Wednesday, April 30, 2008


We may be moving into a new place come August. Working it now... details to come. Then again, we may not. Tara says it's quite premature even to discuss it (she has complete ownership of the possibility of a move). I agree, but I had to write something today.....

The above house is not the house we may move into, it is just a Google image that came up in the search for this neighborhood. Our friends actually live in this house. Look Nia - you're Googleable!

By the way, when it was 42 degrees here today, it hit 42 degrees in Charlotte - on the *other* scale. We pined for the coolness of a 42 degree night as we roasted in a 42 degree day in India.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dogs and Cows

^ Tara's charity group went to look at a possible place they could help - a shelter for wild dogs and cows, of which there are many in Hyderabad. Some pictures below. This place holds dogs for a while, gives them their shots and sterilizes them, and eventually lets them go back into the community if no one adopts them, which is uncommon in Indian culture. They clip the right ear of the dogs to identify them as a sterilized and medically treated dog.

Monday, April 28, 2008


This is a video of my Hindi. I say:

Mai tori Hindi baat kar saktha hun. Meri Hindi khabi khabi bahut aachi hai, aur khabi khabi meri Hindi bahut qharab hai. Laikin mai Hindi pasand kartha hun. Kyun? Mujhko nahi maloum. Mai Hindi mein likh raha hun aur padh raha hun. Meri Hindi teacher ka naam Abdul hai. Wo tin din har hafte mera makaan ko aate hain.

This means:

I can speak a bit of Hindi. Sometimes my Hindi is very good, and sometimes my Hindi is very bad. But I like Hindi. Why? I don't know. I am also reading and writing in Hindi. My Hindi teacher's name is Abdul. He comes to my house three days every week.

I am sure there are issues with it, but I feel that I am getting more capable....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Map to our house in Hyderabad

It's the house right above the "No" in Rd No 23A.

View Larger Map

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Art and Music Show

The boys had an art and music show last night. In it you can see
Liam's, Aidan's and Jonah's art work. All really good. The outstanding
roses and table scene are from Brenda Bae, a girl in the high school.

From other than the boys....

Aidan was in the choir, the only one of the boys to take part in the music part of the festival. I took some candid shots of Tara, Jonah and Liam watching the music. Notice how Tara and Jonah share a face.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


One nice thing about being here is that mangoes come into season. They are everywhere. The guys with the carts are pushing them around, they are falling from trees, they are in the stores - and they are great. They look different than the kind we generally get in the US. They are yellow. And they are covered with imperfections on the outside, but the inside is great.

In the US, you get used to the idea that you can have anything you want during any time of the year. The result is those terrible pink tomatoes that crunch and the other things that are forced. It's nice to be in a place where you have something as part of a rhythm of life. We all knew mangoes were coming for weeks prior to their arrival. They were hanging from trees all over the place. There were excited statements about how they would be here soon..... Anticipation.

It is interesting to be connected with your food more closely than in life back in the US. And mangoes are a fantastic addition to one's diet. We're really enjoying it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


It was 41 today. That is 105.8 degrees in the Farenheit system. Our air conditioner in our bedroom broke and just got fixed.

It's only going to get hotter. April is hot, May is hottest. It actually gets cooler through June, July and August as monsoon kicks in.

Oh, my.... it's really hot.

You know how people say "Well, it is dry heat, not very humid - not as bad." There is a point where that is no consolation. We're in the "It's just freaking crazy hot..." mode of conversation lately.

Enjoy the '80s you Americans!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ever see.... of these? It's a tennis racket-shaped device that you charge and it carries an electric current. You wave it around in the air and kill mosquitoes, who pop to death in the electrified meshing.

We buy them from the people who come to the car window and sell their wares. They are an interesting lot - very smart. When the city banned tinted windows, these folks *the next day* started to sell those little black shades that suction on to your car window. Anyway, one time a kid walked up to the car window selling these rackets and gave a demo - sticking a nail in the meshing and making it spark. Yeooow!

Tara and I virtually live on our patio, so this is a key device for us. Very useful in a place with a bunch of mosquitoes - and Hyderabad has loads of 'em. We can spot and kill a mosquito now in an almost Bruce Lee-like fashion. Very fast.

Veni, vici, ****zap*** pop.

Anita's sister Sooselia (sp?) works for us full time now, and I think her job is to supply me coffee or chai all morning and to take care of Tara and the kitchen throughout the day. Well, one time she stood behind Tara on the porch at night and just waved this thing around Tara's vicinity, gently killing mosquitoes. It was both funny and odd to watch. Tara was really uncomfortable with the event in an amused sort of way.

