It's not Friday anymore (or really even the weekend anymore), but weekends are for things like going to the movies. Especially here in India. If there is one thing India loves, it's the movies. And it seems like there are so many great movies out to see right now here. Batman, Spiderman, even the Avengers were here for a long time. 

Going to the movies here is always an interesting experience and oh! Such a pleasure. To see a movie here, you must first purchase tickets in advance or at the box office, sort of like in the U.S., with one main difference being assigned seating. I have not attempted to purchase tickets at the box office because I prefer to pick out my seat online as if I am on ticketmaster attempting to attend a Rebecca Black concert at the finest cricket stadium in town. Don't be silly, of course it's not like ticketmaster. But, it is sort of the same. And occasionally (or like, every time the first time) when your booking fails, you get redirected to a cute little page that says "Booking Failure!! :) We cannot confirm. We encourage you to try booking again!" If you didn't catch that, there is most definitely a big yellow smiley face cheering you up as you feel like a giant failure. Also, be aware that there are different classes of tickets. I said classes, not castes. For 5 bucks, the "Royale" treatment gets you oversized leather seats in the back row with a strange little tables next to them. For 2 dollars less, you can purchase "Executive" seats, or regular movie seats. Royale seats go quickly, as there are less of the them and reserved for the high rollers, so we tend to end up in the Executive seating with the common folk.

Once you've decided which seat you should take, booked them successfully, and the big day has come, you can proceed to the theater for your gender segregated frisking. After the extremely sad and ridiculously terrifying occurrence in Colorado the other week, metal detectors and pat downs actually do make me feel a little more secure for once. The more you know: These tiny little "security" guards will pry your foreign-manufactured chewing gum from between your jowls as well as well as your fists. Keep it secret, keep it safe. Carrots in a ziploc-equivalent, however, seem to be perfectly acceptable to smuggle on one's person.

My favorite thing about the movies here is INTERMISSION. Most movies you will go to will have an intermission, guaranteed to be at a very pivotal moment or most definitely right in the middle of someone on the screen saying a line you would never want to miss. This is when you can run to the bathroom, get more veg samosas, ice cream, microwave popcorn, or bottled water. It's something every movie needs.

In other words, I see more movies in a month while living in India than I'd ever see in a year in the US. I've become a movie-going expert, so far off from the days when I saw Lion King with my mom and got lost in the dark theater after taking a bathroom break (see! This is why we need intermission!). So take my expert advice: before Friday comes, consider what to do this weekend. Push off thoughts of psychos (because that's what psychos want- you to be scared!), remember the victims of the Colorado shooting, and thank the heavens you don't have to book tickets days or weeks in advance... then go see a movie. You'll remember how people all over enjoy this great communal pastime and know that even crazies can't take that away from the entire world.

P.S. For the record, if there is one thing that really gets my goat, it's when people say "Holy (insert whatever they are talking about here), Batman!" That really gets on my nerves, so I'm basically giving away my kryptonite. Use it wisely. P.S. I totally know that kryponite is like Spiderman's weakness, not Batman. I mean, come on now.

I have found that my job here in India involves many ceremonial duties that I never anticipated.  This week, it was judging the monthly ladies club cooking contest.  While many of our employees do eat meat, the tradition is for the contest to be 100% vegetarian.  The contest has the following rules:
  1. There is one seasonally fresh ingredient that must be used.
  2. There are 8-10 optional ingredients.
  3. Three judges will score based on Taste, Quality, and presentation in that order of importance.
The focus ingredient this month was sagoo or sago.  I found myself wanting to award points more for presentation than for the other criteria. 
I guess I should have taken pictures of the winners holding their dishes, but I didn't really think about it.

There were 27 dishes in all.  We picked the top three and three consolation prizes.  I don't know what the winners got, but they had gifts for the judges.  I got a pen.
There really is so much to write about on a weekly basis. At the beginning of each week I have so many things I'm sure I want to say so I think, OH, I'll just post a little now, but then I think, No! Keep it simple... once a week!...or something..like...that...The thing is, by the end of the week, I forgot all the things I wanted to say, even though I am constantly "writing" in my brain. Since I was little (oh, you know, four or so) I felt like I was narrating my life, sort of like that Will Ferrell movie that no one probably remembers the name of because it was pretty depressing (hint, see my post title), where the lady tells the story of his life while he's doing it. Yeah, that's how I live my life. It's no wonder I always enjoyed writing.

