Thursday, July 06, 2006

indiapapa: the last

Perhaps I have been hesitating to write the ‘last’ entry for this weblog because I don’t want to accept that this experience is over. Perhaps it is because I am often overtaken by the waves of sadness that often accompany re-entry. Perhaps it is just that I am lazy. Whatever it is, however, I seem to have overcome it as here I am, pecking away at the last words of indiapapa. Of course, humor is on the horizon when our storage container from India arrives and we have to fit all of these things in our 1,100 sq foot apartment that already has all the things we stored three years ago! I suspect that a postscript will come out of that.

First of all, and most importantly, little Kaia appears to have moved beyond his short bout with transition overload that we experienced soon after his touching down in the Seattle area (it was also accompanied by a high fever and odd rash). For about a week he was inconsolable, prone to fits and generally unhappy. This, of course as loyal readers know, is very unusual behavior for this generally chipper fellow. For the first time I witnessed him ‘regressing’: crawling on all fours, only wanting to be carried, hiding in corners and dark places, it was all very interesting (although mostly difficult) to witness. Being that indiamama and I have already shifted our roles, with me going to work 4-5 days a week and her with Kaia full-time, it was very hard to come home and find him so upset. Over the past two months, he’s been in so many different environments, with so many different people, perhaps now that we had arrived in a place that we were telling him would be our ‘new home’, it was all too much to take.

But he’s doing better now. The other day we were on the ferry that goes to and from Seattle from Bainbridge Island and we were looking out at another island where our friend “Auntie Kate” lives. The conversation between Kaia and I went something like this:

indiapapa: Kaia, there’s Vashon Island, where Auntie Kate lives. Do you remember the last time we saw her? Where were we?

Kaia: (short pause) In India, at Kaia’s home in India…Papa, I miss India. It makes me sad.

ip: oh, I miss India too. Do you miss other parts about India?

Kaia: Yes, I miss my things too. And Joycee and Uncle Sekar.

ip: (becoming a tad emotional) Well, our things will be coming in a few weeks. And we can call Joyce at anytime to say hello to her. I know that she misses you too.

Kaia: (pause) Hey look! There’s a digger!

I am still not 100% sure about the community where we have moved and if it will be a place that we stay. Unfortunately homes and property on the island have become very expensive and this, along with what kinds of people follow and are transformed by such affluence (I grew up in a place that was transformed in the same way that I see Bainbridge undergoing) have me very leery. I really love many of the things that we have done and have access to in our life here, but being a small community (24,000), on an island, you really have to think about the way that the community might change and if it is something that you want to be invested in. I hope that there will be people who can understand the kinds of experiences that we’ve had as a family and as parents (“India, so what was THAT like?!?”). One of the things I’ve realized in coming back after (only) 3 years, is how much I have changed. Going through our stuff that was in storage was a good exercise in reflection. So is meeting other parents of 3 year old kids, particularly fathers. As readers of this weblog know, my pathways through fatherhood have been unconventional and open. Needless to say, many American fathers do not share the same experiences. This can be very isolating. So here I am, searching for a community and hoping that it will be on Bainbridge. Indiamama has jumped right in and already found Japanese with small children, so with each day she gets more and more hooked on the idea of being here.

These days are filled with alternating currents of happiness and anxiety. Happy at the infectious, long Northwest summer days and the way that Kaia and indiamama are reforging their deep bonds, and anxious at about just about everything else. It has made writing very challenging as I find that my mind wanders around aimlessly quite a bit and my overall motivation is lacking. It isn’t that I don’t want to work and finish up tasks, quite the opposite, but sometimes with these kinds of transitions—not only with living space and work, but also role as caregiver, it is hard to move forward without a set back here and there.

So I guess that’s it for now. I have really enjoyed writing this weblog and I hope that it has provided some of you with a bit of entertainment over the past few years. After this dissertation shakes down (or ‘off’ might be the better way to put it) I would like to continue writing about parenthood so, if you’re interested, please check back at indiapapa and there will certainly be a link.