Yes, this all seems fantastical and odd..... and, it is. It is India.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Updated travel map

We, as a family, have now been to 14% of the planet's countries. What is the criterion for saying we have been somewhere? I call it the "toe tag test".

Here it is.... If a person was hit by a meteor in a given place, and the tag on their toe in the morgue had that country as "place of death", then they have been there.

Tara says this is not a good criteria, because I slept on a train through Belgium many years ago. Maybe, but since the toe tag test is the single criterion for a country being included in our list - then, I count it.

It is a total of 32 countries.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another interesting shot

On the same day I brought my camera into work (I did it to film the pooja ceremony that was to bless our new building, security took it from me so you'll never see pictures of it) I saw this large amount of refuse on the side of the road....

^ I saw this huge mound of plastic piled on the edge of the street. I then noticed that it started to move and had a pink sari on....

^ As it started to move, I realized it was a woman carrying an amount of plastic that was at least 4 times the scale of her body. Check it out. She crossed the street in a wavering way, but she did make it. I don't think she could see anything, just her feet.

In India, necessity is indeed the mother of invention in ways that can really surprise you.

Somewhat consistent with the corn guy that I put on the blog in March....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Have you heard of....

.... Flat Stanley? Apparently there is a book that has a boy named Flat Stanley (he was run over by a steam roller). It is now an important part of youth culture world over (not sure if they do this in the US) to travel with a Flat Stanley and bring him to exotic ports of call.

Here you see Flat Stanley at lunch in Singapore.

This one was for Aidan (not our Aidan, our friends Sylvette and Warde have another, vastly less pigmented Aidan), whose Flat Stanley has been to Europe, the east and west coasts of the US, and now Malaysia and Singapore.

He made a good travel companion.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


^ We call them "water buffaloes", because we are most familiar with the African cousin from Wild Kingdom and Animal Planet. But in India, they are simply "buffaloes". Not a great deal of wading going on in hot Hyderabad these days.

This is a picture I took of buffaloes walking down the street outside of space-age HITEC City. This was on the way to work and it happens often. Several times a day Akbar swerves around a guy with fifty goats, a pack of unaccompanied buffaloes, or cows standing in the middle of the road chewing cud. It authentically doesn't cause any response from the local population - this is simply how roads are used. The old and the new, the cars and the goats ~ co-mingled.

Fascinating place this India.

The buffaloes provide the milk that is used to make dahi (yogurt), drinking milk, cheese, etc. New news to us a few months back that we were ingesting their milk.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tara's angst in context

Ok, it's Byl. A little detail. I called Tara from Mumbai (my home away from home) and asked why she had such a tense entry on the blog. She said she had two power outages during the act of typing about a pulled muscle, and kept having to retype it. I gave her a pep talk about the blog, and how it is supposed to be a nice way of keeping friends and family updated........ So, then I find one of her earlier blog entry attempts auto-saved when I logged on today. It is below. Much nicer......

Yes, I did pull a muscle. Who does that?

I really did enjoy it and am really excited to continue with this. I just need a couple of days though. I can't believe I have lived in India for over eight months and have just started this. They put a lot of emphasis on meditation. And I still pulled a muscle.

I gave Tara my thoughts on yoga having a side that emphasizes stuff I think of as metaphysically unhealthy...... she laughed and said, "You know me, I never pay attention to that kind of thing. I am there for the stretching and exercise." She is truly an amazing creature.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I did in fact pull a muscle doing yoga. Thanks Byl for sharing that with the world!
I just can't beleive I was in India 8 months before I even
tried this. It is awesome. They put a lot of emphasis on meditation and yet I still pulled a muscle! I will continue though. Maybe I will write about that again sometime, for I do love to write in the blog, NOT!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wounded Taroga

Tara pulled an abdominal muscle in yoga. She'll update everyone soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Essay from October trip

We walked up to a Hindu temple on the property of the nature preserve. It was a small temple, but like all of the temples in India, it showed signs of care and attention. Although no devotees were present, there were fresh flowers sprinkled around the feet of the resident statue, and a fresh coat of red dust covered the same statue, which had four arms. The gods had certain distinct features, one of them clearly was the presence of extra appendages. We walked around the temple. We had not spent much time in any north Indian temples, so we noticed that it was a bit different than the ones we had seen in Hyderabad. This place had columns despite its small size, and it had an elevated porch of some sort. We all walked up a few stairs onto the raised porch and stood there for a while. It afforded you greater visibility of the surrounding areas in the nature preserve. It was serene, free of the rush and hustle of the India we dealt with every day. It was strangely quiet - then I put my finger on it. No car horns. We could not hear anyone beeping. I considered that it was probably a full 100 days since we had last been outdoors without the near or far sound of cars honking. It was nice. We soaked it in.

