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Yogyakarta

That’s pronounced “Joag Jakarta” by the way, with a long “O.” I’m not really sure why it is spelled that way, but that’s how the locals do it, so that’s the way it’s being blogged, darn it.

After our New Year’s pool party adventure, we took a day to get our heads screwed on straight and then headed into Central Java. Yogyakarta is called Indonesia’s cultural capital, and we wanted to spend a few days seeing what the fuss was all about.

After a bit of an adventure getting to the airport on time (our driver didn’t show up on time, and neither did the taxi we called), we found out that our plane was delayed (of course). So all our early morning freaking out had been for nothing. But, at least we got to take a picture with our crazily growing morning glory – check out the pictures from the start of the year and now:

The morning glory on August 8, 2011 The morning glory on January 2, 2012

Once we got into town, our cultural experiences started up. Susan took the time to research and learn about all the cool things we saw, so I’ll let her travelogue take it from here:

We flew into Yogyakarta early in the morning and went out right away to explore the ‘cultural heart of Java’.   Yogyakarta has been – and continues to be ‘ruled’ by – a Sultan.  As a city, it was established by Prince Mangkumbi in 1755.  According to our Lonely Planet, and confirmed by our tour guide at the Kraton, the area had always been resistant to Dutch colonial rule and locals worked hard to establish independence after WWII.

Lychees were in season! Smiles at the morning veggie market. Check out the silver tooth!

We walked around the Kraton, in the center of Old Yogya, which is still the home of the Sultan.  We walked there from our hotel, stopping at the Taman Sari on the way.  The Taman Sari is the Sultan’s pleasure palace and pool area. It was built built between 1758 an 1765.  As we discovered over our week in Central Java, everything built here must at some point be destroyed by an earthquake or volcanic eruption – and this was the case with the Taman Sari, as well.   It was extensively damaged by an earthquake in 1865 and the majority still lies in ruins.  The main pools and lounging pavilions have been restored and provide shade and respite from the Java sun.

Dragon stairs at the Tamansari (Water Palace)

Entrance to the inner courtyard at the Tamansari (Water Palace)Rooftops at the Tamansari (Water Palace)Family by the pool at the Tamansari (Water Palace)

Buddha bellies at the KratonThe Kraton itself has also been damaged by earthquakes (the most recent in 2006), but it has always been repaired given it is the home of the Sultan.  The Kraton is a huge walled city where 25,000 people still live and work.  According to some estimates, up to 1,000 people are employed by the Sultan.   The living areas for the people who still reside here look much like the rest of Yogya – small homes, shops opening onto the streets,  bamboo cages with chickens, cats running around (no dogs – Muslim area!!), tons of pedi-cabs, laundry lines…  The Palace itself is a set of smaller pavillions and buildings.  All the pavilions are open air with deep, high roofs to prevent rain from bothering those on the inside.  The entire perimeter held drop-down bamboo shades to provide shade as the sun marched across the sky over the course of the day.

Tourists are not allowed to enter the actual home of the Sultan.  He still lives there, but was in Jakarta when we visited.  He has five daughters, three who now live overseas in England, USA, and Australia, and two that still reside in Indonesia.  Because he has no son, his brother will become Sultan when he dies.  Our tour guide mentioned briefly that there was much talk among the locals about whether a Sultan was ‘necessary‘ any more given Indonesia is now a democratic society and official are suppose to be elected.   The Sultan’s home has a very western feel to it – no surprise given it was constructed when the Dutch were ‘colonizing’ much of Java.  Our tour guide was very informative and dropped tidbits of information about modern Java into her conversation about the past.  She mentioned one Sultan had 25 wives and more than 80 children.  She also mentioned that Indonesia now had family planning and the best families were one husband, one wife and two children.

Becak cabs - pronounced "bay-chock" - lined up in Yogya. In Jakarta becaks are like Indian rickshaws, but here they are bicycle poweredBecak driver working in the rain

 Our usual choice of transport was by foot, but there were bicycle cab options as well. These becaks are human-powered, as opposed to the India-style rickshaw becaks we have in Jakarta. We actually found them to be a bit of a pain, because 1) they fit 3 people max, so we always had to take 2, 2) They were unmetered and hence we always had to bargain even to get a tourist price, and 3) their ubiquity meant that when we wanted a regular cab, they were tough to come by!

