headermask image

roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

category archive listing Category Archives: Life in India

The cone of shame

Our pretty little horny kitty came home from the vet today, minus her ovaries and plus a shaved belly. She sported the infamous plastic “Cone of Shame” (which is apparently officially known as an Elizabethan Collar) to keep her from licking her incision.

Linsea and Dori hit it right off again, playing and wrestling (to our concerned chagrin – he goes in for spaying next week!), so there seem to be no concerns about them remembering each other. With Alea gone on her Project Week adventure to Manado, watching Linsea bob and weave her head as she stumbles around the house makes a great antidote to missing her!

 

 

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.

An Eye for Art

Another great benefit of working in a world-class school is access to all sorts of cultural experiences we would have missed elsewhere. We’ve met figures from the global stage, dined with billionaires, and had evenings out on the town with business leaders. Our school has hosted world-class exhibitions and conferences, the students have had international sports stars visit, the theater program is rife with the offspring of Bollywood bigwigs, and the music program performs in fancy venues in Mumbai and internationally.

For me personally, however, the things I appreciate are those that I can touch, see, and keep. And that usually boils down to art – something with which this school is abundantly blessed. In addition to the photographers who roam our halls (have you been checking out this blog? You should be…), we have some fantastic painting artists (I’m sure there is a more correct way to write that, but I don’t know what it is) on staff.

We’ve bought multiple pieces of art from Jenn Baugh, our elementary art teacher, and Susan was given a work of hers as a going away gift. If you’ve ever been to India or read our blog, you’ll understand why she was so taken with it!

 

Horn OK Please

We’ve also purchased 3 pieces from Drishti Vora, another art teacher at the school. Both Susan and I really like the style of work that she does, and several friends have commented on them (and then commissioned pieces for themselves!).

Four Panel Buddha Blue Ganeshes
Red Panels


 
It was thus kind of fun to run across an article on Drishti in this weekend’s paper. Susan snipped it out and stuck it on the back of our Buddha painting, but I was lucky enough to come across a scanned-in version of it. Pretty fun stuff!

 

Drishti's article

Rain

We’ve been seeing clouds for the past few weeks, but yesterday the first drops fell. Monsoon is nowhere near officially starting, but Breck was able to “dance in the rain” (his words) for a few minutes at the end of the school day. After a crazy weekend filled with late nights /early mornings – coaches’ party and Quiz night – we might very well have seen the last of the outdoor parties. There are tons of things scheduled over our last 3 weeks in India, but it remains to be seen whether they can take place outside or inside!

(Just for the record, my prediction is for a heavy rainfall on the evening of the 8th grade ceremony – June 3rd – just as there has been every year that we’ve been in Bombay)

Mango Mania

Alphonso mangoesYou’d think that, for all the attention given these orange fruit, the mango was India’s national food. Oh wait – I guess it is!

The mango crop is coming into season, and so everyone is going bonkers over getting the bestest pieces possible. I love the fact that our food service company (Sodhexo, the same company that caters schools, companies, and college campuses all over the world) sent us the following announcement this afternoon (accompanied by the attached picture):

Now is the time when mangoes are in season and, as we all know, the best mangoes you can buy are the Alphonso variety. Currently market rate is around 400 INR a dozen but Sodexo  has managed to secure a deal with a supplier to provide them on site for 125 INR for a half dozen.

Each box is packed with three ripe and three semi ripe fruit and all fruits are guaranteed carbide free (calcium carbide is used by lesser suppliers to speed up the ripening process). Of course, mangoes have many other benefits including being high in iron and fiber. Some studies have also shown mangoes are useful to children who lack concentration in studies as it contains glutamine acid which is good to boost memory and keep cells active.

Sale from 12 noon to 4 pm. in the Atrium.   Please come along and enjoy the fruit of the season .

Orange you glad you’ve seen India?

One of our teachers here organized a photography exhibit, and asked students and staff to submit photos. He forgot to mention that there was any sort of limit, so I daydreamed up a theme centered around the color orange, and played with a bunch of pictures over the weekend. I messed around with a ton, edited 13, and submitted a set of 9 which all went along with the question at the top.

