Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back in India

I have been MIA for the last couple of weeks. Sorry about that. I was visiting friends in Bulgaria. When I got back to my parents’ place their internet was down and they weren’t able to get if fixed until after we left.

So we are back in India now and it’s good to be back. We had a blast in Bulgaria reconnecting with family and friends but we needed to get back and continue making our house a home and settling into a routine.

There have been a lot of changes in our lives in the last few months and it’s been interesting but also hard, especially on the kids. Nia understands what’s going on but Max doesn’t yet and I think that he will really benefit from settling down, sleeping in the same bed for a while and establishing a routine again.

So my plan for the next few weeks is to get our lives back to normal, unpack our HHE (household effects - which arrived while I was in Bulgaria), apply for jobs at the embassy and get caught up on blogging. I have a couple of blog posts in the making from before we went to Bulgaria and a couple about our time there, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Parents’ Garden

My parents’ garden in Bulgaria is pretty darn fabulous. Each year they manage to grow an amazing variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables in it. Of course, it’s a lot of work and they spend most of their time doing one thing or another in the yard or taking care of the few chickens and the 30 or so rabbits they are raising (and no, those are not pets). But their garden is definitely their pride and joy and they love growing most of the food they eat. I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t like visiting and looking at or consuming the fruits of their labor. They grow way more than they could ever consume in season, so they preserve part of what they can’t eat and give away the rest.

Since it’s early in the season, a lot of the fruit/nuts/veggies are not ready yet but I thought I’d take you on a tour of their garden anyway.

Besides the sweet and sour cherries, strawberries and raspberries I talked about in my previous post, there’s the vegetable garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants. My parents have gotten fancy in the last few years, so this part of the garden is watered by my Dad’s home-made drip-irrigation system.

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Then come the potatoes, onions (mature as well as onion flowers for seed), garlic and zucchinis.

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The veggies are surrounded by popcorn and fruit trees - pear, apple, apricot, peach, cherry and plum.


There are also a couple of walnut trees and a hazelnut tree that will go into cookies, pies and cakes. Or as Nia exclaimed when I told her what hazelnuts are, “We can make our own Nutella!” I hadn’t thought about that but perhaps we should try.

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I almost forgot the grapes, some of which will be eaten but most will turn into wine and rakia (a strong Bulgarian fruit brandy, kinda like the Italian grapa or the Polish/Czech slivovitz).


Watermelons and cantaloupes are a must as well.


There are some figs and a lemon tree too. You can’t grow citrus outside year-round in Bulgaria, so the lemon tree goes indoors for the winter. It’s blooming right now and I just can’t get enough of its sweet smell and neither can the bees.

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Naturally, no garden of my mother’s would be complete without flowers:


Hope you enjoyed visiting my folks’ garden. I am going to leave you with the view from their place.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In Bulgaria

I am in Bulgaria with Chutney and Her Cuteness visiting my parents. This visit was long overdue as my Dad had never met Chutney and was really looking forward to it. Our initial plan was to visit my parents on our way to India but Paul was asked to start his assignment in India about a month early, which meant we had to postpone the trip to Bulgaria because Nia had to be in school for another month and a half. Plus, we had the cats with us, which would have considerably complicated things. And since Paul was/is new at post, he couldn’t really join us any time soon, so we decided that I would come to Bulgaria with the kids as soon as Her Cuteness was done with school.

So in the wee hours of the day after school was over, the kids and I flew to Sofia, via Moscow. We flew Aeroflot Russian Airlines, which was a little concerning to me but everything went fine. We had only 55 minutes in Moscow, which was kinda tricky as it took us more than half that time to get Chutney’s gate-checked stroller from the first plane and then had to race through the checks to get to our second flight but thankfully, we made it just in time.

We’ve been here for 5 days now and it’s been nice. For starters, it’s substantially cooler here than in Delhi. The temperature in Delhi was 45-47 C /113 – 116 F!!! when we left compared to 25-27 C/77-80 F when we got here. So, it’s actually pleasant to be outside. Not exactly relaxing because I am now watching the kids in a much larger area that is not Chutney-proof but it’s worth it because there’s a lot of bonding with Dyado (Grandpa):


And yes, those are scrapes on Chutney’s face. He found out the hard way that stairs can be all kinds of fun but they can also “bite if your mother/grandmother are not paying attention you don’t know what you’re doing. There are a lot of stairs at my parents’ place.


My parents live in a village in the middle of northern Bulgaria, at the foot of the Balkan range. They didn’t always live there but when my father retired, he they decided that city living wasn’t for them, so they went to live in this village, which is about 5 miles from Veliko Turnovo, the city where I was born and grew up. We had some ancestral land in the village and a very old house, which my parents knocked down and built (are still finishing) a new house in its place. It’s country living, which is not my cup of tea but my parents say they love it and who am I to tell them what to do. Plus, the kids are enjoying it too. Her Cuteness has been there several times and always has a blast. This is Chutney’s first time and he can’t get enough of the yard. There’s just so much new and interesting stuff for a one-year-old to explore…

There’s an outdoor cat to chase:


Bunnies to pet!




Awesome rocks to play with or eat, as the case may be…


Even an inflatable pool to splash in:


Then there are the crops, as Her Cuteness calls them. First are the cherries, one of the main reasons we are here now. I love cherries and my parents have several cherry trees in their yard. Cherry season is my favorite time of the year. As a child, I used to come here as often as I could during cherry season, climb up the cherry trees and eat until my tummy hurt.

Unfortunately, this year has not been good for cherries in Bulgaria. There were non-stop torrential rains for about 4 weeks before we got there and most of the cherries rotted on the trees. There are still enough good ones for us to eat:


But mostly, they look like this, which breaks my heart.


There’s a sour cherry tree though, which is doing quite well, despite the heavy rains, so we have been enjoying sour cherries:


The strawberries were also affected by the rains and some rotted as well but not nearly as bad, so we have been eating those fresh and in smoothies:


The raspberries are almost in season too and I can’t wait for more of them to ripen:


But this post is getting quite long, so I am going to stop now. I will be back soon with more pictures from my parents’ garden.

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