Applying wax drops to an unfinished piece of batik. Susan bought a 2-meter long piece of cloth to be made into pillow cases and such.

We also had the chance to see batik being made, in the traditional “by hand” style. First, a design is drawn on cloth in pencil, which is then covered with wax (pictured). The cloth is dipped in dye, and then boiled to remove the wax – everything covered by the wax is still the original color. A second layer of wax is applied to some of the uncolored areas, a second dipping takes place, and there you have the traditional 3-colored batik. Fascinating to see performed, and amazing to think about the amount of time it takes to cover both sides of a piece of cloth! Susan bought a section of fabric that she intends to have made into a pillow case here.

New Year Craziness

So our camera wasn’t used, but a few pictures do exist of our dinner party, fireworks show, and pool shenanigans. We had the Medina and Anderson families over, along with their kids visiting from college and jobs, and we rocked the house!

Following the festivities, we took a day to recover, and then we were off to Indonesia’s “Cultural Capital” of Yogyakarta!

Holiday Greetings 2011!

The Stutz family is very excited to be sending season’s greetings from a new part of the world (for us!).  After four fabulous and rewarding years at the American School of Bombay, it was time to move on and explore another part of the planet.  In mid-January, we accepted jobs in sunny Jakarta, Indonesia at the Jakarta International School.

It was harder than we expected saying good-bye to India and all our friends and colleagues at ASB; not one of us was dry-eyed boarding the plane in June.  A summer of family and travel brightened our spirits and prepared us for new adventures in Indonesia.

Breck and Alea with their walleyeWe started off the summer in our “new home” in Minnesota, and got right to the serious business of supporting the American economy. Perennial early highlights of our vacation include shopping in Target, chowing down at Denny’s, and playing trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings. This year was doubly special, as we also had the chance to get together for a lunch with Dave’s sister and family, who were in Minnesota visiting their family farm.

Susan’s parents celebrated 50 years of marriage this year, so all five families trooped off to Canada for a week of fishing, playing, laughter and love.  The phrase ‘double double’ still emerges in our home in reference to fabulous fishing: two people, two bites, two fish in the boat and then two minutes later… two people, two bites, two fish in the boat…

Breck and Alea at Devil's TowerLeaving Canada, Susan immediately flew to New York to attend a reading conference, so Dave and the kids took off through Canada to spend a week at the cabin in Rimini. They had an epic journey on the trans-Canadian highway across 4 provinces, and then swung down through Montana and back across to Minnesota. They went through 4 national parks & monuments (Glacier, Little Big Horn, Devil’s Tower, and Mount Rushmore), spent quality time with the Montana Stutz’s, and survived “roughing it” with each other in the very best of spirits.

End of July brought us to Jakarta and we have been busy settling in ever since.  At JIS CIL, Dave teaches 6th grade math and at JIS PEL Susan teaches 1st grade.  Alea is now in high school (with a campus that prepares her for any university in the USA!) while Breck rocks the 7th grade.   We have a lovely, old home in the suburb of Cilandak.  After years in a tiny apartment in Bombay, we are free and easy with single-floor living, a huge lawn and a pool!  We were welcomed to the house by rats who had taken up residence, so Dori and Linsea soon joined the Stutz family as honorary four-legged members.

Alea has adjusted well to high school.  She is taking Spanish III, Physical and Life Science, Asian Studies, Algebra and Geo II, English 9, Concert Band and PE.  She is actively involved in a Gerakan Kepedullian (ask her) service-learning club and LOVES her rock climbing every Monday after school.  She went to Monado for a week of service learning and planted trees at the base of a volcano and removed Crown of Thorns from a local reef.

Breck has Algebra, Science, Drama, PE, World Studies, English, French and Band.  He joined baseball, basketball, softball, and track and field (top 5 in long jump AND javelin at the meet – a huge accomplishment given the size of the schools competing!!).  He also joined an animal rights service club and is supporting the animal aid network where we got Linsea and Dori. Rumor has it he also landed a role in the Middle School drama production for 2nd semester!  Slowly but surely, both kids have made new friends among the 2,500 students here.

