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Our family in India, and “The Dance”
April 15th, 2010 by Kate
A day trip outside of Idar with the Wells crew and Jeshel, Mito, and Mama.

A day trip outside of Idar with the Wells crew and Jeshel, Mito, and Mama.

Tess did a great job of summing up our visits to Udaipur and Jodhpur, so I’ll limit my comments on both those cities to the captions on the pictures that I dropped into her post.  That being said, I must add that our time in India improved greatly after we left Delhi, I think that it was a combination of adjusting our attitudes and expectations a bit, and also becoming more accustomed to the very foreign ways of life in India.

A detail of the carving on the temple outside of Idar.  The carvings on the Temples in India have impressed me greatly!

A detail of the carving on the temple outside of Idar. The carvings on the Temples in India have impressed me greatly!

We met a number of travelers along our way, and many of them were spending months traveling through the country – and for most of them it was a return visit.  Being the nosey person that I am, I asked them what brought them back, and over and over their answer was “the people and the foreign-ness of it”.  And I have to agree, the people we met were incredibly nice, and there is certainly is no place like India that I have ever been!  Also, keep in mind that we saw the tiniest of tiny areas – they call it a sub-continent for a reason, and there is as much to see that we didn’t get to as there would be if we’d visited Washington state and thought we’d seen a good representation of the US.  Someday I’ll go back (Jeff and Phoebe are still of the “not going back camp”, Tessa and I might be on our own!) and travel to some other regions and try to get a better “overall” view of the country.

Our family in India... from left to right... Jeshel, Mama, Jeff, Phoebe, Tessa, Kate, Papa, Mito, Dolly (Raj, Shelly and the baby are sadly missing from the shot!)

Our family in India... from left to right... Jeshel, Mama, Jeff, Phoebe, Tessa, Kate, Papa, Mito, Dolly (Raj, Shelly and the baby are sadly missing from the shot!)

The absolute highlight of our time in India was spent in a small town called Idar.  Jeff’s brother’s wife Paru is from this little (75,000+) farming town a few hours north of Ahmadabad in the state of Gujarat, and we went there to meet her family.  Her father and mother have a lovely home there, and opened their arms to us like we were their long lost children.  Papa as we affectionately call him, is a retired bank manager and is obviously very well respected in town (everywhere we went, everyone knew him and wanted to be sure we knew that they were one of his old friends!).  Mama spoiled us rotten – to the point that we really really did feel guilty that she wouldn’t let us raise a finger to help with anything – we had to “sneak” just to wash our own dinner plates!

There was a huge herd of goat in the road and Phoebe and Mito just had to get out and play with the kids!

There was a huge herd of goat in the road and Phoebe and Mito just had to get out and play with the kids!

Paru our sister-in-law, married to Jeff’s older brother Doug) is the oldest of four, and her sister and two brothers (and their wives) all live in the family home.  Mito, Paru’s sister, is as far as I’m concerned, one of my sisters too.  She is a teacher, and has the warmest smile you have ever seen!  We had such a great time with her shopping the markets for all kinds of fun stuff, making up dances, and trying on her zillions of bangles.  Phoebe spent most of her time following Mito around, and even when Mito had students over to tutor, the girls were right there by her side chatting with the other kids and teaching them Montessori ways of doing their math homework!

Raj, the oldest of the boys, is married to Shelly, and the week before we arrived they welcomed their baby daughter!  What a fun time for us to be there – Shelly was recovering at her parent’s house but it was right around the corner from our house so we got to go sneak some peaks at the baby (name still TBD!).  Shelly and the baby are both beautiful and Raj was beaming all the time.  So sweet!  When he wasn’t with Shelly and the baby he was juggling spending time with us and his job as the principal at a local college- he was great to us and we can’t wait till he and Shelly come visit us in the US!

Raj, Phoebe and the new baby!

Raj, Phoebe and the new baby!

