Sunday, May 31, 2009


Excellent party, perhaps one of the best attended in Hyderabad expat history!

Since my camera was broken, I didn;t get pictures and only Padmaja's photos can be put on the blog.

Hmmmm.... It's always the same group of women posing for pictures..... ;-)

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Tonight is our party, our own "going away" event. The social calendar is packed at this point with nary an evening free. So many folks leaving - some for good, some for the summer.

As I walked down to get some seltzer and mangoes (we will be serving mangotinis) I thought it would be fun to get some photos.

^ Off to the shops across from the neighborhood.

^ The Place That Has Chilled Seltzer Water.

^ Mera dost jo aam bech raha hai - my friend the mango seller. I now have used Telugu sprinkled in with my Hindi to have a basic mango-buying conversation.

^ As I was walking back to my house, this guy was walking his buffaloes back to his house.

^ A closer look.

^ A present from the buffaloes. This will slowly end up in the car tires of all of us until it is but a dusty, brown patch of asphalt. Liam stepped in one of these while walking home from the bus stop. Imagine how well that went.... ;-)

^ More buffaloes were in the field near the neighborhood. I spooked one of them pretty badly, he turned and bolted. You can see him in motion.

^ Look at him in the background. He was grunting something like "One more step and you die."

If we forgot to invite anyone to the party, please come. It seems we covered it all, but all are welcome. Plot #37, 7:30 pm.

Friday, May 29, 2009

You & I

I have mentioned that I write an occasional article for a local magazine named You & I. Here's a recent article. It's about our trip to Bali.

Ashoka is pretty big now. He had a big morning - playing with his friend Pete, the Webb's dog. And he jogged with me and Liam. We all like him a great deal.

Also, notice that Jonah has a Sikh kada on his right wrist now. Just like his Dad....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Favorite song

Thanks for letting me rant yesterday.

This song is my current favorite. I hope you play it and enjoy it. If you like it, it's on iTunes - "Aloo Chaat".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On a serious note.....

I don't keep the blog very serious, it's supposed to be a fun exploration of life here in India. But there are times I get a bit serious. This is one of those times.

Pakistan is a mess. Amongst the countries that border India, it is the most problematic. And that is a strong statement when you consider how screwed up Myanmar is....

There was huge explosion in Lahore today. Maybe 150 or so killed.

Then there is the Swat region in Pakistan's north west, which is essentially the same since medieval times. And the government brokered a deal to hand the region over to the Taliban a few months back *and then* asked for them to lay their arms down.

Now they are shooting at each other.

Is it me, or should they have seen this coming?

I have stated that it is a shame that we all watch Pakistan devour itself and just go on about our days. But, what can one do? So, we shake our heads and go back to our computers....

*And then*

I am not sure if the American media covered it, but there were today a few shootings in Austria. By Sikhs. Killing other Sikhs.

Yeah, if it doesn't make sense - that is fine. It doesn't make any sense to me, either.

It appears that Sikhs also follow a caste mentality, which is to say that there are some Sikhs who are higher than other Sikhs. As I have learned more about India, I have realized that caste is a living set of categories for more than just religious Hindus. It is an elaborate set of definitions of family, region, class, religious status and a series of other things.

If anyone tells you that casteism is no longer practiced in India, don't believe them. It is alive and well. And, based upon what happened in Vienna, it also appears to be exportable.

Well, the context of the shootings is that some Dalit (lowest on the caste totem pole) Sikhs had the audacity to speak in a gurudwara (Sikh temple) in Europe, asking for equality with other Sikhs of higher castes. So, they were shot at. A few folks died. Now there is rioting in Punjab, the Indian state where Sikhism was founded and still is a major force of life.

This is not to be confused with Pakistani Punjab, which was divided up during a bloody stife back in....... never mind, you have heard me talk about that before.

It's all so infuriating.

I have recently read that certain Scandinavian nations have asked that a resolution be created that equates casteism with racism. I like this idea, although a caste is not a race. We should just call it a form of injustice. That's exactly what it is.

It is times like this that I appreciate what has been achieved in the US. As hard as it will be to return there, I am looking forward to certain things, like the general momentum toward respecting the dignity of all people.

Anyway, enough for today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mango Tango

This past Saturday was "Mango Tango", the end of year event for the expat organization TEA. It was a good time, here are some pictures.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I am back in Mumbai. It's like a second home, now.

It is a city of such contrasts that it is hard to explain. None of the "fancy areas" actually are like a Western "fancy area". There are still wild dogs and garbage strewn about. But you can see the difference. And the "rough areas" - wow, unlike anything you'd see most anywhere else in the world.

Here are two pictures which will show the contrast - at least a little bit of it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mango time

Mango season is in full swing. We have enjoyed eating loads of them. They are delicious and there are many varieties. We last year had everything in a songle category - mangoes - but this year we can distinguish an Alphonso from a Honey mango from a Pickle Mango and so forth.

What is funny is that theere is an intensity around mangoes to the point that I think it's a bit crazy. As an example - the servants of the family that lives behind us live in their small quarters. Next to those quarters is a mango tree. On that same tree are green mangoes. Much of the tree hangs over into our yard.

We snagged a few mangoes during recent weeks. They were right there, so we did.

After that, the annoynace with us was so high that the took a bamboo pole and a basket and extracted all of the mangoes from our side of the tree. Now, our side is bare and their side is still vine-ripening.

Such is the folly of life in a country where sometimes the most abundant source of food for some people is on a tree.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


In India, one often sees words mis-spelled. There are a few that are chronically mis-spelled. Which is to say - they are now the "correct" way to spell these words here in India.

^ The infamous "hair saloon". They all say this. Meaning - salon, of course.

