Friday, July 30, 2010

Whirling Hermits

A Turkish tradition that I admittedly knew very little about was the whirling dervishes. The literal translation of “dervish” in “hermit”, which I found amusing, but apparently something is lost in the literal translation where hermit doesn’t really mean the same thing. On our final night in Cappadocia, we had the opportunity to attend a whirling dervish traditional performance with Sujata and Indu, a mother/daughter traveling duo me met at our cave hotel.

While I don’t necessarily seek the fine arts I do appreciate most types when the opportunity arises and respect the artist’s ability (except the ballet; I just don’t get the ballet). Having no idea what to expect with a whirling dervish performance, in my head I had imagined that since they were whirling that it would be some sort of celebratory high-energy dance, similar to some sort of Russian folk dance. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s a way for the dervishes to get closer to god by putting themselves in a near trancelike state while spinning in circles.

The entire performance was forty five minutes. The first ten minutes was the entrance, a lone dervish chanting in Arabic, followed by six dervishes creating a ritualistic circle. After that, five of the six dervishes removed their black cloaks to reveal long white flowing garments. At that point, they started to whirl. And whirl. And whirl.

They honestly spun around in circles on a twenty five foot square stage with very few breaks for the next 30 minutes. It was a little like watching a tea cup ride at an amusement park where, yep, you guessed it, each dervish was a tea cup (though, in the spirit of full disclosure, the stage did not tilt). I sat there most of the time in awe of the fact that, (1) they could whirl in circles for so long without breaking the spin and/or falling and (2) they could move around a floor while whirling and not smash into one another.

When in Turkey, the whirling dervish experience is probably a necessary one, though when you sit there wondering when one is going to take a tumble, hit a wall, or hit another dervish, it’s probably a safe assumption that I didn’t enter their same trancelike state. Though if you go, I'd recommend a place that allows photography (our's did not). Though we got a great postcard of what it looks like (and to be honest, is probably better than any photograph I could have taken).

The Hot Air Balloon Thing

At $3.33 per minute per person, a 90 minute sunrise hot air balloon tour can make a round of golf at Pebble Beach seem like a bargain; however, we figured it was a once in a lifetime kind of thing and had heard that if you’re ever going to do the hot air balloon thing, Cappadocia is THE place to do it. After a 4:00am wake-up call, we boarded a shuttle to a common meeting spot, received our balloon assignment, and hopped in another shuttle to the launch point.

On the way to the launch point, we passed a number of other balloon operators preparing for the morning’s excursion and finally came to our balloon. Lindsay mentioned how she hoped we had a “pretty” balloon, I responded that it was probably more important what the other balloons looked like. (Un)fortunately, we had a handsome balloon while some other operators had sold the rights to their balloons to companies like Kia. Fortunately, there were around forty balloons in the area that day so there was plenty of variety.

Watching the balloon inflate was a riveting process  as the burner blasted hot air into a deflated horizontal balloon laying flat on the ground that slowly inflated until it ultimately hovered over the basket. Once inflated, the sixteen passengers climbed into four partitioned baskets. At that point, there were some dudes hanging onto lines to keep us from floating away. Oh, and there was a $70,000 Land Rover tethered to one of the ropes for good measure (nice to see my $3.33 per minute going to good use). Once we were cleared for take-off, we slowly ascended and floated toward a rock.

The pilots go out each morning and scout the best launch point and send small helium balloons into the atmosphere to determine the day’s route. They are able to turn the balloon and change altitude but are basically up to the mercy of the wind as to the ultimate route. In addition, they are in constant contact with one another during the trip to ensure they know what the closest balloon is to them, whether it’s safe to ascend, and where the right pockets of air reside. Our pilot, Isa, seemed like a nice enough guy. When asked how long he had been a pilot, he responded, “This is my second trip.” I’d like to think if I were a  hot air balloon pilot, I’d make jokes like that. Though I’d probably add something like, “and there were almost no injuries.”

