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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

category archive listing Category Archives: Suz

Front page revisited

Well, it is official. Everyone in my family is certifiably photogenic except me. Our school has a rotating image front page to the website, and Alea graced the cover a few months ago. This weekend, while doing homework, we saw that the image set had been redone, and now both Susan and Breck get their shot at ASB stardom:

Susan on ASB's front page

Breck on ASB's front page

Way to go, my famous family!!

Surprise! Happy Birthday and a half…

Huge weekend plans for Breck – his birthday is on Monday, which is also Chinese New Year this year as well as India’s Republic Day. Since that is one of only two national secular holidays, it is celebrated with parades and fireworks and a day off from school; he is pretty darn excited about having no school on his birthday.

Since this is a great opportunity to have a lot of fun with him, we had a ton of stuff planned. On Friday he took treats to school and then went to a friend’s house to play (while mom and dad both had separate TGIF parties to attend). On, Saturday we had a birthday party for him at home with some friends, after which Dave took them all to a nearby mall (nearby meaning a little less than an hour in traffic each way) for video games and Pizza Hut. Today he is enjoying all his friends’ gifts – righ now he is trying to figure out how to play a new Star Wars computer game. And on Monday, we’ll do a family thing with him. What a lucky guy!

Susan was really annoying me, however, all day on Saturday. Because of the vagaries of trying to ‘time’ how long it will take to get anywhere, we had told kids’ parents that we’d be done around 6 in the evening. For some reason, Susan kept calling the whole time we were at the mall and coming home: “What are you doing now?” “Are you eating yet?” “How come you haven’t left yet?” “What’s taking you so long to get home?” etc… I was tempted to just shut off the phone, and was getting tired of being nagged so much.

We finally rolled in at 6:20, which I thought was pretty darn good. As I walked in the door, Susan grabbed me and said, “I need you to help Alea on the roof. She’s gotten into a huge fight with one of her friends up there and I don’t know what to do about them.” So here I am, after a full day of babysitting a bunch of 4th graders at the mall, being dragged into some kind of middle school catfight. Sigh.

Dave's party

When we made it up to the roof, I turned the corner and a whole bunch of people started singing, “Happy Birthday.” My first thought was that I needed to get Breck up right away, since he was missing his song. Then I noticed that they were all looking at me and laughing (which, granted, isn’t that unusual an occurence), so I figured that something else was going on. When the voices stopped, Susan explained that it was my half birthday, and since I have never had a full on birthday party (because we and our peers are always dispersed across the globe by the time June rolls around), she had set up a surprise “Half Birthday” party. Seeings how my next age change brings up the big 4-0, that fit even more splendidly into her plans.

Having a huge group of people waiting around explains her ‘nagginess’ during the day, as she wanted to make sure that I would be home at a reasonable hour, so I guess I can forgive her! It was a perfect evening for a party, and there was a ton of barbecued meat, catered snacks, and cold drinks. People kept saying “Halfy Birthday” which I thought was cute, and brought all sorts of fun gifts for an old man. One of the most original was “Four Teas for Forty” – a selection of herbal teas, each of which is supposed to help shore up different bodily functions for the elderly: mental agility, iron absorption, bowel regularity, and, ahem, “physical fitness for matrimonial relationship building.”

As things turned out however, that last tea wasn’t needed after the party. Nope, not needed at all:

It turned out that Breck’s teacher brought cigars, and Breck was so distraught at seeing his teacher smoking (having seen very graphic pictures of the effects of smoking during our trip to Thailand) that, after the party, he had to cuddle with mom all night.

So I ended up just kind of cleaning up on the roof after my own party. And then crashing, alone. Thanks alot, Mr. Jordan.

The new school pictures are here!

Check ’em out – Alea and Breck ready to take on the world:

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(you can also see the pictures from last year, as well as those from even earlier grades…)

Pictures from Kerala

Kathakali dancer in Fort Kochi, KeralaFinally got the Kerala trip webpages all finished up and posted. The last big trip of the year always seems to get rushed in at the end of everything. With all the stuff going on lately – the end of school and getting ready for summer – they kept getting put off…

But now they’re on – just in time for Susan’s birthday (happy birthday, honey!!).

