Monday, June 30, 2008


We have been having great experiences, but Tara had the camera all day, so various of our snaps ended up not getting taken.

As soon as we ironed all of that out, we found ourselves in Richter's. Richter's is the bar in New Haven that the crew club has frequented for decades now. It has an Old World sort of feel, and is famed for the fact that they serve half yard and yard beers.

Here are some photos:

^ Tara in Richter's.

^ A long shot of one of the walls - notice the oars.

^ An oar. There was a misunderstanding at the bar, and some Cockney English guy with two young women kept yelling at the bartender, "Oars like 'ell, thems me sisters!!" It was purely a misunderstanding.

^ Yale crew.

^ Click for a larger view.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

And onward.....

^ We have left Philly and have arrived in Hamden. Tara's family is well, and they gave Liam a birthday party, which was nice. Pictures forthcoming.

^ We are staying in the Omni hotel. I wrote them a note last year about how I thought that the fact their flame-shaped light bulbs were not covered drew away from the appearance of the hotel (you can see them exposed in the photo above). This year there are covers on the light bulbs. Hard to say if my note made the difference.

I have to laugh that I consider the fact that I wrote that note, just one of the many things that make me crack up when I consider what India has taught me and how I used to think. If India has left me with something new, it is surely a mind with fewer illusions.

With that said, I like the look of the hotel with the small cream colored shades over the flame-shaped light bulbs. Very nice. I'll probably leave another note.

^ I am going to be working in the Bank of America office in New Haven this week. Should be interesting to have the view of Long Island Sound from the top floor, which is where I will be. Here is a shot of the building.

^ New Haven has few claims to fame, but being home to Yale University is certainly the main reason the city is on the map. We are staying on the edge of Yale, and I could take some pictures - but I like these pictures better from years past - when we were here during the winter. It gives a different, more starkly beautiful, feel to the campus and the city. Click on the images for much bigger versions of them.

Included in the pictures is the Skull and Bones Temple, the place where various of our Presidents and others in power have been in a "secret society" together. Having been in a fraternity myself, I don't see these as a big mystery at all, but this particular organization got a great deal of attention when it was acknowledged during the last election cycle that both "W" and John Kerry were both members of this organization in the late 60's. I am pretty sure Barak was not in a secret society, and McCain was in a Viet Cong prison camp during the late 60's. Thus, chances are pretty good that we won't have any of that special intrigue during this election cycle.

It is the second-to-last picture.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

And away we go......

From Charlotte we went to Philly. Nice visit of about 12 hours to some family in Lansdowne, specifically. It was nice to see Uncle Bill, Aunt Sara and cousin Peter, as well as Walker for the first time.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of the boys with Bonzo, our relative's pet Rottweiler. Jonah kissed it on the head as we said goodbye, a very big change from the last time they met, when Jonah and Aidan screamed their heads off in sheer terror.

Sincere thanks to Bill and Sara for their hospitality....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Last day in Charlotte

We saw Aunt Sharron and Uncle Jerry today, great to see them! We'll see cousin Amy later in July, could not manage the logistics this time.

We head up to the North in the morning, without having accomplished everything that we wanted to do, and without seeing everyone we wanted to see....

I went out to lunch today with a large contingent of friends who are here in Charlotte as Tata contractors and I had a great time with them. They were quick with heavy questions like, "Has India changed you?" Wow.

I answered "Asha hai." That means "It is the hope." And I told them that we really enjoyed the amount of zindagi in India - life. They all understood what I meant. Then they said, "So many people in India think this is zindagi [about America]." I said, "No, this is paisa." They laughed. That means "money".

It is a fantastic country here in America, for our American audience, please know that we still care about it deeply.

The nice thing - wherever we go now we feel like we're among the most fortunate family on Earth.


Special thanks to the Skibinbski family for their hospitality! It has been a pleasure to stay at their house, and visit with them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


^ Cricket game, taken from a few years back.


We have made the connection back to life here. It seems a little normal now, although it will never be the same, ever again.

A few reflections:

The streets are empty. After spending time in India, it is a very different scene on the streets here. It seems like a ghost town, even though there are hundreds of thousands of people around us - it is just that so many of us are ensconced in front of a cathode ray tube of one sort or another. Much like I am right now.

Indian colleagues love to hear my Hindi. I tried it out on them yesterday and it lead to many laughs and opened mouths. Very fun. It is interesting, my Hindi is actually pretty good, if I do say so myself.

