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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

A Mumbai poem

We had a Kiara roof coffeehouse evening last Saturday night called CAF-ASB (pronounced Café – S – B). People shared food and showed off their talents in the arts: poetry recitation, singing, music, painting, etc. It was a beautiful evening accented by flickering candles, providing the perfect setting for such an artsy get together.

One of our fellow teachers here, Russell Bell, is a former actor and stand-up comic from the LA area (his blog about life in India is here). He had written a piece of ‘performance poetry’ about Mumbai that he shared with us, and it was so well done that I asked him if I could post it here. While it is much more entertaining “live,” the words and images contained in it still give a good introduction to life here. Of course, if you’ve been to India, some of these will make more sense to you, but in any case, enjoy “Mumbai” by Russell Bell:

Right jaao

Mera nam
Kaise ho
Tik hai

Is it Namaste or Namaskar
Donnavad or Shukria
Did he say yes or did he say no?
(head wobble)

Shilpa Shetty
Shah Ruh Kahn
Amitabh, he’s the Don
Sanjay Dutt, he carried a gun
Aishwarya’s hot!

Where do you walk when the sidewalk’s full?
Which goes first, bus or bull?
I stepped in something, that’s not cool

Mmmm Mumbai

Haj Ali, dhobi Ghat,
Juhu beach, god it’s hot
The big brick buildings seen at Fort
Were put there by the Raj

Chor Bazaar, Harry’s Place
Colaba Hawkers in your face
The British built India Gate
But a Parsi built the Taj

Murg masala


Durga had ten arms,
Krishna loved his curd,
Ganesh’s Dad cut off his head,
At least that’s what I heard

Horn please, honk okay
You can almost taste the air today?
If traffic stops, just drive on the other side.

Where can I go to walk my goat?
Will I ever be able to wear my coat?
Something crunchy just went down my throat

Mmmm Mumbai


I saw another three-legged dog lying in the sun.

The city, it’s chaotic,
A collection of colors and sounds,
It’s a concert of Life
That can be heard from all around
The instruments, the people,
Are divided by language, caste, and faith,
But the music, it’s all written
In one city – one place


1 fish, 2 falcons, and 3 puppies

Who says Mumbai has no wildlife? In addition to the rats we’ve seen running along the sidewalks (for which there are official city jobs dedicated to killing them) and the raven/crows that eat everything the rats miss, Bombay is home to tons of different kinds of animals. Our experiences this weekend centered around 3 specific types.

On Saturday morning, I had volleyball practice and a school meeting, so Susan was at home with the kids and decided to go swimming. There really is no way to describe the fish experience any better than in Susan’s own (edited) words:

At 1:30 today, the kids and I went to the Kiara pool after notifying the guards in the morning that we would be using it. The pool was in miserable shape: debris floating on the top, leaves littering the bottom, and refuse I don’t care to identify swirling in the depths. The kids immediately jumped in and began to clear the pool. Leaves and sticks and bugs accumulated in a pile as they pulled things up from below. A scream shattered our industry as Breck dragged up a dead, decayed fish. He flung it to the side and scrambled out of the pool. I hauled Alea out and went over to the guard ( who had been enjoying watching our labor for the past ten minutes) and wanted to know how a dead fish could have landed in the pool. He raised his hand to the sky and said, “It’s the trees.”

Breck and the puppiesNot a great way to greet the weekend.

Sunday morning dawned as perhaps a better day, but then two mating falcons began screeching at each other in the tree branch right outside our window. Normally I like watching and listening to these large birds of prey, but not at 5:30 on a Sunday morning!

And finally, that afternoon, we were ‘invited’ to adopt some neighborhood puppies. We have a tiny apartment, and I don’t want a dog ripping our stuff apart, and Susan is very responsible about wanting to care for an animal, so the NO answer was easy to give. But Breck still had a ball rolling around with three of the 5 that are available, even though he got a little nip from them.

So there are our animal stories from this weekend – which was definitely a “2 rather than 3” sort of weekend for us. Only 35 more days of school until summer!

Parties and Pictures

Eid dinner!Tonight is the “big” Eid – the end of the pilgimage to Mecca. That means huge parties where animals are slaughtered – great fun for the whole family. We’ve seen people leading their goats all around town getting them ready for the feasting that will be going on. As I write this, a band is downstairs getting all warmed up, as our basement neighbors – the Khans – are hosting a party, complete with lights and all.

Of course, all us heathens will probably be up on the roof drinking beer, still recovering from the white elephant party last night. Susan got a fancy heavy crystal wedding picture frame and Dave got a metal candle holder plus Indian disco cd. Our best gifts, however, were some that were mysteriously left behind at our house by those who had won them – including various cakes, a wooden rooster, and some “Kama Sutra Body Spray” – yummy!!!

While there are no pictures from those festivities, we do have some new ‘catch up’ pages being posted: school pictures of the kids and parents, some shots from life around the apartment, and another “View of Life in India” page.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving in IndiaPumpkin muffins, apples, corn, peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, peppers, corn on the cob, jello, apple crisp, stuffing, casserole, and … tandoori chicken. Welcome to India.

We celebrated on Saturday, since we had a full school day on Thursday and went to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Friday for our day off. Mom and dad spent part of the morning doing a little shopping for Christmas presents and decorations, so we are doing a good job of integrating our holidays!

We all ate too much – the kids on veggies, mom on apple crisp, and dad on sweet potatoes – and then got our energy out by playing the Terminator game (this is a Breck invention, although he has never seen the movie. One person shoots a nerf dart at the other two, and if you get hit then you are the shooter).

The evening ended with a little Skype conversation with family in Minnesota, which brought a good holiday to a fun end. As Yoda would say, “Lots to be thankful for we have.”