Phoebe, Mito, and the baby

Phoebe, Mito, and the baby

And last, but certainly not least is the baby of the family Jeshal and his beautiful wife Dolly!  What an awesome couple these two are!  Jeshal just finished his PhD in chemistry, so had a bit of time off, so was our professional tour guide for the whole week!  We went and hike up to an abandoned castle that overlooks Idar, and ventured further up the mountain to visit a bunch of small Hindu temples dedicated to various gods, and to see two “step wells” that were used hundreds and hundreds of years ago when the castle was occupied.  We also visited another beautiful Jain temple (we think they are our favorites), and a “water tree” that has water bubbling up mysteriously from its roots (the more cynical – and logical – of our family say it is a natural mountain spring, but the locals beg to differ!).  While we were there, Jeshal got a call that his PhD project was going to be published in an American chemistry journal and in the same day he got a great job offer – woohoo way to go Jeshal!!!

Phoebe, Jeshel, and Tessa at the AMAZING "step well" in Ahmedabad.

Phoebe, Jeshel, and Tessa at the AMAZING "step well" in Ahmedabad.

Dolly is a professor of education at another local college, and while she was busy a lot preparing for the graduation ceremonies, we still managed to spend some really fun times with her.  Part of the graduation festivities included an awards program, along with a student/teacher cultural talent show.  Dolly was actually in charge of this, and she and Mito cooked up a plan for Phoebe to dance in the show.  OH MY!  The three of them would lock themselves up in one of the bedrooms night after night and all we would hear was the JayHo song from Slumdog Millionaire playing over and over and over again.  The day before the show, Mito and Phoebe got up in the morning with a plan to find Phoebe a costume for her big performance – so off we went into town to hit up EVERY SINGLE clothes shop in the entire town to find JUST the right black and sparkly outfit.  Of course she also need bangles, earrings, a nose ring, and red and blue glitter… hum…

Finally, the night of the big program… we got to the college amphitheater and there were hundreds of people there, including a couple hundred children Phoebe and Tessa’s age who go to the primary school that is part of the Teacher’s College.  Phoebe got totally nervous when she saw all the kids, but as the program got started and she saw the other performances, her confidence grew that she could put on a good show.  Oh and she did not disappoint!  The crowd was SO excited to see a little blond person – and to have her dance to an Indian song – priceless!  The music started, the lights dimmed and the disco strobe kicked on, and Phoebe DANCED!  The crowd was clapping and singing and she was, well, she made it through about the first 10 moves they had practiced and then got overwhelmed and started free styling!   Kicks, twirls – and then the cartwheel!

In Phoebe’s words “so I was like dancing along and I totally forgot where I was and I could barely hear the music cause everyone was screaming and so I did a cartwheel and the crowd went wild so a did a few more!”

It was bedlam!

(And yes, there is video, and we are totally saving it for when she is a teenager and we need to blackmail her into behaving, which will happen, I can assure you!)

Finally, the song ended, she took her bow and cartwheeled once more for good measure and the performance was done.  She was a hit, and for the rest of the program she and Tess (who was also quite famous and sought-after in India too among the kids) went from isle to isle in the crowd visiting with the kids and being the American goodwill ambassadors they have become.

We had an amazing time with our family in India, and are SO SO grateful for the time that we spent with them.  I have told my brother-in-law Doug that if anything ever happens to him and Paru, that we’re keeping her (and her family) and getting rid of him.


2 Responses  
Cricket writes:
April 19th, 2010 at 10:05 am

Glad you’re posting again, I’ve been missing your blog–don’t you know you’ve become my favorite “Travel Channel?”

I’m so glad this site has the close-up viewing function for photos. The carving on the temples is just stunning.

Miranda writes:
April 20th, 2010 at 9:41 am

I can’t wait to see the video. I can’t tell you how fun this is for me to sneak in a peek every now and then while at work. When are you coming home to see OUR ABC gum?

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