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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

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.

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!

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!

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!

Christmas Eve

Buddha hanging out in the Christmas treeYes, yes, it is technically about a week early, but who really knows what went on in that Judaen manger so many years ago? I’m sure the birthers are demanding a notarized birth certificate, but I’m going to cut JC some slack and claim that celebrating a few days ahead of time is perfectly ok.

We are off to Oman tomorrow for our winter break, and we figured that Santa needed to be able to hook up with us before we took off, so we set the table and got everything all ready for him. Breck and Alea put out cookies and beer, just the sort of thing to encourage him to leave lots of gifts! Unfortunately Mrs. Claus has really not been feeling well the past few days, so that put a bit of a damper on things.

As I was waiting for Kris to show up, I thought I’d take a few artsy fartsy Christmas tree light pictures, and they turned out pretty cool. The thing I found worked well was not to take the pictures of the lights themselves, but rather of their reflection in the window behind the tree.

In any case, I like them, and one of these is now my desktop wallpaper!

Christmas tree lights Christmas tree lights

Bishnoi

A simple word meaning “29,” the Bishnoi are a tribe that lives in Rajasthan, scratching out a living from the desert (and often working as long haul truchdrivers).

We visited a household during our spring break trip last year, and the pictures (and travelogue) are now posted.

Enjoy!

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!

Christmas tree lighting ceremony

Tree lighting ceremony 2010Facing what is probably our last Christmas season in Mumbai, we took another step down that holiday road last night with what has become our favorite yearly community event. The elementary school choir sings at the local Grand Hyatt hotel, the tree’s lights are lit, Santa appears, and we all eat ’til we burst courtesy of the best buffet in town.

Although there is a little something disconcerting about celebrating winter and snow as we all stand around sweating in shorts, the evening still manages to convey the best of the season. Throw in the singing voices of a bunch of elementary school kids (and the shuffle-shuffle-shuffle of their parents jockeying for the best spot from which to get that perfect video/picture), and you have the makings of a fun evening.

Last night Susan was not feeling well, so Dad, Alea, and Breck made the Stutz family appearance, and boy did we have a great time! See the pictures and read the rest of the story over on the webpage!

2010 school photos

Well here they are – the official portraits of this school year. You can enjoy them all here and pop over to the webpage for a look back at all the kids’ (and parents’) school shots over the years.

Last Goa pictures for a long time…

So our second set of Goa pictures from the last break are posted. Kind of sad to think that it will probably be years before we ever visit those beaches again (if, in fact, we ever do).

Sun, sand, surf, and food poisoning

Sunset over Benaulim beach in Goa, IndiaYum, yum, yum. Isn’t that an appealing blog post title? The simple truth is that we got a lot more of the first three than expected because of the presence of the fourth – a mixed blessing some might call it.

So here’s the deal: Alea, Breck, and Dave were gone the whole week before our Diwali holiday on school trips. We were planning on turning right around on Friday afternoon and leaving on a trip to Hampi (a historical world heritage site in southern India). We were going to follow up that visit with a jaunt to Goa for a few days of relaxation.

Well that didn’t happen. On the second day of his trip, Breck ate something that made him violently ill, and by the time 15 other students and 4 teachers on the same trip were hit by the bug, the entire class canceled the event and came back to Mumbai early. Alea and I didn’t know anything about this until we got back from our weeks in the wilderness, so we found that Susan had managed to nurse him back to almost-health, but he was still not strong enough to travel safely.

So everything to Hampi got canceled, we made backup plans to spend the whole time in Goa, and when he was back on his feet we were off to the beach. We had a super relaxing time despite the rocky start, and we’re starting to post pictures. Check out the travelogue from the first few days on our webpage, and we’ll try to get the rest posted soon!

Pumpkins and orange cookies

Orange Cookies - mmmm!We busted out the pumpkins tonight, and carved ‘em all up to a soundtrack of Ghostbusters, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Time Warp, the Halo video game background music, the Devil Went Down to Georgia, and everything in between (we even fit in a little TLC along the way).

Kevin and Elizabeth joined us from downstairs, so we all munched on some orange cookies that Alea had made yesterday and crunched on some tasted pumpkin seeds which were roasted up as we worked. Zip on over to the webpage for some pictures of all the efforts!

