My worst fear has taken form. And so early in my trip too :(
The one thing I didn’t want the kids to end up with here was the American accent. Till they were home with me, all was fine. But then they started school. Initially, they had some trouble getting the hang of what the teachers taught. Instructions weren’t clear as the two just couldn’t get the accent. Obviously, making friends was turning out to be equally difficult :|
Its been three weeks now since they started school. Things got a little better . They could follow their teachers and even strike up a conversation with their classmates. All good, we felt. The kids seemed to be on the right track. We patted ourselves on the back, almost disbelieving our good luck!
That is because we didn’t see it coming.
One fine day, I shouted out homework instructions from the kitchen to Lui when she replied back,” I khaint unnerstaynd chu”.
“Hain“?? I shouted back.
“I said, I khaint unnerstayndchuuuu”.
Here, the BF intervened and explained that Lui, God bless her, has just crossed over to the “amreekan bhasha“.
I looked at him, he looked back but he didn’t look as stricken as I did! Men never seem to mind the fact that changing accents leads to conversation breakdowns , specially when a mother cannot understand her own kids :|
“Uff! Lui, can you please talk properly. It is me who can’t understand you”.
Here, with a classic roll of the eyes that made my heart fall right at my feet, she says, ” Hmphh! You nevva unnerstaynd! I’m not gonna chalk chu yu”.
(At least, this is what I gathered from what she said)
I looked up at the roof. No help came from above. Albeit, support came from a little boy standing at my side.
“Mumma, yeh Lui bahut funny baat karti hai. Mujhe pasand nahin hai“.
I grabbed my son for a tight hug. Thank God at least one kid is still desi at heart :D :P
Chicago is a fiercely planned city. When I say fierce, I mean it. Its almost as if the city leaders took a ruler and a protractor to make sure every turn was at a sharp 90 degree angle. All the roads are ruler straight and every crossing is marked with the N/E/W/S directions. I doubt you will have difficulty finding any address here. Everything is either a left, right or straight. No diagonals, God forbid :|
The sections between the crossings are divided into blocks. The blocks can consist of residential apartments or office space. Doesn’t matter. They all look the same! You see a huge building with glass walls and wonder if it is an office. Naah, says the BF, thats a posh residence complex. Or you see a drab building with people taking out pets from a side door and then find out that the building is in fact, an office complex and the dog that came out was freshly groomed in one of the salons in the building!
Now all this is pretty peachy. Problem arises when you are new and unused to checking for directions based on…well…. locations!! You have just spent a lifetime hunting for places based on landmarks and all this “take a turn at Maple/Clark West” or a “Go North till you hit Wells and go East two blocks” is enough to drive you crazy!
What about the landmarks, you scream inside. Where are the landmarks?
Well, there are none. Thats because all the damn blocks look exactly the same!
So I look very very closely at all the buildings I pass by, noting down even the tiniest difference between them. “Oh look”, I say to myself, “That apartment block has a large pot of pine-cones at its entrance” or say,” Ohh! That building has a stone owl on its roof. What exactly is the owl doing up there?” But these observations are helpful. They are my landmarks. They drive the BF batty though. A year of living here has made a Chicagoan out of him, so when I say I went for a walk by that building that has green door or that I found a new shop near the block where there are always dogs peeing, he goes blank or rather, his facial features take the North-South route!
Did I say this place was expensive?? Hah! I was kidding! This place isn’t ‘expensive’! It just has a ‘drop-dead-you-cheap-middle-class-Indian’ vibe. Which usually means that if you are an Indian, you do drop dead when you see the price tags. The locals though are pretty comfy. You see them pull out a wallet stuffed with cards and swipe away their worries.
You just cant show the same chutzpah when handling your spouse’s card though. I tried. And failed miserably! The first time I used his card, I drew a bill of 100+ dollars, just on the twin’s school uniform! It was much later that a kind neighbor, also Indian, introduced me to the concept of deals. Which essentially means that I have to scavenge the aisles of the department stores, noting the rates of stuff that I need. At home, I have to keep track via newspapers and pamphlets about the current offers available. Then I surf for online rates of the same things. Then I compare the rates with the other two stores in the vicinity. After a cost-analysis, I decide which store to visit. At the store, I need to check if there are any additional discounts on the stuff that I needed.
(And then everyone envies me because apparently, I have a lot of FREE time on hands !)
What happens mostly is that my things are never on discount. But at least now I will never run out of kitchen towels, toilet paper and liquid detergent :)
But. There are some things that come dirt cheap too. Like Coke, which is under a dollar for a 1.2ltr bottle or some “Made in China” toys that come for 24cents (around Rs15). Even back home, the same toys are nothing less than Rs25 ! I bought a handful of those toys for the twins and they LOVE me more than ever :D
I’m still not ready to pay $1 for ONE, lonely green cucumber. Yet!
It was raining here today….the kind of rain that I thought happened only in Pune, the light , shimmery drizzle that went on throughout the day and then night and then continued for the rest of the week till you eventually screamed with frustration!
Right now, its snowing. We are expecting 5-6 inches of snow! Which is crazy, mostly because the last two days were so wonderfully pleasant! I walked and walked and walked!
Looks like I’ll be locked in again for the next few days.
But I must confess…there’s something mesmerizing about the snowfall. You can stare at it for ages and still not get bored. It has woven its magic even on the twins. My usually restless kids can sit glued to the window, watching the snow fall for hours on end. They discuss it with each other, build up stories around it and even demarcate which snowbank belongs to whom :roll: .
How have you all been?? Hope your days are better and nights brighter :)