As it turns out, he only wanted us to send in 4, so together we culled things down and substituted one color picture in place of its black and white cousin. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are the 5 that went in.

Woman in Orange (Jodhpur) Temple candles (Dharamsala) Jain boy in temple (Jaisalmer) Chinese fishing nets (Kerala) Tea time! (Bikaner)

In case anyone is wondering, here are the others that were “culled” from the set:

Prowling tiger (Ranthambore) Woman and child (Bikaner) Evening at the Taj (Agra) Ganges morning (Varanasi)

 

Dhobi ghats (Mumbai) Ganesh (Mumbai) Spices (Kerala) Monk and Buddha (Ellora)

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!

Mariamman festival, complete with face piercing

Staring manEvery day in India, you will see something that you’ve never seen before. That has been an article of faith during our time here, and today was absolutely no exception.

I was taking the kids shopping, spending some birthday money gift certificates and such, when we passed a big truck decorated in honor of Sai Baba just around the corner from our home. Being a big Sai Baba fan, I called Susan and asked her to go down and take some pictures.

About an hour later, I got a frantic phone call from her, telling me absolutely not to take the kids back there. As I hadn’t planned on doing so anyway, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was. Only when we made it back home did I understand why she was concerned they not go.

Apparently there is a festival going on dedicated to the goddess Mariamman – at least that is the best I can figure out – wherein piercing and pain are supposed to bring the devotee closer to god. People would have priests poke holes in their cheeks and push through a 10 foot pole. Susan was a trooper and took pictures, even though she said she was getting physically ill watching the goings-on.

Friends of ours caught up with the procession as it moved on from our neighborhood, and they actually saw people hooked through their skin and then lifted into the air! We didn’t see that (and hence have no pictures of it), but if I can find a public gallery I will link to it here.

Jesusfest

Is it just me, or is the idea of calling a big religious event “Jesusfest” sort of, well, sacrilegious? I suppose that this is, after all, India, where there are loud and colorful festivals for every conceivable religious reason, and nothing should surprise us any more. We have noticed the signs for this during our time in Mumbai, but have never actually taken a picture.

Well, this year is the year I finally snapped that shot. So here, in all its glory, is the poster for Jesusfest 2011 (with the subheading of “Celebrating the Beatification of Pope John Paul III”).

JesusFest 2011

If you are interested in the event, you can certainly visit their website (http://www.mtcarmelyouthmovement.com). I’ve also posted below the “official” posters from the past 3 years, for your viewing enjoyment!

JesusFest 2009 Official Poster JesusFest 2010 Official Poster JesusFest 2011 Official Poster

What else do you need?!

Child Beer and English for saleNot a fantastic photo by any sort of journalistic standards, but it is a great India shot.

In addition to the infamous “Child Beer” for sale at this Jaisalmer shop, this place also specializes in that ever-elusive “English” to go with their burgeoning wine and beer supplies.

Cheerio, little kiddies!

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!

 

Why you should care about cricket

Not my words, but poignant nonetheless. It is a long article by ESPN, summing up perfectly the mania surrounding this sport – and the players – here in India.

As I type this, fireworks are exploding all around, as India defeats Pakistan to advance to the cricket cup finals. Most businesses were closed down for the game, and it is estimated that more than a billion people are watching tonight.

Take a look at what the hype is all about when you have a lot of time to spare.

Wicket War!

India's crazy sportsmenSo India is cricket crazy – no surprise there. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the International Cricket Cup is going on right now – the World Cup (or Super Bowl, if you prefer) of international cricket. The tournament is being hosted by India, and for the last month or so the airwaves have been dominated by news of the games.

Right now I am watching the New Zealand team play Sri Lanka in the semifinal, and looking pretty shoddy at it. They just finished all out for 217 (which is ok, but probably not enough to win the game. Don’t understand? Don’t worry).

