Thursday, April 30, 2009

A thought....

Here's a thought I had the other day. It's kind of interesting.

The return to the US has obviously been on our mind as of late. We're wondering what it'll be like. Perhaps we are over-thinking it. Who's to say...

But as I consider the return, we are going back to a country where we have lived our entire lives and a city where we have lived for 14 years and a home we have owned for eight year. So one would think none of it is new.

My thought - The places we have known for the longest are being approached as a sort of unknown.


So, perhaps we are over thinking it.

Or perhaps everything really has changed that much.

Or perhaps both.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I wrote another article for "You and I" magazine here in town. It was about our Bali vacation. The article is below.

Our destination was Bali. It’s very name evokes the exotic, so we were eager to visit the island for ourselves. This was to be the last major trip in Asia during our two years in India. With our return to the US coming up this summer, we wanted to experience a setting that was unique and inviting. I had been working long hours and the rest of the family needed some R+R.

We found Bali to be just what we needed.

We arrived late at night on a Sunday. The island scenery around us was hard to make out, but we got a good sense that we were in a place that was different.

As we arrived at our villa in Seminyak, an up-and-coming section of the island, we were pleased to find a place that was pristine yet elegant. We were pleased to have our own salt water pool. We fell asleep easily that first night.

When we awoke, we had our first chance to see the surroundings. Bali immediately struck us as green and clean.

Our first day was characterized by an intense set of activities. We took a glass-bottom boat out to the coral reefs off of the island, snorkeled, and then went held pythons, flying foxes and our youngest sons rode on the backs of turtles.

After that day, we knew we had found a place that was different than any place we had been before. We also knew that vacation was about relaxing, so we turned off the American impulses that drove us through the first day at break-neck speed. We decided to take the rest of the vacation at a slower pace.

The remainder of our trip was characterized by relaxing fun. We spent two entire days in Ubud, Bali’s hip and eclectic shopping town. In Ubud, we strolled through shop after shop looking at the odd, fantastical, original and elegant items, then followed it up with a light vegetarian meal of tempeh and tofu in peanut sauce. Young bohemians from around the world wandered the streets, making us think of Greenwich Village and Haight Ashbury.

As the vacation progressed, we found ourselves increasingly unraveled. We told our driver that we were ready to back away from the tourist destinations. As nice as they were, we decided that there must be a side of Bali that is less-seen. We found that there was.

Bali’s population is overwhelmingly made up of Hindus. It is the only island like it in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. So, when our driver told us, “Today is a Hindu festival”, Tara and I smiled at each other. Life in India taught us that Hinduism is characterized by one festival following closely on the heels of another festival, so we were excited to see what this was like in Bali.

We were driven up to a temple on the side of a mountain. We were immediately struck by the unique nature of the temple. It has various dragon motifs and statues around its perimeter, and the towers within the temple grounds looked like pagodas. It was a blend of the familiar Hinduism that we have been exposed to in India, but also had aspects that borrowed from Thai and Chinese styles. We bought our dhotis at the front gate, and wandered through as streams of Balinese Hindus walked past us carrying baskets of fruit as offerings. It was a fascinating experience to sit and watch.

As we drove back from the temple, we stopped along the side of the road to have a coconut to drink. The setting was beautiful. We had the opportunity to see the terraced Balinese rice paddies that are so well-known around the world. In the interest of using the land of Bali in an efficient manner, the Balinese people have mastered creating terraced rice fields that are almost artistically carved into the side of the hills. It was nice simply to sit down while we drank our coconut water and look at the greenery. At that point, a man in a rattan hat walked in front of us, herding about fifty ducks along the edge of the rice paddies. It was a scene that almost certainly has been repeated for centuries in largely the same way that we were seeing.

Day by day, we experienced more and more of the fantastic island that is Bali. From the visit to the Monkey Garden where we fed the monkeys with our hands, to the zoological park where we had our picture taken with an orangutan, to the surf of Kuta beach where the boys played on boogie boards, Bali continued to allows us to be both amazed and to unwind into a completely new state of mind, one that was rejuvenated.

And isn’t that what vacation is supposed to do?

We will always offer a positive word to other world travelers about Bali. It is a place worthy of a visit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


More from the Bali trip, cannot seem to finish it. Here are the best pictures from the zoo trip, during which we became up close and personal with these animals. The kids took these snaps.

The animal that might be a little hard to figure out is a full sized male orangutan. He is slouching.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Finishing off on Bali, I will show you some currency. I did this in Dubai, as well.

First thing to notice is that it is about R10,000 to $1. Meaning, I took out millions of Indonesian Rupiah during our stay in Bali.

^ Sukarno and Suharto were dictators of Indonesia for decades. They haven't been gone long enough that their faces have been replaced by someone else. They were pretty brutal anti-Communists, so it was the kind of dictator that the US approved of.

^ Then there is this guy. He look suspiciously like the thugs which killed people in Maluku. I am sure it's something more innocuous than that, but that is what came to mind for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

For the record....

