Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lal Bagh Botanical Garden

Today we went to Lal Bagh Botanical Garden. This place was amazing! They had such different looking trees and flowers than I have seen before. There was a lot of shade too, so it wasn't hot (well too hot :) ) walking around.
Here are a few pictures:

Lal Bagh Botanical Garden
The full albums will be posted when I come home.
Tomorrow morning we are flying to Kochi, Kerala for 4 nights. We will stay two of those nights on a houseboat!!! and also go to Periyar Wildlife Reserve, where they have tigers and elephants (I'm keeping my hopes low for the tigers and elephants...I'm set to enjoy the scenery, which is supposed to be amazing).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sights, Sounds, and Smells

Betcha ya wish you could buy your chicken from this store...

I've decided that India really requires a video camera- one in 4D- to capture all the sights and smells. Pictures just don't seem to do it justice. Every time we go out driving, I just gawk at all the people, animals, cars, bikes, etc. Of course, all the people are gawking back at us too! Today Colette and I were talking in the car and she said "Look over there" and I turned and this rickshaw driver was just staring at us. And there is no such thing as averting ones eyes once they have been "found out". It's a bit unsettling. Colette says it is pretty unusual to see a white person driving (they usually have drivers) let alone a white woman driving. One guy shook his head at us in a way that I interpreted as "what is the world coming to?" . That made me giggle :).

Brian stopped after church and bought one of these purple coconut things. The man machetes them and pulls out this oval clear blobs of what looks like gelatin and then you eat them. They don't taste like much, but the texture was interesting...kinda like eating a jellyfish- without the stings of course!

Corban, Vino, the top of Kai's head, and Haddon
The women's saris and sarwars are so colorful and driving along the streets, your nose is assualted with gasoline fumes, the stench of burning trash, sewage, and yummy friend lentil donuts...your stomach can't decided whether to growl in hunger, or empty its contents. Store signs are in both English and what I assume to be Hindi and there are shacks made from tarps and cardboard boxes right next to nice apartments and shops.

Driving down Hoysur Road

I've seen a family of three on on a motorcycle and a man riding a bicycle so loaded with palm fronds that I have no idea how he was able to see where he was going!

I found this sign funny...it really isn't the speed that kills because the traffic is so bad you can't go very fast, but not looking when you pull into someone else's lane!

Cows wander the street

I'm really enjoying my stay here, despite the bout of sickness. It is so very different from any culture I've ever been in and is turning out to be a great experience. I have lots more words to write down, but Druvika is coming to babysit and Colette and I are going shopping for a couple of hours.


On Friday night we went to small group (Bible study). Ansu and Lambert are the couple who hosts the meeting and Lambert leads. They have three daughters who are a lot of fun, we talked soccer and school and they tried to tell me about cricket :). We had dinner there and I must of ate something bad because that night and the next day and half...whoo-ee...not fun let me tell you. I didn't want to take the anitbiotics or anything else that "keeps it in" because I wanted it OUT, so I stayed in bed all day Saturday and was able to keep some juice down by the afternoon. Thankfully Colette also had handy packets of electrolytes as well. On Sunday I was feeling better to go to church. They have such a great church. Awesome teaching and really friendly people. Then we hung out at the house, since 1) everyone wanted to rest and 2) I wasn't feeling up to walking around just yet.

Today I am feeling MUCH BETTER! Yay! Thanks to everyone who prayed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Namaste from India!

I made it! After sitting next to stinky, sweaty, snoring man from Houston to Newark, I was blessed with an entire ROW of seats on the flight from Newark to Delhi, so that meant I caught some major zzz's on the flight- about 6 or 7 hours worth (yay for Ambien!). I did get motion sick on the descent (I really need to kick this problem) and was able to make it to the bathroom on the plane in time- I don't recommend trying an Indian breakfast in reverse...
I made two friends in the Delhi airport, Mo and Vsha. They helped me navigate to the inter-airport bus and we hung out for 10 hours at the domestic terminal waiting for our flights. I didn't get pictures, but they were really nice people. I highly recommend Jet Airways for flying in India- the food was AMAZING and the aircraft was super nice and clean.
Brian, Colette and the kids picked me up at the crazy chaotic (the start of the Bangalore theme). I couldn't believe the crazy traffic- I thought Moscow was bad. Rickshaws, motorcycles, people walking in the middle of the lane, bicycles loaded down with wares, no street lines, and no right of way rules (so it seemed to me) - I am one very impressed person at the courage Brian and Colette have to drive around the city.
I managed to make it until about 4pm that afternoon (after an fantastic lunch at a new restaurant-I seriously love Indian food) before pretty much falling asleep mid-sentence talking with Colette :). After a short nap, we picked Brian up from work and went to a Biriyani restaurant (The Hyderbaad House). Biriyani is a popular dish in the city (region?) of Hyderbaad, rice seasoned with saffron (I think- it was yellow and didn't taste like tumeric) and spicy meats. Yum!
Today, Colette and the kids and I braved traffic (well, I braved it- Colette was a master at not freaking out every time we had a close call- and there were many- crazy truck and bus drivers!). We went to the Bangalore Fort and the Tunni (I think I am calling it the wrong thing) Palace. And then strolled some in the city market. It was pretty hot, but the kids were really good sports about it. Everyone was staring at us (we stood out quite a bit). Colette says she is used it now, but it was really unnerving for me. I'm glad she was with me. Here are a few pictures from today. We're going to small group tonight and I am really looking forward to meeting some of their church family.

Bangalore Day 2

Friday, April 18, 2008

Books books books!!!

