Okay . . . photo explanation required! The boys crammed their littlest stuffed animals into socks for some reason . . . I just can't remember what it was. :o) The second photo is Anya Rashi using two almost-empty Kleenex boxes for shoes. The last two are from a few weekends ago, when my sister Alicia visited. She stayed at a hotel so we could all swim, and Aaron and Nathan slept over at the hotel with her. (A very big deal for them!) She is a blast -- I hope she's able to come along to India for our second trip, even though returning to work at her clinic afterward was a brutal jet-lag experience!
On to the reading material . . . I just finished a book by Mitali Perkins called Monsoon Summer. It's designed for teen readers, but had a lot to offer for me as an outsider to Indian culture. The basic plot is about a family's summer spent at an orphanage in Pune. The mother was adopted by an American couple, and she is returning with her (somewhat reluctant) family to give back to the place that gave her so much.
This book is written from the viewpoint of the daughter, who, although her mother is Indian, looks more like her Caucasian dad, and feels like an outsider in Pune. There are lots of great observations about life in India, and it's the only book I've read by an Indian author that deals with the lingering issues about caste. It was worth reading if only for that, but also contains many good lessons about giving to others.
Mitali Perkins herself was born in Kolkata (which makes me fond of her already, since that's also Anya Rashi's birth city). Her family lived in Ghana, Cameroon, England and Mexico before emigrating to the United States. She now lives in Massachusetts, has two sons and is married to a minister. She has a web site featuring books about young people caught between two cultures: http://www.mitaliperkins.com/.
Another good "read" is something Amanda (another Dillon Intl. mom) shared with me -- it's a web site about having a multi-racial family. You can find it at http://multiracialsky.wordpress.com/. Although it's been a few months since she posted, there are some great posts, including one with a list of children's books that talk about different skin tones and cultural differences. Thanks, Amanda!