I do have to say that I was rooting for the Kiwis, since I work and coach with one here. She even made me wear a black shirt today, since all the New Zealand national teams have black as their main color and part of their name. According to her, the most famous is the rugby team – the All Blacks, but others include the basketball team – the Tall Blacks, the cricket team – the Black Caps, the (field) hockey team – the Black Sticks, and of course the infamous badminton team – the Black Cocks.

Ahem.

Since we don’t have a tv connection (we only use it to watch movies or play Wii), normally we’d be out of luck. But ESPN has taken a chance on streaming all the games live, and apparently been rewarded quite handsomely for it. So if you are dinging around online, check out http://www.espnstar.com/cwclive/index.html (and don’t worry – the games are 8 hours long, so your chances are pretty good to catch one, regardless of the time zone in which you live!).

Getting back to the matter of cricket mania, tomorrow is the other semifinal game – between India and Pakistan. Nuclear threat aside, these are two of the most cricket mad countries in the world, and the match is expected to be outstanding. How outstanding? Outstanding enough that our school is shutting down during the last block of the day, in time to project the game on the gym wall and provide snacks, food, and supper for “maintenance, guards, cleaners, teachers and students!”

I’ve heard of snow days, but this is the first cricket day in my teaching history. Goooo India!!!!

 

Earth hour – sorta

Last night was the observation of “Earth Hour,” when people supposedly turned out their lights between 8:30 and 9:30 to symbolically save energy and save the earth. The newspapers today crowed about Mumbai’s success in this endeavor:

For one hour on Saturday, between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm, the city dimmed its lights to mark the fifth annual Earth Hour. Families switched off their TVs and electrical appliances; in many restaurants diners ate in candlelight; and heritage buildings plunged into darkness to help save 103 mega watts (MW) of power—the highest ever since Mumbai joined the world in observing Earth Hour in 2008.

However, judging from our observations from the rooftop, there wasn’t a whole lot of darkness to be seen. Most of the town blazed away (s0 to speak), pretty oblivious to the eco-observation going on. Even the newspaper headlines were pretty ironic: “Earth Hour: In darkness, Mumbai shines.”

Of course the worst was the picture that was in the print edition of the newspaper today. Really looks like Mumbai is doing its part!!

Mumbai Earth Hour

 

Goin’ Commando

Goin' Commando!Since the terrorist attacks of a few years ago, there has been an increase in the number of Special Forces type police and military around the city. We were behind these two on the way to school one morning, and a colleague of ours took this shot through the bus window (thanks Marc!!). When we passed them up later on the route, we saw that the fronts of their shirts did indeed have “Mumbai Police” stitched on them.

It seemed to be a driving lesson of sorts, as the guy in back seemed to be trying to teach the guy in front how to operate a motorcycle. He almost banged into a couple of vehicles, but they were off on their own way before we saw any serious damage.

Interestingly, there is actually a law in Mumbai requiring motorcycle drivers (but not passengers) to wear a helmet, and there are always scathing editorials about the police not leading by example. I guess going commando really does mean no headgear, in any context!

Holi

Dave's Holi eyes!One of our favorite Indian holidays was today, and we again made the most of it. Check out pictures from all the day’s activities over on the webpage.

While the red has come out of my eyes, the color is still all over my face, so I’m not sure what it will be like teaching the kiddies tomorrow! It’ll probably be quite ok, however, as I’m guessing that many of them will be sporting leftover tint as well!

Swingin’ with the Stutzes

Alea and Breck with their instrumentsSo here they are, at the (maybe) last band concert of the year – Alea and Breck with their instruments in tow!

All the bands played great, and it was a super way to end a Wednesday. There’s big pressure on now to buy instruments for them this summer; we’ll have to see what the break brings.

Their band director is a fun guy from Minnesota (he actually taught at the same middle school the kids would attend if we lived in the apartment in Lakeville!), and you can see a goofy picture of him by clicking on the existing shot!

