Crowded and happy..

Carousel at Hotel de Ville.


We went to some of the big tourist sights on Monday and Tuesday, thinking they might not be as crowded. Not so. Monday was very cool and rainy so we went to the Pompidou. It had a huge line…in the rain. Luckily Ashwin had his happy moment on the carousel because he was not happy at the Pompidou. This was his only really cranky day, but I don’t blame him, we were damp, tired, and everywhere we went it was crowded. My sandals felt like two wet pancakes and I was kind of cranky too.

The next day we went to Notre Dame quite early. There was already a line across the square waiting to get into the cathedral, and one going down the side for the climb to the top of the tower. So we decided to explore Ile St. Louis instead. It was quiet and beautiful – then we stumbled across Marie Curie’s house which made Venkatesh very happy. Afterwards we spent some time in the park behind Notre Dame where there were lots of kids and Ashwin could play. 

Ashwn fell off onto his head soon after this.

Back of Notre Dame.

We walked down along the Seine, and stopped into my happy place, Sennelier – full of the most beautiful art supplies and smelling of linseed oil. Heaven on earth! Then we walked across the street and  took a pedi cab to the Eiffel Tower. Don’t ever take a pedi cab in Paris – they take you to your destination and then try to charge you per person instead of per ride (they didn’t get away with it). 

The Eiffel Tower was surrounded by fencing and guess what? a line to get in. We decided not to go in and walked around the back to the park…which was fenced off too. But at the back there was another entrance to the tower and NO LINE! So we ended up going up to the second level and I’m so glad, it was breathtaking. The huge yellow and orange wheels of the elevator mechanism felt prehistoric and modern at the same time. Visually stunning. The park behind the tower was fenced off for the Euro Football Fan Zone. Masses of fans dressed in their countries colors (and sometimes liederhosen) were arriving for the night, so we decided to leave and take the long walk back to the hotel through small shopping streets. It was the night before the big sale season and everyone was applying ‘Soldes 50%’ signs to their shop windows. Shops stayed open late and there was a music fest going on. We stayed out late that night, eating, walking and listening to a new band around every corner. It was crowded too, but lively, and we danced in the streets until Ashwin got mad because he was feeling left out.

Earlier in the day we walked by Edith Wharton’s house and the plaque by the door had a quote: ‘My years of Paris life were spent entirely in Rue de Varenne – rich years, crowded and happy years”. And I thought, yes that sounds exactly right – crowded, but incredibly rich and I’m very happy to be here. Can we stay forever?

Paris – something worth writing about

Day one in Paris. We napped because Ashwin was falling asleep at lunch, so we were wide awake in the evening. I wanted to show Venkatesh and Ashwin a concert at St. Chapelle, which I believe is one of the most beautiful experiences in the world. We landed up at just the right time and it started pouring rain while we were inside. Suddenly near the end of the concert the entire space brightened as the sun came out and shone through the stained glass surrounding us. Lovely.
A great start to our next day with croissant, cafe creme, fresh squeezed orange juice and live music playing across the street. Four older men, Les 5 Doights at le Pouce, playing jazz-fanfare music (kind of like Dixieland). Wandered all over Paris afterwards, la Place de la Concorde, Tuillerie Gardens, and the Sunday bird and flower market. ‘Mummy can I have a bird?’

Taken from the top of the ferris wheel.

Tent Rocks, NM

This place was so beautiful. Sara and I had a great hike, a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and a fantastic dinner at Georgia in Santa Fe. We even shopped a bit in between. What does a rattle snake totem mean? This guy definitely presented himself to us today.

Our friend at Tent Rocks, a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 I read about snake totems – ‘When snake comes into your life you can look for a rebirth into new powers of creativity and wisdom’ – Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. I have just celebrated a pivotal birthday and I have had a lot of time to myself, so I have definitely been thinking about my life up to this point and where I want to go from here. This sounds pretty good to me. 

  

       

El Santuario de Chimayo, NM

   Inside are the healing sands of Chimayo, a wall of hanging crutches and a statue of the Holy Child of Atocha surrounded by little shoes. Photos of people line the walls, the smell of hot wax, whispers, a couple wearing Harley t-shirts pray at the alter. We are not allowed to take photos or videos inside. This isn’t a tourist attraction, it is a living sacred place and it feels it. 

 

A portion of the wall of childrens shoes

     It’s heartbreaking to see how many people have come here with their hopes and prayers for the people they love, but there is something beautiful in the ritual and belief. I don’t believe, but I’m willing to accept that there are many things we don’t know.