Be well and love those little ones.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Nearing an End

Well, some 18 months or so ago, we started here. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep it up on a regular basis, and certainly unsure about how our experience would end up being there in Southern India. It has been nearly a month since we left India and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect upon many of the things that we were able to do, people we met, challenges we faced, and ways we all grew. As anyone who has read this weblog regularly knows, it was not an easy time living in Chennai. Indiamama’s workload bordered on inhumane and it put a serious strain on many aspects of our life. While the terms under which we agreed to come were very different than the reality, I don’t think that we would have changed our decision to move to India. I have plenty of things to say about indiamama’s work, and have intentionally refrained from discussing them in this weblog unless they directly pertain to parenting Kaia. Therefore, I’m not going to start now—if you would like to hear more, you are more than welcome to email me! But back to more important matters: life and the return.

If you joined along for most of the ride, you were privy to Kaia’s amazing growth as a human being--His school, his art, his food, those he loves, his beach, his bath, and his home. You were also able to peer into my many fears, failures, joys and highs as a full-time father in an unfamiliar place. Admittedly, the quality of writing lagged far behind what I was hoping would continue in early entries, and I often let photos speak for me (I originally had planned to make this a text-only weblog, forcing me to be more rich with my descriptions), but in the end I think I accomplished what I set out to do. Back in February of 2005, when I decided to start this journal, I set out the following ‘ground rules’ for myself:

  1. Entries should only focus on being a full-time father and reflections on experiences with Kaia;
  2. Reflections should start with the mundane in an practice of finding wonder in the ordinary;
  3. Provide a male perspective on parenting that is rarely heard in the female dominated discourse on raising children;
  4. Focus on issues that are either unique to being a parent or that are exaggerated when you become one (e.g. safety, health/medical care, child development, cultural interaction, etc.);
  5. Try to always situate the mundane within the cultural context, trying as much as possible to weave in nuanced illustrations that offer some comparison or point of reference between Japan and/or the United States;
  6. As India is something that grips all your senses, attempt to communicate through what Kaia and I see, hear, touch, smell and taste.

While I am tempted to conduct an evaluation of my efforts, I’ll just leave it be as I sure that this is something that will only truly come clear with the luxury of time and more reflection.

So where am I at now? I miss India but I am no so sure that I miss our life circumstance there. It has taken just until recently for indiamama to recover the 15% of body weight that she lost, lose the general obsession with work (nightmares, cold sweats, etc.), and re-connect with me and Kaia. Since her last day of work was April 8th, this was truly a long time. I had never seen someone so mentally, physically and spiritually drained. It is great to see her back again.

I am also filled with anxiety about Joyce and her current situation. She started working for our friends a week after we left, but as you know, life has not been so kind to her recently. In the few times that we have spoken to her, she has said that she wants to kill herself and seems very serious. It weighs very heavy to know that someone so close to us is suffering like she is—both in her home and with our loss. I feel helpless and it has really been dominating my thoughts recently. Just the other day, she told our friends that she cannot work for them anymore and will be quitting at the end of June. She had mentioned to me when I spoke with her over the past weekend, that she wanted to finish working this month, and then die. According to her, her husband was actually encouraging her to do so. I’m just sick about the entire thing.

So this has colored a rather grey hue over my own re-entry to American society and life. When people ask, “does it feel good to be back?” I can unequivocally say “yes”, particular in how smoothly the entire domestic admin process has gone (it was more difficult six years ago to move from Davis, CA to Seattle, WA!). The fact that we have been managing all of our finances and accounts online for the past 3 years, makes the switch no more than a change of address, and at that, most of our statements are delivered electronically, without a hard copy. As well, with Skype and other forms of online communication (can you say 206 number in India—thanks Vonage!), we feel very close to many of our friends and family here. Of course, I already am seriously jonesing for a masala dosai…maybe on the drive up.

