The kids and I are finally getting out and meeting people, and it is wonderful. There are people out at all hours of the day and evening and they are happy to chat.
We have been thrilled to find out that there are dozens of kids in our community. Last Tuesday a gaggle of little girls on scooters drove by our house while we were outside with Beauty. They saw us and stopped to talk. We were delighted to find that almost every one of them lives within 6 houses of us, and that they range in age from 6 to 9 years old.
The first two that we got to know are Indian, but were born and raised in Houston, TX and just moved here in February. They live 2 houses down from us and were very interested in hearing all about us and Florida and Beauty. They miss the US, but are adjusting very nicely here in Hyderabad. Their mother, who I met that evening, is very nice and I believe that she will help me with anything I need to get adjusted.
There are two more girls on our street, both 8, and another 6 year old on the next street over. At any given time, 2 or more of this group are riding up and down the block on scooters, and I am happy to say that Addie was able to join right in. We went out this weekend and got her a scooter and she took off after them. They are up and down the block, on the next block, at the park, at the garden, all within the confines of our small gated community. I never believed that I could relax enough to let Addie head off down the street and out of my sight, but now I have found the strength to do it in India of all places, because I know it is necessary for her to find her place within this neighborhood.
I haven’t met all of the parents yet, and am actively trying to do that, but nobody seems to mind that the kids spend an hour at one house, then another and another. I had several girls in my house this week, drawing and painting upstairs. They are easy to locate, as you just need to find the house with the pile of scooters in the front to know where your child is. When it was time to go home, one of the moms knocked on the door, introduced herself, and happily chatted with me while her child gathered up her new paintings.There are boys here too, but not as many and not as visibly. Ender found one to play with, but promptly ruined it by hitting him with a stick. Its a tough time for him while Addie is out playing, and I am trying to help him find a friend. It will come eventually… he just needs to figure out how to get along. Aside from the kids and their parents, I have met a few others. One was a nice teenage Vietnamese boy who is going to school here and has lived here since December. He was very friendly and talkative.
The most interesting person that I have met would be “grand-daddy”. Grand-daddy is a 95 year old man who doesn’t look a day over 70. He walks with the aid of his cane, smiling and talking to everyone he meets. He loves to stop and chat, and likes to tease. He lived abroad in Princeton, NJ for many years, but returned to Hyderabad recently to live with his son. I asked him his name, and he told me, but I could not quite understand as my ears have not yet become accustomed to the Indian names. He told me not to worry about his name, that he would prefer that I call him Grand-daddy, because I am young enough to be his grandchild.
So, each evening, Grand-daddy comes “thump” “thump” “thump” down the street, walking much faster than you’d expect from someone of his age. In his pocket he carries sweets for all of the neighborhood kids. They come running when they see him, hands outstreached. I look forward to our evening chats, he always brings a smile to my face. He complains about the rent or the shoddy construction of the houses here, he speaks fondly of his home back in Princeton, he tells me how lucky my husband is to have me, he scolds me for my bare feet on the dirty roads. He is certainly quite a character, and his friendliness has gone a long way to making me feel more comfortable in this strange place.
Meeting people has made all the difference for me. I don’t feel so scared and alone now, and I look forward to meeting more in the days to come.
Wait a minuete. Did you say an “old man with candy” comes thumping down the street to visit? And here you thought you’d have no friends.
The scary part is that we all encourage the kids to TAKE the candy here… Talk about a cultural difference!