Thursday, December 29, 2011

December socializing

On the 10th of December was the second luna eclipse of 2011,which we could see very well from our house.  Sorry to say, I did not get a good shot of it at all, but it was spectacular.

On 11 December we saw one of the Gaur (wild bison) babies, partially grown up

This may be momma.  They were exceptionally close by, and they make me nervous.  They are very large.   (Wikipedia:    'The Gaur is the largest species of wild cattle, bigger than the African buffalo, the extinct aurochs, and wild water buffalo.')

On 12 December, Raju came from Delhi, just as I came down with a cold.  He left on 20 December, and the poor guy hardly got out of our house since I was sick the whole time he was here.  Then, Gopal got sick just before he left.  I really felt bad for Raju.

On 14 December, the fifth anniversary of my son's death, we decided to go to the little temple very close to the house.  Here's Raju in front of the little tree temple in the woods.
Gopal is our personally swami.  Here he is setting up the puja at the tree temple.

We made sacrapongal for prassad, which you see in front of the picture of Mike.  I hate to admit that around the time of his death each year, it comes so close and the grief is acute again.  I think that may be why I got sick.

We did take Raju to a local viewpoint, Dolphin's Nose.  Here he is with Gopal.

Not sure when my Facebook friend, Bhavani, told me she would be in Ooty soon, but we have never met and I am a great admirer of hers.  She's an environmental activist par excellance.  I am so flattered that she came to visit me and thrilled she brought her family.  They arrived at my house on Christmas Eve.
We're laughing that here we are looking at a bird book right off the bat.  (Carolyn, Bhavani)

Her terrific daughters, Ananya and Lavanya, both interested in everything.

Ananya, Lavanya, and Prakash (their father)

Bhavani, Ananya, Prakash, Govindharajan
Our friend Govindharajan was good enough to take time out of a busy day to give us a tour of the Tan Tea factory here at Tiger Hill.

Having a cup of tea in Govindharajan's office as we left

On the 27th, our new landlord Sambasivam came to visit us.  We had never met him.  He came from Chennai with his lovely wife, Jayalakshmi, his second son, Shiva, Shiva's wife Chitra, and their three children (7, 11, and 14).  Shiva, Chitra and their children live in Houston, Texas!

Sambasivam, Jayalakshmi

Shiva, his three gorgeous children, and his father Sambasivam

Govindharajan, Chitra, Jayalakshmi
Later, Govindharajan invited us all to dinner at the Tan Tea guest house at Tiger Hill

Sambasivam, his friend, Shiva, Govindharajan
Sambasivam is a retired Tan Tea executive and old friend of Govindharajan's.  We really enjoyed spending time with them and look forward to seeing them again.  Oh, because the guest house had only one room available for the night, Sambasivam and Jayalakshmi stayed in our apartment downstairs that night.  Nice.

'The Next Decade' by George Friedman

Not sure how long ago, The Financial Times provided a link to a geopolitical analysis of the United States developed by STRATFOR.  It turned out to be part one of two parts, so Gopal found it and downloaded it too.  He found it so interesting, he copied it and insisted I read it.  What we did was read it aloud to each other for the next two hours.  Wow!  It was fascinating.  It made me look at the world in a different and, I think, more realistic way.  (I kept thinking, "Where have I been?")

That's when I went to their website, learned about STRATFOR's CEO/Founder George Friedman and the books he had written.  The most current is 'The Next Decade.'  I just finished it.  It's very thought-provoking and gives a different perspective than I have had for a very long time.  Very pragmatic; very Machiavellian.

If any of you read this book or look into some of the things on STRATFOR's website, I would welcome your opinions.

Buy The Next Decade: Where We've Been . . . And Where We're Going

This is what Flipkart (the Indian version of Amazon) says about the book:

'The Author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Next 100 Years now focuses his geopolitical forecasting acumen on the next decade and the imminent events and challenges that will test America and the world, specifically addressing the skills that will be required by the decade's leaders.

'The next ten years will be a time of massive transition.  The wars in the Islamic world will be subsiding, and terrorism will become something we learn to live with.  China will be encountering its crisis.  We will be moving from a time when financial crises dominate the world to a time when labor shortages will begin to dominate.  The new century will be taking shape in the next decade.

'In The Next Decade, George Friedman offers readers a provocative and endlessly fascinating prognosis for the immediate future.  Using Machiavelli's The Prince as a model, Friedman focuses on the world's leaders -
particularly the American president - and with his trusted geopolitical insight analyzes the complex chess game they will all have to play.  The book also asks how to be a good president in a decade of extraordinary challenge, and puts the world's leaders under a microscope to explain how they will arrive at the decisions they will make - and the consequences these actions will have for us all.'

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

24-29 November 2011 - Thanksgiving and Beyond


On Thanksgiving (24 November), I was very homesick for my American family.

So, we decided to go to the Taj hotel for dinner.

Salad bar


Our friend, Govindharajan, and Gopal

The food was extremely good.  What a treat!  And my friend Parvathi was there having dinner with friends.  We had a  nice Indian Thanksgiving dinner.


Monsoon started while I was in Caifornia, raining every day for weeks.  The rain took a break after I returned, but then started up again with a vengeance.  

Gopal and I walk to the Singara Tea Estate early in the morning every day, pretty much.  Here's a little video clip of what our walk looks like when the rains have been heavy.

Here's a shot from our morning walk, looking down on the clouds over Mettapalayam  which is down the mountain.

Monday, December 5, 2011

20 October 2011 - Shyam's new house

Shyam's house

Neighborhood, his street

Proud Shyam in his living room

Kitchen/dining room

Yasoda in the kitchen (making me tea)

Yay for Shyam!

23 October-1 November 2011 - California

On the 23rd, Suzie and I took a shortened version of our Big Sur visit.  Here is the view from Nepenthe, the wonderful shop there.

Here's Dexter anticipating making a jack o'lantern out of his pumpkin.
Suzie and Dexter beginning their jack o'lanterns.
Ramon and I joined in.
Dexter admiring our creative jack o'lanterns.
Side trip to Best Buy, where I wanted to show off their recycling bin system  (Plastic Bags; Plastic Bags; CDs, DVDs, & Cases; Rechargeable Batteries; Ink & Toner Cartridges; Gift Cards; Wires, Cords & Cables; and Remotes & Controllers).  Isn't that terrific?!
Halloween party at a friend of Dexter's
Suzie is a room mother for Dexter's kindergarten class.  We prepared these oranges as favors for their Halloween party.

Laxmi (Tilak's mother), Nandani (Tilak's bride), and Tilak with the Golden Gate Bridge behind them.
Laxmi, Nandani, Carolyn
Tilak and Nandani on the GG bridge
We tried to go to the Academy of Sciences, but here are the entrance fees per person!
The de Young Museum was nearby, so we went there.  And it was a free day for everything there but their main exhibit. So, that worked wonderfully for us.  What a beautiful place!
THEN, we went to Twin Peaks (I can't believe I had never been there!).  What incredible views!  Wow!

We had such a great day together.  Thank you, Tilak!