Why I Love this Time: To be able to visit with so many friends and family members is very rare at this age, I feel truly blessed about where the last three years have taken us…I would have never guessed it would be like this.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Last Leg

In a few days, we leave for the last leg of our transition back to Seattle. We have been in Laguna Beach for two weeks and it has been yet another opportunity to reflect upon the intense experience that we’ve had over the past 18 months. Reentry takes all kinds of forms and is very individualized, especially for our family. Being Japanese, indiamama really isn’t experiencing any ‘shock’ and while she is able to see things in a very different light, they are not accompanied by some of the same comforts and dislikes that I might feel being back in the US. There is a lot of anxiety that goes into major transitions like this, particularly when they involve being away from ‘home’ for nearly three years. I have to remind myself that I am not only re-entering from India, but from living in Japan as well. It has been such a unique time, the past 2 ½ years, and I have so many great memories of spending time with Kaia. I can remember in the final weeks in Japan, when things were very uncertain and the next steps were very divergent, going with Kaia to one of our favorite places to soak and run around—Epinard onsen. As I ran around with him in the large hallways and soaked in the hot baths, I can remember feeling these deep pangs of joy and loss—typical of what accompanies such departures. It was not just that we would soon be having to leave Japan, but also that this small boy was growing so quickly and these types of experiences would end soon. I have often told people that I first experienced this emotion on the 3rd or 4th day after Kaia’s birth—I was so filled with joy, but at the same time it was tempered by grief and loss.

So, the road to our ‘final’ destination starts soon. We will have the chance to see friends and family along the way, which is nice—especially for Kaia. I will submit my final entry to indiapap soon after we get to our new home in Bainbridge Island and I have a chance to reflect on the whole experience. For those of you who have followed along this far, thanks for reading and sending me your encouragement and comments. You too are close to the end of this journey. Thanks for coming along.

Why I Love this Time: Such anxiety disciplines you to breathe and focus on the now….not that that is so easy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Laguna Beach

We've been transitioning through Kaia's grandparents' home in Laguna Beach since leaving Hawai'i and Kaia has been really flourishing. I was a bit concerned that the trauma of leaving India and the subsequent long trip back to some form of normalcy would really harm the guy, even stunt his development perhaps, but it seems that the opposite has been true. His vocabulary and communication skills have really taken off and I have been impressed by his social skills and ability to adapt quickly to new people and environments. We still talk about India quite often and, if asked, he'll say that India is his 'home', but he has really been able to enjoy where he is at. Perhaps it is all of the family member that he now has and can enjoy--he actually had his 3rd birthday cake (photo below) in a pool celebration with many of his 2nd cousins. He has also been able to see his great-grandmother, who is very near to passing away and the gravesite of his recently deceased great-grandfather. Making up for lost time with his grandparents, Kaia has also visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Disneyland, not to mention having his teeth cleaned for the first time by his Uncle Kevin!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


With indiamama's lingering ear infection and our intense jetlag (19 hour difference behind Japan) our time in Hawai'i was more about recovery than anything else. Kaia's transition was eased tremendouly by the arrival of his grandparents and aunties and uncle. With Thailand and Japan on preceeding it and Southern California to follow, the two weeks in Hawai'i were a bit of blur. Yet, we still had a great time.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Kaia's 3rd Birthday

Today Kaia turned three here in Waikoloa, Hawai'i. It was a very special day filled with family, food, gifts and a nice visit to the beach. While it wasn't like our first birthday celebration, it was a birthday that we wont forget. Like last year, my life has become framed by the progession of this little guy more than my own annual turning of the page. Happy birthday Kaia!

