Mundane Mondays – The Thrift Store

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm.

 

So, technically, I’ve never seen anything officially representing a thrift store during my time in India. All the clothes available are brand new, though likely to be much cheaper than in the states if you know how to shop (i.e. avoid malls).

 

But last fall I did happen once or twice onto an interesting phenomenon. Men would drive up to a bus station very nearby to a tutoring business that tourists are known to frequent for Hindi practice. Then they would unload new or like new clothes from the trunk. Teachers and students alike would put off the next lesson to peruse the second hand offerings.

 

unique shopping in india

I was too intimidated to go down the first time or two that the thrift store rolled up. But eventually such a crowd began to gather that I went down to take a peek.

 

It was mostly sweaters, jackets, and pajama pants, which was exactly what everyone had on their minds with winter barreling just around the corner.

 

unique shopping in india

Jackson and a friend holding up a new-to-us pair of Rudolph pants.

 

In the end we made off with a small handful of goodies, including a Banana Republic hoodie for just a few bucks. Can’t beat that. :)

 

What’s the best thrift store deal you’ve ever found?

 

Jessica

Getting a Haircut in India

There are quite a few options for getting a haircut within walking distance of where we’re staying in India. Indians are quite punctual in their haircuts, you don’t see a lot of shaggy haired folk. So there are plenty of barbers to go around.

 

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm.

 

The spectrum is pretty wide. You can literally go to a tin shack with a chair in it or you can go to a fancy salon.

 

Indian Barber Shop

 

I decided to pick a place in about the middle of the spectrum, finding a small, frequented barber shop. The guy didn’t speak any english, but never fear, there’s always an english speaker nearby in India. He called his friend over to help bridge the communication gap and then things got under way.

 

Bonus: An Indian haircut often ends with a head massage. That kind of just looks like getting beat up. These are the experiences that cross cultural kids are made of. :)

 

In no time we went from this:

 

Needs a haircut

 

To this:

 

Haircut

 

Not bad for $1.25

 

Have you ever gotten a haircut while abroad?

 

Jessica

Potassium Permanganate – The Magic Pink Crystal

Today we’re going to learn about potassium permanganate. And how that helps us stay healthy overseas.

 

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm.

 

One of the bigger adjustments to daily life overseas is washing fruits and vegetables. Now, maybe some of you are vigilant about washing your produce in the first world, but I was never one of those people. I like to think I’m the perfect amount of lazy and realistic. I am just not afraid of something on the outside of my food in America.

 

But on this side of the world it’s a necessary precaution. We wash/soak most produce. There are a few options for washing your fresh foods.

 

How To Wash Vegetables

 

  • Good old soap and water

  • Soaking in Iodine

  • Commercial “Vegetable wash”

  • Potassium Permanganate

 

We’ve dabbled in all of the above and all four options do get used on occasion in our kitchen. However, by and large, the one I rely on the most is the magical pink chemical called potassium permanganate.

 

potassium permanganate

 

Potassium Permanganate

 

Say that 5 times fast.

 

It’s a handy little survival tool and a tiny bit of it will last you for-stinkin-ever. Just a couple of itty crystals in a big bowl of water will do the trick. Just enough to turn the water pink.

 

potassium permanganate

 

What to Soak in Potassium Permanganate

 

We soak most produce with the exception of things that we peel like bananas, onions, oranges, and potatoes. Most everything else gets a good soak.

 

washing fruits and vegetables

 

Now, other than using a chemical crystal with a fancy name, I am not very scientific about this. Honestly, I usually throw things in to soak and then forget about them until the next time I walk into the kitchen. So I’m not sure the minimum amount of time things are actually supposed to soak for.

 

Potassium Permanganate - the magic crystal for your kitchen abroad.

 

But we’ve not been sick from food once since we arrived in South Asia 6 months ago so I guess we’re doing something right.

 

Do you wash your fruits and veg?

 

 

Jessica

 

Mundane Mondays – The Muffin Man

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm.

 

One thing that surprised me about living on the side of a mountain is that everything comes to you. Bread is no exception.

 

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We have a friendly baker who visits us twice a week. Whole wheat bread, garlic bread, cinnamon bread, muffins, donuts, cookies, … the list is nearly endless.

 

We are particularly fond of his cinnamon bread and order it on the reg. When he delivers our goods we place our order for his next visit.

 

He also keeps us in a supply of various kinds of cookies (peanut, chocolate, coconut…).

 

However, the cookie (or biskut, as they are called here) is a slippery slope, my friend. If you ask for 3 packs, you WILL get 12. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can share extra cookies with your friends and family.

 

Once in a while we splurge for his chocolate covered donuts. They are huge and dense, but not cakey. And they taste like real chocolate. A lot of things with chocolate in the title to not meet the American standard for chocolate.

