My grandmother – my mom’s mother – Grace Nolan, is having a bit of a rough time, health-wise these days. Thoughts and prayers are welcome. Here she is recently accepting posthumous medals for my grandfather’s WWII service from a local politician:
Grace is in the neighborhood of 90 years old and has lived an amazing life. Born in Ireland, she was married and widowed at a very young age, thus becoming the single mother of a three-year-old daughter when she was still basically a kid herself. What she did next blows my mind: she got on a ship with that three-year-old (who I call Mom) and crossed the Atlantic! Just the two of them. They lived in Chicago at first, where Grace worked long hours at menial jobs, reluctantly leaving my mother with relatives in those early days. Eventually, she met John Nolan, who became her husband. They settled in Salamanca, NY (where my parents both grew up), and had a bunch more kids.
Grace has great genes – many of her relatives have made it to the century mark (or come close). Can’t wait to see her when we get back.
Speaking of getting back, I got word from Fulbright that my teaching award has officially been extended until April 30 of this year. The original end date was March 31, but since the semester here runs into May, I applied for a one-month extension, which has now been granted. Even with the extra month, I’ll miss a bit at the end of the term. But it will be close enough to finish all the course material (knock wood). Though it’s still a couple of months down the road, our departure is beginning to loom large.
My office at the university is a noisy place these days, as mentioned (and videotaped) in my last post. They’re digging up the area behind our building, which was mostly used for parking, though there were some nice walls where students would sit and eat their lunches, and/or chat. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like when it’s done, but here’s what it looks like now:
I hope it’s finished before I leave. I’ll post some pics as they continue to work on it.
I’ve been walking with the kids to school in the morning lately, and the first thing we see when we walk down the stairs in our building is the set of apartment mailboxes (that’s ours on the top right).
The kids always get depressed when there’s nothing in there but advertisements for local chai shops and samosa stands. I’ve been telling them that the best way to get mail is to send it, so they’ve been working on writing some actual snail-mail letters (imagine). However, if you’ve got a few spare minutes and would like to make their day (and then some), our address is:
Pune, Maharashtra 411048
Postcards, cards, letters – anything except packages; we’ve learned the hard way that international packages to India are more trouble than they are worth – would put big smiles on little faces (and big ones, too). And responses are guaranteed.
It’s slowly getting easier to get our hands on cash here. And, just as important, the new 500 rupee notes seem to be entering into wider circulation, finally. So getting change for the new 2000 rupee notes has become a bit easier, too.
It’s still a bit of a challenge to find an open ATM, and lines still form at machines distributing money. But the worst seems to be over (for now, at least). Rumors are constantly swirling about further big moves coming (e.g. I keep hearing that the new 2000-rupee notes are going to be recalled, already). But I think they’d be crazy to do anything else that would have such a wide impact. Somehow, Prime Minister Modi seems to have weathered the storm brought about by his demonitization policies (local elections are coming up in February, so we’ll see how his party and political allies perform soon enough). But any further big moves would be pushing his luck, I suspect.