After adjusting to a new country, new city, new house, new school, new colleagues, and new friends, we thought we needed something familiar for October break, so we returned to Bali for a week of fun in the sun.  We spent 3 days in Ubud getting our fill of culture and then continued on to Pemuteran Bay so Dave could actually snorkel the scene given he couldn’t last time we were there (because of the infamous monkey attacks!).  We went to Mengangan Island reserve and had a fabulous day of snorkeling – we saw sea turtles, clown fish, jellyfish, hard and soft coral and…  a wonderful day!

December holiday fever has begun as we prepare to go on our first tour around our new host country.  We head off to the Gili Islands near Lombok on the 18th.  All four of us will get PADI open-water diving certified.  Wish us luck!  We’ll also spend a few days driving the interior around Gunung Rinjani, Lombok’s largest volcano.  We’ll fly back to Jakarta for the New Year and then go to Yogyakarta, the cultural capital of Java.  Our main plan there is to climb the temple ruins of Borobudur and Prambanan.

Dave’s Grandma, Mildred Robison Stutz, died just last month.  She had a long and wonderful life and we celebrate her memory as we head into the holidays.  She was a delightful part of many of our summer trips out West; we are fortunate to have had her in our lives as long as we did.  Dave’s brother, Rob Stutz, is running for Congress for the state of Montana.  Sisters Karla and Shari have helped run, manage, and negotiate an active campaign. We wish him all the best and firmly believe he is the best candidate for the great state of Montana!

We continue to be blessed as a family – we have so much for which to be thankful – and we are!  We send forth all our best wishes to family and friends for a safe, joyous, and wonderful holiday season and 2012.

Redwall

Not the series, but literally the color of our wall. Susan and Alea decided to spice up the house and spent the afternoon painting last weekend. According to the powers that be, the color really “draws out the hue in our carpets and reflects the shade of our Buddhist painting.” Um, ok.

Alea practices spelling our last name

Christmas time’s a-comin’

And the tree is up! We had a slacker evening for homework, so we decided to get this holiday show on the road. Judging by the cats’ reactions to the new living room denizen, we’ll have to wait a few days to put any decorations on it, but at least the first step has been taken!

Interior Decor

We’ve posted a few pictures of the house’s exterior, but today’s entry shows off what the inside of our home looks like. It is MUCH bigger than our apartment in Mumbai, and so even with our shipment here there seems like plenty of room to add more. And boy, have we tried to do so…

We’ve already had an outdoor bar and stool set made (I’ll let Susan tell that story if she chooses to), bought a couple of teak chairs, picked up a couple of wicker chairs and table, and purchased a bookcase and painted mirror. I’m not sure how and/or where we’ll fit all this stuff when we bring it back to the USA, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

In any case, enjoy this indoor look at our new digs. Just click on the first picture to cycle through them…

Too tired to blog

Sleeping with the kittensBack from Bali – all wiped out.

In case you want to see some pictures, and you haven’t looked at Facebook, you can follow this link

 

Liquid Lunch

Or not. Our last two days have had their fill of water-related events, so that’s the point of this post. We woke up Wednesday morning to no water in the house, which certainly made for some stinkier-than-usual bathrooms! We sent emails to the school’s facilities office letting them know about the problem and how it needed to be fixed in a pretty urgent way.

Thanks goodness I had other business to take care of down on the administrative offices side of campus, as I decided to pop in to facilities and see what the status was. There were lots of blank looks when I asked, and one of the people explained that – due to our ongoing migration from Outlook to Google mail services – no emails were coming in to the office and they were unaware of our issue. Oops!

They did manage to get people out there, and a burned out pump was the diagnosis. Once the pump was received and installed, a leaking pipe was also found. When that was removed, repaired, and returned, everyone was all ready for the big test.

Yeah!!
And then the neighborhood’s electricity went out.

So the team sat around for better than 2 hours, waiting for it to come back on (so the pump could be tested), but I finally told them to go home when it was evident they could be waiting all night. As things turned out, it was close to another 2 hours before the lights came back on, so that was a good call.

But – this morning we had water! So that was a happy ending.

And then tonight we had even more water. The skies opened up and the rains fell – which scared the heck out of NiDoriano and Linsea. They were fascinated by the wind and the noise, but whenever a raindrop hit them, they skittered back inside.

Of course, our kids had no problems with the rain (they never have, as the picture on this page proves). They rushed right outside and started having a great time. From taking showers in our roof runoff to fashioning leaf-drinking cups, they splashed and dashed in the falling water.