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His “chocolate” cookies, for example, have no hint of cookie taste in them. Our Ayah makes us a delicious “chocolate” cake that, while tasty, doesn’t not resemble the chocolate cakes of the motherland.

mockolate

While convenient and tasty, it has been a cross-cultural learning curve to figure out this door-to-door salesman thing. He usually brings more than we asked for. And for awhile we would just buy whatever he showed up with. But as we’ve gotten our footing in the cultural we’ve become more comfortable saying no.

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He was coming twice a week for quite awhile, at his suggestion. But it was just too often. We were overrun with bread and giving it away to other people every week. Eventually it dawned on us that we had the power to ask him to only come once a week. We’re a little slow sometimes.

 

He certainly got his money’s worth out of us for awhile there, buying more than we needed and paying white people prices. Good on you, Baker. Good on you.

 

Jessica

Mundane Mondays – One Day 2015

It’s been a few years since I participated in Hollywood Housewife’s “One Day” event. When I saw my Instagram feed filling up with #onedayHH posts I caught the bug and decided to document one day of my life, too. But instead of posting it on The Gram, I decided I’d put it here, seeing as how I’m trying to revive this dead horse. So for this week’s Mundane Mondays post I took some particularly crappy pictures of my day for you. You’re welcome. Without further ado:

 

I rolled out of bed at a lazy 8:30. Don’t hate. I then had a meeting with Mr. Bucket.

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I had some coffee and checked  some internet whilst chilling with this lady (WHO IS GOING TO BE 15 THIS WEEK).

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I washed some fruits and veg, because that’s a thing we do.

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And then tried to expedite the thawing of frozen chicken, because some things never change.

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Made my bed. You know you’re crushing hard on my sweet tiger blanket.

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Then tried to get a little work done.

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Some subzi boys showed up and I bought a new kind of vegetable, at my Ayah’s insisting. They call it Loki. Apparently it’s a bottle gourd.

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I asked my Ayah to make burritos for lunch. Then I decided we needed cilantro. What is even the point of a burrito without cilantro? So I took the boys with me to head down the hill to find cilantro at one of the nearby produce stands. Also, check me out in my new winter suit.

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Found it at the second stand. Whole trip took us maybe a mile round trip.

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Then we had some ballin’ chicken burritos. On handmade tortillas. Have I mentioned how much I love our Ayah?

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After lunch I did some studying.

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Then I took my Ayah shopping for a new sari as a Diwali gift.

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I wanted to run some other errands in the market and she decided to stick with me. We went to three different shoe stores before I found a pair I wanted.

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Thanks to Diwali sales I scored these sweet mom shoes for only 3 bucks.

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We went to the yarn store. I got some yarn for my advent calendar.

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Btw, shopping is no joke here. I pretty much dig it, though. There’s no Walmart. Every store is specialized. You go to the paint store, the shoe store, the yarn store, the food store, the produce stand, etc etc. And in a town this small, it’s all done on foot. All told I walked about 4 miles on this day.

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I had a short list of random things I needed. I ended up finding batteries at one tiny shop (not pictured). And then breaking down and going to one of the nicer electronic stores for my other needs. Power strips, HDMI cord, etc.

All shops open out onto the street.

All shops open out onto the street.

I also stopped at my favorite “grocery store” to dispute a small matter on my last bill. The picture below was actually taken on a different day. But whatevs.

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On our way back my Ayah stopped beside the Hindu temple to buy marigolds for a Diwali related tradition.

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By the time I got home it was time to feed people again. We went with leftovers; a common choice. And I got to use my new microwave for the first time. I felt like I was on a spaceship.

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Also, can we just stop for a moment and ooh and aah at my new plates? Pretty things make me happy.

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I still prefer to reheat my foods on the stove most of the time, though. Because microwaved chicken is nasty.

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After dinner Jeremy and I walked around the property, looking for birds and watching the sunset. That view never gets old.

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Then we played a game of Settlers of Catan with eleven year old.

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After Catan we spent some time in the freezing dark, looking across the valley, watching random fireworks. It was the main night of Diwali so it sounded like we were in a war all night. Here’s a super crappy picture of house lights on the hillside.

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While one of the Wild Things was playing Zelda or some such I sat down to ball some of my new yarn. A necessary evil when your yarn supply doesn’t come from Hobby Lobby.

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Then I worked on my firsts attempts at Christmas trees for my advent calendar idea. Tweaked a pattern I found online to suit my needs. (Photo taken the next day in better lighting).

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After the kids went to bed Jeremy and I suffered through one or two episodes of 24. We’re in season 2 and we pretty much hate it but our options are severally limited without online streaming. At least it’s fun to MST3K.

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Aaaaaaand that’s it. Everyone has good and bad days. Clearly, this was a good day.

I share a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff like this on Snapchat, if you’d like to see more boring parts of my days. Username: Bohemianbowman

 

Mundane Mondays – Subzi Boys

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm.

 

subzi

Today we’re going to talk about vegetables – or subzi, as it’s called here. Where we live there are many subzi walas. Men with lovely vegetables stands dot the town. And the selection is generally pristine and local, muled up from surrounding farms.

