Çalıkuşu…

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Main characters from the show

Çalıkuşu means wren or lovebird and is the name of the silly Turkish drama based on a novel I cannot get enough of this last while. There is only one season (but more than 70 episodes within it!) and I am not half way through yet. I know the show gets cancelled so will leave me hanging in the end but am still enjoying watching it. I love Istanbul and, though this is 1920s Istanbul, its neat to watch.

Anytime I am cooking or folding laundry lately, this show is on although it will probably take all summer to watch since each episode is super long. If you like foreign historical dramas with some romance and family politics in them, then this series is for you! Enjoy!

June 2017: Things to look forward to…

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One of my usually busiest months of the year is here! Usually it is full of birthday celebrations for myself and siblings, father’s day, anniversaries, and a birthday for my niece. This year I am away from home and family so things will be a bit different. However, I still have many things to look forward to. Here they are:

  • Connecting with my BFF. Despite the fact we are now both in the same country, I was not able to connect with my dear friend last month as she is in another area and had commitments there all of May. I am hoping to catch up with her in June.
  • Getting more comfortable at work. Work was a bit of a rocky start but I am looking forward to becoming more comfortable with it and digging in a bit deeper.
  • Birthday! I am turning 35 and need to treat myself to something fabulous. What? Not quite sure yet.
  • Getting paid three times this month! It is one of those odd months in which I get paid three times instead of the usual two. Am hoping to save some of this extra money.
  • Baby news. As the weeks progress I am looking forward to learning more about the baby.
  • Exploring the area. I hope to continue to explore the region.

Reunited…

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I have not been writing this last while as I have been busy with my husband! He was finally able to join me-after what felt like super long three weeks-and it has been wonderful. This experience-up and moving away from him-has really made me realize that home is where he is. We can live anywhere in the world-this is our third country together-and can deal with all the changes and issues that come up…as long as we are together.

Being apart was really hard-even though it was really only three weeks and we have been apart longer due to his work. However, it was probably harder since we were not sure if he was coming for the first two and a half weeks! Being apart can be done-for us-but not for long periods of time. I realize that now. Next time any such opportunity comes up for an international move, I know for sure that we have to both be on board for the change right from the start and all will be well. 🙂

More simple pleasures…

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In the last while I have really been enjoying some nice everyday things. Life can have so many ups and downs. There can be periods of great excitement but also of stagnation. Sometimes, despite the whirlwind that may or may not be going on all around, it can be nice to really just take a moment to enjoy the simple things. Here is what I have been appreciating lately:

  • Slipping into a well made bed at night and enjoying the cool sheets.
  • Checking my pregnancy app each week to see what size the baby is (blueberry then peach then apple etc…)
  • Cold chocolate soya milk.
  • Spending time with family.
  • Fragrant plants and flowers.
  • Cool wind and rain after a hot stretch.
  • Catching up on tv.
  • Chatting and gossiping with my sister about other siblings.
  • Playing with children.
  • A simple healthy and flavourful Indian dish called rajma (kidney bean stew) with rice.
  • Air conditioning.
  • Seeing my husband’s cute face on Skype or Whatsapp video calls.
  • Showers and that nice clean feeling.
  • The healthy hair feeling after a new haircut.
  • Working on the computer with the tv on in the background.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Visit: Humayan’s Tomb…

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Isa Khan’s Tomb-the oldest on the site.

There is so much to see and do in Delhi. My first day off arrived and I wanted to get out and explore-despite it being the worst month of the year in terms of heat-so I did some online searching and decided my destination of choice would be the 16th century, now UNESCO World Heritage Site, Humayun’s Tomb. It was around 4pm and the heat was still at its worst but I decided to go for it and packed a cold 1 litre bottle of Bisleri mineral water in my bag and called an Uber.

Humayun’s Tomb

A short while later I was dropped off on the street near the site. You have to walk through the car park and make your way to the ticket counter. The cost is 500 rupees for foreigners and 30 rupees for locals. There is supposed to be a camera fee but I think they have dropped this now that smart phones are everywhere.

I went in and was immediately impressed by a green garden. Families and couples were sprawled out on the grass relaxing and chatting. To the right was a path leading to an impressive gate. I went there first. Through the gate one comes upon Isa Khan’s tomb. It is gorgeous and the oldest structure-by about 20 years-on the whole site. Inside are the graves of Isa Kahn (an Afghan nobleman), his wife, and children. There are gardens about and a wall surrounds the whole site.

So many details!

Further on there are various beautiful buildings and ornate gates leading to different areas. In total there are about 150 bodies buried on the property. Gorgeous gardens-designed the old Persian way-are all about the site and may be the first such garden on the subcontinent. A special canal water system is what sustains the many trees and plants. Of course, much of the site which had fallen mostly to ruins, was restored between 1997-2003 so all is in pretty good condition. There was excellent signage explaining how much effort the restoration was and what each building or area represented. Guards patrol the huge site and can be of assistance if you have questions.

Humayun’s resting place. A lot of structure and space used up…obviously someone very important!

