Friday, August 31, 2007

Week one at ISH

The boys have finished their first week of school today. Monday and Tuesday were called off due to the bombings over the weekend. Wednesday through Friday were the days they had at school. A few notes:

Liam got invited to someone's house this weekend. That really feels great that he has made a contact.

Aidan comes home with a friend tally (he always does this, he came home from camp with the number 72), and he has about 6 friends now.

Jonah comes home and falls right asleep. He is tight lipped about school. But he was smiling broadly when he got on the bus this morning, good sign.

ISH is a nice school - Liam goes to a different campus out more in the countryside, the boys are on a main road. Liam's school is beautiful, but under construction. Just like his school in Charlotte - always under construction.....

Overall, a good week one!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A reflection

We have enough in the way of experiences under our belt that taking a step back and reflecting on our experiences is merited at this point.

We have had tumult, tantrum, laughs, sadness, excitation, awe, and so many other feelings since we have arrived. This has proven to be what we expected - an experience that would expand us, test us, enrich us, alter us, and fulfill us. This is a very different land, and expsoure to a different culture can only make you a more thoughtful person.

There are many things about India which are shocking. It has been said that India is an assault on the senses. It is indeed that. And not every sensory intrusion is a pleasant one. You can honestly say that there are things you'd never see anywhere else in the world.

We do see our home country in a different light. When there are so many merits to American life, it has become all the more puzzling that there are such divisions and ugliness in the public sphere back in the US. I think we may be losing our sense of gratitude about being Americans. That will be a huge loss, if true.

I believe that the boys are being enriched by this experience. They are in class with children from many other places - the Phillipines, Malaysia, Europe, Russia, South Africa are but a few of the places that the expat kids are from. I believe and hope our sons will be better prepared for the world that is coming - a world in which everyone will live in greater proximity and, one hopes, cooperation.

Overall, a step back produces a nice picture - just like the photo above which shows an early sunset at Golconda Fort here in town.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We really do have a choice, if we only submit to being lead....

It's about 11:30 pm IST, and I am the only one awake in the house. I was watching cricket (I only follow about half of the game's rules, but it seems pretty simple) when it all started. All the doors started shutting and opening on their own. No matter what your view of life is, a door moving on its own appeals to a very basic part of the human psyche. It is always a bit of a fearful feeling. So, it was all the more wierd because it was happening to me, the only awake guy. And one must remember that I am on the other side of the planet, to boot.

Then the lightning started and all of the lights in the house went out.

So, I pick my blackberry up and decide that I am going to write a blog entry entitled "Monsoon Blues". This is the end of the monsoon here in Andhra Pradesh, and it's the reason the wind kicked into the house and the power is out.

But, then I decided to come out here. I am sitting out on one of our covered patios. We live in a pretty neat place, multiple patios.

There are about six huge slabs of white marble underneath me. They are the massive floor of this patio. We live in Jubilee Hills, so I am looking down into the city of Hyderabad. It's like any vista from above a city - impressive. The rain is coming down in sheets, and there is a mist blowing into the depth of the patio where I am sitting. There are two huge columns in front of me on the edge of the patio. They are neither Ionic nor Doric nor Corinthian. They are - Indic. I am not sure if that is the right term, but if it is not, it should be. I am bright enough for neology - I think.

I responded to the doors and the wind and the rain and the blackout in absolutely the wrong way. I was being gently ushered out onto this incredible spot by the Gentle Hand who has provided me this amazing experience, as well as given me the priviledge of being with those four amazing people currently in their beds. The same Gentle Hand that has allowed adversity in my life to be replaced with graceful rest - again and again and again.

I was all wrong.

It's about being lead.....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another festival....

Today is a Hindu festival called Rakhi, where brothers and sisters celebrate each other (but it appears to be a bit more about boys). Liam, Aidan and Jonah had the bracelets put on by the daughters of one of the women who works "upstairs". It was nice.

The kids finally start school tomorrow. Huge relief for Tara, she has been stir crazy.....

Monday, August 27, 2007


As we seek to have life return back to normal, (but can it ever?) I have taken note that there is a festival going on around us. India seemingly has a festival every other day, and this one is named Onam. It originates in the state of Kerala. I have been there, it is India's Hawaii - the green and lush place everyone aspires to visit. It is a major honeymoon spot. Europeans called it the "Malabar Coast" or "The Spice Coast" a few hundred years back.

This Kerala-originating festival is in celebration of the arrival of spring. One neat aspect of it is that men paint their bodies, very often as a tiger.

It is said that all humanity is connected if you go back far enough. Consider this picture of a Pict, an ancient Celtic warrior from the British isles. The Pict's body has a lion's face painted on it..... A notable similarity to the Onam paintings, but also very different in that the lion's face was meant to invoke fear during battles. I think the tiger is meant to represent virility.