Much of the trip we spent ascending and descending and traveling through canyons of Cappadocia’s famous fairly chimneys. From many of the pictures, you would never believe they were taken from a balloon as we were so close to the sides of rock formations. It was a fantastic way to get a different view of Cappadocia’s formations and pigeon houses, which are places people keep pigeons to harvest their droppings. If you ever thought your job was bad, at least you don’t harvest pigeon crap.

What really made the trip though, was that there were so many other balloons in the area, which really helped add perspective and color to an already impressive landscape. We were up and down in elevation through much of the trip, which was a surprise. I thought we’d probably just go up, fly around a bit, and go down. The real way was much more exciting than my expectation. Ultimately, we went as high as about 1000 meters above the ground, which seemed high enough for me. As we descended, the landscape looked familiar as we had blown from the town of Goreme to the outskirts of Urgup, which was where we stayed. We actually had a decent view of our cave hotel on the way down. Lindsay filmed the touch down on the small digital camera, but the most exciting part of that video is her sadly mentioning that it was an uneventful landing. I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

Even at $3.33 per minute, the hot air balloon thing is worth doing once in your life. I probably don’t need a second time but don’t regret the first. The only downside is that I could start to feel the heat of the burner on the top of my head by the end of the trip which was as good an indication that it was time to go down as any. One piece of advice if you ever have the opportunity; try and go in an area where there are a lot of other balloons. We were able to get a much different perspective of the Cappadocia moonscape; however, the fact that there were other balloons made it seem like more of an event, and helped give some subject matter to the photographs so they didn’t just look like fifty or sixty variations on the same photograph of a rock taken from the sky.
Probably could have used a flash

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Boat Day in Bodrum

One of the initial reasons we considered Turkey was the potential to take a multi-day gulet boat trip along the Turquoise Coast, which basically consists of either four or seven days of cruising on a traditional wooden vessel that looks very much at home on the Mediterranean and Aegean. Upon looking into a little further that the private tours were well beyond what we wanted to spend and that we’d need to take a shared charter. The shared charters seemed reasonably priced, perhaps even a little too reasonably priced. With a shared charter you also run the risk of getting stuck on a small sailing vessel with nowhere to escape with complete strangers that may or may not be total assholes. Plus, on a trekking trip, if someone on the trip gets a little grouchy (even if hypothetically that person is your spouse), you can simply walk a little faster or walk a little slower to get some distance. On a boat, not quite so easy. Since we had extremely good fortune on our Nepal trek and were fairly certain Glenn, Judith, Erin, and Gaby weren’t planning a gulet trip, we decided to take a pass. Instead, we planted ourselves in Bodrum for a couple nights and opted for a gulet day trip instead.

The day trip seemed a very reasonable 25 Euros per person; inclusive of drinks, lunch, and transport to and from the hotel. We were careful to select a gulet, the Arda, that would only take fifteen passengers, which turned into the wisest decision of the day. There’s a healthy day trip gulet industry in Bodrum though many of the other boats haul 50 to 100 passengers, rock Turkish disco music, and freely encourage young women to belly dance. While good entertainment, not exactly our scene even if the the peaceful serenity of being anchored in a Mediterranean cove was interrupted by thumping Turkish disco music no fewer than seven times throughout the day.

The day’s activity consisted of five thirty to forty-five minute cruising segments interrupted by four stops for swimming and lunch. They would just pull up in a cove, drop anchor, tell us the depth (which I appreciated as I grew up on the Mississippi River where I was taught to never dive where you can’t see the bottom, which on the Mississippi basically means the entire river), and we’d jump into the sea. The boat didn’t provide any snorkel equipment or anything of that sort. They basically just provided a platform from which to jump into the ocean. Lindsay said it best when she remarked, “it really is cheap entertainment when you’re just jumping off a boat.” Regardless, it was a blast, and there are certainly much worse ways to spend a day.
Yes, I really am that pale.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mr. (and Mrs.) Luth Go to Turkey

This weekend marks my first journey off the subcontinent in nearly seven months and the wife's first since last Tuesday.

