Thursday, November 15, 2012

20 Oct.-3 Nov. 2012 - Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai

On 20 October, we left our home to go visit friends in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.  The weather was very cold, and the clouds were sitting right on Coonoor, so we couldn't see anything halfway down the mountain.  Very dangerous driving under perfect conditions.  This time, we couldn't see more than a car length ahead.  Ugh.  Halfway down, the dense fog cleared.  We caught a train at 7:45pm from Mettapalayam, express to Chennai, where we arrived at 5:00am 21 October.

We checked into our hotel and eventually met our young friend Aishwarya, Govindharjan's daughter, in the afternoon.  She took us shopping at a big, modern shopping mall.  Her parents and sister, Apurva, met us there for dinner later.  It was a nice day and a nice visit.  I bought two nice sarees, which I am already wearing.  But, I miss Aishu and Apurva.  Haven't seen them since, although we text message now and then.

At 5:00am the following morning, 22 October, we took an autorickshaw to the train station, where we caught another express train, this time to Delhi.  My only complaint about this leg of the journey was, because of the speed of the train, you are continually shaken by intense vibration, even while sleeping.  My favorite part was being able to see India out the window for a whole day and early the next morning. 


We arrived in Delhi at 11:15am 23 October, where our friend Raju met us, carried luggage, and found us a taxi to his apartment.  It was wonderful seeing him.  I hadn't seen him for maybe a year or so.  We were there to celebrate his completion of his software engineering degree program.  Very exciting.

When we arrived at Raju's apartment, we greeted his mother Krishna and his sister Suman and her son Harsh.  What a nice surprise that Suman and Harsh were visiting, and it was wonderful to see Krishna again.

Early in our visit we went to Nehru Place, an electronics market.
Harsh and Raju.

Another day, we invited our Joint Assistance Centre India colleague, Naersh Srivasthava, to join us for lunch.  He brought a board member, Mr. Harish Sakhuja.
Harish Sakhuja, Gopal, Naresh

Seven new puppies near the entry of Raju's apartment.  (When I took this picture, the street-dog mother came after me fiercely - scared me to death.  Good mama.)

Our friend Tehmina invited us for lunch at the Gymkhana Club.
Tehmina, Gopal, Krishna, Anand, Tehmina's father

Harsh, Raju, Suman, Krishna, Tehmina

At a shopping mall, there was a Skoda car display that included a computer game that Harsh could not resist.

Harsh and Gopal on my Samsung laptop.  (I didn't get near my new laptop til I got home.)

The train ride from Delhi to Mumbai was another express.  I had contracted asthma in Delhi so was coughing and not sleeping well.  The food on the train also didn't agree with me.  It was a miserable ride for me.

Although this was my second visit to Mumbai, this was my first Mumbai tour.  This is the India Gate that welcomes people coming in by sea. 

These beautiful, silver horse carriages are all over the place by India Gate.  I heard on the news that there is a big controversy about them because of concern over animal cruelty.

Here I am with my gracious hostess, Vijaya, who took such tender care of us.  She's a great cook, like Krishna was in Delhi.  This was the first time I had seen the seashore at Mumbai.  So wonderful!

This is the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, right across the street from India Gate.  It is so posh, the cheapest room goes for
20,000 rupees ($363).  We went in to have a cup of tea, but it's not that kind of place.  But they did have gorgeous shops full of gorgeous stuff.  Sigh.

Here's Vijaya having a cuppa early in the morning.


We had good visits with everyone, and the hospitality and cooking could not have been better.  It was a good trip.  Next time I think we will not travel so much by train.  (We flew home from Mumbai.)


26 July-18 October 2012 - Ooty and Coonoor

Saint Stephens Church, Ooty

Saint Stephens church was built in Ooty by the British in the early 1800s.

 Foreigners Registration Office

When I travel out of India, I have to go to the FRO (Foreigners Registration Office) in Ooty (the closest FRO to Coonoor), submit a form requesting permission to leave, and return to pick up the approved permission form a week later.

