Thursday, January 16, 2014

A lull in the action

We had no "official" business on Tuesday, so we decided to make a visit to one of New Delhi's newest  cultural sites.  Swaminarayan Akshardham is a museum/shrine/tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1731 - 1830 AD).  It celebrates the values, architectural forms, artisans' techniques, and Hindu heritage of India.

It is a complex of buildings that opened in 2005.  The centerpiece is the Akshardam Mandir building, constructed of pink stone and white marble.  It was built using traditional materials and techniques, using no steel at all.  The exterior contains relief sculptures of elephants, tells facts about elephants' social lives, and shares parables about elephants.

Inside, there is a shrine to Bhagwan Swaminarayan.  The shrine is magnificent, featuring an 11-foot-high gold-plated statue (murti) of him.  The entire room is gilded and encrusted with gems, and the ceiling and chandelier are beautiful.  Anya was enraptured by this room, since this was the closest thing to pirate/castle/fairy tale treasure that she's ever seen.

There is also an IMAX presentation (which we did not see, knowing that our 2-year-old would not last through the 50-minute film), and a Hall of Values (also 50 minutes) that includes films, robotic figures, and light/sound displays.  Instead, we chose the 15-minute boat ride, the Sanskruti Vihar.  It presents 10,000 years of Indian culture as though you're riding along the river Sarasvati.  Scenes of early bazaars, village life, and India's first university and inventions appear along the boat route.  Anya really enjoyed it, and Kavya was interested in the scenes as we floated by.

We had no idea before visiting that we would spend several hours there -- it really is an extensive experience, and there was another major section under construction that would've added more time.  It is worth visiting, however -- it's a contrast to the older historical sites we've visited, and it was interesting to see how modern India perceives this person/part of history, compared to the interpretations of ancient sites such as Qutab Minar.

* * * * *

We came back to leftovers for lunch from our hotel fridge, and spent the rest of the day quietly.  Kavya napped, and we played in our rooms.  Some dear friends kindly loaned us two Kindles, and they've been great to have on the trip -- we've read the first two Narnia books to Anya, and begun the third, and Peter has been reading Lincoln, the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin (especially when he wakes up early due to time zone issues!).

Bedtime was a little hairy -- I think we started a little too early, and she wanted to play longer.  It reminded us that she is still new to us, and still accustomed to her routine at the orphanage . . . we think she played until she dropped off to sleep in her tracks.  She tends to get kind of hyper when she begins to get tired, then she abruptly crashes into sleep.

We've been discovering so much about her personality this week, and we can't wait for Aaron and Nathan to meet her!  She is a bundle of energy, which we think is part of her personality -- and she's super expressive and animated and FUNNY.  But observing the kids at the orphanage, we also think she has some sensory-seeking behaviors due to her environment there.  The kids were very rough-and-tumble with each other, and climbed the handles of cabinets to get to the windows . . . and then they climbed the security bars on the windows!  It will take her some time to unlearn the playroom rules from there, and learn our house rules.  Hopefully, having brothers and a sister, and a mom and dad who spend time playing with her (not to mention toys), will satisfy her busy-bee nature and active little body.

She has a 1,000-watt smile and laugh, and is a typical 2-year-old who gets focused on  what she wants. Often, that is her toothbrush -- which has come in handy when she's upset or hurt (she slammed her hand in a drawer, for example, and it was the only thing that distracted her).  At bedtime, she kept pointing to her stringing beads, and had a plain old temper tantrum about not being able to play with them at bedtime.  It's good to see that she's feeling comfortable enough to show those kind of feelings with us already.

Kavya is already so much more settled with us -- it shows when she wakes up from sleeping.  The first few days, she was very confused and disoriented, and took a long time to wake up.  She was very cautious and quiet.  Now, she's begun to wake up with a smile, and reach for one of us when she wakes up.  When we go home, she will probably have a few more days waking up confused -- at this point, I'm sure she thinks we live at this hotel, and has no idea we will be going somewhere else.

She is such a little trooper!  What a generous child, to invite us into her heart already.  She already has certain things that consistently make her laugh -- "inside jokes" for us.  She also snuggles up to us at night, and prefers me, Peter, and Alicia to strangers already.  I'm sure some of that because she fears more new things, but it's a gift we don't take for granted.  We have Sumi and the other staff to thank for how well she is doing.  We are so grateful for the way they loved her.  What a blessing for us.


Julie & Patrick said...

Funny, it was the toothbrush that became Treya's first prized possession as well. Kavya's smile DOES melt the heart! My goodness!! It sounds like with a few days under your belt that some of the fears of meeting are dissipating with good bonding in progress for all of you. Yay for that!!


Heather said...

Kavya is precious! Isn't is so much fun to discover the personalities? Can't wait to hear more as the days and weeks progress.

Sarah said...

She does have an amazing smile! Beautiful!!

MiaMyIndianAngel said...

She has a precious smile! Goodness! <3 It's great to hear she's becoming more comfortable with her new family. I noticed at Ryan's orphanage the kids there had some wild moments, too - jumping off tables, running around indoors, etc . Probably due to boredom. But when the nuns said to do something, they did it. And yes, about the hotel life. I was convinced when we came home Ryan thought our home was just another hotel. :) These kids go through some much in the first few weeks of their lives.

Colista said...

I love reading these posts...Kayva is such a lil sweetie... So thankful that it seems to be going well!

Jess said...

Our family loved Frozen. It's been a non-stop sing-a-thon since watching it!

Jess said...

I am so very sorry- my blogger account went weird. My frozen comment was supposed to post on Mary Ostyn's post, but your blog was open in another window. Your daughter is beautiful- congrats!

Jess said...

I am so very sorry- my blogger account went weird. My frozen comment was supposed to post on Mary Ostyn's post, but your blog was open in another window. Your daughter is beautiful- congrats!