Through a few gates and some areas housing educational displays and signage is the main attraction-Humayun’s Tomb. It is almost like a red Taj Mahal and is, in fact, the inspiration for the more famous Taj. It is stunning. The stairs are a bit steep going up but then you are on the main platform where you can look out at the grounds. Inside, are several tombs (I am guessing wife and kids) plus, of course, in the main area there lies Humayun. Such an elaborate place for a final resting place. It was his wife who commissioned the tomb. Must have taken forever! It is amazing to think the place still stands 500 years or so later. I cannot imagine what India must have been like at the time. I am definitely inspired now to learn more about Indian history.

Extensive gardens all around…

After checking out this area and taking photos for a few tourists (plus having them take mine!), I walked about the rest of the grounds. There are lovely trees and more gates and buildings to explore. You can even see the one gate from which water was pumped into the canals. It was quite hot but also not bad since the sun was not blazing down on me and I had my water. In total I spent about two hours exploring the place and took at least 100 photos. The place was also visited by non-human guests while I was there such as birds, squirrels, and peacocks. Nearby is a temple-a Sikh one-that was broadcasting hymns which just added more of a magical air to my visit.

I should mention that Humayun was the second Mughal emperor who ruled over the lands from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and part of Northern India. There is not much information about him at the site but there is a lot on Wikipedia which I read before going to give me some context. The tomb was where he was moved from his other burial site once it was complete. The whole site is an amazing monument to him-definitely someone appreciated him to go to such effort!

Just gorgeous!

The dreaded foreigner registration process in India…

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Every foreigner who is expected to be in India for more than 180 days is required to register with the Bureau of Immigration within 14 days of landing. Depending on your country, it may be different (ie Pakistan and Afghanistan), but I am writing from the context of what most westerners can expect. To register you have to visit a Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO). If you are far from one, then you can get the same service at a local police station.

This ramp goes into the building once you are approved. To the right is the green area where the giant line usually is.

Anyway, the first step, I learned is to register online. You need to visit the website and fill out the form (write down your application ID as you may get logged out!). Pretty straight forward. However, then you have to upload documents such as your passport and visa, proof of residence, a photo, employment contract etc etc depending on whether you are visiting on a medical visa, employment visa, student visa etc. This part was a bit of a nightmare as the size allotted per each document is tiny so you have to scan your documents, shrink them down, make sure they are pdf only, and then upload them. It was a bit of a hassle. However, still straight forward. The final screen gave me an appointment for a few days later and told me to print the forms and bring copies of all the uploaded originals to my appointment.

Appointment day comes and I make my way to the Delhi FRRO. It is May and scorching hot and I am not happy to see a giant line outside under a structure that looked like a small airplane hangar-a green one that created a weird green atmosphere inside. On each side of the line are rows of chairs that are jammed pack. Were all these people given appointments, I wonder? On the right side a sign says Afghan Nationals Only. This line was small but the chairs were full of Afghani people waiting. I am guessing most of these poor people are refugees. The other line was for everyone else-and was huge. I got in it. Luckily giant fans were blowing at us but it was still hot. The line probably would have moved okay if it were not for people butting in with the two registration agents and asking questions or demanding service. So annoying and I gave one American woman who jumped in right ahead of me a glare and she apologized saying it was for her mother in law who was too old to come herself.

Anyway, my turn came and they took my passport, had me sign in, and check if my paperwork was there (just a glance). I was then given a number-37-and told to go inside. I was happy to get into some a/c. I walked into the room and they were serving number 8. I sat down on one of the grimy orange chairs and waited. All sorts of people were waiting-from China, Japan, the US, the UK, Bangladesh, Korea, Nigeria, and France etc. The room soon grew full and it was getting hot. I brought a little fan with me that helped but should have brought water. The numbers moved very slowly and the staff kept helping other random people that went to the counter. This is not cool and defeats the purpose of numbers. I brought a book and read it for awhile.

Finally my number was called. The officer or whatever his title was went through my paperwork and was very kind and friendly but said it would not suffice as my office and paperwork came from North America and it must come locally. He said I would need my local authority (HR or a boss) to write a letter. I said it was impossible as the rest of my office was abroad and I was the highest ranking person in the region. He said an Indian national from the company must write the letter. I said there were only my staff who did not have such authority. He agreed but also agreed to accept such a letter from them if I was telling the truth. So, I was then given a piece of paper and told the FRRO would be checking in on me to confirm where I lived and if I was the highest authority around-and if so, would accept a letter from my staff. I took the paper and departed. It was not all that bad other than the hot waiting room and the numbers moving slow.

The very next morning I got a call from the FRRO letting me know they would come to visit me at home. I waited about the house for a few hours and then they told me they are coming to my office instead and I should go there at once. I did. At the office they took a print out of the new letters that I had my admin assistant prepare and sign on local letterhead. I asked if it was all done now and if they still wanted to come to my house. No, they said, and yes it would be filed later that day and next week I should return to the FRRO office to finalize the process.

