Friday, October 31, 2008


That you may get to know him better, here are some snaps.... he's a great dog - we're really enjoying him.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am in Mumbai again and it is a bit different this time. I have a guard!

Now, these are young and mild-mannered Indian guys. Not particularly intimidating or strong, and they don't have guns. Honestly, in a rage I could probably crush these guys myself. So, what would a crowd of marauding Marathis do to them?

What are marauding Marathis, you ask?

In Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is, there is a long-standing political movement called Shiv Sena (also known as MNS) headed by a guy named Raj Thackery. This movement is one where the Maharashtrians are standing together against foreigners. But these days in Mumbai, "foreigners" are Indians from other states, especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. There have been some recent serious acts of violence against these fellow-Indian foreigners lately. Very sad. India is India. This kind of violence and fear-mongering is ugly and I hope it stops soon.

Recently, Raj Thackery was thrown in jail by the state. Thus the escalated tensions amongst his dragoons and cohorts.

The likelihood of any danger to me is no bigger than any other time I visited Mumbai - and we always feel very safe. But, Mumbai does have a bit of a tension in the air, and the guards smile gently as they escort me from here to there...

Fascinating, fascinating....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Off to Mumbai - pictures of Diwali forthcoming!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

As promised..

^ Petting water buffaloes required me to go out to a nearby field. Our current driver, Joseph, took the video. For the record, they felt a bit leathery, as expected....

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Diwali

And the party goes on!

Our neighborhood had a Diwali celebration last night. It was a nice time, although none of us seem able to eat as late as Indian people can and do. We all hit the sack after the appetizers were served.

It has beautiful lights, a dance floor, and a bunch of people. There are also some pictures of the houses around the neighborhood.

Here are some snaps....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Diwali Party

We had our big Duwali party. Who were those people?

Anyway, it was great fun and we enjoyed everything about it. Here are some snaps.

^ We have our patio in good order, finally. Thanks to Matt and Jo for the help on the Arabesque awning.

^ Kids were invited. They were occupied with Om Shanti Om, a recent Bollywood hit that we own.

^ All of the people wearing Indian outfits gathered for a photo. I tell you, few things make a photograph more beautiful than having Danes as a centerpiece!

^ Crackers and sparklers galore.... Notice Sam being carried away from the explosives as he said, "But they're not dangerous.... NOT AT ALL!"

^ Aidan (the other one) said it all - when all was said and done, it was time to sleep.

^ But not before Tara and I had a deeply American hour after the party with the melodious sounds of Ms. Alison Krauss, Lynyrd Skynyrd and our coon hound, Ashoka.

Overall, a great time was had by all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Custard Apples

^ It is that time of year again - the fruit that is abounding is custard apple. Nice fruit.

Papayas also, but I favor them less.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Ashoka is coming along just fine as a member of the family. We are really enjoying him. He's a nice little guy who now knows his name, and can sit and do paw. With that said, he is in need of a trainer, which we will be getting him when he is a bit older.
He is still to be found within the occasional shoe in the mouth, which we quickly replace with the chew toys that he is supposed to gnaw on.

He is especially in love with Tara. When he got a round of shots at the vet recently, he crawled up during the event and settled his nose in the hair behind her ear. He was essentially hiding and seeking solace from Tara all at once. Touching....

Since he is a street dog, there are different considerations about owning him, per the vet. Street dogs never know where their next meal is coming from, or even if there will be one. Thus, they will eat any time they are presented with food. This is a risk, as they can become unhealthy when their street habits encounter the kind of affluence that we will offer to him.

Well, overall we are pleased to have him as part of the gang. Many of you will meet him someday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Our friends the Schefflers are having a baby! We're excited for them and invite you to link to their blog to learn more.

A very weird thing happened the other day. Theo and I take Hindi together, very often with John Webb. US, UK and South Africa all represented at a table where we speak Hindi with Abdul. It's great fun.

Sometimes I try to resurrect my Afrikaans and talk to Theo, an Afrikaner. It's hard from lack of real use in many years, plus the fact Hindi keeps bubbling up whenever I try French or Afrikaans these days. It's like swatting a bug that keeps distracting me. English and Hindi - it's all about those two languages in my mind these days.

Anyway, I was trying to ask if his wife's parents were in India for a visit.

I said, "Jy vrou se matapita yahaan hain?"

This was a mixture of Afrikaans and Hindi.

It made me wonder if anyone anywhere had co-mingled these two languages besides the two of us. Hard to say. I would at least guess it happens extremely rarely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jonah, aap kaun hain?