Why I Love this Time: Three years of infectious laughing, the sweetest kisses, and softening of the heart.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thinking of Friends

We placed calls to Joyce, Sekar and Sethu this evening and they’re not doing very well. The day after we left, Sethu came down with severe kidney stones and had to be hospitalized. On Tuesday night, Joyce’s husband beat her terribly and she ended up getting stitches on her head—why? Because he is an evil prick who is just interested in building his case for a deeper place in hell. When we spoke to her she was sobbing and repeatedly saying how she was going to kill herself—and her children as she didn’t want to leave them to him—it was not a fun conversation. Fortunately, thanks to Skype we were able to call her cell phone at an absurdly low rate and we’ll be calling her regularly until it seems like things improve. Although, I am not optimistic that they will…I’m very worried for her and what the future will bring. She is, as indiamama pointed out, like many women in India, very vulnerable: no identification, everything through her husband, little savings, and powerless in the face of cultural norms around domestic violence and paternalism.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Japan and India

Let’s make this clear: in many ways, Japan and India could not be any more different. I could swear that I could see about the same number of people in a block in Chennai as I did looking out the window riding 100km on a train in Japan! No joke. As well, while you are immediately gripped by the intensity of India—the smells, colors, poverty—the moment you walk out of the airport, here in Japan things are much more muted, bland, and subtle. Here people avert their eyes when you walk in public places and many seem to be lost in thought, oblivious to their surroundings, while in India you might have someone staring at you for minutes. Attention for Kaia? Forget it. Here he’s just another black haired kid, and it isn’t as if Japanese are as outgoing with strangers as Indians.

One result of the move has been Kaia’s constipation, which has resulted in a lack of poop that is now extended to three countries, and four international time zones. Packed into those little bowels are dosai, pad thai, sushi and a few different varieties of indica and japonica rice. The movement watch will continue…

Against, my better judgment, we’ve been staying at indiamama’s parents home since yesterday. Kaia has been enjoying himself and I’ve decided that I will not get in the way of his relationship with his grandparents. The reason that I am so opposed to being here is that whenever we do, indiamama gets sick—really sick. It is like her connection to family and this place is toxic, it literally poisons her. Sure enough, she’s contracted another illness that Kaia and I did not have (high fever) and we’ll be lucky to leave on time. It is so damn predictable—Day One is OK, Day Two she starts to feel worse, and by Day Three she’s spending most of the time on the futon while I lounge around watching Japanese TV and using the internet. This is partly why I have imposed a 2 day limit on these kinds of visits, but as this visit demonstrates, it cannot be avoided. Mind you, this is a woman who NEVER missed a day of work while working in an tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS hospital in India where the sanitary conditions are just north of horrific and worked under tremendous mental and physical stress. Whatever the atomic weight of family is, it must be tremendous.

Why I Love this Time: Tonight’s dinner of sashimi, sushi, and various crustaceans grilled over a charcoal pot on our table.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


The Japanese know how to relax. What you say? The Japanese?!? Well, for all that is made in the international media about the excess of the Japanese worker (and now Americans work more hours than the Japanese), the flip side is the great beer and sake, amazing food, and the onsen resort. I have been all over the world and I don’t think that anything comes close to a Japanese onsen where you can soak your cares away in the steaming hot spring baths and have the most (for my money) tasty and elaborate meals prepared and brought to your room. We arrived here weary and exhausted from the emotion of leaving Chennai and are leaving refreshed, CLEAN, and reflective. As well, the hot steam and soak helped to push along Kaia’s recovery and any lingering cold that I had seems to be gone.

Why I Love this Time: As he squats in the hot rotenburo (outdoor bath) with a huge smile on his face, “Papa, Kaia loves onsen!”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


For as much as Chennai has become our home, I am reminded that we came to India after living in Japan for over one year. During that time, this country really became familiar to me (as someone told me before leaving the US for Japan, traveling in a place and living in a place are two completely different things) and it feels like home. Of course, indiamama and Kaia and both Japanese citizens, but as is the case with many Nikkei, finding familiarity with Japan was not a given for me. I had been to Japan probably five or six times on trips varying from two weeks to six months, but 2004-2005 was really a different experience for me. Coming with a child, having to negotiate things like bank accounts and health insurance, opening domestic accounts, driving a car—all done in a foreign language and all things that force you to move deeper into the day-to-day that (for me) is the most interesting thing about being in a place different than the culture in which you grew up.