...mangoes are starting to be sold. Had some yesterday. Not excellent, but good enough to get us excited about when they are excellent. This should be soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reward and Recognition Event

So, Friday night was the Reward and Recognition Event where I gave my farewell speech. I think it went well, the crowd was very gracious and they even showed a short film made up of pictures from our life here. It was a great time.

Additionally, I and the other members of the leadership team did some Bollywood dances for the event, always a big hit here in India. It was a really big hit. Two weeks from now we'll have a chance to do it again.

^ My speech

^ The Bollywood-style dance sequences that we did.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The bananas tell us about the differences between...

.... the way that a banana grows in nature versus how a banana grows in the hands of a corporation. One is a Third World Banana, the other a First World Banana. Both were grown in the Third World. One was grown in Bali, the other was grown in the Philippines and shipped to Bali.

Just look at this difference.

They are both equally ripe and ready to eat. One looks like bananas have looked since the dawn of time..... the other type of banana is a more recent addition.

One is much tastier. The other bit grainy and less flavourful.

A banana as a metaphor. Nice.....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Farwell speech

I have learned Hindi pretty well at this point and I had always intended to give my farewell speech in Hindi. Tomorrow night that happens, more than 1,000 people. Two weeks from now, it'll be in Mumbai in front of a similar crowd.

I may be able to get a film of the speech and post it. If not, there'll at least be pictures.

Here it is:

Pyaare doston – jaise ki aap sab log jante hai, is July mein hum America ko wapaas jaenge.

Agar meri ek anhkh ro rahi hain, to doosri hans rahi hai – ek taraf mere doston ko choDne ka gam hai, to ek taraf mere apno ko milne ki khushi.

Jab main peeche mur ke dekhta hoon, to wiswas nahi hota ki kitna kuch humne yahaan paya hai.

Meri patni Tara aur humare bacchon ka Hyderabad aur India ka yeh safar bahot yaadgar rahega.

Yeh do saal mein humari zindagi bilkul badal gayi. Jab hum India ko aaye the hum American citizens the, laikin ajkal hum log dunia ke shaheri hain, aur humare dil ka ek tukda is jagah mein rahega.

Mujhe umeed hai ki jab main yahaan kaam kar raha tha, maine cafi kuch badal diya.

Agar BACS, BACI aur MLITS ek saathe meri koshish ki wajah se kaam kar sakhenge, mujhe bahut garv hoga.

Main aapse vaada kartha hun ki aap sab log mere dil mein hamesha rahenge aur main asha kartha hun ki aap humko yaad karenge. Bahut bahut shukria. Jai ho!!

Translation (roughly - to know a second language is to know nothing really translates perfectly):

Dear friends - as you all know, we are going back to America in July.

If one eye is crying, then the other is laughing. On one side, we are sad to leave our friends, but on the other side we will be happy to see our families.

When I look backward, it's hard to believe all that we have experienced here.

For Tara and our children, they will always remember this journey in Hyderabad and India.

During these two years, our lives truly changed. When we came here, we were only American citizens, but now we are people of the whole world, and a bit of our hearts will always stay in this place.

I hope that when I was working here, I made some difference.

If BACS, BACI and MLITS will be able to work together because of my efforts, I will be very gratified.

I promise that all of you will be in my heart and I truly hope we will be remember. Thank you very, very much. Be victorious!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great photo

^ Here is one of my favorite photos. The orang broke from the script and decided to explore Tara's head. She was not very pleased.

^ In case you missed the details, here's a close up.

^ Jonah and Aidan at the front of our boat.

^ Din Din riding a sea turtle.

^ Aidan having second thoughts about the snake thing.

^ Liam enjoying the eagle.

^ The yeti and a "flying fox".

^ Tara and the toucan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monkey Garden

Here is from our visit to Bali's monkey garden.

Monday, April 20, 2009


^ Tara is pretty, as you probably know.

^ These are great, here are some pictures of Liam giving Ashoka a back rub. This was right before we left. He is sitting almost like a human, awesome! And Ashoka is sitting pretty nicely, too! ;-)

^ We ate at the famous "hawker centers" in Singapore. These are cheap places that wheel and deal their food to you, competing for your buck.

^ No mistaking what these are!

^ Mmmmm, barley drink.

^ When I got the boys ice cream, we were pleased to see they had yam ice cream, red bean ice cream (kidney bean), corn ice cream, and durian. If you're not familiar with durian, it is the fruit equivalent of a sweat sock. It's pretty gross. I had it because Tara hates it and my burps were toxic for the rest of the day. ;-)

If you want to experience durian first hand and are in Charlotte, order the durian shake at Lang Van, a Viet Namese place. And remember - your first beer tasted bad, as well.

^ And, of course, the unavoidable McDonald's. We did not eat here, just wanted you to know how it is spelled in Chinese.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


OK, we're back. Phew, that was a great deal of travel in a short period of time.

For now, I'll just put a montage of photos on. The in-depth descriptions will take place over the next few days.

Look at these without captions from me. Just absorb.....