My name is Melody. My husband and I have one daughter, and are expecting another baby in six months. I am in medicine and my husband does community development, but we are pausing our professional careers at the moment to study language full-time. My family and I live in India, where we have been for the last seven months. We have moved three times in that period, and are looking forward to settling in a bit. We are learning to thrive in this beautiful, chaotic, intense country that has thrown our routines, efficiency, and comfort out the window. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! Welcome to our crazy life abroad!
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Good morning. Our life is one of contrasts. We live in a nice home, with a peaceful living room. As I sip my coffee, I smell burning remains from the crematorium across the open sewage river. Pigs eat trash while shanty-town residents bath in the dirty water. We live two doors from the entrance to the slum (where we used to live). This is a partial view from our porch.
Our mornings often involve my daughter’s favorite pastime — reading her favorite books on repeat. I love the contrast of these first two photos, the internal calm and simplicity of our home, versus the hustle and bustle outdoors.
I have counted ten forms of transportation in our city, seven of which we use on a regular basis. Auto rickshaws are one of my favorites. It’s fresh(ish) air, an opportunity to negotiate, and a little bit quicker to get places. We make so many decisions each day, and which transportation is one of them. Each has its perks and drawbacks, none of which are a clear-cut yes for every situation.
This day we happened to have a visit to the paediatrician for our daughter’s vaccines. It is a bit expensive for here, but has air conditioning, a doctor trained in the US, toys and is fairly quick. We have access to great medical care in our town and I am thankful.
On our way home, we walk through the slum, and stop by our favorite dukan (store) to pick up milk and yogurt. My husband’s friend owns the shop and he sells a little bit of everything. We shop at five to seven different places to get the foods we need on a regular basis. From the bicycle cart of vegetables, to the milk delivery, to the gas station that occasionally sells cheddar cheese and salmon, we have our hands full with the variety of places to find what we need and like.
Our walk home.
A glimpse of our neighborhood.
A bike rickshaw full of girls going home from school.
We have a full-time house helper, who makes my life so much better. She is so intuitive, I don’t even have to blink before she’s done something. She laughs at my language blunders and gently corrects me. She cooks our lunches every day and helps when we have guests. She has been a huge help to our adjustment and especially helps on the days where my pregnancy zaps every ounce of energy I have.
We don’t have a typical day here in India. In fact, the most telling thing about living here is our lack of routine. These next three pictures highlight what any day may hold. First, is language. We typically spend 20 hours a week learning language, but we moved recently and the language has cut back a bit while we find new teachers. We have meetings that can start at 9 am or 9pm and often move our schedule around to accommodate whatever pressing meetings are held each week.
Some afternoons, I work. I am in the medical field and will visit sick friends or acquaintances, work on license maintenance, keep up email communications, coordinate our travels or manage our team activities. This is a local coffee shop where I set up one afternoon to work on my never-ending to-do list.
Some afternoons, I just hang out with our daughter. We read, take bucket baths, read some more, and eat snacks. Baths and books are her favorite things, as we are a bit short on toys here.
Fajitas. One of our favorite comforts. We had guests this night and enjoyed good food and conversation. Dinners often take at least an hour and a half to make. Everything needs to be made from scratch. While I love to cook, it can be an exhausting burden at times. We end most evenings putting our daughter to bed and relaxing for a few minutes before we start all over again.