Pizza and Paintball

That’s what Breck wanted to have for his birthday. Since we missed his real birthday (travel plans for a job recruiting fair – that we ended up not needing to attend – precluded celebrations on his actual date), we’d promised to make it up this weekend.

Gathering 8 buddies from school in a rented van to traipse them all around town, we headed up to the suburb of Powai (which is built around a lake that is home to man-eating crocodiles. For real.) While we had no plans to swim in the lake, we did chow down on pizza and then head over to an outdoor paintball arena. For those of you who have never experienced paintball (in 90 degree weather) with a bunch of 12 year old boys, let me tell you that you have missed out on living! I thought testosterone was the source of all the machismo, but these guys – who are not anywhere close to shaving – would give any tall taler a run for his money!

After about an hour and a half of play – and the requisite rehashing of all the kills and strategies and all – we jumped in the bumper cars for a spin and then finished the afternoon at the video arcade.

I think I wore them all out – and me tool. If India can just finish off Ireland in this silly cricket game, then I’m hitting the hay as well!

Quiz Night

The Fab Fours at Quiz NightSo Eddy put together another quiz night, and we threw another great party on the rooftop, and we ate way too much delicious barbecue, and drank way too many beverages, and stayed up way too late at night (or early in the morning), and took way too embarrassing pictures, and had basically way too good a time that we all spent Saturday recovering from.

Unfortunately, the Fab Fours – my team, who had been leading all the way through until the final 2 rounds – were not able to walk off with the winners’ t-shirts this year. We faltered badly in the “name the company whose logo you see” competition – guess we’re just not consumeristic enough.

There are some pictures up on Facebook – and many more which were judiciously left off! – but all in all it was another one for the record books. Maybe I’ll have to steal his supplies and get something going in Jakarta!

Breck’s excuse

Welcome to India.

Breck’s band teacher caught me in the hall today, laughing about Breck’s reason for not having his sheet music in class: “My maid threw it away.”

Have we been out of the USA too long or what !! 🙂

BO in India

Not quite sure this is the most appropriate headline for an article that I’ve ever seen:

The Deols pack super BO punch

(btw, apparently the BO refers to Box Office, but that’s not what I was thinking!)

Indian inflation fears strike the Stutz household

So apparently the ill effects of the economy are now striking our family. Let me explain:

Breck’s hair was getting really long (bear with me – this will make sense in a minute). Susan volunteered to give him a trim this weekend, citing a couple of very rational reasons for getting the cut at home: most Indians have straight hair (so barbers would be less familiar with his curls), she speaks better English than most barbers (and thus would listen to what he said about what he wanted the hair to look), etc.

When he showed up at school today with a nice neat haircut, one of his teachers commented on it, and he replied that he’d had it cut at home “because Indian barber shop prices are rising, and we couldn’t afford to go there.”

Well, yes, Indian barbershop prices are rising, it is true. But I’m pretty sure we can still afford to go, seeings how the current (white man’s, inflated) price is Rs 50, or $1.10.

Hopefully the teacher doesn’t really think money woes are the reason we didn’t take him to a salon! I can only wonder what other stories people hear about us around town…

(I posted pictures from the haircut ‘saloon’ I go to a while back, if you’re interested).

In the Navy

Sign along the highway extolling the virtues of the Indian navyYou can make the bad guys bleed

In the Navy

You will sweat in times of peace

In the Navy

As you sail the Indian Sea

In the Navy! In the Navy!

They want you, they want you, they want you as a new recruit…

(this is a signpost that we’ve passed for years on the way to the airport, and I finally got around to taking a picture of)

Spring break?

No, not an upcoming spring break – a previous spring break. That’s how far behind we are over here at stutzfamily-dot-com.

I’m finally getting around to posting some of the webpages from our trip last April, just as we’re getting ready to leave for Christmas break! Where does the time go?

In any case, here is the beginning of our trip to Jodhpur, Rajasthan. I’m still lagging a bit on the internal navigation, but at least the pictures are up and there is a minimum of text to accompany. I’ll try to get the rest of these posted before we leave again!