We’d been waiting for the rains, and although I don’t think this is the start of the monsoon yet, it certainly was some well-deserved quenching of the dry weather we’ve had recently.

And – tomorrow’s Friday!!!

The cats and the rat come back

Linsea showing her hunting faceSusan went to fix lunch yesterday, went into the kitchen, and then calmly strolled back into the living room. “Well, goodness mercy oh my,” she softly uttered. “It is my distinct impression that there is a hairy, long-tailed rodent nestled deep in Breck’s lunch bag.” Or words to that effect.

So, we tossed the kittens in the kitchen, blocked the doors to the garage, grabbed the camera, and locked ourselves in the room to search for the rat. After scooting the fridges (yes, we have a beer fridge and a food fridge) and the oven away from the walls, and we went a-hunting.

The cats sniffed all around, looking for the rat, but actually missed it sometimes when it scurried behind them. I was using a spatula to scoot it out from the fridge, and eventually we got it cornered under the stove. Susan suggested that I “wing” him, so the cats had a chance to practice their hunting skills, but I think I winged him too hard. I smacked him with a wooden spoon, and he flew across the floor, twitched a few times, and lay still.

Linsea jumps at the (already dead) ratAnd then, the game changed completely. NiDoriano, the big male hunting cat, stayed in the corner and yawned. Linsea, our sweet female cuddling purrer, started batting the corpse around. She pawed it gently a few times, and then started whacking the heck out of it. She’d jump way up in the air, land on the rat, grab it in her mouth, and throw it around. She was having a great time.

After a bit of this – and a cute video, located below – Susan decreed that enough was enough and that a proper funeral was in order. We wrapped up the rat in a plastic bag (no blood this time, thank goodness) and ran him out to the garbage. At least they seem to be getting smaller, so that’s something. No if we could only get the kittens to start acting like cats…

Surprise!

Ahh, the cat saga continues. We had quite the visit to the vet this weekend, one that will probably live in family lore for quite some time. We wanted to get the kitties’ first vaccinations, and so made plans to get into our school-provided minibus and go. Unfortunately, we made a series of mistakes that morning that were to weigh heavily on our adventure:

Mistake #1 – Breakfast for the cats was some kitty food mixed with some leftover rice and chicken from our dinner. Nice and bland, perfect for a couple of ex street cats, right?

Mistake #2 – I asked the kids to look up the address of the place we were going, but didn’t check on Google maps to make sure we knew (although, in my defense, even if I had looked online, the maze of twisting streets probably would have totally confused me anyways).

Mistake #3 – Susan asked if we were going to put them in a cardboard (beer bottle) box or something, since we don’t have a cat carrier. I thought that it would be no problem to just hold them in the van, and even let them explore, so long as we kept them away from the driver.

So off we go – and within 3 minutes of leaving, one of the cats is experiencing explosive diarrhea as we are weaving down the road. Because of mistake #3, we have no place to put her, but we still want to keep the flying feces off seats and clothing, so we empty out a canvas bag that Susan brought, and stick the cat – butt first, I might add – into the bag.

Now, cat crap is a pretty stinky affair. Loose bowelled poopers are even worse. So there the 7 of us are – the driver trying to drive, me holding the cat’s rear end in the bag, Susan cleaning the poop that got on her and Breck (and trying not to gag from the smell), and Alea keeping track of the other kitten (who is having a great time exploring the van and is totally unfazed by everything). We can’t really open the windows much because most are sealed shut and the others would present a great “jump out” opportunity, so we are stuck in a sealed metal tube, bobbing and lurching through Jakarta traffic.

And then we get lost. Not really lost, but when we finally get the building at #17A, it is a tattoo parlor, not a vet shop. We call the lady who brought the kittens, and she says that we are at the wrong 17A – the one we want is at the far other end of the road (and yes, she’s had people come to the animal shelter looking for the tattoo shop). So we turn around, make two more attempts to get down the road (with stinking cat, who is by this time pretty upset about having to stay in the bag).

But we finally make it. And get chastised in no uncertain terms for feeding people food to the cats. Apparently they can’t digest carbohydrates too well, so that’s why we had “Jakarta juice” all over the van.

And the surprise? Well that was finding out that, instead of two sisters, we actually have a sister and a brother. Oops. Susan is not happy about that oversight, as she is really concerned about male cats spraying things. Breck got very teary-eyed when we told him, and asked if we were going to have to sell NiDorianna and get a female. The decision was made to keep the cat, rename him to NiDorianno, and hope that he behaves himself when he gets older.