This Little Truck Book

  

I didn’t think I would write again until traveling to India (or anywhere else worth writing about) but I have had some new developments with Sound Horn Okay! After returning home from India I finally came up with a solution for the book cover (realizing I had to differentiate the cover from the back) and began hand inking the title graphic. I also sold a book, so I made a drop spine box to house it. I have been included in the Spring Printmaking issue #25 of Uppercase Magazine (for the creative and curious) so I thought I would do a little shameless self promotion. Check it out at uppercasemagazine.com. It is a beautiful publication that has had issues on type, children’s books, quilting, calligraphy, color and all things creative, including many articles on living an independent creative life. Now who wouldn’t want that!

I have also submitted Sound Horn Okay! to the Boston Printmakers Biennial 2015 juried exhibition. It is being juried by Willie Cole, whose work I love by the way. Just knowing he is going to lay eyes on my book is thrilling. Wish me luck!

 

I am amazed at the number of countries that have viewed my blog at indiacloudhouse.com. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of one of them. Can you guess which one? Perhaps I’m not alone…..

Cambodia

Belgium

Sudan

Brunei

Poland

Switzerland

Pakistan

Iraq

Singapore

Mexico

Phillipines

Brazil

Indonesia

Spain

Vietnam

Egypt

Saudi Arabia

Thailand

Germany

Italy

Hong Kong SAR China

Canada

France

Netherlands

UNited Kingdom

Malaysia

Australia

Tomorrow I’m off to Evanston Print and Paper Shop, where I keep my press, to print the colophon for my book. I’m taking Venkatesh and Ashwin with me for some printing fun. The best way to spend Mothers Day!

One Little Indian Boy

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We are back home in Evanston after four and a half months in India, three nights home, and then a week visiting family for the holidays near Boston. It feels strange to be living in this quiet and cold environment. It’s nearly silent and I miss the cuckoo bird in the morning. We have also returned with a little boy who has fully embraced being Indian. This is exactly what we wanted for him, but I was surprised at the extremity of his feelings. He loves speaking Kannada (so much that he tells me I shouldn’t speak American), he only wants to eat Indian food – especially curd rice eaten with his hands, and he wants to be a Hindu. When he asked me why his Pati and Tata don’t celebrate Christmas, I told him it’s because they are Hindu. How surprised was I when he stated ‘I’m a Hindu Mummy, I don’t want to celebrate Christmas’? What? What kid doesn’t want Christmas? All year when he asked for toys, our tag line has been ‘you can have a Lego on Christmas and your Birthday, but not now’. I was afraid we might have a Hindu Fundamentalist in the making. 😀

Right before coming home we went to Mysore to attend a pooja for Ashwin’s cousin Sila. It’s something that is done around the time of a child’s first birthday and is for health and long life. Ashwin was a bit jealous of the attention Sila was getting, and Autie Vinuta invited him to take part with them. Ashwin sat up front with her and was so entranced by the whole process, he watched intently and even put his hands together without being told. Everyone commented on how sweet and well behaved he was. Nice to hear considering all of the bad behavior we had been having lately! He was really trying hard to be his own person, apart from Mummy and Daddy, while he was in Bangalore and it was very hard to tolerate at times.

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Ashwin took to the priest very quickly. They sat and had conversations before and after the pooja. He said they talked about his school, but that night when we went home he started to sing shlokas (Hindu chants) all on his own. We didn’t know he knew them!

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Afterwards he had a traditional meal on a banana leaf, South Indian food eaten with the hands.

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The day before leaving Bangalore, Ashwin’s school – Heritage Kids, had Sports Day. They had been training for it for over a month and Ashwin was going to be the one to hold the torch at the beginning of the games. Upon arrival he got very nervous and absolutely refused to participate. At the last moment we got him to stay up front and he and his friend Yushu were led around the sports ground with the torch. As always, when he doesn’t want to do something he pretends to sleep. So the man in charge of sports day had to hold his shoulder and push him around while he snored with his eyes closed.

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In  the end he won the lime and spoon race and stood up on stage to receive his medal with all the kids in his class.

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He was pretty proud of himself.

Once home, we did celebrate Christmas. The Santa at Heathrow was hard to resist and we stopped to tell him where we would be on Christmas Day.
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We had a great time decorating our tree…

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And now that we are home again, we are settling into this strange and quiet life. I love my hot shower and I’m so happy to escape the ants, but somehow everything seems a bit duller here in this Chicago winter. We all miss Bangalore very much and Ashwin misses Tata’s dog, Bubble, the most!

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I think he may be waiting still for Ashwin to come downstairs to go to school.