Sunday, September 21, 2008

I can't help falling in love with you...

It's so great to be able to have a true home of our own. While we miss the staff at the hotel, Thomas is particular is always asking to "go to-a Gecko House Mommy please?" when we're out and about. I think that having a home has been really reassuring for the kids, knowing they have a home base, plus I think Thomas likes having his own room again.

Speaking of geckos, we had a big 'ol one clambering about outside of our second story window last night. There was no gecko-attracting beer present, but perhaps the tasty beverage Mike was enjoying did the trick. The very last of the rum and Coke species (why is the rum gone?) until Ramadan is over.

The garden alone is reason to be in love with this place. I laugh now at my fears that we'd have nothing but scorpions and fire ants in sand. Hardly! The grass is green and lush, thanks to hours of watering each day by our gardener Ajas (and if anybody knows how to correctly spell his name I would be extremely grateful to be corrected), and it has grown well enough that occasionally when he rides here on his bicycle, he pulls a lawnmower beside him to trim the verge. All the gardeners have bicycles, of all kinds, rakes tied with grocery bags to the handlebars and along the side, sometimes bunched in a bundle to make a seatpad. Ajas has 2 long shovels, a bundle of twine (to tie the vines), and a very old jackknife that he keeps here, as well as a broken trowel that originally had a pink handle. I purchased a child's set of gardening tools for practically nothing that are better than the ones he has, and leave them outside just in case, as well as a large bag of potting soil, figuring that would be awfully difficult to cart about on a bicycle. I have yet to see him use them, so I am trying to decide what might be a nice gift to him toolwise in the future to say thank you. I mentioned that I wanted to have two potted trees up on the balcony and he volunteered to bring them and the pots! I told him that I was very grateful, but that I thought that it would be easier for me, with the car, to get them.

The flowers in our garden cascade in bright beautiful drifts up and over the pale stone walls, bright pink and white and yellow and salmon colored, and the giant all-black bumblebees tend them in the mornings. Unless the kids are outside there are birds on our lawn, and in the trees especially after watering. When the kids are outside they help Ajas in his watering efforts, and generally water each other down as much as possible. This seems to be working on them as well as the greenery, both are growing like weeds! I do insist that they wear shoes or their little boots, just in case some creature is lurking in the grass that might not be beneficial to health and happiness.

In the evenings, after the sun goes down and the ants go in, we love to go outside. I carry one of the kids and shuffle my feet in the grass and geckos fling themselves out of our path, skittering away, both large and small, to gales of giggles from whichever child I'm with. One night it looked like an entire sea of geckos was surging away from us.

In the mornings our windows are soaked on the outside from condensation, and the water runs down in pitter-pats that sound like home. Thomas and I wipe down our troublesome front door in an effort to keep it from swelling and warping as many of the doors here do. I bought several squeegies to swipe away moisture both from the windows and the flooring, which works well.

I am gratified to report that the potties here have a single button on top and flush gratifyingly with little effort. The sprayers, however, leak like crazy and it's a battle to keep their taps turned off and the floors dry so no one crashes and burns. Because the air conditioning keeps the house cool, floors stay wet, and I am frequently hanging rugs outside on our balcony next to our laundry rack. We don't have a dryer. I don't think pretty much anybody does here, and, as I was surprised to learn, most people in the world don't have a dryer! Once again I find we are spoiled in the USA. Here, though, at least the clothes get hot and dry, rather than, say, frozen and dry, as has been reported to me from other parts of the world. "Cozy warm!" say Bethy and Thomas. It is easy to put out a blanket just before naptime so they can cuddle with it when I bring it back in. I rather enjoy hanging out the laundry, except when the winds blow away my underwear, giving me visions of some poor Muslim being assulted by my flying frillies.

Back to gardening, pruning is drastic here, but no matter how viciously it is performed, with watering, all the plants grow back quickly and well. It's a constant job. There are always gardeners with their rusty tools working all day on the greenery along the roadside in this area, large bundled catchcloths full of the trimmings, and every morning and evening the bicycles come and go. The gardeners tend to be Pakistani, wearing long flowing tunics over flowing pants, always one color, and a tasseled belt. Ajas wears a baseball hat, much to my delight, though headgear varies. The only thing that doesn't vary is that everyone has something to protect their heads from the blinding sun during midday.

Ajas, whose English is good but limited, told me that I am a friend to this garden and that since I have come the garden is beautiful. It's possible that he was hustling me a bit, that honey-tongued devil, because not much later he told me that I am a friend to this garden, and he is sure I want him to put in Vinca flowers, and that he will give me a bill Madam. I tried to ask him to put in something low-growing and fragrant, including mimicking smelling a flower, then actually smelling a flower dripping from one of the trees. I am hoping he doen't think I want that particular flowered tree for a groundcover, we'll see. So I have re-added Urdu to my list of languages to prep a bit, and have in reserve on the computer photos of the Vincas (of which I approve) to show him when he arrives.

Thomas has made fast friends with him, and is always on the lookout.

"Where Ajas? Where Ajas is in the garden Mommy?"

Ajas' dark skin next to Thomas' makes for a stunning contrast, and he has bright eyes that are deeply lined with humor and sun. The two of them are quite the pair.

Yesterday he was playing with Thomas and he put one of the earbuds of his little radio next to Thomas' ear so he could hear, completely freaking Thomas out and distressing Ajas. In a panic Thomas ran, screaming to me, and had to be bribed with chocolate to calm down (for which I apologized to Ajas who is fasting). Ajas understood, I think, and I asked to take a listen to see what the terrifying music was. Apparently Thomas is not so into Pakistani music radio. Many would agree with that assessment.

No matter how you look at it, 200 Dhs a month ($54.46 USD) for Ajas is a great bargain, and we're very, very happy to have him.

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