Then we all went home, jumped in the pool, and had a series of cold drinks to recover from the afternoon.

Send in the cats

NiDorianna and LinseaAnd now it is official: the triple play of rats ’round the house pushed Susan over the edge, and she made the plea for us to get some kittens. We contacted the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, and made an appointment for a lady to bring some kittens to our house for us to choose!! (I love the fact that we can get anything delivered here – even a couple of homeless animals!)

Now, I must say, I was gone when the choosing was done and the namings were named, so I take no responsibility whatsoever for the “interesting” names of our cats: Linsea and NuDorianna. The backstory I got was that Linsea – Alea’s choice – is a mix of three friends-from-Bombay’s names, and NiDorianna is Breck’s homage to a Pokemon character (a show to which I’ve never even seen him pay any sort of attention.

But they are here, they are pleased as punch to have all the attention they get from the kids (and parents), and they are cute as all get out. Judging from their usual level of activity (pictured here), however, I’m not sure how effective at keeping out the rats they’ll be!

What a small world

Setting things up for the classroom the other day, my principal stopped by with a high school teacher (known here as “Speck”). He has been at JIS for many years, and was the driving force in getting the MS science building (at which I am teaching) all revamped and remodeled.

When I introduced myself, he paused for a minute and then responded, “I taught some kids named ‘Stutz’ a few years ago at my last school before JIS. Their names were Karla and Rob.” It turns out that he had been my sister and brother’s teacher, in Amman, Jordan, twenty-three years ago. He’s been here in Jakarta since, and he still remembered them by name!

When we got the schedules last night, guess who was listed as Alea’s science teacher this year…

Wildlife update – and the current score is…

Frog from Breck's "habitat"Dad 2.5, Rats 0.

The kids came home from school today and found a dead rat – with the sticky trap still affixed – out on the front lawn. While communication difficulties prevented them from getting a final answer from our maid and gardener as to whether they killed the rat or it had died on its own, I’m guessing they had something to do with the rodential expiration and thus am only taking an assist on this one.

The kitty hunt continues, with two neighborhood candidates being spotted the other evening. This weekend will be the “kitty litter and potty pan” shopping trip, and then we’ll try to entice them out with yummy treats. Wish us luck.

I suppose that if we don’t get any cats, Breck’s frog-hunting expeditions will take care of us. He made a “habitat” on the back porch out of the old TV box, and caught some local residents (pictured) for it. We’ll have to see how everything settles down as we spend the last evening before the last day of summer vacation…

Around the house

Just so the wrong impression isn’t given, we are pretty darn excited about our new digs here in Jakarta. Rats aside, things have gotten off to a very positive start. I know Susan has emailed a few pictures to a few people, so I figured I’d better make like a squished tomato and “ketchup.” Those of you who’ve seen Pulp Fiction know what I’m talking about; those of you who haven’t just need to realize that’s now one of Breck’s favorite plays-on-words.

In any case, here we go with the 2-minute intro to our trip here and our new home:

After a day spent at the Minneapolis airport, watching all sorts of planes (except our own) take off and land, we finally ended up getting our entire trip rerouted (at least until we got to Hong Kong). The flying time to Hong Kong was just under 20 hours, and we had the chance to check out the view from the airport for a bit before the last leg into Jakarta.

Here's a plane touching down with Minneapolis in the background
Airplanes parked at the Hong Kong Airport

Once in town, we were met at the airport and whisked away to a luxury hotel, where we spent the next few days meeting some of our new colleagues and reacquainting ourselves with our internal clocks. Once our jet-lag was a little bit more under control, we were taken to our houses.

Rather than go through a whole descriptive paragraph, I’ll let the first few pictures tell the main story (and I think you can tell what our favorite “room” is so far!). Suffice to say, we are very pleased to be here and are looking forward to sharing our adventures with all!

From the corner of the pool (in the front part of the house)
Looking from where Alea was sitting in the previous picture, facing away from the house
The whole family congregating in the pool
The dining room opening up to the back yard

(And, very cool, just as I was finishing up this post it began to rain – our first Indonesian downpour!!)

