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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Black and White photos

A friend of ours from Mumbai recently foisted one of those Facebook “challenges” on me the other day to post a black and white photo 5 days in a row.

Now, I do have to make a confession: I think black and white is kinda cheesy and a cop-out. Just let me explain.

  • First of all, who shoots in black and white? In the olden days, when there was only black and white film, that was one thing. But once there was color film – and especially since we now shoot digitally – why, oh why in the world would anyone choose to shoot in black and white? You can always change color to b/w in processing, but if you take a picture without the color information, you can’t get it back. So to my way of thinking, anyone who takes pictures in b/w is just being silly for whatever reason.
  • Secondly, I think it is a lot easier to mess around with a black and white picture, adjusting things here and there, than it is with color. You don’t have to worry about one hue being too garish or not seeing the one little stripe of really pretty pink: there are no colors! Just jack up the contrast or whatever, and voilà – you have a picture. So it seems a far lesser challenge to get a black and white photo ‘right.’
  • And that brings me to the third reason: ANY FREAKING PICTURE YOU PRINT IN BLACK AND WHITE AUTOMATICALLY LOOKS ARTSY!! It doesn’t have to be a good picture – just change it to black and white, blow it up real big, and hang it on the wall as a piece of Serious Art. I guarantee you people will walk up to it, hand on chin, and say “hmmmmm” like it is something by a Renaissance master.

OK – enough of that. Here are the pictures I posted with the story of each:

Eastern Montana grain elevators

Here’s a black and white shot of a sleepy little eastern Montana town, taken during my journey to our Helen cabin this past summer.

Cambodian boat repairer

We came across this old man repairing a boat in the Four Thousand Islands region of Cambodia last year. I thought the lighting was pretty cool.

Rain on upside-down leaf.

From yesterday’s rainstorm, here is black and white photo #3. We had a tree blow down in the back yard, and this is a shot of the water droplets on an overturned leaf.

Women washing in Mumbai.

This is a Thanksgiving-related post for black and white photo #4. In 2008, we lived in Mumbai, and Breck and I planned to use the holiday to explore the new elevated walking path running over some local slums down to the train station. When the news broke of the terrorist attacks downtown, however, all plans changed, and we stayed at home for the next few days.
We didn’t take our walk for more than another year, but during the last week of school in 2010, we finally did. This is a shot from above of some women washing clothes in the offspill from city water pipes.

Omani camel races

You seriously are missing out if you have never attended camel races in Oman. I’d even match them up against the Indonesian Pacu Jawi event.
We were way out in the middle of nowhere, and to see these animals thundering down the dry canal was something else. I love the way the one guy is holding onto his turban! We were the only non-Omanis there, and once again had a pretty special experience as a family.

Tree down in the back yard!

Alea and I got home from school – after a mongo rain, wind and lightening storm – to find that one of the biggest trees in our yard had broken! While it fell on our roof (and reached almost to the top!), there was no damage inside or outside that we could see. Wow!!

Monsoon madness

Rain day – school closing early. Got the “Monsoon Madness” playlist going as the kids head out the door…

Rockin' to the rythmn of the rain

Rainy Season

Here’s the scene on the way home from school yesterday…

Rainy season in Jakarta


Here are our vicious attack cats, keeping a close eye on our home and protecting us from all evil. We had a crazy rain, thunder, and lightening storm the other night, so Dori and Linsea took it upon themselves to make sure our home was invader free.

We are used to them bringing in cockroaches and geckos, but this time, they really outdid themselves. They somehow trapped an elusive jungle earthworm, and brought it in to toy with.

They would watch it slither a bit across the floor, tap at it, and just torment it from time to time. I finally rescued it and returned it to the wild. Nice to know that we are safe from marauding invertebrates…

Starting with a day of silence

We just got internet service at our hotel in Tulamben, and Breck is sick today, so I thought to put some of the “quiet time” to use and start off with our trip tale. The funny thing about this vacation is that it did, really, start off with the sound of silence.

A rain-drenched flower welcomes us to Bali

A rain-drenched flower welcomes us to Bali

Balinese elephants line the walkways to our room

Balinese elephants line the walkways to our room

We’d never heard of Nyepi, but when we started getting all sorts of “interesting” reactions from people as we tried to make reservations, we looked more into this unique Balinese holiday. What we found out was astounding: for the entire day, from midnight (according to some sources, 6am according to others) until 6am the following day, the entire island is shut down. Absolutely. Completely. Stores are closed, roads are blocked, airports are shuttered, TV and radio stations are off the air. People are not allowed to leave their homes for the entire period, which means tourists too are stuck in their hotels. Can’t go to the beach – sorry.