Dhaka for volleyball

ASB girl's high school volleyball team - DhakaDave spent last weekend in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the high school girls’ volleyball team, where they played 3 days straight from 8 am to 10pm. Talk about a lot of volleyball! Our teams ended up taking 4th (girls) and 6th (boys), and the level of competition and sportsmanship was outstanding!

Dhaka street scene - umbrella'd police and bicycle rickshawsWhile the grueling schedule didn’t really leave us much time to do sightseeing, he did manage to take a few pictures from the bus on rides in the morning and when getting to and from the airport.

They’re posted on our website, so pop on over to get a quick look at some street scenes from Dhaka!

Dahi Handi

Celebrating the zany youthhood of Krishna, teams travel the city today looking to make human pyramids and reach the ‘pot of curd’ hanging over major intersections. I caught a glimpse of some of the teams on the way home from volleyball practice – and got caught up in the traffic. I have become very zen-like in my acceptance of the road congestion. I just sigh (and smile if I have my camera:)).

When I got to the house, I got a call from Susan (who was at book club) telling me that a friend of ours wanted to take a look around but was not entirely comfortable going out alone. So with the spousal permission all taken care of, out I went and actually got to see a teal complete the human pyramid task.

Basically, groups of youths roam the city looking for these pots of smelly curds (usually dyed with food coloring) and try to stack each other up high enough to reach them. Every year there are plenty of accidents, as the pyramids tumble down, but every year the prizes (and the number of groups) increase. Take a look through the pictures and get a glimpse of yet another side of life in India…

Chasing the monsoon

We had our last trip ever to the FRRO (YAY!!!) last weekend, and a co-worker at school asked that we try to get some pictures of ‘people in the rain, with slickers and stuff.’ I snapped a few photos out the van window, but A) it wasn’t always raining, B) we were often moving, and C) it was too dark when we came back (since our visit took more than 3 hours!).

Regardless, here are a few pictures of folks enjoying the tail end of monsoon season in Mumabi:

Final Bali pages

They are finally up and ready! Only three months after the end of the vacation, we have sorted the photos, written the stories, and organized all the different stuff that needs to be organized to post our Pemuteran, Bali pages online and finish the trip!

Allow me my soapbox for a moment: I realize that many people prefer to post things on Facebook after their trips, and I’ve been given some grief for not doing so (*cough* Karla *cough*). I also realize that there are some very important positive aspects to doing so, especially 1) the immediacy and 2) the ability to get feedback.

In all fairness, I could easily enough put together an album of 142 pictures from every trip and upload them the day after our trip (taking care of #1 above). The problem that I see with doing this is that A) then there would be none of the quality control/cropping/etc (aka Photoshopping) that goes in to touching up the pictures on the webpage, B) there would be no descriptors or travel talk like we try to put in the webpages, and C) who really looks through albums of 142 vacation pictures with no idea of what is going on in them?

Since all of these take time, having the choice between putting things on Facebook or my own webpage, I prefer to put them on our own webpage. There is an additional reason to consider: what happens to those pictures on Facebook? If something happens to the site (notice the news about Bebo today?), what happens to all your pictures?

But having said that, I also realize that the number 1 thorn in my side right now is the inability for people to comment on pictures (or even just pages) in a static webpage. That is an ENORMOUS advantage that putting something on Facebook enjoys, and one that I’m really not sure how to address. If I could find a snippet of code that would allow me to turn my Web1.0 pages into something with more interactability, I would certainly do so.

But, until I find that magical snippet of code, please enjoy the Pemuteran pages from our Bali trip!

Bali pages update

Resting during a camel trek in RajasthanYeah, yeah, yeah. So it has been a long time since I’ve added a posting here, mostly because we’ve been on vacation for the past week. Not to Bali, mind you, but to the deserts of Rajasthan. We enjoyed days of 100+ (Farenheit) degree weather, incredible rock fortresses, and wild journeys through a wild country.

But this post isn’t about Rajasthan (although just to be fair, I’ve posted what is currently my desktop wallpaper: an image taken on an afternoon camel ride).

