Saturday, August 30, 2008

Morning in Pondicherry (Puducherry)

On Sunday, August 24th, while we were having dinner in Puducherry, my tote bag was stolen. Unfortunately, in the bag was my passport, Krishna's Indian passport, my Person of Indian Origin card (my visa), travelers checks, some cash, our camera (my son's), and our cell phone. :-)
So, that's why there's been no input on this blog. I like doing it with pictures.
Today (August 30th) I got up really early with Gopal and Krishna (who have been walking early for days). At about 5:30am we walked to the beach and watched the sun rise over the Indian Ocean (correction: Bay of Bengal). (I think the rest of Puducherry does the same thing.) There were a lot of small fishing boats out there. It was really beautiful.

Later in the morning, I took my first solo trip running errands. For those of you who know me well, that must be sort of shocking. But, I get very confused here. The streets are overwhelming with activity at every level imaginable. And on most street corners there are no street signs. You can figure out which street you're on by reading the store signs; some list addresses in English. In the meantime, you really have to watch every step because there could be a pipe sticking out of the sidewalk or street, there could be various sized piles of shit, sidewalk tiles may be missing, a construction project may be underway, there may be a trench full of sewage, business being conducted on the sidewalk, etc. Pedestrians are at the bottom of the food chain, and that food chain includes buses, large and small trucks, cars, autorickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, mopeds, motorcycles, bicycles, bullock carts, cows, dogs, and other pedestrians. We're all sharing the same space. It's very nerve-wracking to me. It doesn't help when you think you have rights as a pedestrian. So, today I got to the main post office and I found the beauty parlor where I want to get my nails done on Monday. I was soo proud! And, boy, was it hot out there. On my way from the post office to the beauty parlor, I passed this public park we like to walk through.

So, back to the story of our lost stuff. We couldn't submit a report to the police until the following (Monday) morning because they needed specifics, like passport numbers, etc. We finally got the police report Thursday night (four days). Sigh. We couldn't go to Chennai to the U.S. Embassy to deal with my passport without that police report. We couldn't do anything without it. Since we're retired and really not doing anything, this is an inconvenience, but we're not super stressed about it. The biggest concern right now is being able to replace my PIO card/visa. We are learning from people who have had the same problem that replacing it here in India isn't really possible. We may have to deal with San Francisco to replace it. And we have a time limit of four more months to straighten out my visa.

Wednesday, August 27th, was my son Mike's birthday. He would have been 39 this year. Krishna, Gopal and I walked to a beach at the far end of the beach/promenade so I could spread some of Mike's ashes into the Indian Ocean (correction: Bay of Bengal). Women here wear strings of fragrant white flowers in their hair, so I took a 2' string to scatter with his ashes. It was so hot, an endurance test. But standing in the surf was wonderful. (Then we got a "Hot Brownie with Ice Creams" on the way home. Happy Birthday, Mike!)

Our landlord gave us a new chip for our spare phone, Krishna's son Raju blocked the stolen chip and will send her phone from Delhi, we bought a Nikon CoolPix P50 camera, and put a claim in to American Express for our travelers checks. Tuesday, we will go to Chennai to meet with the American Embassy and the Foreigners Registration Office, probably returning on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 20-22, 2008 Delhi to Pondicherry

Nehru Place
On Wed., August 20th, Raju's 21st birthday, he and Gopal went to Nehru Place, an electronics market in Delhi so Gopal could get a small, flat-screen monitor for our computer (we were taking it with us to Pondicherry). Around 7pm we took Raju to our neighborhood South Indian restaurant, Vrindavan, for dinner. We picked up an elderly neighborhood guy, Handaji.

Vrindavan Restaurant

At 9pm R.K. brought a car and took us to the train station. Our departure time was 10:30pm. We made it into our seats at 10:28pm. There were moments I idn't think we'd make it. Without R.K., we would not have made it.

Krishna in front of our train

Our train, the Tamil Nadu Express

An Indian train station

Here are some shots from the train.

Water buffalo

Carolyn trying to look happy on the train

Carolyn and Krishna in backseat of cab, Chennai to Pondicherry

Christian pilgrims walking 500 miles to a temple

Suzie, here are pictures of our apartment in Pondicherry til the end of August.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008 Delhi

Tannie Baig
Murad Ali Baig
Baig house in the treetops
Two of Krishna's good friends in Delhi graciously made time to meet us. Tannie Baig and her husband Murad Ali Baig offered us a remarkably tasty lunch in thier beautiful sylvan home in the treetops of Delhi. What a beautiful, comfortable home. The food was particularly good and healthy (Tannie is a chef). And their company was very stimulating (Murad Baig is an author, historical commentary). We appreciate so much the time they spent with us, and it was reassuring to meet Krishna's friends.