Thanks to everyone who is reading the blog - I have heard from Rush, Laurie, Mom, Dad, Eleanor Moore, friends back at Selwyn Avenue - it has been good to hear from you and I am glad to blog is being read!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sad day in Hyderabad

Life went on pretty much as normal for us today. We spent the day as a family and enjoyed it. But there is a real sense of sadness here after the bombings last night. So much wasted life, so senseless, so crazy....

We are trying to figure out how we need to adjust to life here in light of the threat that these terrorists have introduced. I hope we don't give in to the desire to cloister ourselved off in our home all of the time. It's such a fantastic place.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Two sites in Hyderabad were hit by bombs last night.

It's a beautiful morning here (it's Sunday now), very incongruous with the fact that 44 people lost their lives last night. More than 100 were injured.

Horrible thing. It'll change how we approach life here....

Tara and I were up on our patio upstairs and heard one of the blasts. There is so much in the way of construction around here that you write it off to that. But it was the bomb. More than 5 miles from our home, we still heard it.

Pray for the lost.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A funny thing happened on the way to the bureaucracy today.....

Today we spent our day getting registered with the Indian government.

First thing that was out of the ordinary was the fact that the waiting room, filled with people from various countries, was about 50% Somalian. I did not expect that. I wonder what they do here.

When we finally sat down in front of the bureaucrat who signed our papers and interviewed us, he hit me up for a job. He said he had been working in that office for 32 years, was retiring, and wanted to go into public relations. I gave him my number and said to call me. What else do you say to someone who could send you back to America with the stroke of a pen?

I am not sure what I would do if he actually was to call me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nice thing

This evening before dinner, we had a nice moment. We were sitting inside and feeling a bit stir crazy. The day had been made up of getting papers moved from one place to another in the interest of getting our air freight out of customs, as well as preparing for our registration at the Foreigners' Registration Office (tomorrow). It was a fragmented day followed by a lack of options (it appears the painters damaged our cable TV, which is mostly in a language we don't understand anyway).

We were sitting there and Tara asked Liam and Jonah where Aidan was. They said "out front". So we went to see what he was up to.

He was playing catch with the daughter of our servants, throwing the ball to her by bouncing it off of his head. She is extremely cute and appears to be about five. She laughed at everything that he did, a real chuckle of delight. She probably has been bored with not having any other kids to play with, and I sense she is ushered away from us often (I had never seen her before tonight).

It was a special moment. Only Aidan could have pulled it off.

We sat out there for a while. We all smiled, all of the expats and our "help" having a relaxing moment watching youthful glee. It was heart-lifting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It was about more than watermelon...

A moment at breakfast today that tugged at the heart strings....

We were having breakfast today and Aidan was characteristically picky. He would not eat the dosas that Leena made (and they were fantastic, his loss). He wanted to eat the watermelon that was in the kitchen on the table. We gave in and gave Leena the go-ahead to slice it up for him.

She came out like 30 seconds later and said "I am sorry, the watermelon is spoiled." In our words, it was rotten, but the message was clear.

Aidan looked at me, then looked at Tara, and his eyes started to well up with tears. His bottom lip started to quiver. Then he ran upstairs.

It was his turn to have the "Why did we come here, I want to go home!" experience. It was his first and only, thus far. He was fine a short bit later.

This is definitely an adjustment.

When I came home tonight the whole family was having a grand time playing War (the card game).


By the way, Aidan had a fresh watermelon for lunch, I made sure of it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Can some please explain to me....

...what exactly we did to receive such deference from these people?

When we walk into a room, people stand up. People that have been painting our place, or doing their work on a computer, or on their knees killing ants for us.

It's really an odd feeling.

I am excited for when we can put photos on the blog. Should be soon, we hope!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Interesting experience

Today I brought the boys to Golconda Fort so that they could experience it. It is an amazingly large and old structure, and it is built around Hyderabad's characteristic boulders.

At about 6:45, every masjid in the city did a call to prayer all at once. Based upon where we were, it was a veritable cacophony. There must have been a few dozen and we could hear every one.

It was a very unique experience. But, in the current geo-political-theological climate, I'd be lying if I didn't also say it was a bit chilling.

We were at the highest point of the fort, and off in another and lower section of the fort there was a man praying to the sun, arms spread out. Hindus have a spiritual reverence for the sun, they pray to the "Surya".
After these experiences, Liam showed the first signs of appreciating what an experience this is.... which was nice.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Verse for Today

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him." - John 1:49

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Kicking in....

The emotions are starting to kick in.

Tara is having a difficult time and Liam is, too. Aidan and Jonah are so incredibly adaptable that it's almost as if they were not even in a new place.

Tara is having a hard time being so incomplete. Everything is in flux. We need a driver, a cell phone, a clock, a pan to cook in, and on and on. We've been stripped of our ability to control our surroundings as much as we want, so it's very trying. Today was a day defined by difficulty.

For Liam, it's a shock. After a summer of friends and fun, camp in New Hampshire and an environment where he was comfortable, he is dealing with a variety of emotions, very few of them enjoyable.

