upset that I'm getting angry and irritated over my search for a tie rack.

I decide to check out the Shopper's Stop in this mall. Maybe the man is right. Maybe I need to ask several people here. I walk across the length of the mall to Shopper's Stop. I go downstairs to the men's department. "Can you tell me if you sell tie-racks here?" The three workers look at each other, look at me, "Upstairs" I storm upstairs and look around, not sure what department up here would have tie racks. I ask anyone and several people... They look at each other, and say "Downstairs." I walk out, tired from walking up and down and the full length of the mall as the stores are on opposite ends, several times now.. I feel tears welling up in my eyes.. "How the hell do you hang your ties up?????" "on a hanger". Well that won't do for us. This is not a story just about tie racks, this is a story about ANYTHING you need. It may be here somewhere, but it sure is hard as hell to find. And accepting that you sometimes have to make compromises (lots) or do without, or be creative and make your own tie rack.. welll.. that's the challenge and lesson to be learned, if you feel like calling it that. Hell, I've lived here 22 months with only a toaster oven (with no temperature gauge) to make baked goods. They sometimes burn, and you can only made about 5 cookes at a time, but the ones that survive, are quite tasty and worth it!

DANGEROUS BEAUTY So I feel so silly getting overworked over a tie rack. So be it. Three nails on his closet door will have to do. It's raining, my feet hurt, and I'm hungry and I want to go home. I get in a rickshaw and start the slow drive home in traffic. The great thing about rickshaws is you get to be close and personal with everyone you drive by. No doors, no windows, and slow traffic. Today, a motorcycle is driving on my right side with two young men. The passanger guy looks at me in that "oh.. what have we here? An attractive white girl!" I look back at him but have no expression on my face. I've learned to (and for the fun of it) look back at people, but not give them much reaction. Just stare back and see how long they keep looking. We pull ahead in traffic, and a few seconds later I see the motorcycle now passing us on the left side. Now both passanger and driver decide to check me out. Mind you, this is maybe the first day I'm NOT showing cleavage. Just a high-necked t-shirt and knee length jeans. So I look back at them on the left. Then we pull ahead again.. a minute later they are once again on the right side, and once again, both looking at me.. and as I look at them, I see for a split second that THEY DON'T see a car pulling into their lane in front, as they are looking at me, and BAM! I hear a skid, a thunk on my rickshaw, and a clank. We pull over. Their motorcyle is down, but they are standing and though I got out of the rickshaw to see if they were okay, they didn't look at me at all. Ha! I think they were quite embarrassed. As we drive off, another rickshaw calls out to mine to ask what happened.. and it's clear, though in hindi, that he knows that they fell because they were too busy starring at me! I caused an accident! Who knew at 40+ I could be so dangerous! I'm grateful I saw no blood and they and the bike looked like they would survive.

So this was my day in India. One day.




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