Honestly, with all the tragedy going on right now in this part of the world – from cyclones in Burma to earthquakes in China to bombs in India – it just feels good to be able to write about a pleasant vacation and include some happy pictures. So enjoy, and take a load off for a few minutes!

Holy Holi, Batman!

Holi in MumbaiWhat a rookie mistake. You’d think that after 38 years of life and more than 6 months in Mumbai I would have learned my lesson.

I made the number one error that expats living in India simply cannot afford to make: I left the house without a camera. Inexcusable, especially given that I knew it was a holiday, and a holiday that would be colorful and peopleful and photographableful.

Let me explain, if not excuse.

Today is Holi, an Indian holiday that is pretty much right in line with Easter (which is tomorrow). It is not like Easter in terms of Jesus being crucified and then coming back to life, but rather in the sense that it is built on the idea of an agricultural theme: death and rebirth and all that. Holi celebrates the coming of the spring season and the ‘recoloring’ of the countryside as plants sprout and grow. To celebrate the occasion, Indians spend the morning spraying each other with colored water, throwing water balloons filled with paint, and generally turning friends, acquaintances, and strangers into walking tie-dyes.

We – being a bit worried about some of the stories we’d heard about unsafe dyes and dangerous chemicals – decided to forgo the celebrations (and actually spent the morning engaging in our own, Western, take on the idea of paint celebrating the spring – we colored Easter eggs!). But this afternoon, Breck had been invited to a birthday party, so he and I had to head out in a rickshaw to “The Club” located in a suburb north of us.

Now Breck (and Alea) have been really funny lately about Susan and me taking pictures, and that is the only possible rationalization for what I did. I had everything all set up – battery charged, card cleared, bag packed – and then, like a total fool, decided not to bring the camera along. I didn’t forget it, I just didn’t bring it.

Holi in MumbaiWe went out, and before we even got into a rick, I realized that I had made a mistake of colossal proportions. People were all over the place, simply covered head to foot in pink, blue, purple, yellow, green, silver: every color imaginable. As we made our way north, we passed motorcycles full of painted families, rickshaws jammed with smiling kids, the streets teeming with colorful Indians. They would smile and wave at Breck and me, just happy to be out and about with the fresh paint dripping everywhere. And I had gone out without a camera.

By the time we got to the club, I was literally sick to my stomach. Not only had we passed incredible sights along the way, but I knew that I was stuck at the birthday party all afternoon: everything would be over by the time we got home. Talk about a wasted opportunity – unbelievable. I called Susan and managed to convince her to go out and take some pictures. She wasn’t too excited about doing so and so only went out around the block near our house (which is not a hotbed of activity by any means). But she did get a few shots, and those are what you see here.

I am glad that she did go out, and of course she tries to soothe my self-anger with, “Oh well, you can always take pictures next year.” Unfortunately, next year Holi is on Wednesday, a work day, not Saturday. I am simply disgusted with myself for going so far against my better judgment and letting such an almost once in a lifetime opportunity slip away. If you are in India on Holi, do not under any circumstances go out without your camera. You will hate yourself in the morning.

ASB’s “Sail Away” Gala

Dave and Susan getting ready for the gala (picture by Alea)The highlight of the school’s social calendar is a huge gala dinner, dance, and PTA fundraising party. This year it was held at the Grand Hyatt hotel, and gave Dave and Susan a chance to dress up and spend a night out.

Of course, there were those who were far better dressed than Dave – tuxedos were not a rare sight at all (although the elementary school principal did look pretty resplendent in a maroon paisley patterned smoking jacket) – but none that looked better than Susan. The women came in a mix of formal gowns, slinky feathered slit-up-to-here dresses, and fancy silk and gold saris. All in all, a pretty high tone affair.

The dinner was fantastic – it was great to have meat meat meat after all India’s vegetarian fare: the lamb chops were by far Dave’s favorite, while Susan grooved on the schwarma. Some of the teachers and mothers had practiced a Bollywood dance routine that they showed off on the dance floor that was a definite highlight as well. While we didn’t score any of the the raffle picks or door prizes, we did win a silent auction for a silver necklace that Susan really liked, so now she has some new jewelry.