Now, luckily for us, our hotel staff live on the compound, and they were working and cooking food for us, but we had to be quiet and respectful. We were able to go to the pool (in between rain storms), but at 7pm that evening, all outside electricity shut down and the entire island went dark.

Our neighborhood "Pecalang," or Nyepi silentness enforcer, draws his knife with a fierce glare

Our neighborhood "Pecalang," or Nyepi silentness enforcer, draws his knife with a fierce glare

Oh no - Dave turns the tables on him!!

Oh no - Dave turns the tables on him!!

Whew! Good thing it is all just fun and games. Time to turn out the electricity, though, so get your mobile phone flashlight app ready to go!

Whew! Good thing it is all just fun and games. Time to turn out the electricity, though, so get your mobile phone flashlight app ready to go!

I had the chance to meet the neighborhood “enforcer;” these guys walk all around the communities, making sure that things are as they should be, and he was pretty friendly, but it was certainly an interesting concept to think about an entire island shutting down for the day. Once we were able to move around the island, and we headed up the coast to our diving spot, we saw remains of the large effigies that had been burned in the days leading up to Nyepi itself.

Raining on Nyepi

Raining on Nyepi

The remains of an ogoh-ogoh, a burned Nyepi effigy

The remains of an ogoh-ogoh, a burned Nyepi effigy

Liquid Lunch

Or not. Our last two days have had their fill of water-related events, so that’s the point of this post. We woke up Wednesday morning to no water in the house, which certainly made for some stinkier-than-usual bathrooms! We sent emails to the school’s facilities office letting them know about the problem and how it needed to be fixed in a pretty urgent way.

Thanks goodness I had other business to take care of down on the administrative offices side of campus, as I decided to pop in to facilities and see what the status was. There were lots of blank looks when I asked, and one of the people explained that – due to our ongoing migration from Outlook to Google mail services – no emails were coming in to the office and they were unaware of our issue. Oops!

They did manage to get people out there, and a burned out pump was the diagnosis. Once the pump was received and installed, a leaking pipe was also found. When that was removed, repaired, and returned, everyone was all ready for the big test.

And then the neighborhood’s electricity went out.

So the team sat around for better than 2 hours, waiting for it to come back on (so the pump could be tested), but I finally told them to go home when it was evident they could be waiting all night. As things turned out, it was close to another 2 hours before the lights came back on, so that was a good call.

But – this morning we had water! So that was a happy ending.

And then tonight we had even more water. The skies opened up and the rains fell – which scared the heck out of NiDoriano and Linsea. They were fascinated by the wind and the noise, but whenever a raindrop hit them, they skittered back inside.

Of course, our kids had no problems with the rain (they never have, as the picture on this page proves). They rushed right outside and started having a great time. From taking showers in our roof runoff to fashioning leaf-drinking cups, they splashed and dashed in the falling water.

We’d been waiting for the rains, and although I don’t think this is the start of the monsoon yet, it certainly was some well-deserved quenching of the dry weather we’ve had recently.

And – tomorrow’s Friday!!!


We’ve been seeing clouds for the past few weeks, but yesterday the first drops fell. Monsoon is nowhere near officially starting, but Breck was able to “dance in the rain” (his words) for a few minutes at the end of the school day. After a crazy weekend filled with late nights /early mornings – coaches’ party and Quiz night – we might very well have seen the last of the outdoor parties. There are tons of things scheduled over our last 3 weeks in India, but it remains to be seen whether they can take place outside or inside!

(Just for the record, my prediction is for a heavy rainfall on the evening of the 8th grade ceremony – June 3rd – just as there has been every year that we’ve been in Bombay)

Elephanta Island and the Gateway of India

I write this on a soaking Sunday afternoon, as we hunker down under the onslaught of the monsoon. The rains should be finishing soon (in fact, they were done last year at this time), but today they are out in force. This evening is the final night in the Ganesh holiday, and I am curious as to how all the water will impact the immersion celebrations. Will the idols start ‘melting’ before they even reach the sea? We’ll have to find out later.

Thank goodness the scene was very different last Sunday. We had perfect weather for our trip to Elephanta Island: blue skies, a nice breeze, a little 10 minute downpour in the middle of the afternoon. I’m glad we didn’t go today!

The caves and associated sights (and events) provided us with a very pleasant day trip. We tried to get some shopping in as well, but came up short in that endeavor, as many places have been closing due to the Ganpati immersions. Oh well – next time! I did get down to Chor bazaar yesterday to pick up some stuff that will be delivered tomorrow, but that will have to wait for another post. For now, enjoy the pictures from Elephanta (and the Gateway of India).