Coming through Japan was a really great idea. Not as a bracket to make the India experience parenthetical (how could the subcontinent EVER be that), but as a reminder of how our notion of home has been permanently expanded. It is kind of odd to think that, for Kaia, there are many more comfortable places that he can call home than the US. He was here for a significant part of his development—here he started to talk and walk—and there are some activities which are certainly embedded in his persona already: taking a Japanese bath and onsen, eating onigiri (Japanese rice balls), and the Tomica (see photo).

We arrived in Narita extremely tired, but feeling good to be in very familiar territory. Kaia was still coughing profusely, but after getting him a All Nippon Airways diecast airplane set, he was in good spirits. As well, the fresh onigiri and bottled teas available in any combi (convenience store) brought a jump to my step. Nothing like food to make me happy. So we activated our Japan Rail Passes and headed off on the Narita Express and Shinkansen to our hot spring resort in Atami. Expectedly, Kaia was in heaven on the trains and it did not seem like long ago that we were headed in the opposite direction, making our way TO Chennai, full of anticipation. Many things have changed since then…

Why I Love this Time: A time for reflection.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Funny Bangkok

I’m sure that for a very good reason just about all of the international flights out of Chennai depart very late in the evening. Coordinating the global itineraries for the multitude of planes criss-crossing the region can’t be easy and there have to be some places where that get the short end of the departure stick. As far as India goes, there is always going to be a much more important airport than Chennai’s Anna International Airport—Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, heck even probably Hyderbad—so there’s a short-hand analysis of why we were leaving at 12:25am for a 3 hour flight to Bangkok.

In order to squeeze the most out of our flight plan back to the US, we decided to break up the first long stretch of the itinerary to Japan and stop for a full day in Thailand. We’d only been in the airport a few times (I was actually in Thailand for two weeks in 1993), and it seemed like a fun idea to take the cosmopolitan center of South-East Asia (don’t tell Singapore). Yet there were a few things that worried me—one that the flight was so short and we’d be arriving at around 4:00am Chennai time, and that Kaia’s cough and illness was getting progressively worse. The stress of the last week has been really high for all of us and Kaia has not been sleeping or eating properly. As a parent now ‘experienced’ in long distance moves with children, this was/is to be expected. I can remember when we arrived in Japan in 2003 in the dead of winter and Kaia was running a high fever, our national health insurance had yet to kick in, we didn’t have any transportation, and we didn’t have the first clue about finding a good doctor. In retrospect, we rather freaked out and asked this woman whom we didn’t know to drive us to the local clinic because our son was running a high temperature. I’ll never forget this 60-something-ish woman blazing through the backroads of Nishinasuno in her K-Car as if she had someone in the back giving birth! It was quite the riot.

For me, living in Chennai at times has felt intensely isolating. There is so much to immerse yourself in that if becomes easy to lose touch with other forms of living—that everything doesn’t function (or not) like it does (or does not) in India. Being in the Bangkok airport reminded me of this very quickly. The (Indian) Thai Airways clerk in Chennai checked our bags all the way to Japan every though I made it very clear that we wanted them checked to Bangkok. So, after watching Jyothi Kumar’s red suitcase circle the baggage claim carousel for the 40th time, I realized that there was going to have to be that dreaded confrontation with the people at lost baggage to located our three bags. Kaia and indiamama were trying to get some sleep (I couldn’t sleep at all on the plane and never do) and I went to deal with the problem.

But here I was pleasantly surprised. They located our bags within 20 minutes and brought them out to us, no problem. I can remember when we first arrived in Chennai and it took them 30 just to find a stroller that was checked at the gate! We were recommended by a friend to take a Thai Airways ‘limo’ from the airport to the hotel due to the early arrival, all our bags, and a fussy Kaia, and it was a great idea. We were whisked away in a spacious Mercedes-Benz and, with the smooth ride, I could feel that these were not Indian roads where folks cannot drive much more than 60 km/hour lest they lose their front axle in a pothole or run over some moving mammal. Thai drivers are known for their breakneck speeds, and as we neared 100, it actually kind of scared me!

