Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day Henna

This is the start of my second week at work in India, and rather nicely it's a long holiday weekend, as August 15th is Indian Independence day. I really enjoyed my first week last week, but it was really exhausting getting used to longer work hours (more evening calls and later meetings) and new culture, policies and accents. So it's been great to have a really refreshing weekend. Today was just great - we had a nice breakfast, then had a couple of hours in the pool. Yesterday Dara worked out how to swim by herself, and she still remembered how to do it today - she's really pleased with herself.

We had booked a table for lunch at our local mall, and because we'd given the driver the day off we decided to walk over. It's a very pleasant 20 minute stroll and really nice not to be driven around for a change. Some parts of town can feel a bit intimidating when you're about as a family, especially with fair-haired kids who get a lot of attention - yesterday we went to a park in the middle of town and were asked for money several times, and a couple of people took pictures of Dara because they were fascinated by her blonde hair. It didn't feel threatening at all, but it's nice to be left just to get on by yourself. Whitefield, where we live, is much more relaxed and there are a lot more expats, so we were totally left alone today.

Once we got to the mall we had a bit of time before the reservation, so we asked Dara if she'd like to get henna hand tattoos, which is something she'd been asking about for a few days. It was only Rs100 per hand (I would guess cheaper for locals), so I said that she should have both done. She sat really still while the guy did the patterns:

Basically they put henna paste on, then let it dry for about half an hour while the henna dyes your skin. This meant Dara wasn't allowed to touch anything for 30 whole minutes:

By this time it was time to go to the restaurant - Toscano - which is a really good Italian place. As soon as you walk in you can smell the pizza ovens working their magic, and there's loads of space around the tables. Very nice. We had a fine meal - the kids had pasta, and they were thrilled to get pesto which they hadn't eaten since we got here. I had a great chicken and mushroom pizza and Emma was overjoyed to have tuna pizza. It's really common in the UK and Europe but for some reason has never caught on in America, even though every American we know who has tried it has loved it. We also had a tasty bottle of wine, because why not. For the first few minutes Dara still wasn't able to use her hands, so she got a straw for her water, and Emma fed her, which I think Dara secretly enjoyed. Then it was time for her to wash the paste off her hands, and behold:

The guy had done a really nice job of choosing a pattern which complemented her shirt, and she's really happy with it. She's really looking forward to showing off her patterns and her swimming at school tomorrow!

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