If we chose to we could walk down and have our pick of fresh fruits and veg any day of the week.

But we don’t. Because news gets around when white people are staying on the hill. And not long after we got here subzi boys started showing up every weekend. We have three different groups of vegetables boys who come every Saturday and Sunday hocking their wares. They range in age from probably 10 to 15 and are usually alone carrying heavy makeshift backpacks made from rope and nylon bags.

subziwala

That small metal thing with a hook up there on the step is a scale that they all carry with them so they can weigh the produce. Everything is sold by the kg, of varying prices.

vegetablesBy Sunday afternoon we’re set for the week.

In addition to in-season vegetables we keep apples and bananas stocked for hungry little  boys. Oranges have recently come into season so we’ve been eating lots of them. And by “we” I mean 3 little bottomless pit boys.

Beans (dal) are another thing always available from the subzi kids. Our bean consumption has increased by roughly 400% since we got here.

There are SO MANY kinds of beans here. Our pantry is insane.

beans

I never knew beans could be so delicious. I am going to miss Indian spices one day. I mean, I was never a bean hater, but good lord, Indians can work a lentil. Even Jeremy, who has had a life-long aversion to beans, eats them happily now.

raw honeyIn addition to fruits, veg, and beans, the subzi boys are forever wanting to sell us raw honey straight from the village. I’ve long heard of the benefits of local, raw honey so I was pretty excited to see it appear on my front steps.

Look how pretty!

And not all honey is created equally, my friend. I ended up with one batch that had quite a few bees entombed in the golden sludge.

And last but not least, let’s talk paneer.

I know this post was supposed to be about subzi but I reckon it’s more about subzi boys and all the wonderful things they bring straight to my door.

If you like Indian food, you’re probably already familiar with paneer.

paneer

It’s great cubed, battered in chickpea flour, and fried (paneer pakora). Or it’s good sauteed up with peas in some kind of delicious sauce.

paneer

I used to buy it in frozen packages from the store but now the subzi boys keep me in fresh paneer from the village. It’s really hard to compare to an American cheese. It doesn’t melt. My boys call it “squeaky cheese”. It’s kind of like one solid mass of cottage cheese.

So that’s about it. We love the convenience of the subzi boys. Though when our bell is rung for the umpteenth time during the weekend I give them the side-eye of the heart.

Until next Monday.

Jessica

 

Mundane Mondays – Toilet Tales

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm. Hopefully you guys are going to care two cents about this.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, to kick this puppy off I’m starting with the basics. The bathroom. Everybody uses it. But some of us use it a little differently. First off:

The Potty

 

squatty potty

Our potty is western with a twist. The seat is extra wide for accommodating wide bottoms like yours truly. Jk. It’s for squatting. If you’re into that sort of thing. As you may or may not know, a great big portion of the world prefers to squat. I don’t think any Bowmans have been brave enough to perch up on the commode, but the option is there if we ever get a wild hair.

And, while we’re on the subject: flushing paper is a no-no. Our eastern plumbing literally can’t even. All t.p. must go into the garbage. That’s right – all t.p. But hey, at least we have t.p., right? Another viable option is what I like to affectionately refer to as the booty shooty. Twist a little knob and get a fun surprise. Makes for less odorous tp in the can.

you can't flush toilet paper in other countries

Brushing Teeth

 

Okay, this is going to sound minor and silly but it’s probably the most annoying to get used to. Tap water is a no-no. The filter is our friend. So for teeth brushing, don’t forget your cup of water. Countless sighs have been had by all when all you want is to brush your teeth but you have to go ALL THE WAY BACK to the kitchen for that cup of filtered water.

 

The Shower

 

Let me introduce you to my friend The Bucket.

bucket bath

We, personally, have a limited water supply. So a good old-fashioned stand up shower isn’t something we indulge in often. Our fourteen year old loathes the bucket so she sets a timer and attempts to take the fastest shower in the history of showers.

I don’t mind the bucket. I’ve gotten used to it and now have a perfectly honed system for getting my hur did. I need more than 5 minutes to wash this mane. So pass me the bucket.

Our house has traditional showers complete with shower curtains. However, a lot of the houses here just have a shower head on the wall in the middle of the bathroom. And let me tell you, there’s something inherently awkward about washing your hair while staring at the rest of your bathroom. In these types of bathrooms there is a drain in the floor and a big, long-handled squeegee is kept in the corner so that you don’t leave a slip and slide scenario in your wake. I’m thankful that we didn’t succumb to the squeegee.

Oh, and I almost forgot our friend The Geyser. geyser water heater

He is located in every bathroom and kitchen. If you want hot water you’re going to need to sweet talk him half an hour before your date with Mr. Bucket.

So that’s about it. The differences in bathroom practices are probably one of the biggest adjustments to daily life when you first step off the plane. But, as with everything else, they soon become normal and you forget you ever did it another way.

What do you think would be the hardest potty paradigm to shift?

 

Jessica