After much consideration and a number of factors (i.e., a fairly easy flight, something that might seem otherwise expensive from Chicago, something offering a break from Indian culture and life), we decided on a 10 day trip to Turkey that is really set up as three distinct 3-night trips. First, we're headed to the Aegean coast to tour the Roman ruins at Ephesus and a two night stay in Bodrum. Second, three nights in Cappadocia (which I'm looking forward to the most; the pictures I've seen resemble a Moab-esque landscape, only if early Christians had lived in the rock formations). Last up is three nights in Istanbul.

Everyone says that Turkey is a great blend of "West" and "East" (for obvious geographic and historic reasons). Based on my research and reading, it's not exactly Western Europe but not exactly India either; in other words, it's pretty much what I think I need.

Desert Highlights Canyoneering

As you can tell from this post's title, it has nothing to do with India but could loosely be associated with the blog since it involves travel. In addition, these guys have lost our business for the next two seasons so figured the least I could do was give them a little exposure to all 21 of my followers.

The canyoneering company we've used to guide us in Moab, Desert Highlights, sent out an email to past customers announcing their expansion into guiding in the Oregon Cascades. If you've never done canyoneering and want to get outside your comfort zone, I couldn't recommend the activity and this company enough. It's a great mix of hiking, rappelling, and scrambling. Lindsay and I have used them on two separate occasions and they've been two of our favorite days of vacation. Ever.

Here's a link to their Oregon site:

Lindsay after falling in a sinkhole in Granary Canyon, October 2008

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Better Late Than Never

In late December shortly before embarking on this journey I made the very important decision to change the address on my Outside magazine subscription to the new Indian address. I really had no expectations as to whether it would ever arrive; in fact, I had forgotten I had made that very important decision.

Fast forward from that cold December day to this hot July morning when the phone rang and Lindsay was told that a courier was coming up to the apartment. Having no idea what might be delivered and not expecting anything, you can imagine my surprise when the July issue of Outside was the package. I mean, sure, it took seven months for the change of address to take effect, but who am I to complain?

As you can tell, it doesn't take much to entertain me, but an unexpected piece of home (even something as mundane as a magazine) can do just that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Most Disturbing Breath Mint Commercial Ever

Over the weekend I saw perhaps the most disturbing television commercial I've seen while in India. It's for a product called Chlor-Mint, which I gather is some sort of mouth freshener, though you'd be hard-pressed to learn what the product actually is from simply watching the thirty second spot. Of course, it's also in Hindi, so there's a chance something is missed in translation. Here's my best effort to recreate the advertisement for your viewing pleasure:

A bus carrying a sports team of some sort of teenage girls is stopped on the road by a herd of Holstein cattle and a herdsman in traditional Indian dress. There is nothing odd about the cows except that they have a third horn protruding from the middle of their head. The girls have some sort of heated conversation with the herdsman. The herdsman decides that the cows need some of the mints and proceeds to skillfully toss a mint into each of the cows' mouths. He then starts to milk a cow, removes the middle horn from one of the cow's head, and returns to the cow's utter, only to get soft-serve ice cream rather than milk. He turns the removed horn upside down and begins to serve soft-serve ice cream to the team of stranded girls. Everyone is happy. The End.

I don't even know what to say, what to ask, or why it any way promotes a breath mint. I do know, that whenever it came on the rest of the weekend, that I was strangely riveted by the fact that (1) someone actually thought of this and (2) someone actually produced it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rupees, Rs., or INR

I don't readily know how the American dollar's "$" became an "s" with a line through it; however, here's a quick link to explain how the Indian Rupee is getting a new symbol. Pretty simple, really, it was a contest:

If only I had a key on my keyboard that represented "an amalgam of the Devanagari 'Ra' and the Roman capital 'R' without the stem". I guess until that time I'll just continue alternating inconsistently between "Rs." and "INR".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Second Layer

The wife arrived back from the U.S. late last night. As any good husband would do, I told her the driver would be there to pick her up. And then decided to tag along to surprise her. This post isn't about her arrival so much as it is about what we witnessed upon getting home.

