Monday, January 28, 2008

Back to Reality

We have been on a roller coaster for the past month or so getting and then going to Korea so we thought we would update you on what each of us is up to back home, here in Bangalore ( not sung to the tune of Camelot).

Remember that being an Ex-pat here in Bangalore is somewhat akin to the movie Groundhogs Day and you wake up wondering if it will be any different today than it was yesterday or even last month...

Here is what Tracy is up to on any given day...

4:15am - Huh, who’s that?! Someone has crawled into bed with me and is stealing my pillow and the covers! Oh, just Billy for his nightly cuddle-fest. Roll over and go to back to sleep…

5:45am – In a sleepy haze, I hear the local mosque doing their calls for prayers, it sort of relaxing and soothing chanting every morning…

6:15am – Ok ok ok, time to get up, Angela will be here in 15 min’s to do yoga…

6:30am – I have started a load of wash, put out milk coupons, gotten the yoga DVD ready and put away dinner dishes from the night before, where’s Angela?!

6:40am – Starting my 60 min, Rodney Yee Power Yoga DVD. 4 of 5 times Angela is on time or even early, but this last week, I’ve had to go it alone as she’s tired. On the days we don’t “yoga”, I have been running about 30-35min’s/morning. Surprisingly, I don’t go that far I can't decide which is better, getting up god awful early to yoga or getting up god awful early to run. Equally hard to do… but I feel so much better through out the day…

7:25am – Billy comes down stairs and wants to love me up while I am doing yoga, I think this is the power part of power yoga. They should make a DVD where you do yoga while an affectionate 3 yr old hangs off your body. It would be a big seller and women would no longer need to go to the gym to do weight training!

7:35am – Holy SH_T! The kids need to leave in 20 min’s for school, time to wake them up and get them downstairs for breakfast. This consists of, Tom literally carrying Jimmy and Kay to the table still wrapped in their blankets. I make 3 box lunches, 4 breakfasts (5 if Tom is nice to me), brush 4 sets of teeth (Tom is on his own here), get 3 people dressed (I reserve my shower for after the kids have left for school), stickers on the day before’s good behaviors, load up 3 back packets and shuffle 3 kids out the door and into the car for a hug and kiss before they are off to school. (Wade calls this part II of my morning work out)

8:15am – Finally, time for a shower and little decompression time (Scary that I consider blow drying my hair “my time”).

8:45am – Angela is BACK! Time to head to work. This is always an interesting experience as depending on traffic, it can take 40-90 minutes to get to work. The good news is … The bridge is almost finished and a new “road” has been paved on the way to work. We can actually get the car up to 35 mph. Yippee!

9:15am – We slowly move past the herd of water buffalo that walks towards our building each morning. We never see them walking the OTHER way. Huh… curiouser and curiouser… I guess everyone has a daily commute.

9:25am – I “reach” work. Why am I so tired?!! Where’s the coffee??? Yes, sadly, I am no longer caffeine free, the Indian coffee is small in size but huge in flavor and a great mid morning pick me up. Just dont have 2!

9:30-10:30am – Time to catch up on all the emails from MPLS. This ranges from 50-100 per day. Usually there are good bits of info embedded in them like; sales results, juicy gossip on people who are moving up/out, business updates and new deadlines to meet. Sort of a virtual Starbucks run if you will.

10:30-12:30 Meetings, Meeting, Meetings…. Many of which pop up on my calendar or change 5 minutes before I am expected to be there. Meetings at Target India are sort of like Roller Derby. You need to be prepared for the unexpected, reach from behind, surprise attack. You also have to be strategic about which you’ll go to, which you’ll send a peer/friend to, and which you’ll pretend you didn’t see coming. Always planning 3 moves ahead. Add to that, the daily dose of rooms changing or being double booked and you need that boost of coffee just to get by.

12:30-1:00 – LUNCH! Twice a week we are learning Hindi, the rest of the time is spend shoving food in our mouths quickly and sharing news from MPLS (see 9:30-10:30). I have successfully learned to count to 5, say “I don’t speak Hindi”, “I don’t know”, “excuse me”, “Thank you”, “what’s up man” and “hey you, pay attention!”. All very handy tidbits to know. Occasionally, there is a lunch “outside” or visitors in town and then we get the ever exciting treat of Pizza Hut pizza. Since I’m not a big fan of pizza, this is hardly the exciting event that my team (and kids) seem to think it is. Add to it that every Indian I have ever met puts ketchup on their pizza and that most of the toppings are some sort of Indian side dish (curry, tandoori, baby corn) and you can see why I get hungry mid afternoon.