My Indian colleagues are intrigued by what my thoughts are on life in their country. It is interesting to note, somewhat intuitively, that they are in a reciprocal situation - they are in a land where the sights, sounds, smells, rhythms and everything else is utterly different from what they have been raised in. My prior thought was always that they were excited to be here, and coming to America was purely a great experience for them that started with a sigh of relief and followed non-stop with smiles and enjoyment. Don't get me wrong, these guys love it here - but - they confide in me that they miss having help in the routines of their lives, it seems isolated and lonely at times, and the predictability of things takes some "getting used to".

I'll fully concede - my ignorance was pretty profound that this adjustment to a new culture was only one way....

I asked Tara for a word that depicts her impressions about being back. She said, "It's quiet." I asked if she liked it, she said, "Yes, it's nice."

Jonah said he likes America. When asked what he misses, he said, "My school." Nothing else.

Liam is asleep right now. Aidan said he misses "a bunch of stuff" in India. When asked for specifics, he said he misses "Runway 9" and "my friends". Runway 9 is an amusement center where he was allowed to drive a go-kart - fully within the bounds of Indian norms, and entirely against the good judgment of his father. ;-)

We all really miss our friends back in Hyderabad. For those of you back there - greetings from The Structured Side of the Globe, and we look forward to getting back to the fun of life with all of you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Day at the Office

We spent the day re-engaged with American life. Tara got the van's registration done, and I spent the day at the office. I gave a presentation entitled "Top Five Questions About Living Globally" to a group at the Bank, then we all had an ice cream dessert later in the day at our church, where we got a chance to see everyone and we did a second presentation about our life in India.

The presentation at the Bank was enjoyable, with probably about sixty people attending. It was based upon the questions that we get asked, and the intent of the presentation was to put a positive face on our experience. I began the presentation with the following words:

"...and when we told people that we were moving to India, 10% said with excitement, "Oh, really?!" Another thirty percent said, "Oh.... really? And about sixty percent said, "OH NO, REALLY??!!" [laughs] So, the intent here is to give you some insight into the professional and personal dimensions of this adventure we are having and hopefully shift those percentages...."

By the way, those top five questions are:

What are you doing over there? - i.e., what is the value to the Bank?
What is it like to live in India?
What does your wife do?
How are the kids adjusting and how is their school?
Have you driven in India?

^ Not sure what point i was making here, but I like the picture. Looks like I was dancing.

^ Charlotte has mass transit! A big change since we left. It has been a great success, despite predictions of it being a wasteful boondoggle. Nice development.

^ The group from church. It was great to see everyone and we were glad to share about our lives. Special thanks to Rush for setting this up, it was an authentic pleasure for us, we hope it was for everyone else.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back in the Charlotte

Well, we have arrived. It is amazing in many ways. Kids we have not seen in almost a year have changed, our home has someone else living in it, but most other things have not changed. Most things appear to be...... well, just like they were before.

It is a strange reaction we all had. Jonah said that it seemed like a long time ago. Tara said it seems like had not been in India (I think that was the "It is like a dream" thing) and I felt that a year felt like a year and Charlotte was just about how I remembered it. Aidan is pretty uncomplicated and did not feel too weird, and Liam was pretty quiet.

It is nice to be back. There is something to be said for routine, familiarity, order - all of the things that life in India does not present you with. But, it honestly leaves us with a strange feeling. We will certainly reflect on this as it unfolds and evolves.

Everywhere we go now, we feel like it is appropriate to start with, "We're not in Kansas anymore."

Greetings to everyone following the blog back in India and other points on the globe - we miss everyone! Greetings also to everyone following it stateside, we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Neuschwanstein Castle

We went to Neuschwanstein Castle today. It was the home of King Ludwig the II. He died along with his personal physician in a lake here in Bavaria under mysterious circumstances. His castle was never finished, but what parts were finished were very impressive, including a room dedicated to operas, specifically for Wagner. It was a great tour for the kids, and the first time everyone in the family (minus me) saw the Alps. Really nice coutry this Germany - so clean!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We're in Munich and it's really cool. I came here first in 1989 with Dave Gewant during our backpacking escapade through Europe. Then I was here with Bob Nowak last year, en route to India. Now here with the family. In each situation I have seen the Glockenspiel. It's awesome to reflect on these long periods of time between visits to the same place.

Some details.... and fyi, some pictures are from the last day in Hyderabad.