Our hotel, the Pathumwan Princess, was a really great recommendation as well. For $100/night it was a great deal with really nice amenities and a central location that allowed us (or at least me) to take in as much as Bangkok as possible in a full day. Unfortunately, Kaia and indiamama were feeling very ill, so they stayed in and slept from the time we arrived at 8am until the late afternoon. I took a short nap, and then headed out to find some pirated software and eat the streets. On both counts I was successful in finding what I was looking for (man, Thai street food is GOOD!), even managing to take a taxi, tuk-tuk, be asked if I wanted sex 10 times, be befriended by a Thai cameraman getting ready to go to Europe for the World Cup, and watch someone eat some wicked looking fried insects and grubs from a street vendor. When Kaia felt a bit better, he and I ventured back out in the streets and a nearby huge and sprawling shopping center in the spirit of American department store and boutique shopping (Siam Center). Indiamama had a Thai massage scheduled from 700-800pm, so Kaia and I looked for some dinner. I was not quite sure what I was up for and we looked at a number of restaurants. But it was not until I turned a corner and saw the sushi bar that I truly realized what I had been missing—raw fish and lots of it. Akasaka is a very weak (and horribly overpriced) facsimile of even the most marginal Japanese food (but the people are wonderful), and since I’d heard that the Japanese food is as good and cheaper than you can find in Japan, I was all over it. I think that the restaurant staff was a bit taken aback by how much I ordered, thinking that there was no way that Kaia could eat that much!

Anyway, at 9pm we left for the airport and made it through immigration and onto our plane to Japan without incident. Kaia’s cough wasn’t getting any better, however, so we increased the cough medicine dosage and hoped he’d pass out on the five hour plane ride…at least, we thought, that when we get to Japan, it’ll be on familiar ground and we can do whatever we need to do once we get there.

Why I Love this Time: “Papa, we’re in Bangkok! That’s a funny name!”

Leaving on a Jet Plane

It wasn’t easy getting out of Sethu’s Ambassdor, loading the bags onto a luggage cart and making our way through the sliding doors for ticked passengers only. Even more difficult was saying goodbye to the three people to whom be owe much gratitude for making our time in Chennai so memorable: Sethu, Joyce and Sekar. Before arriving at the airport, we visited the Thiruvanmiyur Shiva temple and had a brief dinner at the Guindy Sangeetha where I enjoyed my last authentic South Indian dosai (of paper masala variety) and we all tried to eat, knowing that a painful goodbye was close at hand. Kaia was curiously upbeat and excited (something he hadn’t been for days) as he popped little idlis in his mouth.

At the airport it was all tears and silences. Not much you can say about saying goodbye that doesn’t come off sounding shallow or patronizing. Kaia was really quiet from the time we left the restaurant and made the 5 minute drive to the airport. He knew what was going on. So what to say about how it went? I guess I was a bit surprised that it wasn’t MORE emotional than it was, but I suppose it was because we were all spent from the previous few days. In particular, I’ll never forget indiamama reading Joyce the letter of recommendation that we wrote for her…it was almost like a living eulogy…

So, thank you Joyce, Sekar and Sethu. Joyce, we love you more than you’ll ever let yourself know, Sekar, thank you for all your support, and Sethu, we couldn’t have survived without your consistent rescues—you are like Superman in a Radhamma getaway car!

Why I Love this Time: Forging relationships like these that transcend citizenship, class, caste and gender is not a minor thing. Few have the opportunity to experience such depth of connection and I am thankful that we’ve been able to, particularly Kaia.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bye-Bye India

“Don’t take my refrigerator! That’s my refrigerator! I don’t like these men…” This what Kaia was crying, or more accurately, what was echoing in our cavernous home, as the last of the things made its way out the door. It has been a very difficult day for Kaia—lots of crying (I don’t think that he’s been right all day), he’s got a cold (which should be a blast on the plane) and his life is in complete disarray. I don’t feel good about it. In fact, I feel down right shitty about it, to go along with the dozen of other painful things that go into leaving a place. I know that the past few months this weblog has been mostly mailing it in, lacking the kind of personal writing and insight of, dare I say, earlier postings. I think it is because I’ve know for some time now that this day would come and, deep down, I didn’t ever want it to. I love India. I love living here. I love Kaia living here. Having to watch him suffer like this is really hard.

