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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Back from one, off on another

Alea and Dave got back from our Week Without Walls trips on Thursday and Friday respectively, and now we are all packing up for our week long trip to Udaipur. Mom and Breck had some quality alone time, including day of canceled school! There had been some political unrest with a nationalistic party (the same group that had been causing problems earlier), and the police arrested the leader on Tuesday. Because of the possibility of trouble at the courthouse – just down the road from ASB – school was cancelled Wednesday. This, of course, had no bearing on us since we were out of the city, but it gave Susan and Breck some ‘at home’ time. (Some teachers took the opportunity to go shopping and get their nails done, as apparently there was no issue in our part of town, but the Stutz’s decided to stay home)

In any case, our trips were great – exhausting and physically demanding, but very satisfying overall. Both trips did some hiking, rappelling, outdoors cooking, as well as exploring India’s flora and fauna. Alea went to Matheran with the 6th grade, and did many of the same activities that Dave’s kids did last year. She found a scorpion, however – something that none of us ever saw! Talk about a fantastic find on her part!

The 7th grade trip to Durshet was centered around developing some teamwork, mountaineering, and orienteering skills that would allow the kids to track down and capture Veerappan, an infamous Indian bandit. The conclusion of the trip was them capturing him and throwing him in the pool – that’s where the picture is from. We made village visits and climbed to Buddhist caves – all of which will get written about in due time.

For now, however, we are off to Rajasthan for a week. When we get back, I will make efforts to get the pages from the last few weeks up and running. According to my count, I will be behind by 5 pages: Goa, Life in India 6, Week Without Walls, Village Life, and Udaipur. Of course, we also have a Halloween parade that first week back (it is being held November 8 here, since everyone is on vacation during the real date), we get back to teaching, soccer practices start on Wednesdays and Mathcounts on Thursdays, so those might be a bit slow coming out.

Who knows – we’ll figure it all out! Have a great Halloween!

Nature in Matheran

Alea is getting ready for her first Week Without Walls trip, as the 6th graders gear up to visit Matheran. I went with them last year, but am accompanying the 7th grade to Durshet this time around, so she’ll be on her own (to mom’s chagrin).

When we were planning our school trip last year, a group of teachers went for a ‘recce’ (I guess that is short for ‘reconnoiter’) and we went as a family. We stayed at the hotel that the school uses, and got to spend the weekend exploring.

As I was cleaning out some papers today, I came across a ‘notebook entry’ that Breck had made on the way home from the trip (he wants everyone to know that he was in the car when he was writing it!). I figured that, in honor of Alea’s upcoming trip and in light of the fun times he described, I’d post his description of Nature in Matheran. You can certainly compare that with pictures from our trip and see how wonderfully accurate his writing is!

(what follows is the ‘translation’ of his note)

Nature in Matheran

Waterfalls, crabs, snakes, and iguana. In cliff clouds. Hike forest, monkeys on building. Lots of trees. Horses. Monkeys saw in woods.

Week without Walls update

As promised earlier, and just in time for our weekend off, the WWW pages are now posted. Enjoy!

Back in Bombay

Dave at Week Without WallsReturned from the Week without Walls trip on Friday afternoon and got lots of hot and sweaty hugs from the kids (and mom too, although she wasn’t quite as hot and sweaty at that point). The whole week itself was far too full of stuff to detail here, but I’m sure the webpage will be up at some point (and I’ll put a link to it).

Link added Nov 2…

We went to the Jogeshwari bazaar area yesterday to look for a dining room table. The one supplied with the apartment is round, and we find ourselves tipping it over whenever someone leans against it, so we decided that we wanted to get a rectangular one. The aspect of life in India that we seem to find the most frustrating is the traffic. It took us 45 minutes each way to get out to that part of town (which really should be about 10-15 minutes with a normal road pattern). Once we got out there, we wandered around just a little, but then realized that – although it seems like a great place to have something custom made – we are not quite ready to dedicate the time required to have that done (at least not with the kids along). So we packed back up and went back into the traffic again. When we got back home, the kids played with their friends all afternoon, mom and dad ran some errands for the upcoming Halloween week, and there was peace all around.

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.

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.