Many apartment complexes in Gurgaon have a couple security layers. First, a guarded gate to enter the actual premises and, second, a guarded desk for entrance into the actual building (much like an RA at a college dorm). Our's is no exception. The guards are friendly enough though I still find it odd that they salute me (no, I don't salute back).

At 1:30am the second layer might not be terribly effective. Upon driving up to our building, the station wasn't manned (which isn't all that different because the guards often sit in close proximity to the entrance where I suspect the ventilation is better). The guards were sitting in their secondary position, illuminated by the headlights as we pulled into the apartment. They didn't move. In fact, based on their body language and the apparent deep slumber, they could have been roofied (or as the other Doug in The Hangover suggested, "flooried") The headlights didn't wake them, us talking didn't wake them, and the doors and trunk slamming didn't make them. Not exactly a rousing endorsement for complex security.

Lindsay suggested a picture (she had her camera handy; and let's be honest this post would have been more interesting with pictures), but I figured that some things translate fairly easily, including the concept of "we're mocking you by taking your picture and hoping the flash doesn't wake you up". While being mocked (I mean, being documented) had been fully earned and was completely deserved, I guess I'd rather keep the guards on our good side.

Of course, upon getting into the apartment, I triple checked to make sure the door was double dead-bolted.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I finally played tourist for a little while in Delhi on Saturday and went to Hauz Khas Village, which is a fairly newly developed shopping area set around 13th century ruins. When trying to enter the gate, we were told by a fairly casual looking gentleman that the ruins were closed. Perplexed, I looked at him and asked, "Huh?" He repeated "Closed". Thinking he was just some random guy trying to collect some sort of self-imposed entrance tax, I asked why. He replied, "Filming a movie. Should open at six."

Shortly after six, we walked back to the entrance and could see all kinds of kids playing soccer in the grass. The same casual looking gentleman was still manning his post and seemed to be limiting entrance (even though there were already dozens of people in side). He begrudgingly let us enter and we started to walk around to the primary ruin. A swiftly moving man approached from the opposite direction with a couple of lackeys trailing him. He stopped to sign a couple autographs so I decided to start taking shots to figure out who he was after the fact (I'm not much of an authority on Bollywood actors).
Based on my limited internet research, I deduced the actor to be Ranbir Kapoor (note, he's the one in black, not the one with the satchel). I have no idea who he is but this site refers to "the chocolate actor Ranbir Kapoor surely is hot property these days" (note, I have no idea what "chocolate actor" means), so it's possible he's kind of a big deal?

After being passed by Mr. Kapoor, we literally walked into the set getting torn down. Personally, it seemed like you wouldn't want random tourists walking around, but who am I to argue. To be honest, the only way I even found out the movie was called "Rockstar" was that I happened to see one of those signs that details the scene number with the movie title. And yes, this revelation greatly aided my internet research to identify the mystery actor.
I've still yet to see a Bollywood movie in a theatre (or on video for that matter; the closest I've come is the end credits to Slumdog Millionaire), but based on this close encounter, I might need to make "Rockstar" my first.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kunzum Travel Cafe

While exploring a new area of Delhi, Hauz Khas Village, yesterday with "the other expat at work" (Kristin), we happened upon the Kunzum Travel Cafe, which is a fairly unique establishment created by Ajay Jain, who is a prominent Indian travel writer.

(OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not sure how prominent, but I had randomly stumbled upon his blog a week or so ago, Kristin learned of the cafe from Time Out Delhi, and he's published a couple books. Counts as prominent in my book.)
The concept is part coffee shop, part photography gallery, and part hangout for travelers and friends. They have good coffee and a very pressure-free environment. Their policy is simple, if you like the coffee, pay what you want. And stay as long as you wish.

If you're exploring the 13th century ruins of the Hauz Ghas complex or shopping in the area (lots of antique furniture stores that I'm sure will attract the wife), and need a place to cool down or just to relax, it's well worth a stop.

Address: T-49, GF, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi 110016, India.
Tel: +91.9650 702 777, +91.11.26513949
Timings: Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 7.30 pm

Tollway Exemptions

Every time I drive between Delih and Gurgaon I get a kick out of this sign (apologies I couldn't get the entire sign, but this is the best result after five or six attempts from a moving vehicle). It just seems an odd thing to post so publicly to make sure everyone is aware that the VVIP's don't pay the INR 15 toll (or in American currency, $0.33).
The sign raises a few questions (which I'm sure have reasonable, less interesting answers): What constitutes an "independent consultant" (number 13)? Why the discrimination against "central and state ministers" and "speaker of central and state legislature" (numbers 6 and 7)? Would they ever be going through a toll and not do so in a vehicle?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Seriously Dude, It's Not a Carnival Game

Some ideas cross cultural boundaries, like the idea that it's not such a great idea to guess a woman's weight.

This morning at the gym, where I've previously reported their penchant for over-servicing new members (i.e., they push the buttons on the treadmill to ensure you know what you're doing), one of the trainers was dutifully entering a workout for a first-timer. After he entered the workout choice, the time, and the incline, it was time to enter her weight (in kilos). The default is 75. He scrolled down to 65 and started to move toward the "start" button. She quickly flashed her best "you've got to be effing kidding me" look. Sheepishly, he moved it to 60. Same result. Apparently, 55 was the "right" number. In other words, in her opinion, he was off 10 kilos (22 pounds). Either one party's previous employer was Great America or the other party has an altered state of reality.

Of course, I've lost a couple pounds while here yet am reluctant to reduce the weight input for myself on those same treadmills as I know the calorie tally won't increase quite so fast. Maybe I shouldn't judge.

So Long Dharamshala, I Never Knew You

When I called the hotel this morning to confirm my reservation for the weekend, they seemed surprised that I was requesting an airport pick-up. Apparently, the one flight between Dharamshala and Delhi doesn't fly this time of year unless weather permits. And the way the hotel manager spoke, it rarely permits. So what was supposed to be my first foray into solo traveling and solo trekking in the Indian Himalaya is but an afterthought. I canceled.

Dharamshala is the seat of the exiled Tibetan government and, more famously, the home of the Dalai Lama. In hindsight, the fact that I couldn't shake Christopher Walken's voice in my head when he says, "Not just any Buddhist. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama" in Wedding Crashers probably indicates I'm just missing out on some good trekking, two digit temperatures, and a weekend in the mountains (and not any sort of major spiritual revelations).

Among the things people at work said to me today when I asked their thoughts or advice, "Don't go unless you're prepared to extend your leave." Basically, if they close the airport due to weather it's anyone's guess exactly when it reopens. A second person said, "You just want to be safe, you know, it's a small airport with small planes. Plus, there will probably be landslides." Small airports and planes I can deal with; however, having seen the residual effect of landslides in Nepal, being swept away in a moving piece of mountain doesn't sound so super.

