Wednesday, August 1, 2012

And we're packing up!

The packers arrived this morning! We're hoping to come in under our weight limit. Sort of depressing how much we accumulated/hung on to this year.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fire Drill Indian Style - What fun!

It's the 4th of July here in India - no fireworks, no time off, no BBQs, no fun with the family... but at 4:00pm the fun began with a fire drill in my office building. Who'd a thought a fire drill would entertain me so much! I grabbed my purse & phone on the way out and snapped away. The story is best told in the photos below.

It was ONLY a DRILL... no fireworks & no major fire :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sister Bangles

A year after Moin and I got married, we came to India for the first time. On that trip, Moin got me a pair of matching bangles. That was a long, long time ago, and no one ever explained the 'pair of bangles' tradition. During our time in India, the girls quickly noticed that many ladies wore matching bangles. We have heard several variations describing the cultural significance behind wearing bangles, and the explanations seem to vary by region and by religion.

One evening at dinner our family started chatting about friends who have either gotten a tattoo or a nose piercing or a piece of jewelry to commemorate their time in India. I mentioned that I had decided on a small pair of hoop earrings for my 3rd or 4th earring hole... even though I knew I’d have to experience a lot of pain to open them back up. The girls shared that they were also thinking of jewelry... they wanted sister bangles. Hmmm. What is a sister bangle? A sister bangle works like this - buy a pair of bangles for each sister, swap one of the bangles from each pair, and wear them for life to remember you are connected to your sister forever. Ahhh! How could we say no?

With the sister bangles concept in mind, we set out to do some jewelry shopping! We spent a few hours online researching the process, as we realized this is yet another thing Moin never learned about in spite of growing up in India. I guess a teen boy does not often have occasion to shop for jewelry on his own! After learning the price of gold, we next read up on make charges, wastage charges, and any potential scams. It was a steep learning curve, and we were completely unsure of what to expect.

After asking around, we decided to start on Commercial Street in Bangalore. I like to call Commercial Street “Raw Bangalore” because it is jam packed and full of tiny shops that are of questionable quality. In spite of this reputation, several friends assured us the jewelry stores were large, reputable, and competitive. We found several options!
Sri Krishna Jewelers
The normal haggling ensued. Haggling is such a part of Indian shopping, but I will never adjust to this. After being quoted fairly high make charges, we called a neighbor who gave us some guidelines. We checked several stores in a few hours. We tried shopping with me and without me to see if there were any foreigner-related price inflations. Happy to report - No! All of the stores offered different styles and options. All charged different make charges and different wastage charges. The cheapest store refused to custom order sizes. The sister bangles concept meant we needed a pair of bangles that were 2 different sizes so the girls could swap one.

We finally ended our search for sister bangles with a pleasant salesman at Sri Krishna Jewelers on Commercial Street. Our salesman had a lot of questions about the US and shared his plans to go for further studies. The girls found so many wonderful options for “daily wear” bangles in this store, and I found my small hoop earrings. Unlike some of the other shops, our salesman was happy to accommodate our odd request for sister bangles. The bangles had to be custom ordered to get one in each girl’s size.

In the middle of the May birthdays (both girls turn in May), the bangles were ready for pick up. They were perfect & just as we ordered. Moin and I surprised them one evening after dinner.

They are thrilled with their sister bangles! And they had a little too much fun re-piercing my 3rd & 4th earring holes with a needle and ice! All around a decent shopping experience, and all the ladies are going home with one nice souvenir.