I looked down from the elevated porch. There were a few other tourists standing down at the ground level. I tried to see what they were doing, as they were all standing around looking at something. Then I noticed that there was a deer standing in front of them.

"Oh, boys, look!" I said in a hushed voice. "A deer has walked up to those people. Check it out!" My voice was that loud whisper where you had a hard time containing your enthusiasm and it was hard to refrain from a full yell.

We watched the people and the deer for a while longer. All of the boys had pulled close to me and were looking down at it, as well. It was strange the way the people were acting, they were not in awe of the deer, and one woman was turning away to look at the nearby lake. She started to walk away.

"Is it a statue?" asked Aidan.

"I don't think so," I whispered, still excited. But I was starting to become confused.

"No, I saw its tail move a second ago," added Liam.

I wasn't sure what was going on. I started to walk down the steps to ground level, intent on figuring out what the deal was with the deer. I considered for a quick second that it might be a few guys in a suit pretending to be a deer, then I chuckled to myself. Still capable of ridiculous thoughts.

We got down to the group of people. Sure enough, it was a real deer, It was just standing there. The boys and I stood there in front of it. Jonah made the first move, walking up to the deer. It didn't move.

"Don't touch it," I said quickly. I feared disease, but also remembered footage of a deer attacking a hunter on some bad television show named something like "When Animals Go Berserk".

Tara walked up from where she had taken a brief walk. She stood next to us. Jonah was standing directly in front of the deer. He looked back over his shoulder at us. He had a mad look on his face. "I want to pet it," he declared firmly.

"No," I repeated.

Tara stated in a puzzled voice, "I'm not sure I even understand what is going on here. Why is there a deer here?"

"I have no idea," I told her.

A huge blond woman next to us in a German accent said, "The deer lives here in the temple. I think a holy man takes care of it." She was smoking.

"It's domesticated?" I asked.

She did not know the word, I think. But she got the idea and she said, "Our guide says it lives here." She turned away from me and kept looking at the deer. "I don't know why," she said. She took a substantial pull from her cigarette. The deer moved its ears and tail, but it made no attempt to move away.

Our guide walked up to us. "Khadir, what is this deer doing here?"

He smiled a big smile. “It lives here. The sadhu who keeps the temple has raised it.” His voice was low, although I had a suspicion that we were all speaking in hushed tones more out of reverence than any true possibility of scaring the deer away.

The deer was very beautiful. It had the gentle brown eyes that one remembers from childhood, and there was no sense of fear in the deer. It walked one step up to Jonah and started to move its head down. Jonah stood still and gave out a small sound of uncertainty and mild fear, but stood his ground. Liam looked at me with uncertainty. Tara started to say something.

Jonah reached up and touched the deer’s head. He gently patted the deer in the area right above its nose. It lifted its head, then lowered it again. It sat still and Jonah touched it again. All fears and confusion we had had were lost in this moment, when it seemed entirely natural for a young boy and a deer to be connecting in this way. Simply because something was unprecedented and unexpected does not mean that it will be bad or difficult, India had already taught us that time and again. But here was a deer that was comfortable in the presence of humans, this was a bit beyond anything we had thought would have happened during our trip into this nature preserve.

“You mean it lives here?” I asked, a strong tone of surprise in my voice.

“Yes. It lives here,” he replied, with a look on his face that said, “Why do you wonder so?” As if a deer living in a temple raised by an ascetic was an ordinary thing here. Then again, ordinary had very different boundaries in India. Ordinary began far prior to anything you would see in the US, and in India ordinary’s end was a vague destination somewhat off the seeable horizon. Jonah was petting the deer between its eyes and Aidan walked over and started to pet it on the mid-section. Liam walked up and touched it gently on the neck, then backed up and stood next to us.

"Why is this deer here?" he asked.

"No one seems sure," I answered, truthfully. I am not sure anyone really knew, and those people closest to the details, like Khadir, saw nothing exceptional in the reality of a tame deer living in this temple.

The deer turned and started to walk away from us, toward the back of the temple. As it walked, Jonah walked next to it. It started to walk a little faster. He walked faster, too. It started to run and he screeched in delight. He ran after it, but Tara yelled, "Jonah! Get back here!" This froze him in his tracks and he turned to us with a look of anger on his face. The deer stopped and turned, looking back at Jonah and at us as if to ask why Jonah could not play.