India is full of things stranger than fiction. And as many of our friends and family from the US have discovered, many of our best stories come from those closest to us. So really, for this post, I'm not making any of my own stuff up at all. I'm just stealing from the things people tell me (Kind of like the picture up there from the movie... um, that picture, minus what I added to it, because when one is in India, one should always brush with filtered water. Yeah, but that picture totally belongs to the movie people. Does that cover me?? Eek...). Because the things people here tell us make some pretty darn good stories. I'll limit myself to just three for the time being because really I could go on and on, but then who'd want to read me do that? I'll count 'em down backwards for you.

3) Cold killer.
I'll bet half, if not all, Americans have no idea that cold water gives you an actual cold. Seriously. It makes you sick. I am proof of this, you know. One sweltering summer day here I was totally fine, minding my own business, completely healthy- but very thirsty- so I went to the water cooler. Our driver happened to be in the kitchen at the time making tea and he said to me, "Cold water bad, Madam. Make very sick." Um, okay. So I said, "Um, okay. That's okay... I like cold water..." and I drank it. Well, you will never guess what. The next day I got a sinus infection. Granted, the doctor said it probably had never gone away from the sinus infection like, weeks before, but still. My driver was smug the whole way to the hospital. He even mentioned it on the way, like "Cold water, Madam. Bad." So there you have it. If you want to die, or you want to get sick, or you're just begging for a sinus infection that you had weeks ago to present itself again, go ahead, I dare you. Drink that icy cold beverage.
2) I'll take that served cold...
Which brings me to my next story. In what was not my finest moment in smartness, I punched my hand accidentally through a hard plastic planter. The result was none other than profuse bleeding. As I walked as calmly to the kitchen as I possibly could to stick my bloody hand under the water as quickly as I could, Maria, our maid (I prefer to refer to her as our "housekeeper")...and yes, we have one, just like everyone else here- don't get so excited!, comes to see how I'm doing. When she sees the what-I'm-doing, she says "No! No madam! That won't stop the bleeding. Only drinking water will stop the bleeding." Of course, I don't think putting my hand under disgustingly filthy water will actually stop the bleeding, but it's good to see what I'm working with, and somehow I hardly believe drinking water will stop the bleeding either. Maria did not offer to get me any water. It is a good thing too, because I would have wanted it served cold. 
1) Here's to you, Mrs. Reddy.
Maria always gives me some pretty great stories. She's Christian, as opposed to being Hindu or Muslim, the other main religions here. For whatever reason, she likes to recount all her churchly escapades of the week/month/whatever it happens to be at the time to me. This time there was no telling me about her bus trip to the 11 different "churches" all in one day, which really turned out to be an amusement park-like setting for the stations of the cross. Instead the story was better than I could have ever hoped for. As I sat in my "office/craft" room working on a quilt and listening to music, she came in and began cleaning. Sometimes I think she likes to be in the room I'm in simply because she is nosy, but that's beside the point. When Simon and Garfunkel came on, I knew she would start up a conversation. "Hm, very nice," she said. "Is this a Jesus song??" Hmm....not exactly.

So folks, it all comes back to stories. And how we have so many of them to tell. And how I am always narrating my life and how it becomes increasingly more interesting while living in another country.  So I think, if it's alright with you all, I might just post whenever I have something to say, that way I don't get into this habit of forgetting what I wanted to write and not going back to it when I do remember just because I can be lazy like that. I really will try to limit it though... you know, only 10 times a week. Haha, just kidding. Maybe 2 times. If I'm so so so lucky. And I doubt anything will be this involved. But I'm sure all our posts will be so much stranger than fiction.