^ Aidan really enjoys friendships. He and a bunch of kids went to a video arcade after the last day of school. I thought this was a brilliant picture, great smile.

^ Tara got mahendi done on her hands before we left. Akbar's sisters came over and did it. It ended up being a women gathering in the living room. For the uninitiated, it is henna. And for those who will see us soon, you'll see this first hand.

^ Liam on the top of St. Peter's church in downtown Munich.

^ A view from the top of this same church. I kept looking out the window and whispering, "You've won, Charlie! You've passed the test! The chocolate factory is yours!"

^ Aidan feeling the stir of his half-Catholic heritage.

^ Now, remember..... we just spent the year in Hyderabad. And despite the fact we had the time of our lives, we never saw a guy with a baby grand piano on the streets. Europe is just great.

^ Tara at the top of St. Peter's church. Beautiful.

^ The family at the Hofbrau House. Jonah fell asleep, so we had an empty beer glass and had a laugh!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Made it..... [yawn].

More soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008


...beautiful India. We will miss you, but we will be back. We have seen your arid, camel-laden Rajasthan, your Kerala melange, the exhilirating and shocking sights, smells and vistas within Hyderabad, a tear on the cheek of history ~ your Taj Mahal, 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 Hyderabad.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


One of our young technologists is spending time in Atlanta as part of his role. He reached out to me last night and gave me his impressions. When you are from the small town of Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh, and on your first visit to the US, you are struck by many things. Overall, he is really enjoying it.

^ This is Stone Mountain, in Georgia. The carving in the background is of General Lee, leader of the Southern states during our Civil War. Consistent with my "connected world" theme, this picture says more than a thousand words. Click for a better view.

^ This picture really struck me. Probably don't need to say very much on this.... but, it must be quite a shock when you come from a place like India.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back in the US... back in the US... back in the US...A

^ Before we left for India, we had a huge party in our backyard where we had a baby tiger and a monkey - consistent with the India move theme.

Here are some pictures.

Aidan's head has the monkey, and I have the tiger.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More on the election poster

Not sure if anyone saw took much more than a passing glance at the election poster in yesterday's entry, but it actually is pretty informative. One thing that may catch your eye is the guys (and note that except for Mother Teresa, it is all guys) are not smiling, for the most part.

That is one thing that one must get used to in India. Not all snapshots are done with a smile, and as such - assuming you have been raised to expect a smile in every photo - it makes people look glum. Not that they are sad, it's just that smiling for a photo is not always expected here. And in a way that is more honest, no?

Let's look....

^ Now, Mother Teresa and Gandhiji are both smiling. As people leading a spiritual life, they are remembered as smiling people. Even though Gandhi was not always as attentive a father as he could have been (as depicted in Gandhi My Father, a film we watched a few weeks back), and despite the fact that Mother Teresa had a serious crisis of faith during her years in Calcutta (as discussed at length in the Indian media during our first few months on the ground, very interesting stuff), they are remembered as smiling people. And as such, they are smiling on the poster.

^ Then there is Abdul Kalam. Most of you may know nothing of Abdul Kalam, but when I started to get involved with India, I did some research, and this colorful character was someone I learned a bit about. He is the Father of India's Nuclear Bomb. A Muslim, he is an ardent supporter of India having a strong hand against its enemies, especially Pakistan. He is a brilliant scientist, and an intriguing guy. And he has the coolest hair cut of any Indian politician that I know. But doesn't his smile look a bit diabolical? Almost like it should be with a small chuckle and he would be hear to utter the words "Die you Pak thugs.... hee, hee, hee...."

^ Then there are the faces of politicians, both of yesteryear and today - completely devoid of a smile. I am not sure who any of them are, but they are consistent with each other in their (honest) snapshot of no-smile. Great stuff.

Again, if you come froma culture where every snap must be one in which people look gleeful, despite the fact they may not be, this is a downer - until you come to know that it is ok. They are just fine. You just don't need to smile all of the time.

^ To finish, here are Indu and Padmaja. Padmaja was raised in Arkansas during part of her youth (I really need to sit down with her and have a lengthy talk about what it was like to be "the Indian girl" in Arkansas during the seventies and eighties), and Indu has spent a substantial chunk of her life in the US, including in Charlotte. They have mastered the smile thing, although they are perhaps "first generation snap smilers".

As the world gets smaller, I think the smiles will win, but will that be a good thing? Ho saktha hai.

Time will tell.

By the way, the picture below serves to reinforce our belief that Aidan is an Indian after all.