Funny event yesterday. Tara attended a school conference for Jonah, and got an update. Included in the update was that Jonah's English was really coming along and he would be fully conversant in it soon.

Tara was confused. The teacher asked what language we spoke at home. Tara responded by saying that we are Americans and speak English.

Then Tara asked a few questions to ensure that the teacher was talking about our son. All of the facts checked out, she knows who Jonah is. So that was not the issue.....

Tara was baffled by the end of the conversation. One of the last words from Jonah's teacher was, "You have nothing to worry about in terms of his English, he'll be fine."

We'll update you when we figure out exactly what that was all about - LOL!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A house divided

Being in India means being away from the ugly and divisive nature that has become part of American life. The below letter is going around the web. The frustration it reflects is real, and it is actually pretty well-done. It is a very clever essay. And I know exactly where the frustration is coming from!

With that said - I wonder if it is only partially in jest?

America is an exceptional country with many people who are passionate about their respective beliefs. There is ample room for a variety of perspectives in the US. At least I hope so....

We hear from just about everyone across the political spectrum, and it has become a bit frightening how intolerant they have become of "the other half" of America. This impulse absolutely cuts both ways.

This e.mail reflects the haughty and condescending nature of one half of America about the other half. Trust me, it is equally vitriolic from the right.

Do people in modern America really have a desire to live in a place where everyone agrees with them? Do people wish for perpetual one-party rule in our government? If so, I would invite half of them to live in North Korea and the other half to live in Zimbabwe and see how they like it.

Americans - You live in a country that has the good will to spill our own blood so that we could throw open the doors of concentration camps when the rest of the world stood by, a country that puts our people and soldiers in harms way to rescue and feed those who are self-declared to be our enemies, a country that has the unequaled ability to self-correct its sins so that a mere century and a half after slaves walked off of their plantations, a short blink in the span of history, a man with an African father (a man who was also raised by one of the "single mothers" spoken of so scathingly below) may potentially occupy the highest office of the land.

You live in a wonderful country that, while vastly off the mark in being a perfect country, is worth preserving..... and correcting. It's certainly not worth dividing.


Someone born in a blue state who moved to a red state and has a diminishing desire to return to the company of divisive and condescending jerks.

*Non Americans - For background, on our election nights, we show maps of which states went to the Republicans (red) and which went to Democrats (blue).


Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire. With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines, 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT. With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,

Blue States

Monday, October 20, 2008


You're probably sick of hearing about our internet woes - imagine how sick *we* are of it.

Well, we got disconnected from the internet because we didn't pay our bill. Not that we received a bill, and not that we have had it internet for more than one month.... but we were disconnected nonetheless.

Here's the awesome part - the guy told Tara that she could go online to pay her bill. When she explained that she could not because of the lack of internet, the guy kept repeating that it was "possible".


Now, you may be incredulous. We were, too. Actually, Tara was more in the "irate" category than "incredulous". I took the phone from her and talked to the guy. He said we should go out to a cyber-cafe to do it. Then I explained that we don't drive in India because people here don't know how to drive in anything like a civilized manner and our driver had left for the day... then I realized that it wasn't this guy's fault and just ditched the conversation.


Sunday, October 19, 2008


We watched a great movie tonight. Given to me by my friend Theo, it is a movie that is enjoying great popularity and for good reason. It's a funny, thoughtful, well-done portrayal of life in the arena of modern day global commerce. It's the story of a guy named Todd whose job is sent to India. He has to go there to train his replacement. The story that unfolds is one that explores how a Westerner experiences India with all of the hilarity and confusion and touching moments that India itself truly offers.

I won't say too much about the plot and the dilemma, but I will tell you that there is love and that the final scenes offer a good depiction of the ultimately different nature of US and Indian society, as well as how those of us living in that gap are changed by it.

I can tell you that the movie depicts India pretty darn well. Our experience here has in fact been similar to what is depicted in the film.

If you see it, you'll notice that in several scenes Todd is depicted as staring at a picture of Kali on his wall. This goddess in Hinduism is shown holding a severed head, with a necklace of heads around her neck. She has a fierce look on her face and there is blood dripping. She wields a scimitar.

In other scenes, Todd slows down to experience the subtle and unthinkable. He stares at a chameleon climbing a tree. In a scene that invokes baptismal imagery, Todd immerses himself in a body of water (that is the unthinkable part!) after being bombarded on Holi with colored powder. In various scenes, Todd throws open his window time and again onto a fantastical cityscape below.