After whirling and twirling our way around the floor, we caught a rickshaw home – real classy, huh, in our formal outfits?! After we woke up and got the babysitter down to her home, we actually kicked back in the livingroom with a beer; it has been a long time since we’ve done that at 2:00 in the morning!

ASB Unplugged

ASB UnpluggedThe whole school is aflutter this week because of a big technology conference we are hosting. There are administrators and tech personnel coming in from at least 26 international schools, and the 3-day conference is a huge showcase for the day-to-day uses of tech in the educational arena. Many teachers are personally delivering workshops: Susan is leading a group on the use of a digital document camera in the first grade classroom while Dave has ‘farmed out’ his presentations to students – they’ll be showcasing subject specific programs to the conference attendees.

It is a pretty big deal for the school, as ASB is very much on the cutting edge of computer use in the classroom. In the middle and high school, all students have a tablet computer (think “laptop with swiveling screen”) that they bring with them to all classes. The elementary school kids have a good deal of computer exposure as well – witness Alea’s webpage and Breck’s class blog. Of course, there are also a million other things going on, from grades being due to a PTA formal party, so there’s no chance to sit back and bask in glory!

Just to keep things in perspective, however, I did have to laugh at what I got when I googled the asb unplugged conference:
ASB Unplugged on Google

I was relieved to note that – no, people didn’t (necessarily) consider the conference to be ‘dangerously irrelevant’ – this is the name of a blog run by Scott McLeod, one of the keynote speakers at the conference. Whew!

The saga begins…

So Uncle Rob wrote me a nasty email the other day saying “You ought to list everything that you show on the front of the webpage. What’s wrong bonehead, haven’t you ever heard of a blog?” Or words to that effect. So we’ll give it a try. No guarantees on how often it’ll be updated, but at least I’ll try to get links in to our most recent stuff and all.

I don’t understand it, though. I thought the cool thing about the web was that you could see things – you know, pictures, videos – cool stuff. Who wants to sit around and read a bunch of text? Well, apparently Uncle Rob does.

So what is the story so far? Our family, after living for four years in Belgrade, Serbia (actually, Dave lived there 4 years, while Susan and the kids went back to the states after 3, but that is a long enough story to preclude it’s being retold or explained here), moved to Bombay (Mumbai) India in the fall of 2007. The parents are both teachers – Susan is doing 1st grade this year, and Dave has middle school math and technology – who are riding the international circuit – and their two kids are in 3rd (Breck) and 5th (Alea) grade.

We’ve had a family webpage for 10 years (8 at the present domain name), with one of the more voluminous areas being the travel pictures we post. When we came to India, we started right up showing people what our life was like.

We’ve spent the first two months settling in, and I guess that is what got Dave’s brother Rob all bent out of shape. We’d posted a number of pages with the things that we’d seen, but apparently not well enough organized to keep him happy. Here then, in the order that we did them, are the pages that already appear on the India webpage. Sorry for the late start, but I’ll try to keep things more to your liking from now on. Satisfied now?

Our first pages were built on letters that we wrote to family and friends about out first impressions. Interestingly enough, we called them “First view of life in India” and “Second view of life in India.” I forgot to warn you about the strong literary streak running through my blood, didn’t I? Then the kids and I discovered a gecko on the roof, so we shared info about “Our first pet.” Guess I’ll have to put something up now about our second pet, seeings how we’ve got one now. But you’ll have to wait…

After we got settled in a bit we made a trip downtown shopping at Chor Bazaar (the reason I’m not writing too much about these is that I’m playing catch-up ball, and the info is already located on the pages themselves. We then took a weekend trip to Lonavala, which was where all this fussin hoopla started, because it was there that we visited the Karla caves – named after my sister (and after Susan’s too, but hers is with a C not a K).

We were here in time to see the Ganesh immersion festival, attend an arts and crafts fair, and hike around Matheran. There is a lot more scheduled to happen, including a trip to Goa at the beginning of November, so hopefully this will keep Uncle Rob satisfied.