Of course, all of this means that I'm a lot less adventurous than I like to think I am. Basically, I'm a pansy. If I were any kind of traveler, I would have just gone, at least checked it out, and worst case caught a bus or hired a car back to Delhi. However, for some reason, ten or eleven hours in a bus or alone in a car didn't sound like a great way to spend what would become a major part of a two-night adventure. Especially if you've ever ridden in a vehicle in rural India.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Steripen Challenge....Delayed

My planned scientific experiment, The Steripen Challenge, has been indefinitely delayed as I have been unable to locate the instrument required to conduct the experiment, the Steripen. It's a portable water purification system that I had hoped to utilize to see exactly how bad the tap water is and whether the RO-UV purification system in our apartment actually works. In hindsight, this would have been a good idea before the first glass of purified water. As for the location of the instrument, I think there's a good chance the wife has hidden it while out of the country so that I don't do something stupid, like try and purify monsoon ditch water (don't think I'm not going to try).

I was excited about my first scientific experiment since my freshman year in college when I was an arrogant enough Finance major that I thought I could master Miami University's pre-med weed out class, the dreaded BMZ116. Let's just say "master" isn't the word my Dad uses to describe my passing grade.

In lieu of The Steripen Challenge, I took it upon myself to take advantage of some unseasonably cool weather (it's only 81 degrees here with a heat index of 87), measure something else, and finally take a quick run outside. Even though I've adjusted to treadmill running, I've learned there is no substitute actually running outside; after a couple months of a Chicago winter and six months in India, it was long overdue. Even though it's technically an "off" day as the gym is closed on Mondays, I wanted to measure the protected distance that can be run within the grounds of our apartment complex without exposure to traffic (other than vehicles coming and going). The good news, if my Garmin is correct,  is that the loop is 1.1 miles, more than enough variety to keep from getting bored when the weather cools down. It also make outdoor training for the Delhi Half Marathon an actual possibility if and when the date for this year's race is announced.

The Monsoon Arrives

In India, they say things like, "the Monsoon will arrive in Delhi on June 29." And yes, I capitalized the word because the way people describe it, you'd think they were expecting the arrival of some long lost relative. Since the country gets around 80 percent of its annual water from the Monsoon, it almost seems appropriate to turn it into a proper noun. In the states, we have general seasons (i.e., hurricane season, tornado season) Yeah, I know, we tend to get specific with hurricanes as they form and get close, but it's nothing like this.

Apparently the monsoon has stalled a bit this year or isn't producing as much rain as typical. If things don't pick up it could, at best, lead to higher food prices and, at worst, spell utter disaster and drought, so you can understand why it's kind of a big deal.

In Delhi and Gurgaon, the Monsoon first hit a couple days late on July 1. For the most part, it rains for a very small portion of the day but when it does, it's complete armageddon, with quickly darkening skies that dump and blow sheets of water into an environment ill-equipped to handle such an event. The net result is localized flooding because the drainage simply can't handle the volume of water and some streets turn into shallow streams. The streets turning into streams has pretty much the effect you'd expect on traffic. It took the driver approximately 90 minutes to get from our apartment to Lindsay's office, which is about 6 km and typically takes ten to fifteen minutes.

When you think about it, it's a small inconvenience given everything that's at stake but another gentle reminder that even with the amount of development and increased infrastructure in India over the past few years that it is very much still a developing country.


Working for an American company that basically follows American holidays (with the exception of a couple of the major Indian holidays), today is an off day. I elected not to travel for the long weekend in part so I could attend the Fourth of July celebration and in part because if I traveled next weekend I could have back-to-back three day weekends, which isn't the worst thing in the world. In hindsight and completely on accident, that was a wise decision.

There's a 12-hour general strike today in protest of a rise in fuel prices.

If I had chosen to travel this weekend, it's a pretty good bet that I would have either been stuck where I was going an extra day or been stuck in Delhi upon arriving. I really didn't think it would impact me until I received a phone call around 9:00am from the car company. Either our drivers are on strike or they were unable to cross the border from Delhi into Haryana. I mentioned that this would have been a good thing to know more than an hour before expecting the car to arrive. He didn't apologize. Either way, I'm stuck finding my own transport if I care to venture out today.