These scenes really struck me personally.

India does demand that you view her fierce nature. It can be a cruel place where the horrible and terrible are seemingly evident at every turn. Life here is hard for almost everyone here in India. But, despite the harsh reality of what life can dish out here, we have seen the most touching of things in this place. And Todd saw these things. He too was changed by it.

This movie shows what India can be when you "give into it", as stated by a character in the film - India can be a veritable explosion of providence.

In one scene, Todd is beckoned over a wall by a worker. He climbs over and is invited to a meal with a family on the dock. He eats with them off of a metal plate with his hands while sitting on the ground. The makeshift tools that the family uses to make the meal are hilarious - and accurate - and it is a very moving scene that will surely make anyone smile. Now, when I watched this scene, I had the impulse that most Americans would have - "Wow, he shouldn't go over that wall." Grimy, crowded, and filled with the poorest of the poor - be it the US, South Africa or any of the places we expats call home, we all have the same impulse of being on guard in such a setting.

Yet, I checked that impulse and thought of what those circumstances really offer in India.

In the scene that followed, people stared at Todd - as they stare at us - they smiled at him when he smiled - as they do with us - and a crowd of children gathered around him, smiling - as has happened countless times with us. All we have been taught about how poverty and deprivation breed animosity and danger - India isn't really like that. You can enter just about any arena and you are pretty much OK. It is perhaps the only place on Earth like it in this regard - I am probably not capable of stating something that broad, but it certainly fits my experiences to-date.

There are all sorts of caveats to what I am saying, but I no longer feel compelled to give these every time I speak of the magic that is India. It is indeed a fantastic place.

Definitely take the time to see this movie. If you are a family member, friend, or follower of this blog (or any combination thereof), it will help you experience a bit of our life here in a way like no other movie we have seen.

Even as I sit here and type this essay out front of our home, there is some music off in the distance (or is it right behind me?) celebrating something or other. The servants quarters of our neighbors is filled with noise of toddlers chatting in Telugu. There are huge toads jumping all over the lawn I am sitting on. And I have a coil of mosquito repellent releasing smoke all around my feet, which are wearing sandals I bought in the Old City - leather strap around my big toe. I paid five bucks for them and I still think I got ripped off. These sandals didn't fit well when I bought them, but with the passage of time they have become a favorite. Hmmm, kind of like India itself.

Wonderful, wonderful.....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Right sizing

Just wanted to leave all of you a note on bananas. They are not supposed to be as big as they are in the US.

While it might be nice to have big bananas, there is certainly an argument to be made that they should be sized the way they occur in nature. Such as above....

I stopped by a street vendor to buy some bananas, and got this small grouping. Bill Webb, avid reader and fan of all things mythical, was spending a little time with the boys and I asked him to hold the bananas to illustrate their size.

The first time I went back to the US for work, I saw some bananas in a cafeteria that made me chuckle. They were almost the size of a human forearm - just unnatural.

Finally, on the subject of bananas - the government bull-dozed about 10 banana stands on the side of the road just up the hill from us. What's done is done, but it's sad. This is the only place on the web you'll hear about their plight.

Poor people eaking out a living is all they were.....

^ American bananas.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Tara and I both voted today! Democracy in action in a far away country that is a democracy, with us voting early and it involved ballots that will soon be handed over to the Indian postal service.
Exhilirating and speculative, all at once!

We didn't think we would be able to, but thanks to TEA, we got it done.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Essay

There is some new writing on the horizon, about how India influences your expectations on what is possible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Scenes from Humari zindagi Hyderabad mein....

^ Look alive Liam!

^ This was great. Our friends came back from Thailand, and their daughter shot over to our house. She had corn-rows. A bit of dialogue followed....

Aidan: That's cool. You know the people in America with black skin?

All: Yes. Yeah. Uh huh.

Aidan: In America, sometimes those boys do that to their hair. But not with beads, just little lines (illustrates with his hands).

Bethan: Oh.

Sam: I was born in America!

Kids raised in America and South Africa, speaking so innocently of things that cause most adults to become guarded. The world is their home.....

^ So, there we were having a nice dinner party at the Fairless home and enjoying the good company when our children put on a show for us. The plot - A nice walk out and about on the part of a few key women - then came the incredible Hulk who scared them. But is Sam truly scary..... all I can say is NOT AT ALL!

Cannot seem to keep Jonah out of the dresses. Yikes.

< Even the mundane is featured here on Camerons in India. I got a severely shortened haircut!