Dad 2, Rats 0

While certainly not our typical “here-we-are-in-a-new-country” first blog post, our inaugural entry from Jakarta has the most important element of a good news story: if it bleeds, it leads.

We have indeed made it to Indonesia, have started settling in to our new home, gone through a week of school in-service training, and are looking forward to the beginning of the school year in one more week. But the most exciting news of all has been the ongoing battles between man and beast in our abode.

We are in a lovely house, complete with a back yard and a pool! It is the single-floor living, however, that is providing the most entertainment. On our second evening here, a bag of chips disappeared off a shelf during the night, only to magically reappear in the middle of the room, with teeth marks chewing through the plastic. We bought a series of small “sticky” traps, and by the next morning one of them had vanished (and we still haven’t found it).

But then, all heck broke loose. On the next evening, I was in the bathroom when Susan started shrieking about a rat. She chased it into the kitchen, keeping an eye on it and the 2 sticky traps attached to its body. When I got in there, she handed me my crescent wrench (the only “appropriate tool” we could find) and locked the door.

He’d crawled up into the stove, so I had to chase him out with a spatula – a process I had to repeat once he climbed into the base of the refrigerator – but then things got exciting. Chasing him around on my hands and knees and swinging the wrench like a wild man, we scurried together all around the kitchen. Sparks flew when I hit the tile floor, and his squeaks echoed into the living room (according to the kids). But the battle eventually ended, and the last task of the evening was to clean up the mess…

But then tonight, as we started Dr. Zhivago (we are so sophisticated), I saw another scurrying form head into Alea’s room. This one was a bit easier to corner, as it was a bit younger. Hopefully that doesn’t mean there is a nest of them somewhere.

In any case, we are on the lookout for more rats, and Susan has completely turned around concerning pets. According to her, we start actively asking around for 2 cats tomorrow!

Alea’s graduation and summer vacation

Alea’s class had a celebration marking the end of 8th grade and middle school. And, right on schedule, the first big rain of the season fell during the evening’s events (as I predicted would happen way back on May 17)!

It was a super evening of fun and tears, made doubly special by the fact that we (and many of our friends) are leaving Mumbai this summer. Thanks to the wonders of electronic communication, we’ll be able to keep in touch, but of course that’s not quite the same as really being there.

This post also marks the beginning of our summer hiatus. We possibly will update a time or two over the summer, but look for the lion’s share of new reporting to come out of Jakarta, Indonesia starting the last week of July. As we said in our goodby email to the ASB staff:

Namaste –
To the ASB community, and all with whom we’ve had the opportunity to work and play.
Shukriya –
A special shout out to all of you who have so positively touched the lives of our children.
Silahkan –
Our doors in Jakarta will always be open, and we hope many of you will pass through them.
Auf wiedersehen –
Until we meet again, please stay in touch.

Packing out

Movers in black and whiteToday is the true beginning of the end. Susan spent the day at home, overseeing the first part of our moving process. We’d arranged for the house to be cleared out today – and this was the first time she’d ever had to give up some packing autonomy to other people! Of course, I think the real reason she stayed home was to make sure that some of my things ‘somehow or another’ didn’t make it into the shipping container, but I might just be paranoid…

The amusing part about all this is the fact that we’d been told that today was the day, and everything would be out. Last night, however, we received a phone call about our “packing out procedure” which would be on Friday and Saturday. Today, however, this timeline has apparently been extended even further, with the ‘boss man’ saying they could be here through Sunday. Looks like our weekend plans are all set!

Dhobi Ghats redux

Looking down at the dhobi ghatsAs part of our “Day About Mumbai,” our second stop (after the flower market) was the Dhobi Ghat area. It is famous as the place to have laundry done, and we got an eyeful. Dave had been here before a few years back, but this was the first time for the whole family. From above, it looks crazy enough, but we shelled out the big bucks to go on a walking tour.