Tea estate accident

The driver of this jeep is an employee of the tea estate near us.  Apparently, there was a group of wild bison (Indian Gauer) on the road and he was trying to drive around them.  The manager of another local tea estate had recently been gored to death by a bison so I think this driver was very nervous and tried to give them so much space, he rolled down the hill.  He was not injured and told me the story.
Kolu Festival

from Wikipedia:  During the festival of Navratri in Southern India, it is customary in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, as well as in some Tamil communities within Sri Lanka, to display a "Kolu". This is an exhibition of various dolls and figurines in odd (usually 7, 9, or 11) numbered tiers ("padis").
Kolu or Golu in Tamil(கொலு) means Divine Presence. Kolu represents the divine presence of the Goddesses Sarawathi, Parvathi and Laxmi in their houses during Navaratri (Nine nights).
When people come to a person's house to see the Kolu, usually they are given prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum and a small bag of gifts. These are only given to girls and married women. In the evenings, a "kuthuvilakku" (small lamp) is lit, in the middle of a decorated "kolam"(Rangoli), before the Kolu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the goddesses.

Bhajan during Navratri Golu in Coimbatore, India

Like any festival, Kolu also has a significant connection with agricultural economy of ancient India. It is said that in order to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds the Kolu celebration was aimed at providing demand for the clay material got from such activities. There are many peculiar customs and beliefs in different parts of India that imbue sacred status to clay. Dissolving Ganesha dolls made of wet clay into the water system is one such belief. Another example is the Bengali tradition of using clay that has been tread upon by the most beautiful girl in the area to construct a doll of the Goddess Kali, the belief being that this would be the best way to approximate the perfect features of the Goddess.

My friend Kalyani wanted me to experience Kolu, so she took me to these two different households.  It was really wonderful.  I knew the hostess at the first home and was delighted to get to know the family at the second.  Everyone is so warm and hospitable.  This was the evening of 18 October.

50th High School Reunion- 22-27 August 2012 - Rocky River, Ohio

A few of "the girls" got together for lunch on Thursday before the reunion festivities (Cathy, Linda, Sue, Janeen, Pat)

Linda and Sue
Friday evening, we all met at a local pub.  Here's my old friend, Pat, looking at pictures together.



Rocky River High School
After the high-school tour, we met at Bearden's, our old burger joint, for lunch.  Here's my brother clowning outside.

Gopal and I were using new-to-us phones, which turned out to have very poor cameras unfortunately, so many of our photos didn't turn out.  The pictures outside turned out pretty well, but inside - very bad.
We came to Cleveland with my brother, Todd, and his wife, Sharon   Todd was doing the driving and thankfully took us to "the Valley," a lovely river valley that forms an"emerald necklace" around Cleveland.

The final reunion event was dinner at a local country club.  Here, I'm talking to my dear friend, Sue.

We shared our dinner table with Judy and Tim Stevens, who I hope will travel to India and visit us.

Lute and Sue

Steve and Janeen

Sharon and Todd
Sharon and Todd

Cleveland Museum of Art with Sharon and Todd

The building is very beautiful, with layers of granite accenting the great lines

Todd and Sharon were in Cleveland to shop for a condominium and possibly move to Cleveland.  The two brick smock stacks mark the place where they did buy a condo.

The view of Cleveland from Edgewater Park

Walking back from the beach at Edgewater
We had such a great time together.  It was a good week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Road paving and water-tank repair - July 2012

Here is the house with a hole cut in the roof of the wate tank, with a worker in the tank (above the roof of the house).

Since the condrete water tank is cracked and leaking, we are having these two plastic tanks put up there.
Gopal climbed up there and took this picture.  There is a guy in the tank on the right, probably working on the plumbing.
On the fifth day with no water, they set up this tank and filled it with water.  No water pessure, but it was nice to have some water.
In the meantime, at the mouth of our driveway, the road paving crew set up their tar-brewing fire and drums.
Here, the workers are spreading the asphalt on the road.
This is across the street from our front door, where they are adding the gravel to the tar, creating the asphalt (very noisy).

This guy rolls over the freshly laid asphalt a couple times.

After all this noise and stench, Gopal was at the doctor's with a full-blown miraine.