L opened with a meaningful post about our ever growing appreciation of life in the United States.  Life here in India is full of high-class problems.  One of these problems is not driving ourselves due to the crazy traffic and legal risks in the event of an accident.  It sounds great and it does have some positive benefits, but there is a good bit of downside.  We have decided that we need to change drivers and I am going to follow with live record of L and I talking about what we will tell our new driver when he starts:
  1. Never ask how much we pay for anything.  It is rude and is none of your business.  I promise I will never ask you how much you spend on sugar for your tea.
  2. Do not pull up outside of people's houses and honk your horn for them to come outside.  Our current driver never did that, but our friend's driver thought that was a good idea today.
  3. My wife is in charge, not me.  Do not inconvenience her because you think I am more important.  That is absolutely not the case.
  4. If you are asked to do something, do not reply, "today?" or "now?"
  5. I know everything is cheaper in Secunderabad, but it isn't worth the 2 hour round trip to save 20 cents.
  6. Find out from Ashley's driver where the wholesale liquor store is.
  7. Do not treat female family members and friends like they are idiots.
  8. No, you can't live here.
  9. My wife is in charge, not me.  I know it is a repeat, but it is very important.

We'll let you know how things work out... 

This blog was born on the 4th of July. My husband and I have talked about making this blog for over a year now and we just never got around to doing it. As I woke up early this morning, deep in reflection on what the 4th of July means to me I thought, in the words of my little sister "YOLO!" For those of you not hip enough to know what that means: You Only Live Once... or in my case, "You Obey Life's Obligation... to make this blog." Because I do feel awfully obligated to write down our amazing journey. 

Since we've already lived here almost a year, it's a little weird to start this now, but I'm sure together we'll recap things nicely at some point. This post, however, is more about the feelings I've gained for my home country since we left. Yesterday I began seeing people already posting their comments and funny little "facts" about how the USA is not actually the greatest country in the world- JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW. Oh really, cause that's like saying "REALLY? YOUR mom is the best mom in the world?! WELP it is WELL known that Bobby's mom makes macaroni and cheese WAY better and in fact many other foods too!!! (so in your face, you!)" What really makes a country the "best" country in the world? I don't know. I didn't study that in college. I was just an art student. But some of the "facts" I saw going around the internet yesterday and today were about c02 emissions, crime, divorce, and even one person complaining in sarcastic congratulatory manner by stating "Good job, America!" about power outages from the recent rash of storms. 

The thing is, there was a time in my life when I was nationalistic for no reason other than to be nationalistic like many Americans are. We all know them. Flag wavers, troop supporters, people who stick magnetic ribbons on their cars, some might even go so far as to say ...republicans, (haa, but really..).  I was very defensive of good ole' America, but without a real understanding as to why. Then one day, I just grew out of it. Maybe I felt it was silly, or I felt ashamed, or it was totally uncool to love your country...and I never really thought much about it again. When people would bash the US, I stood by and said nothing. I graduated college, went to grad school, got married, and then we moved. Here, to India. Where the livin' ain't so easy. Where kids take baths on the side of the road. Where "GOOD JOB, INDIA," the power is ALWAYS out, and the c02 emissions are, I am SURE worse than in the US per square foot or however one measures gas (again, I don't know about this, I'm just an art person), divorce is really not that heard of- OH because, that's right, arranged marriages are still common, and yeah, by the way, people don't really eat macaroni and cheese here, so suck it, Bobby. My old nationalistic self has come back and just in time for my favorite holiday, 4th of July! Independence Day! Freedom to get married to whomever we want (well, unless you're gay, but really, people I think are hard at work on that), and then get divorced from that person if we darn well please.  Freedom to drive a really horrible car or drive a hybrid or hey, drive no car at all. So much freedom people go crazy sometimes and kill people, or steal! And our country is doing so well on what we have that we rarely have to think about power outages until there is an emergency. 

So, until you're living in a country where you have none of those freedoms, remember what you have and cherish it. Of course, you'll never appreciate it until you live without, so really, just remember that what makes the best country in the world is the same thing that makes your mom the best mom in the world. She's your mom. The USA is our USA. And I've never been more proud to be and American. Happy birthday, America!! And shut up and move to India, if you don't like it!