The purple dye matches his clothes! Drying shirts in the middle of green curtains for mosques Hand washing in chemical water
Men (for the most part) work all day washing, dyeing, and drying clothes out in the open, plunging themselves into water of dubious chemical composition. Almost everything is done by hand, although we did see some electric washers, hand operated dryers, and even a wood-fired heating tank!
Taking a break from duties Washing the whites Standing in that water all day long...
While it was still fairly early in the day (before 10), the heat was building, but these guys didn’t seem to take much notice. They kept about their labors, squeezing out what profit they could. According to the ‘guide’ we had, the individual stalls (and corresponding water) rent for 300 rupees per month (about $6) and are often kept in a family for generations
Keeping an eye on the tourists Arc of water among a rainbow of clothes!
All they are is a concrete enclosure with a slab for slapping and walls for hanging clothes on. Each piece of clothing has a special symbol written or sewn into it, to identify the delivery vehicle and proper owner – a great piece of organization for a crew that is probably primarily illiterate.
Clean clothes ready to hang up Finished product drying
And of course, the final product was usually hung up in colorful lines across the rooftops. We were shown which areas were for clothes getting ready for export, which were from the major hotels, and which were from smaller institutions. While we were there, business was slow but steady, and it was cool to walk through without it being too much of a hassle. The dhobi ghats are a Mumbai institution, and the stop gave us another idea of the goings on of the Maximum City.

(This page is replicated on our website if you prefer that sort of layout…)

Dadar Flower Market

We spent a massive Mumbai Saturday yesterday, rolling around some places in the city that we wanted to see before leaving. One of these was the flower market in Dadar. I’ve also posted pictures and descriptions on the webpage, so check out the first installment of, oh, 4 or 5 from the day. BTW, happy Easter!

A few from Oman…

Yeah, we’re just back from spring break, but still knee deep in Christmas pictures. No promises that they’ll all be up by the time we leave India. I still have shots from Varanasi last May to put up! There are a few on the webpage now to go through, go get ’em while they’re hot…

Return from Rajasthan

And we’re home again from another week in the hinterland. For our last big vacation in India, we revisited Jodhpur and Udaipur, while introducing ourselves to Jaisamler, the Jain temple at Ranakpur, and the huge fort at Kumbhalgarh.

During that time, India won the cricket world cup, an Indian activist started and ended his hunger strike, and the festival of Gangaur took place. Granted, we didn’t know too much about the hunger strike bit, but we sure had first hand knowledge of the cricket tournament and the festival!

We will – inshallah – get many pictures and travelogue bit added to the webpage, but I’ll just post a few here for the time being. There is a whole album on Facebook which anyone can access, so you can see a few more shots there.

Now it is time to settle in for the home stretch!

Festival of Nations

American FamilyWell, India pulled it off last night, and so Saturday is the big final match between them and Sri Lanka: in Mumbai – whoo hoo! For better or for worse, we will not be around, as our spring break starts Friday, and the Stutz family is off on our fourth (4th!!) trip to Rajasthan.

As is the norm, our last day before break is our school’s celebration of all the nationalities and cultures that make us a community – our Festival of Nations. And, as is the norm, we came decked out in our USA best. Here’s our picture of the day from our family, and we’ll be back blogging after the break. Adios!

 

Breck’s birthday

Breck and the Tron game!Breck had been all bummed out because we were going to miss his birthday, as mom and dad had planned on flying to London today for the start of the recruiting fair. But, since we finalized things with Jakarta just 2 days ago, we got to spend this special day together as a family (and, because today is India’s Republic Day, we got to spend it at home!).

Breck started out the morning with a bit of a sleep in, and then it was off to the presents! He got a bunch of Nerf darts for his guns, a Clone Wars DVD, a Tron game for the Wii, and 3 (three!!) Star Wars PC games!! Holy electronic birthday, Batman!

Breck's cake(It will be interesting, however, to see what happens when we move to a Mac platform school next year, however. I wonder if he’ll be able to get as much play with the games there as he does here…)

After a full day of video game playing and pool splashing, we finished off the evening with a bit of homework and then the cake and ice cream finale. After he got re-dressed to look appropriate for the pictures(!), he blew out his candle and even practiced wetting his fingers to douse the flame.

Then it was early to bed, since he (and dad) are catching a ride to basketball practice at 5:45 in the a.m. Yee-haw!

Oman pictures

Back from our 3-week trek through the gulf, here are some pictures of our journeys. No super great info here (and these are the same as I posted on Facebook), but a quick glimpse of a few of our 4,124 shots from the trip!

End of year greeting!

So here it is, our Alea-designed Christmas/New Year’s card. Our yearly summary is much more succinct than usual, but you are welcome to read it.

Merry Christmas 2010!

(click for an even larger version)

Wishing you and yours the very best of holiday seasons!

The Stutz family