Nope, this post is about our Christmas trip, from which I am still organizing and setting up the webpages. This section is, understandably, the most involved, as Ubud was our ‘cultural’ stop and had a lot more to see and do in terms of shopping, temples, dancing, etc.

Rice paddies surround the town of Ubud, Bali

As I was looking at the Bali pages that have already been posted, there had been a total of 8 previously completed. Today, I present to you 9 new pages, all about the city of Ubud. There are a couple in here for which Susan wrote the travelogue, and even a video – plus a bloody picture of a post-monkey-attacked-finger, so go ahead and enjoy yourself!

Monkey Mamma

Mother monkey protects baby kittens against the crowsStraight out of Wild Kingdom, another “never seen before” in India: a monkey with 2 kittens!

Our neighbors grabbed us this afternoon to take pictures of a mother monkey who has adopted two kittens and is taking care of them up in the trees! I would never believe it, had Alea and I not watched them today.

Protecting the babies (not more than a month or so old) against the vicious crows that would feed on unprotected babies, she swung down out of a tree onto a rooftop. She was trying to find a spot away from the birds, and we were helping her on by shooting the crows with water guns. We could see them clearly – and hear them meowing – and they certainly looked well cared for. This is apparently the second time she’s been spotted, so some sort of maternal instinct is obviously at work.

This event was doubly unusual in that we have never seen wild monkeys around our house. Watching her disappear back into the tree, we could tell why – the camouflage is amazing.  We don’t know what is going to become of the babies, but our neighbor remarked that they’ll be good climbers when they grow up!

I put together a series of pictures and descriptions on our webpage, so you can see a bit more of this pretty amazing occurrence…

Haircut

Didn’t think getting a haircut was a big deal? It is when you walk through an Indian neighborhood to get there. I’ve wanted to document the walk down to my hair cutting “saloon” for quite some time, and I finally got around to it last weekend.

I go to a local place – a step up from the sidewalk emporiums since it is actually housed in an old cargo container with electricity and everything!

Check out the pictures from the walk, just another glimpse at the sights from our life in Mumbai!

ASB Aquathon

Today was the 5th annual aquathon at school – a fundraiser that includes swimming and running events. One of Breck’s buddies invited him to participate and ‘share the wealth’ in terms of the work, so Breck agreed to be the runner.

The Splash and Dash portion consisted of a 150m swim and 1.5km run (as opposed to the longer main Aquathon 300m-4km-300m event), which was just perfect for the guys. They had a great time, got a certificate and t-shirt, and had some fun on a Sunday morning!

There are more pictures posted on the main webpage – check out Breck’s eventful day!

Bali trip – First stop, Snore!

We’ll get this chronological order stuff figured out someday. Susan wrote the webpages from the first part of our Bali vacation and we’ve got them posted now (even though we already had the second stop online. Go figure).

In any case, our point of origin on the island was the beach resort of Sanur – also known as Snore for its boring nightlife: perfect for us!!

After settling in our villa with some welcome drinks, we spent the next few days, sunning, snorkeling, and recovering from the detrimental epidermal effects of sunning and snorkeling!! Enjoy the pictures…

Bali trip – snorkeling off the east coast

Our second stop over the Christmas vacation was to a dive area on Bali’s east coast.

I’m sure you are saying to yourself, “But wait – what about the first stop?!!” Really, I know you are.

Don’t worry – we are putting these up all out of order. This is the second stop (Amed), next up will be the first stop (Sanur), and then we’ll go on with places three (Ubud) and four (Pemuteran). Trust me.

In any case, the Ahmed webpages for our Christmas trip are now online.They don’t hold any navigation to other parts of the Indonesia pages because, honestly, none exist right now. But scoot on over and enjoy the pictures and stories that are already posted – if you are enjoying a nice cold winter, the sun will help warm you up inside!

Catching up before taking off

So I finally got around to finish up our Egypt webpages from the trip way back in April. At least I got them online in the same year!

We are leaving Friday evening for an extended vacation to Bali, and will probably not be posting too much between now and the start of the year (although I will pre-post one more entry to appear right around Christmas). On behalf of the Stutz family, let me wish all readers (both of you) the merriest  Christmases and the bestest New Year ever!