Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not a Happy Baby

Yes, we love it when our babies smile.

And when the whole family gets all photogenic, we could pose for Overseas Living Today

But, things can go from cute, to awesomely hilarious, in a matter of a second or two, when the baby isn't happy!

This is actually one of the joys of our lives.

We call it Reed's Pouty Face

The face comes on slowly, and usually disappears quickly,

But it is the demented-parent idea of adorable.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sibling Love

Even among all the stressors that come upon us during Puja Season, we are delighted to have these two shining, happy faces to bring us joy and relaxation!

They are loving...


And very patient

With their parents.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Life, and Near Death, on the Street

You may have seen the masses of congested driving in large cities in our country, and while we do experience Puja Traffic jams occasionally, in our sleepy little town things normally move at a less congested pace.

The rickshaw drivers near our house just chill out most of the day,

The cows march wherever they want,

And sit wherever they want.

And while the snack carts and pedestrians on your left, the motorcycles zipping around your vehicle, and the massive trucks and buses that do not seem to care about lanes may frighten you your first few days in the country, you get used to it. 

The driving is dangerous, but not as dangerous as it looks.

However, we send out many prayers to guys like these street repairmen (or -boys),

Who are at what we presume is the bottom of the manual-labor ladder in South Asia
(which is saying something),

manually heating up barrels of tar, manually mixing it with gravel, and manually spreading it onto the road--with no breathing masks.

But with so many cars on the road, anxious to see the pandals and idols during these weeks, the city invests great amounts of time, money, and road tar into making traffic flow.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Puja in Pictures, Part 3

The Evolution of an Idol
(at least in South Asia)

We showed you the big pile of bamboo a couple days ago. Puja Season is big business for bamboo dealers, because in virtually every neighborhood in every city and village, huge, fascinating structures arise in days, are used for a couple days, and then are disassembled just as quickly.

The pile of bamboo...

... becomes the frame,

the frame gets decorated
(by men definitely not operating under Western-safety standards)...

... with colorful South Asian cloth...

And a MIRACULOUS pandal appears!!!
(that's what the temporary structure for worship of the idol is called)

Usually, until the day of the god's actual worship, the entrance is covered.

So unless you peek inside where the idol is made from mud, sticks, and paint;

Or see the idols in the rivers after they have been disposed of by their worshipers, 

 You just have to visit the pandals during the Puja Days.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Puja in Pictures, Part 2

We lived much of our lives in the Southern USA, where the perception, especially from non-religious non-Southerners, is that "religion is everywhere."

Sure, in the USA when we go to shopping malls during Christmas or Easter Seasons, we sometimes encounter "religious" symbols and traditions. And in a Christian owned business, there might even be a cross somewhere behind the cash register.

But religious life in South Asia makes even the "Bible-soaked South" look pretty non-religious. In fact, the controversy Paul encountered in the Bible where Christians likely couldn't find meat that HADN'T been "sacrificed to idols" come to life.

So when we go to our "old mall"--which is also the only A/C mall in our city, and the mall with our city's one Pizza Hut...

The idols (not necessarily a word with a negative connotation to Hindus here, so I'm not being derogatory) are everywhere.

And what fun is having fancy idols if your daughter doesn't want her picture taken with it!

Puja Season is upon us, and the ever-religious South Asian World is becoming crowded with celebrations, incense, and idols!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Puja In Pictures, Part 1

We are in Puja Season...

And where else would you expect to find an elaborate, temporary place of worship than in a parking garage at the mall in town?

"Puja" just means "worship"

A few weeks ago, Ganesh...

Then Biswakarma...

And now, Navrati is beginning. Today. And it goes until Oct 3. Navratri="The Nine Nights"

So, other than big sales at the stores, people's lives drastically change as they try to collect money they've loaned throughout the year, and start spending all their hard-earned money and pinched pennies on repainting rooms of their houses and contributing to their local Puja Clubs.

And traffic is bad. And the crowds are everywhere. And Rebekah doesn't have school. And huge bamboo structures are built, with the bamboo knocking out electric, telephone, and internet lines more often than we'd like to see.

So we just wanted to give you glimpses of Puja over the coming days...

During Biswakarma, one of the things people pray for is the smooth running of their machines, so worship is done for, among other things, people's vehicles.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

With Sisters Like These, Part Two...

As we mentioned before, Reed is at the age where he is the victim of Rebekah's playing more often than not.

So when we come out of the room and see Rebekah in THIS position, we know she is likely using her brother as a prop in one of her building projects... again.

AND, she was.

But other times, we come out and see Rebekah gently loving her brother,

And him enjoying her, 

And we know they're going to be okay.