^ It's just too bad when some mistakes like the above convey a dangerous message - like the trucks which say "Highly Inflammable" on the back.


Yes, all of the trucks have this mistake. I have yet to see it once as "Highly Flammable".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Robyn's Rickshaw

Our friend Robyn got a rickshaw from her husband Scott on her birthday. I think I mentioned it before, but wanted to ensure you had a photo, as well.

Also, two of our friends are moving to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. My friend Molly, from Denison, is there. I have connected them. For the whole "small world" category of things that have happened, this one probably takes the cake.

And, Cheryl, the woman who is in the aforementioned couple, is starting a Climb Mount Kilimanjaro Women's Club. They'll all do it in a few years. Tara is in.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I have enjoyed finding out that there is a place in Rajasthan named "Lovely Professional University".

Made me laugh a little bit....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Ethnicity in India is a hard things to pin down. There are so many people of different castes, religions, creeds, communities in India that it is difficult to know how to link people into ethnicity.

So, whatever it is that can be said about India’s ethnic composition, and there is surely a great deal to be said, it is for sure that we can say one main thing – three main groups meet in this region.

And this I not based upon much research, just following some of the details of life here and doing some light reading on the subject, mostly on the web.

First, from the North and Northwest are Persians, Tajiks, Afghans and various others. These generally are cousins of Europeans and they look quite a bit like – well, like I and the family do. Some differences, but there is a connection.

^ An Aryan Indian

This groups is actually called Aryan, which conjures up all sorts of stuff in the American psyche. Put all of that aside. That is the name of this group.

Then, from the South of India, there are Dravidians. The differentiating characteristics of Dravidians are that they are darker in color than most other Indians. Off of the coast of India are a group of islands called the Andamans. On the Andamans are people who are virtually indistinguishable from Africans. Then there is New Guinea which has a unique ethnic make up all of its own. I sense there is some deep ancestral connection between these groups and the Dravidians of south India.

^ Natives of Andaman Islands

^ Tamil girl

Then there are about ten states in the North East of India where the people are connected to Tibet, Malaysia, and China. I am not sure if that group has a name. Most of their languages are linked to Tibetan, this I have learned.

^ A woman from Tripura

These three groups live in areas where they are largely distinct and separate. But, and here is the really cool part, there is an intersection of these three in every possible combination and location throughout India. Even with these three high-level categories, there are literally hundreds of unique ethnicities in India, perhaps even thousands. And there are fair people in Kerala (South) and black people in Kashmir (north). Which is to say - every rule you try to apply to Indian ethnicity, there is always a pronounced exception.

Human variety in India is absolutely incredible.

You go back far enough, we're all one, anyway. Right?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I wrote about language in India yesterday. I want to write about ethnicity next. But I cannot seem to find the time to write some days!

For now, just click on this picture that I created and look at it for a while. Each face is from someone in India.

Take it in..... India's human variety.

Monday, May 18, 2009


^ Sthiti ke koi desh kisi ke.....

So, I am in Mumbai today. It has been a good work day.

What I really enjoy is coming into the hotel where I stay up here. Even though I have not been here in a few months, I am still recognized and they greet me by name - and in Hindi! My entire check in process is in Hindi. It's awesome. I have learned that you don't need to understand each and every word (I get most of their Hindi, anyway), but it is even more important to get the gist of what is being said.

Then my driver, Horace, wasn't even phased when I changed form English to Hindi. He did mention that I was the first foreigner her had ever seen speaking Hindi. So, that felt good. Horace had a few years on him, so he has had decades to catch another foreigner speaking Hindi.

What is really stark is that the differnece between the Hindi here and in Hyderabad. And Delhi - that is the heart of proper Hindi. That's shudh Hindi, pure Hindi. Had I lived in Mumbai or Delhi, I would almost certainly speak Hindi a little bit better than I do.

Here's the thing for any American reading the blog back in the US - and listen closely - there are hundreds of different Hindis. There is no single form of Hindi. Hindi develops in small pockets toward unique ends such that it is truly both a national language and also a local language. It is said that every 500 kilometers that you drive in India, the language changes. It's true. It's amazing. I would doubt that there is a place on Earth with as much linguistic diversity as India.

Well, one...

Only New Guinea has more language density than India - of the 6,912 languages on Earth, 820 of them are in New Guinea. Wow.

The same diversity is true with Telugu and Tamil and Malayalam (a language that is also a palindrome) and Kannada and Marathi and so on..... there are forms of it that differ every few hundred miles.

Why is this? Those of us who speak English have filled in places like New Zealand, Jamaica, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and other places and lived in relative isolation for the first couple hundred years of the colonial era..... and yet we all understand each other today.

Why are Indian languages different?

Because it's just different here. It's lingusitic chaos.

It's like India itself.... languages here are an explosion of variables and influences that exert themselves until they become something new - and when you pull back from the chaos, you get the elegance and pure beauty that can be found here.

That is life in India. And that is language in India.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mumbai event

Some pictures from the Mumbai Reward and Recognition Event. It was a success. The leadership team again danced and that was a great crowd-pleaser. It is a universal impulse to enjoy seeing the senior guys in an organization cut up a little.

I did not realize I would be doing a speech in Hindi up in Mumbai at this event, so I didn't have my "official speech" ready. Because of this, they got some extemporaneous speaking in Hindi, which I can do and be comprehensible.

^ The leadership team.

^ I was the center of one of the dances. This is my solo part before the rest of the dancers came out. The idea here is that I have eaten some bad paan.

^ From the movie "Don".

^ From my speech....The is when I said, "Do sal ke pehle, jab main India pahucha tha, main socha - mujhe Hindi sikhna chahiye....." The socha is why I was pointing to my mind.