On the bright side, there's nothing I absolutely need to go out and do today, but I had planned to take advantage of the day off and explore some sights in Delhi, including a search for Karim's in old Delhi which is supposedly once of the more authentic and delicious Indian culinary experiences in town. At the least, I could have gone out and taken some pictures that would have made this post more interesting.

On the bright side, I'm not stuck in some random place in India, or worse, stuck in Delhi with no way to cross the border. Plus, this gives me a little free time to start my "test the water" experiment.

Back on American Soil (Sort of)

While Lindsay is touring the Midwest this week, I did the next best thing; attend the American Community Support Association's (ACSA) fourth of July celebration on the grounds of the American embassy. As a patriotic American, I felt it my duty to attend. I went with Kristin, the other expat from work, but was unable to extend the offer to my German friend Ben. While he lives in Cincinnati and is married to an American (which was one of the conditions listed for attendance), she is currently in Germany ("foreigners" could only attend if with their American citizen direct family member). He wondered if his Ohio driver's license would work; I told him probably not.

Upon arrival at the gate, my first thought was, "you know, there's a bunch of people who are obviously Americans waiting outside a gate at the American embassy on the fourth of July, this has the unfortunate potential to show up on CNN as a 'breaking news' headline." We were obviously Americans as we were forming a proper line to wait for our passports to be checked. The women in front of me heard the comment, turned around and said, "yeeeeeah" while slowly nodding her head. Obviously, I was not alone in my thoughts.

Safely inside and past security checks that seemed slightly more serious than the half-ass metal detectors I walk through on a daily basis to go into malls, hotels, or the office, you could have just as easily been at any celebration back in the states. There was an inordinate number of people that made the decision to wear shorts, kids running around with reckless abandon, and any number of staple cookout items (yes, including actual burgers made of beef). They even had watermelon and pie eating contests. I abstained, though I'm pretty sure I could have gone for the double and won both.

There was a free raffle with three or four winners for round-trip tickets to the states on Continental, which seemed generous. You had to be present to win (a couple people were not so they kept drawing names). Lindsay called right before so I had stepped into the indoor section so that I could hear. I thought about calling her back afterward and telling her my name had been called but I wasn't "present" and that her call had cost us a free ticket. But that would be mean.

Shortly after the fireworks display, it started to sprinkle, which was actually a nice respite from the humidity. A few minutes later, the sprinkle turned into the torrential downpour more closely associated with the monsoon season. We made it inside before the worst hit, waited out until it let up a bit, and decided to call the driver for a pick-up before too many other people made the same decision.

All in all and even with the visit from the monsoon, it was about as American a fourth of July as one can expect when half way around the world.

If you're an American living in Delhi or the NCR, the ACSA is basically a social club for government employees but they also have membership types for non-government U.S. citizens.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My First Expatriate "Honey Do" List

With Lindsay headed back to the airport in a couple hours to participate in the nuptials of Melissa, her best friend from childhood (if there are other childhood friends reading this, deal with it), I thought I'd provide a quick update on my plans over the next ten or so days while she's gone....
  • Take two 3-day weekends
  • Watch the Germany/Argentina World Cup match from the airport Radisson (actually a lot less depressing than it sounds) 
  • Attend the U.S. embassy's Fourth of July celebration 
  • Travel someplace in India for the non-holiday weekend; the probable destination is Dharamshala, exiled home of the Dalai Lama 
  • Some sort of time at the pool 
  • Order pizza online (which to a non-Hindi speaking foreigner is approximately seventeen times easier than trying to place an order over the phone) 
  • Start those Hindi lessons back up on Rosetta Stone 
  • Conduct a scientific experiment with respect to the tap water quality in our apartment 
  • Repeat that same experiment with repsect to the filtered water in our apartment (not sure I want the results to this) 
  • If time allows, journey alone into old Delhi (note, "alone" includes the assistance of my trusty driver, Kailish) 
Yep, it's going to be an exciting (and potentially busy) few days. Oh yeah, and congratulations Melissa!