Today was a hard day.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Help....

We're in our home now. It's like a whole new journey. The hotel takes care of so many things, it's frankly easy to live in that setting, but this is a whole different deal.

We have people who live on the property with us. Not Mr. And Mrs. Goel, I don't mean them. They are a politician and his wife who live on the third floor and own the place. I am talking about the help. There are numerous people who live here in different capacities. Some are security, some are cleaners, some lift things, and some do.... well, I am not sure what they do. But they live in different sections of the dwelling that is next to the driveway. There is some sort of catacomb-like dwelling down there that has rooms. It's really..... different. Actually, let me say it - it's wierd.

There is a couple from rural Andhra Pradesh named Chandramohli ("Mohli" for short) and Padma. They are our help, 100% dedicated to us. They have a daughter who appears to live on the property, as well. And they have a daughter being raised by grandparents in their home village out in the country. I smile at Mohli often (I know enough not to smile at women here) and thank him in Hindi. I want him to know that I don't think of him as a lesser being. But, he has probably been told his whole life that he is lesser.

Suffice it to say that there is a very different configuration here in terms of how life is arranged, and the lessons have begun for us. We will surely learn a great deal while we are here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Well, one of us caught it. Liam woke up at 5 am and puked his guts out. There's really no better way to say it. It's what he did. Who knows what he ate.

He is the first, but we shall all get it. It's like a gastro-intestinal right of passage that you must experience to live here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mickey D's

Before you roll your eyes that we went to McDonald's today, keep your mind open. It was pretty neat.

We were coming back from the visit to our home, and we saw a large shopping center. We asked the driver to come stop and we shot up to the restaurant.

Interesting things about this McDonald's. No pork and no beef. Yes, it had neither. If it had pork, the Muslims would not eat there, and if it had beef, many Hindus would not eat there. So, it has various options that were unique. Like McChicken Tikki, a spicy roasted chicken sandwich. And a McVeggie Burger. And a Spicy Paneer Wrap. It was really interesting.

Also, it seems to be a hip place to be. People were taking each others pictures in the place! Also, there was a walk-up window outside of the restaurant where you had to get your food if you were not eating inside. Note that I said walk-up, not drive up.

Most interesting point of all - they actually deliver to your home if you want them to.

It'll be a rare event, but we may just want a visit every once in a while to the evil global oligopoly of McDonald's.

Honestly, much of what we've been doing is taking on India slowly. It's important to feel some things of familiarity early on in an expat experience. It helps to make the transition a reasonable process. Tara now knows she will have the ability to decorate our place with nice things. This is one of her pleasures in life, so she now knows she can maintain that. The kids have seen countless beggars come to their window at stop lights, so a small taste of American french fries helps give comfort. In this process, McDonald's was a true help.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


It's Tara : Day two. We are really enjoying the hotel, but it will be nice when we're out of it. The boys are impressed with how nice everybody is to them, especially Aidan. We went on our first shopping excursion. Really nice stuff, excited to go to Fabindia more often.

The kids all bought new Indian shirts which look very cute. Aidan bought two pairs of pants, one of them was orange and Indian in style. Soooo cute!

Hopefully tomorrow we will have a new driver that speaks or at least understands English a bit better. Our guy today was barely conversant.

We feel like we're in suspended animation until we're in the house.

Monday, August 13, 2007

We're here!

We spent time getting used to our new surroundings today. We brought Aidan and Jonah to their school at the International School of Hyderabad. The primary school campus is near our hotel. They seemed to like it. It'll be even better when there are various kids running around and the normal hustle and bustle of activity.

We also went to our home. We started moving furniture around and got a sense of what we can do with the place. It'll be nice, but it will require work.

Liam and I went to see Charminar via a rickshaw. It was pretty neat, but the air quality was pretty nasty. I think we'll get in a rickshaw in the future during non-rush hour traffic.

Overall, nice to be here. Excited!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Writing to you from the lounge in Frankfurt.

The family is tired and that means one thing - cranky kids. Everyone is pretty beat, except me. Coffee truly is a nectar of the gods, as my father-in-law often says.

Aidan sat next to me on the plane and asked me several times, "What time is it?". When you're over the Atlantic on a three-legged journey, you have to pause before answering this question. I asked, "What time where?". He didn't really click with that. I used Germany time to respond. US plus 5.

So far, so good.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


...beautiful America. We will miss you, but we will be back. We have seen your green South, your Vermont in autumn, your Teton and Wasatch ranges, your City by the Bay, your deserts and rain forests, and a countless variety of other things of wonder and beauty. We have loved your people and your goodness. We look forward to seeing you again, shortly.

We will watch you recede off in the wake with a longing in our hearts.

* Written from the Charlotte airport.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New blog....

This will be where we track our adventures on the other side of the planet.

Enjoy! We love all of you, we'll keep you updated through this blog!