The next week, after waiting a few days, off I go. This time the line was not bad and I was not given a number but told to do to counter A. I went. They took my paper and told me to sit. I sat only 10 minutes and was called. Shocking! Well, it turned out my file was not ready. They said this time they would call me and, when they did, then I can make the journey out to see them again. I agreed and off I went. I am hoping the final steps, whatever they are, will be easy enough. But, you never know in India!

My first visit to the Indian doctor and the second ultrasound!

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At the end of my first week in India, I was somewhat settled so decided it is time to move forward with accessing healthcare. I had already researched and been recommended a doctor to support me with my pregnancy so that was taken care of. Back home, the norm is to access your family doctor. Here, you can go straight to an OB GYN. I think this is good in some ways but can be bad if you just see a specialist for issues all the time as they may not connect all the dots if you have multiple issues. Anyway, probably not an issue in my case.

The first step here was to make an appointment. This was easily done through an online appointment request in which you punch in what day you would like to see the doctor and your phone number. The doctor I wanted operated out of a hospital.

A short while later I received a call and was told I could come in the next week. I agreed and then received email confirmation. The day of my appointment came and off I went to the hospital. Since it was my first visit I had to check in at reception and fill out a registration card. I let them know I had an appointment with the doctor and they asked me to pay for it. In my case it was 2000 rupees and a 150 rupee registration fee. I paid and was given the receipt.

Photo of the hospital where I went.

I then moved over to the waiting room area. I waited some time…much later than the appointment I made which was a bit annoying but not the end of the world…and soon was called in to see the doctor. She had a large room and sat at one end at a desk with an assistant or perhaps junior doctor. She said, “What can I do for you, dear?” I explained I am from abroad and in Delhi for work and also 15 weeks pregnant so needed follow up care. I forgot my previous medical records from home but let her know all seemed normal, I had one previous early miscarriage that required an operation, I was taking pre-natal vitamins, and had one ultrasound to rule out ectopic pregnancy back in April. Since then, not much had happened.

She asked me some more background questions about myself and my family and was writing them down in a file/card thing. This file would later come to me as they do not seem to keep records of anything in India at the hospital and it is up to you to lug around your own file. She then told me the next steps are to do an ultrasound to confirm due date and that all is generally well and do a blood test to rule out some abnormalities. She said there were two options for this last one and it would be up to me to choose which I wanted as one may not be covered by my insurance. One just tells you if you are high or low risk for issues. The other actually tells you if there are abnormalities or not. She said to think about this for next time. I confirmed both are non-invasive.

I asked her how often I needed to come in-she said monthly for now, then each fortnight (which is 2 weeks), and then near the end (the last month I guess), weekly. I asked if I could fly back home for a vacation in August around 30 weeks and she said yes. Then, she had me lie on the table and looked at my stomach. She felt around and said it seemed I was 14-16 weeks pregnant. It just happened to be my exact 15th week of pregnancy according to the doctors back home and the last ultrasound I did.

She then told me to bring my records from home next time, keep taking vitamins, go do the ultrasound today, and next time let them know which blood test I want. I agreed and then checked back in with the admin assistant who took me over to the ultrasound department. There was another waiting room. I had to sign a form saying I do not wish to know the sex of the baby as it is illegal in India. I said I DO wish to know but understand I am not allowed (the form should be changed to be more accurate) but signed anyway. It then seemed to take forever but my turn finally came. Just as I got into the room, the gov’t inspectors arrived to check the machines. I had to wait a bit while they confirmed the machine serial and model numbers etc.

Soon they left and the ultrasound doctor came in. She was very nice and conducted the ultrasound. I heard the heartbeat. It was so strange-like a chugging sound. She said it was normal. She took measurements and showed me the screen. I saw the head, the heartbeat, spine, arms, and legs. The baby seemed to be jumping around. After a time she said she could not see one leg being extended and had to check this before she could let me go but the baby was not cooperating. She sent me off for a walk and a break and helped others. After half an hour I was back with her and, after some time, she finally saw the leg being extended. She was then satisfied and released me. She also let me know the baby is 14 weeks and 5 days-not the 15 weeks I thought.

I was told to go to billing and pay for this. It was about 4200 rupees. Then I came back and waited. A short time later I was given my report and told I could go. I opened up the report-it was in English-and read it (all normal!) and the baby’s due date has been moved yet again-to two days later. There were also ultrasound pictures in the envelope. I was kind of hoping the due date would be moved to earlier and not later but what can you do?

I left feeling very happy and well looked after. The hospital seemed clean, everyone spoke English, and the equipment seemed up to date. I did not expect to spend hours and hours there but did get the ultrasound done the same day which was nice. Next time I will budget more time and bring my previous records from back home. Now, I just need to figure out how to submit insurance claims etc which will be a whole other story! I also need to find out if the insurance company will cover the more expensive blood test.

Afterwards I went to work. Once I was there I snapped a photo of the ultrasound and sent it over to my husband who joked the baby looks like him. I told him about the whole experience and he was happy all went well and said it all seemed so real now. This is how I feel too! Something about actually seeing that human outline on the screen has made it much more real than it has been so far. Am very excited now-but still a very long way to go!