Tag Archives: Visitors

What to Do?

“What to do?” is Mamu’s unofficial catchphrase. I think it’s really cute. She uses it as a catch all statement, an exasperation, a declaration, and a filler. “Sigh, what to do?”

My favorite “What to do?” was from their 2008 visit. We took Mamu to one of the local temples (not where we got married, but a South Indian temple east of us), and she was bringing me around to the different altars telling me the names of each god. We got to one god and Mamu didn’t recognize the name so she asked one of the pandits who the god was. He said, “Shiva’s third son.”

“But Shiva have two son.” She said.

“No, Shiva has three sons.” The pandit insisted.

“No, two only.” She insisted back. The pandit shrugged his shoulders and walked away. She turned to me and said, “In Kathmandu Shiva have two son. In America Shiva have three son. What to do?”

Anyway… “What to do?” seems to be the question P and I have on our minds as of late. Now that the wedding is over, the extra relatives are gone, and wedding related tasks are finished, we don’t know “what to do?” with his parents. I’m worried that they are bored out of their minds.

P has been largely working from home, but hasn’t been getting a lot of research done, so he will have to start going back to his office soon. I leave for work every morning at 7:45 and don’t come back until 4:30. We have computers and internet, so P generally tries to find Nepali and Hindi serials online for his parents to watch, but we don’t have a proper tv for them to flip through the channels, and Mamu doesn’t understand enough English to follow American serials very closely (too much English tends to make her fall asleep).

Mamu spends some time each day cooking, and P’s parents have gladly volunteered for the job of taking our dog out for walks around the park in the morning and afternoon, but most of the day they are at home, and especially in the recent heat wave, I think they spend much of the day sleeping.

“P, what can we do with them? Do they have any hobbies? Can we get them active in a local community group? Should we teach them to use the bus system so they can go around the city? I feel bad that there is so little for them to preoccupy their time during the day. What do they generally do at home?”

“At home the day is usually spent just making it through the day—doing stuff that requires electricity during the brief time it is available, stocking up on water during the brief time that it is available, taking care of my grandfather, cleaning, washing clothes by hand, cooking, it all takes extra time, and then the day is over. Otherwise they socialize with neighbors, drink tea on the roof. That’s about it.”

During two of the heat wave days this week P dropped them off at a local mall so they could enjoy air conditioning and poke around stores while he was at work, but there are only so many days one can do this before even shopping becomes boring.

We try to take them out of town on the weekends– day trips or overnight trips to visit new places or people, but that is only two days out of seven.

About a month ago Gori Wife Life had a post asking for suggestions on how to keep her father-in-law busy during his recent visit. She had the idea of getting him involved in the activities surrounding a local mosque. That sounded like a great idea, but unfortunately the local temples are at least a 20 minute drive east or west and not easy for them to get to, plus I’m not sure how much community activity currently surrounds either.

But I’m happy to solicit for suggestions. Any help for “What to do?”

Where’s the Sunshine?

At least today is warm… but the last week or two has been chilly, overcast, rainy and depressing. Welcome to New England. Case in point, I have a beautiful flowering tree outside my office window, and the large pink blossoms sometimes stick around for a few weeks once the spring warmth arrives, but this year as soon as the tree burst into color the weather took a turn for the worse and the rain and wind knocked all the flowers down into a brown decaying mushy pile. Boo. So many gray clouds makes it hard to feel motivated to do anything, I guess even post blogs.

I think I’ve mentioned New England/Upstate NY weather before (here, here, etc); how finicky it is, how a popular local expression is “if you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes,” how since it changes so much the weather is a popular icebreaker topic, and how this icebreaker doesn’t work when I travel to more temperate places where the weather stays the same all the time. It’s actually very telling—as soon as the sun comes out, it’s like the whole city comes alive, everyone is out on the street, in the parks, wearing flip flops and shorts (even if it is sunny but fifty degrees fahrenheit!). We New Englanders don’t take good weather for granted!

Anyway, last summer was really hot (I even wrote a post called, “We’re having a Heat Wave”) but this spring/summer is starting out in a similar way to the summer of 2008 when P’s family last visited, with all the gray skies and wet weather. When P’s family came they assumed that since it was summer they didn’t need to bring warm clothes, and P’s mother wound up spending most of her visit borrowing sweaters and shawls from my closet to keep warm. The last few times I’ve spoken to P’s dad I’ve reminded him to pack a few warmer cloths for their visit, just in case.

I do hope we get some sunshine soon, or like the flowers on the tree outside my office, I might just wilt into a decaying lump on the ground.

Empty Nest

Our apartment feels kind of empty and cavernous these days, like the space is too big for us. I guess we are just used to having more people around and it will take time to adjust. I feel a little like a parent whose children have gone off to school and left us alone. I miss having the house bustling with people, the lights on in the living room when we get home from work, the “family” dinners around the table, always having someone to chat with over tea and snacks. It doesn’t help that winter in New England is settling in. Days are short, dark and gray, and it makes the house feel all the more darker and colder too.

I think I was always a relatively social person. I enjoyed connecting with others, being part of a larger community and network of friends, but it wasn’t until I connected with the Nepali community that I truly realized how nice it was to have others around.

Sure, we all have days when we come home after a long day at work, you might be in a bad mood, and you just want to sit alone and watch a movie or read a book, or even just go to bed early. I’ve been there (and done that!) but there is something really nice about sharing your life with others.

I got quite a bit of flack from some of my family members recently about my “lifestyle choices” especially when we had a host of people with us the past few months. Most were friends– recent graduates from master’s programs desperately looking for jobs in a horrible economy, they just needed a place to be while they looked for the next thing. P and I had the space, how could we say no? And it’s not like our friends didn’t contribute towards the household, they insisted on helping towards rent, and we rotated cooking meals and cleaning up, it was really helpful and nice.

“You go way above and beyond for your friends,” my mother chided, “I would never let people live with me endlessly like that, it’s not our culture.

“But Mom,” I tried to reason, “Our friends are important to us, and far from home, most don’t have a lot of relatives in the US, and they just needed a helping hand for a little bit. If I were thousands of miles away from home wouldn’t you feel better knowing that someone was helping me?”

Her: “No, because they are not family, why would they help you? What would be in it for them?”

Me: “Why does there have to be something in it for them? Whatever happened to being there for people just to be there for people?”

Her: “Well this nonsense better stop once you are married! You’ll have to grow up and start living like an adult and stop having all these visitors!”

These conversations get so exasperating!

Luckily December continues to be busy. And I hope I get a bit of my writing mojo back!