Today we went out to find some much needed household items: trash cans, some cleaning supplies, and groceries. It was difficult to look at the merchandise because immediately a salesperson would come over. It felt like they were "hovering" over every item reviewed. It was nice to have numbers of salespeople willing to help, but at the same time, when you are used to being able to look at goods without pressure, and add in the fact that everything around us is completely foreign, it was tough. Not the kind of relaxed, shopping experience that I enjoyed in my home country, where I knew where to find what exactly what I was looking for.
We found some gorgeous pillows to make our living room feel more like home. It should come as no surprise with all the beautiful textiles in India. The experience was interesting. Our kids turned nearly every head. People reached out to touch our three year old son's light hair and to squeeze his fair cheeks. Our eight month old daughter was content to chew on her feet and watch the crowds of people around her. The majority of the people who were intrigued by our kids were groups of young women and teens. Their warm smiles were a comfort in a time of so many unknowns.
We ate lunch in a mall food court. The vegetarian meal included naan, parathas, choley, and dal--every item was delicious. There was a cucumber and yogurt sauce and a cabbage garnish, that probably would have been good, but for health and safety we avoided them and told our son to do the same. He didn't understand. It was tough to explain to him that what was considered a healthy choice at home could make him sick here. It was fun to dip our breads; the food was tasty and not too spicy.
Upon finishing our meal, I nursed our daughter. My husband was approached by a man who said, "Baby, milk, in bathroom." Are you kidding? I was completely covered up apart from my darling daughter's little feet hanging out of the nursing cover. I was annoyed by his request for me to feed my daughter in a dirty bathroom. I continued nursing for a few minutes and then finished her feeding in the car while the driver and my husband stood outside.
At the grocery store, we felt completely overwhelmed. It painstakingly took us nearly two hours to buy what would have usually taken a only few minutes. We had to get acquainted with different food labels and nutritional information, not to mention finding groups of items in a new store. Avoiding produce was more difficult than I expected for our fruit and vegetable-loving family. We bought a ton of bottled water (yet I think it will only last a week) and a few imported food items that were familiar. The rest of the items were household paper products and mosquito fighting plug-ins. By the end, we felt like we might pass out from exhaustion, due to a long day and total lack of sleep.
In a few hours, we will be meeting with those who have gone before us, some people who have also left their home country to live here in India. Should be exciting!