"This just keeps getting weirder and weirder," I muttered.

Tara laughed. "Curioser is the word, I think," she stated with a smile. "Go ahead, honey," she told Jonah. He changed from grimace to smile in an instant, then turned to run after the deer.

Jonah yelled. We chuckled. We sat down as he jumped and danced around with the deer for several minutes. Eventually something more wild, or perhaps more tame, came out in the deer and it wandered away from Jonah a bit faster than he could keep up and it went off into some high grass. It sauntered away. Jonah walked back to us, dripping with sweat and smiling. "Can we go?" he asked.

Tara and I looked at each other.

"Um, yeah. Yes, I suppose we can," I responded, still incredulous to the events that had transpired.

As we got up Tara asked Jonah if he enjoyed playing with the deer. He said yes, he had.

No doubt.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First guests

^ We've had our first house guests - Shawn and Lilly. They are from New Haven, where she is a yoga instructor and massage therapist. He is an architect. We have never me them before. She is friends with a couple of Tara's friends. They are helping to build an orphanage in Andhra Pradesh and then will attend a wedding in Karnataka. Interestingly, Lilly's father is from India (as stated in earlier essays, India can produce just about any appearance). During their month in India, they decided to make a trip to Hyderabad to say hello to us on their way to Vijaywada, in eastern AP - the location of the orphanage. We moved them right in and they stayed for two days.

Tara brought them to the old city, and they got a chance to see our life here, which is a different experience than a hotel would have provided them.

It was great to have visitors from the US, a real pleasure.

Friday, April 11, 2008

They're back!!

^ The horn guys came to the gate again. Fourth time. I am still not clear on why they blast their tunes into the property. It appears to be something Hindu religious, but I think it has more to do with the rupees I give them to go away.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More shoes

^ I left another pair of shoes somewhere, this last time in Singapore. It fulfills some need I have to stay connected with those places where I have been. This was an old and largely defunct pair of running shoes. Liam has 10.5 sized shoes now, but he has a newer pair. So, we left these in Singapore in a mall.

The romantic ideas about where they will be next used is a flat endeavor - some cleaning guy probably found them and threw them out within an hour.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Tara has started taking yoga.... more to come.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wizard of Oz

^ I cannot believe that I have not yet put up pictures of the ISH production of the Wizard of Oz. It was a great time, look at the pictures. About a month or so back.

Aidan was a member of the singing contingent, so I guess that would make him part of The Lollipop Guild. And Jonah was some dancing sprite in another community of little people. They both loved the role, and Aidan had lines - the guy that said, "No way, no how" at the gates of Oz. Some pictures are from backstage.

Indeed, we are not in Kansas anymore.

A few pix from Singapore

^ While in Singapore, we went to the obligatory zoo visit on the "Night Safari". During this, they drive you around the zoo at night and the animals are in dimly-lit natural areas. It was pretty cool.

In the end, they drop you off in an area with restaurants, gift shops - and natives blowing butane out of their mouths into lit torches. It was great!

I was called onto stage and was asked to ram a lit torch down a natives throat to put it out, which I gladly did. I swear, there was no illusion to it, I truly stuck the torch into this guy's head. These guys are just wild men who do this sort of thing for a living. Awesome!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Something you may not have known

While in Mumbai I wandered onto this statue. I read the plaque and it mentioned the Parsi community. This is a small sliver of India that I knew little about, although I was aware of them. I decided to learn a little more.

The Parsis came to India as religious refugees from Persia. They worship in something called "Fire Temples".

They are Zoroastrians, which is an ancient religion from Iran that believes that the spiritual world is ruled by two competing kingdoms - one good and one bad.

They put their dead on pillars called Towers of Silence, where vultures eat their bodies. They don't practice burial or cremation.

They have the highest literacy rate of any Indian group, more than 96% can read. Less than 65% of Indians as a whole can read.

They make up .0006% of India's population, but the Tata family, one of the most wealthy and influential in India, are Parsis. Their company makes steel, does computer consulting (I worked with them for years), grows tea, and just bought Jaguar as a car brand. Their influence far outweighs their numbers.

Freddy Mercury from Queen was a Parsi.

For those of you with a higher brow - Zubin Mehta is a Parsi.

^ Ratan Tata, he just snagged Jaguar as a brand for the family empire

^ JRD Tata, Ratan's father (now deceased). He shows how Parsis can often look very "non-Indian", although the longer one lives here, one starts to learn that an Indian can look like just about anything..... except perhaps a Norwegian.

Well, there you have it. A little lesson about the Parsi community here in India.

Hope you enjoyed it.