Carolyn, Krishna, R.S. Gae, Tehmina Gae, Gopal
Then we went to the home of Tehmina and R.S. Gae. Another beautiful, comfortable home where we had an exciting assortment of treats and met their cook Lizzie. Lizzie is from Tamil Nadu, so she and Gopal had a chance to talk in Tamil. Tehmina and her father were extremely warm and gracious with us. Gopal was given a beautiful pyramid with a clock in it that he really likes, and I was given a nightgown I badly needed. (Tehmina, it fits perfectly and has been worn since I saw you last!)
While I was posting this, the electricity went out, and then we left for Pondicherry. So, it's August 24th, and I'm finally posting this!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Goodbye to our new apartment

Krishna doing puja
Mosquito net on our bed

Carolyn on the computer

On Wednesday, August 20th, Gopal, Krishna and I are taking the train from New Delhi to Chennai in South India (Tamil Nadu). In the meantime, it is my expectation that Raju will move out of our apartment into a different one. Krishna made a decision that she does not want this apartment because the landlord is not honest or considerate, he has overcharged us for our apartment, we are still waiting for drinking water, water is not dependable (we have none today), etc. These are just a few pictures to remind me of this place that I love. We agree with Krishna's decision. She has a trustworthy friend in the neighborhood who has at least one apartment for rent. We will come back to our new Delhi home in October.

Monsoon, Independence Day, and Rakshabandhan

What I thought was monsoon really wasn't. The last few days apparently have really been monsoon. It rains hard all day. Then you get a little sun, no cloud visible, and in the next ten minutes you get a downpour. August 14th, the day before Independence Day friends invited us to see Noida and NRI City, Nehru Place (an electronics market), and a family farm belonging to the driver. It turned out not to be a great day to drive around the area. Besides the fact that it rained all day, many roads were blocked for security reasons so there were humongous traffic jams all over the place. We spent a lot of time, finding "scenic routes" to get places. We did see NRI (Non-Resident Indian) City, "integrated living at international standards", a new development for and by NRIs out near the airport. It's sort of a neat concept, because I believe they are offering homes with amenities most of us would expect. And the prices are not bad. If I wanted to stay in the Delhi area, I would move there in a minute. But, apparently, they have run into problems with titles and things that have made NRIs nervous. Too bad. There's a freeway there that is very nice, the Greater Noida Expressway, which is sort of sybolic of the difference between NRI City and the rest of Delhi (India?). I have to add that our friends were in the front seat, one driving, driving very fast in hard driving rain, WITHOUT THEIR SEATBELTS. Like the backseat driver from hell, I told them clearly (from the back seat where the seatbelts had been neatly put away) that they should have their seatbelts on. One of them diplomatically pointed out that there was a big difference between the U.S. and India. That the U.S. was far ahead of India. And left his seatbelt off.
All this had taken us so long, we headed home without seeing the farm (too wet) or Nehru Place. After hours in traffic jams, we approached the Yamuna Bridge near our neighborhood. This traffic jam was caused by the fact the bridge was flooded. I would like to tell you there was one lane that was not under water, but that would not be true. Our car started taking on water, and the truck in front of us was stalling. I honestly thought I might drown. All the rickshaw drivers were pushing their vehicles. Apparently, there was a pump pumping water under the bridge.

Three little kite fliers on their roof (those are 2 black water tanks which all bldgs have on their roof, and a little temple on the roof across the street from us.)

Independence Day is August 15th, and one of the things people do is fly kites. Most people are off work; the kids are off school. And they visit with friends in the street. It was a wonderful day. The sky was magnificent.


Raju, Bhanu, Suman, Harsh, Krishna

Suman and Krishna

Punam and Ashish preparing to leave in the rain

Rakshabandhan - Suman feeding Raju a sweet

The day after Independence Day was Rakshabandhan, a festival where everyone visits their brother, gives them a special bracelet and special bindi, and solidifies the bond between brothers and sisters. It was a wonderful day. We all got bracelets. R.K. had his sister-in-law, Puja, and her brother, Ashish, come and give Gopal and me a bracelet and a special bindi and sweets. It was very nice. Krishna's daughter Suman and her son Harsh came from Uttar Ranchal for the festival. The evening of Rakshabandhan

Gopal and I had dinner at Ashish Soni's with his parents and his sister Puja. It was really nice to see them in their home and spend time with them. The food was wonderful, and the service great. It was a very nice end to a really great day.

Raju and Harsh

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Temple at the market

Carolyn and Krishna buying clothes

Sarojini Nagar Market

Carolyn modeling new outfit

Gopal took Krishna and me shopping at Sarojini Nagar Market. We bought several outfits for the hot weather, as well as some trousers for Krishna and some Indian bedsheets. Krishna and I had a good time. Gopal just waited for us and then paid for our purchases :-)

Ashish Soni and family

Ashish Soni
Ashish, Punam, Mrs. Soni, Carolyn, Puja

R.K. Verma's brother-in-law Ashish brought his mother and sisters Punam and Puja over July 31st


Delhi sunrise
Krishna and Carolyn having breakfast on the balcony

Gopal buying vegetables


After laundry

Trang Nguyen

Realtor, Ravi, showing us apartments

Krishna in old kitchen

Street from Krishna's old apartment

Street from Krishna's old apartment

Street from new apartment

Picture from new apartment balcony

With the difficulty we have had in getting this blog posted, here are a few things that dropped through the cracks. Pictures from Krishna's original apartment, pictures from our new apartment, a picture of Krishna in the kitchen, a picture of our real estate agent ahead of our car on his motorcycle, and a picture of my long-time manicurist, Trang, doing my nails for the last time on July 11th. Then I found pictures doing laundry in the new apartment, Gopal buying vegetables on the street, Delhi sunrise