Why I Love this Time: I started this little regular section as a foil to when some bloggers will end their posting with what music they’re listening to while writing or what mood folks are in that day. Well, this part kind of challenged me to think for every posting why I loved this time, here in India, with Kaia—being his indiapapa. Admittedly, there were times when I just didn’t feel it to write something that I was ‘loving’, but it was as good device for me to get back into the moment, just a bit. Now that I am posting the last entry from India (the internet connection is the LAST thing to go), I cannot say that I am loving this time. All that consumes me/us is sadness and loss. Sure I know that there are brighter days ahead, but right now I’ll just need to wallow in this for a bit more. We’re headed off to the temple for one last blessing with Sethu, Joyce and Sekar…until post-India, this is indiapapa saying good night and farewell. Thanks to all those who came along for the ride.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Here Come the Movers

Well, the day has finally come—moving day. This morning around 9:30am, after a morning visit to the sleeping Vishnu temple, the men from Multi-Movers arrived at our place and furiously dove into the wrapping and packing process. Tape was ripping, cardboard flying and emotions running high as our place was quickly transformed from a home to a storage facility. Watching the men pack up our things was quite difficult and it was particular hard to watch Joyce watch them box up Kaia’s stroller—something that they shared many hours together doing. We were all in tears at the movers methodically wrapped the bubble wrap and cardboard around the ‘trolley’, it was really hard to watch.

At around 12:30pm, Sethu and his family arrived with an amazing Keralan lunch—coconut fish curry, chicken, pappads, parathas, rice…it was heavenly! As well, Jasmine and her family also came by and it was really nice to have our friends her to share lunch together. While there was no place to formally sit, we converted the bedroom into a dining space and it couldn’t have been more comfortable. Kaia will miss Sethu’s children, Aravind (13) and Abilash (9), very much…

By 5:00pm, our landlord, Mr. Jayachandran came by to finalize the lease and about 30 minutes later, Muthatha and Valli (from Kids Central, she’s Muthatha’s cousin) came by to say goodbye. It has been a very sad day, having to say goodbye to so many close friends, but it seems like Kaia is doing a bit better than the last few days. I don’t know what tomorrow will be like…

Why I Love this Time: I don’t think I will really know for some time…

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Overnight Joycee

For the past three nights, Joyce has been staying the night at our place because her children are staying at her mother’s place and her husband is out of station, on a long distance driving assignment. It has been really nice to have her here around the clock and Kaia has been full of joy. For her, not having to deal with the commute time and the heat of her inland home makes it a positive as well. I know that I have said it a number of times before, but we are really going to miss her and I don’t know what Kaia is going to do without her. For the past week he has been asking where she is when she’s out or not around and earlier this week, whenever he’d hear the building’s elevator he’d run to the door, open it, and wait for her to come up. Of course, most of the time it wasn’t her, but it was clear that he knew that she/we would be leaving each other soon. It just really breaks my heart to see it all coming down to the end.

Kaia has actually really been struggling with the move for the past week. Earlier, when we would ask him if he was excited about moving back to the US, he would give and emphatic, “YES!”, but now this is certainly not the case. Now he responds with a clear, “I want to stay here. This is my home. I don’t want to go to the US. I want to stay in India.” Yesterday, when a painter came to do measurements for a job he’ll do once we vacate the apartment, Kaia got really upset when the painter came into my office. He said, “Don’t go into papa’s office! This is Kaia’s house, you should go away! Don’t take away Kaia’s things, this is Kaia’s house!” I don’t know how the next two days are going to be, but I suspect a lot of tears are going to be shed and heavy hearts taken away…

Why I Love this Time: The beginning of a time to reflect upon how this experience has transformed all of us, indiapapa, kaia and indiamama