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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

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!

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!

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!

No Showers Allowed

See, I always remember being told that the best way to save water was to take showers instead of baths. Apparently that is just not good enough any more.

Water rationing is starting to hit Mumbai hard these days (the newspapers have talked about cuts of 35% or so) for a variety of reasons – exploding population, localized drought, leaky infrastructure, etc. On our way to school, we saw a stark reminder of how serious an issue this is.

On an overpass, the grim visage of Sachin Tendulkar – who is lionized around the country as the greatest cricket player (in a nation of great cricket players) to have ever graced the pitch – advises people to avoid the ‘temptation of using shower.’ Apparently the new thing in saving water is taking a bucket bath.

It is pretty ironic on a couple of levels. First of all is the obvious juxtaposition with our idea of the shower as a water saver – now it is the water wasting way to do things. Secondly is the fact that many (if not most) of Indians have no access to running water of any kind, making this exhortation a moot point. It reminded me of this great article I’d found a few years ago for World Water Day.

But as we get ready for spring break and our trip to Jodhpur (which is, incidentally, where we are heading this year in case you were wondering), we’ll keep in mind the need for care in our water use. Bucket baths are not that bad: we’ve had them before in hotels, and I foresee us having them again on this trip!

No more horsing around

Aaahh. Back from a splendid week in Udaipur – a great city that seems to have missed out on a lot of ‘buzz’ at our school. We will certainly be talking about it with colleagues from now on, and a future trip could certainly be in the cards.

Despite the travel traumas inflicted by Indian Airlines (note to all – NEVER USE THEM!! We tried giving a second chance following the summer flight debacle, but two rescheduled flights later – rescheduled to different days, not just different times – our patience limit has been met), we had a very soul-rejuvenating and restful break. We spent a night in the city, two on a horse ranch, two at a country house, and one more in the city, and were just pleased as punch with the change in pace from Mumbai. It was quiet (aside from the Diwali fireworks) and low-key (aside from the Diwali lights) and uncrowded (aside from the Diwali tourists, many of whom were European): everything we wanted on a break.

The city itself is beautiful – set on a series of manmade lakes inside a ring of mountains. The locals have no problem reminding all who visit about how Udaipur is the setting for the James Bond movie Octopussy, and the fabulous palaces and royal residences make a great counter point to the pastel-colored houses. There is quite a bustling tourist trade here, but the shops and sellers were never overbearing; the atmosphere was exotic rather than annoying!

We will certainly add pictures and commentary to the webpage in the future (one of the missing pages mentioned in the previous post!), but for now this is just a notice that we are home safe and sound.

As for what we missed this past week – congratulations to the Phillies, Happy Halloween, and don’t forget to vote!!

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!

Happy New Year!

The Stutz family in front of the Taj Mahal!!We’re back from our “Golden Triangle” trip – safe and sound, battle scarred and road weary. Our trip was, in different turns (and often within minutes of each other) beautiful, dirty, frustrating, rewarding, restful, and stressful. We saw wonders of the world and soul wrenching poverty, experienced overwhelming environmental degradation back to back with fantastic wildlife conservation, and came away with a new appreciation for all that we have.

In fact, one of the most poignant moments was upon our return to Mumbai – as we were driving through the street, both Dave and Susan looked at each other and remarked at how clean and orderly Mumbai seemed!! After all our ‘comments’ about the quality of life here, seeing what things are like out in the sticks brought a new round of culture shock home to us.

In any case, we’re back and will begin putting together pictures and stories from the trip, but this will be a very time-intensive project (as you can imagine). Patience, and we’ll get these posted. In the meantime, Susan is taking off for a week in Jakarta, Indonesia to get some teacher training, so don’t expect to hear much from her!