1:00-5:30 – See 10:30- 12:30, but add into it… team stopping by to chat, ask questions, say hi, cut a birthday cake, ask for my signature on a visa form, etc….

5:30-6:15 – Strangely dull down time. The team is wrapping up their day to head home and calls with MPLS haven’t started yet. What to do, What to do … Oh that’s right, all the work I couldn't get to all day while I was sitting in meetings.

6:30-8:00 – Conference calls with MPLS – Believe it or not, I have gotten so efficient, I can fit in 3-4 of these calls a night. Mostly they are phone calls, but there is always the occasional video conference that entails trying to figure out the equipment, how to call, how to zoom and how to adjust the volume. (Note to self, dont wear patterned clothes on this day, it makes the folks on the other side of teh video conference dizzy). I swear, these are harder to work than my cell phone or my DVD player. But, I do enjoy these, they help me feel connected to my teams in MPLS and I also get to feel the MPLS vibe for a few minutes a day. That said, I can't wait to come off daylight savings as that will give me an hour of my day “back” and I can wrap up by 7pm.

8:00-8:15 – Angela and I are rounding each other up, sending email after email saying… “1 more minute”, “1 more call”, “1 more email”, “1 more trip to the bathroom” and I’ll be ready :)

8:15-8:45 – We ride home and decompress on our day. Surprisingly the ride home is less stressful and faster than the ride in. Or…maybe its because its dark and I cant see the garbage, poverty and dustiness that is Bangalore. We are tempted each night to stop by the “bar” on the way home. It’s a make shift counter where you walk up, drop 20 rupees on the counter, get one glass of whiskey and then walk away. In the last 18 months, I have NEVER seen a women at one of these bars. Angela and I figure that if we actually stopped at one, we’d get the same sort of reception as if the Dali Lama were to show up. Sort of shocked submission. When we do get up the courage, we'll be sure to take a photo and blog it.

8:45 – I’m HOME!! The kids are in bed, but no where near asleep. 2 extreme examples: (Most nights are a combination of the 2)
~ Belly laughs are coming from the kids bedroom. I have no idea what they are doing/talking about, but they are cracking each other up. Over the next 20 min’s the laughter subsides and they all fall asleep. How cool is it to have kids?! we ask each other
~ Kicking, screaming and fighting that sounds like the latest episode of Gladiators is happening directly above my head. Do I go up? I operate under the assumption that as long as they are being loud enough that I can hear them, no one is permanently maimed or injured. Last week Jimmy punched Kay in the nose and gave her a bloody nose (she was antagonizing him). He freaked out, and started crying. She didn’t shed a tear, but instead said “that was a really really bad choice Jimmy, you know, there are other choices”. These are the days we question our ability to make good choices ourselves.

9:00 – After kisses and hugs all around, answering a thousand “one last question” demands and tucking everyone in, its time to eat. I am starved and eat everything in sight. I’ve begun to question if I really like Indian food, or if I just love that food is ready when I come home and I can eat my fill. Either way, our cook Raj, is the best cook in Palm Meadows in my book. This also explains how I ended up eating brains for months and months without questioning anything (see former blog)

9:30 – Dishes, clean up, prep for tomorrow…. If I’m lucky, one of our visitors will have brought the latest US Weekly or People magazine and I’ll read it quietly at the table. Its no wonder that last year I dreamed that we recruited Brittany Spears to my Target India team. On the nights that I don’t have my latest fill of American pop culture, it’s a glass of red wine with Tom on our veranda, gazing at the stars. It is sorely needed time to let my brain stop functioning.

10:30- To bed to bed!! My head hits the pillow and I’m asleep before Tom finishes brushing his teeth. I love that each of my days is so completely filled with laughter, challenges, hugs, decisions, sensory overload and fantastic stimulating people (both at home and at work).

I am completely exhausted and sleep like the dead.