Pictures from our day at the park are here…


BB the turtleAnd here she is, our second pet. Given almost the same name as the original gecko we caught outside, Be-Be ended up in our lives as kind of an afterthought. The kids had been pestering Susan about getting an animal, but she wasn’t budging (although I hope to persuade her about a cat some day).

Stella, our housekeeper, happened to be in the room during one of these conversations and she told Alea that she could get her a turtle the next time she went back to her village, as they were all over there. Well, we didn’t think much more about it until the day that we can home from school and found her swimming in a big plastic bowl in the kitchen (Be-Be, not Stella).

Susan ran out and got a fish tank and some rocks, and Be-Be has inhabited a corner of Alea’s room since then. We started her off on a diet of carrot slices, rice, and chopped veggies, but she has since moved up to chomping on any bugs we can find for her. It is a source of great amusement for the kids (just as the gladiator shows probably were for those little Roman children) to watch her chase bugs around that are twice her size, trying to take a bite out of them before they escape. Susan loves to watch Be-Be for signs of ‘surfing,’ which is when she climbs up on a rock and sticks her arms and legs out to catch the heat.

Happy Halloween!

Stutz family at Halloween 2007So here it is, one day after our Diwali shindig, and we had the big Halloween get together. (You can bet the kids are just going nuts at school with all the parties, candy, days off, and break coming up.) We had a trick or treating night at our apartment building, and all staff kids were invited to go up and down the stairs, knocking on all the doors and getting tons of candy. There were even ‘adult treats’ being cracked open in one of the apartments.

A few more pictures of the evening are posted here.

Breck and Alea did pretty well, and held their own in the trading sessions that followed. I was pretty excited to see that someone had even gotten ahold of Reese’s somehow, and so I made sure to ‘encourage’ them to trade for those!!

Susan the pirate picked up the same cold that Breck and Alea had, and so she stayed for a bit as the pirate greeting the kids, but then she did make her way around to give holiday greetings to all. She was not feeling any better this morning, but still decided to come in to school, but was not sure if she would make it all day. (I find it amusing that our driver has the day off on Thursdays, and that is the day of the week that everyone in our family has been the sickest!) Hopefully she’ll be feeling better by this weekend!


Oktoberfest 2007Was a blast! We had a great crew of people show up, and we ate, drank, and danced the night away. Breck and some buddies were the ‘no shirt club,’ keeping things under control in the apartment, and Alea and her friends were very excitedly dancing to all the songs. It will absolutely become a Bombay tradition as we go forward from here. I have to run this morning for a week in Matheran, but will post a picture of the yummy keg we were able to get. Auf wiedersehen…

Week’s end

Breck's Crazy Hair!!Whew. This week went out like a lion. It has been crazy, crazy, crazy around school as everyone in the middle and high school prepares for the “Week Without Walls” that kicks off next Monday. I’ll be traveling with the 6th graders to Matheran for 5 days of team- and class-building activities. They are super excited about going, and I’m getting more so by the day.

Unfortunately on the home front, Alea has had to stay home the past 2 days with the same yucky cough thing that Breck had last week. She’s really bummed, because today was Crazy Hair day at the Elementary School and she was part of the group that organized and designed the day. Luckily, Breck was there to pick up the Stutz family participatory slack!

But at least we all have Oktoberfest to look forward to. My list of things to do after school is pretty super long…

One of my colleagues told a little story about an occurrence in class, and it seems like a great way to end the week. Because kids read this, we’ll replace bad language with little stars!!

It is quite an experience to be teaching with a bunch of kids for whom the English language, in all its beauty and nuance, is not their mother tongue. (Keep in mind this event happened in a class full of innocent elementary school kids – not the high schoolers!) Apparently the teacher made a mistake and said, “Shoot!” in class. One little girl gasped and said, “That’s a bad word!” To which another boy replied, “No, Shoot is ok to say, but S**T is a bad word.” Some other kid perked up and goes, “My dad says that G**D****T is much worse than that.” And the sweet little angel across the room pipes up, “But my brother said that F**K was the worst word of all.” Poor teacher had to wait a few moments, hand over giggling mouth, before retaking control of the situation.

Just a little flavor of the week, from all of us to all of you.

Our house

I just got a new digital camera for my class, so I took pictures at home this morning to make sure it is working (that IS Breck still in bed). They are too big to be emailed, so you can check them out here.

Eid Mubarak

Eid celebrationWell the kids are in bed, but the fireworks are just starting to go off all over. It is Eid, the end of a month of fasting for Mulsims, and our neighbors downstairs are gearing up for a big party tonight. I wonder how that will compare with the Oktoberfest party we are planning for next Saturday? Many of the drivers at school are Muslim, and most have been fasting, so the afternoon rides home – when they’re feeling the effects of a full day with no food – have not been for the faint of heart!

It is pretty interesting to live in a place where all these different festivals coexist so well. The Ganesh season just wrapped up and there is another Hindu festival happening now too (with however many hundreds of god there are, it is no surprise that there always seems to be a party going on). And the Christians have… Halloween right around the corner!! (let’s see how many hackles get raised with that comment!)

Elementary soccer teamHad the big elementary school soccer tournament today – last day of coaching for me (yay!). We went 2-0-1, but the team we tied won on goal differential. Oh well, it was a fun day in the sun. The tough part about it was that Breck wanted to be on the team, but there were only 12 allowed (and 63 went out). Kind of a rough deal to have to make cuts in grades 1 through 3.

Anyways, after swimming with the kids, we all spent a quiet afternoon getting ready for Monday. We will be going to an Eid celebration tomorrow too, so will be interested in seeing how that goes.