What better excuse than a 20 hour plane ride to make a trip to Half Price books? I am an avid reader and, unfortunately, a fast reader. I say unfortunately because that means I always tote a lot of books with me when I travel. I usually stick to classics since I feel that most bestsellers are disappointing (to be fair, I have found a few good ones). I vacillated over an Amy Tan and a Leon Uris (Leon Uris is a FANTASTIC author by the way, I've read most of his stuff), but alas, I had a budget to stick to.

For my trip to India, here is my book list:

"Atonement" by Ian McEwan (no I haven't seen the movie)
"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" by Fannie Flagg (yes I have seen the movie and read another of Fannie's books- she's a fun author)
"Howard's End" by E.M. Forster
"Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen (I've heard nothing but good things about this one)
"When We Were Orphans" by Kazuo Ishiguro (he also wrote "The Remains of the Day"- good book)
"The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway

Now the key is not to start reading them until I leave! Shouldn't be a problem- my friend Moose loaned me two J.D Salinger books ("The Catcher in the Rye" and "Franny and Zooey")

Ah, books are great :)

Random pictures

Just some random pictures from the last couple of weeks...

A tribute to my trusty running shoes, which I retired about 3 weeks ago due to pain in my shins...turns out they were the wrong shoe for me, but they got me through 3 5Ks and a 10K. I am loving my new Mizuno Waveriders

The graduation invitations I made for my brother ( I figured my mom would kill me if I posted the party invite insert since it has their address on it :) )
Congrats Bobby!

Bacon and his stitched up belly
(he got the stitches removed today and is back on the kitchen table (where he is NOT supposed to be) licking plastic bags...my cat is weird)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Travel arrangements are going to make me age prematurely

Yeah so here's the saga:

I booked my tickets to India on Expedia. Their itinerary showed me arriving in Delhi at 8:15pm on Wed. April 23rd and departing Delhi to Bangalore on Th April 24th at 6:30am- so 10.5 hour layover. Perfect.

A day or so later,I looked at Continental to confirm my tickets were booked and it showed me arriving in Delhi at 8:15pm on Tuesday April 22nd, which I thought was a bit odd, because of the time change, but hey, I'm used to traveling to Moscow, not India, so I trust the airlines (hahaha), I must have looked at the Expedia stuff wrong and missed the "+2 days". So I reserve a hotel in Delhi for two nights and think, okay, well I just make a trip to the Taj Mahal on my extra day there (the 23rd).

So I am getting ready to confirm the hotel reservations and the paranoid flight controller side of me says "you know, you should probably check those arrival times one more time, since you already screwed it up once". Well I check Expedia and sure enough, it definitely says arrival on Wed April 23rd. So I call Expedia, just to point out the mistake so other travelers don't get walloped with a 36 hour layover. They thanked me for my advice. So then, I call Continental (I'm telling you- paranoid). Here's our conversation:

Continetal guy (CG): "you arrive in Delhi on April 23rd at 8:15pm".
Me: "I'm looking at my itinerary on your website and it says I arrive at 8:15pm on April 22nd".
CG: "If you leave Newark, NJ on April 22nd at 8:30pm you couldn't arrive in Delhi India at 8:15 pm on the same day".
Me: "Yes, I agree, so why does my itinerary say I arrive on April 22nd at 8:15pm instead of the 23rd"
CG: "Well, we have to put the 22nd down so people will know that they are departing Newark on the 22nd. If we put the 23rd down for your arrival in Delhi, people would think that they would depart Newark on the 23rd, instead of the 22nd"
Me: "Uh no, since it clearly states "Depart Newark on April 22nd at 8:30pm, I don't see how someone could think that. Maybe I am thinking too smart, but since I know there is a time change when I fly around the world, I expect to arrive on a different day, so its pretty confusing to me when you put the wrong day down for my arrival"
(I was thinking a whole lot of other stuff, but it wasn't very nice)
CG: "I'm sorry ma'am that's just how we do things"
Me: "So, can you confirm that I do arrival in Delhi on Wednesday April 23rd and not on the 22nd like my itinerary says"
CG: Yes ma'am I can confirm that you arrive on the 23rd"
Me: Thank you.

Let me just say that
1) its a good thing I didn't pay for my hotel and train tickets in Delhi yet
2) None of my Moscow itineraries- which are very similar to my India departure times, have ever said "Hey you leave Atlanta on August 8th at 4pm and arrive in Moscow on August 8th at noon...it would say "arrival on August 9th".
3) After all of that, I wouldn't be surprised if I do land in Delhi and its the 22nd

Am I missing something here?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Space Shuttle for Kids

My mom is a preschool teacher in Arizona and she does a HUGE space lesson for her kids...it lasts about a month. Here are some pictures of the space shuttle she designed and she and my dad built. It has all sorts of gadgets inside for the kids to "fly" with and she bought a orange flight suit and a blue suit as well for the kids to take pictures in, in front of the American flag of course! Helmet included :). Her whole class room is decorated in space themed, complete with glow-in-the-dark stars and a black light and a section for "Mission Control". The kids are little, old threes and young fours, but they get taught the basics of space and the universe, but more importantly, they get excited about space and what we as humans can do there. Great job Mom!


Bacon is home! And of course, the first thing he did when I opened his carrier was go run and jump on my bed...after the vet told me not to let him jump on anything. . His forearm and stomach are all shaved, but no plastic cone around his head (that would have made from some funny pictures). And guess what!? The bill was significantly less than they originally quoted, so I am doubly happy!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No more flipflop!

The vet got the last chunk of flipflop out of Bacon's stomach today. She said it was a good thing they did the surgery, since it was headed towards his intestine and would have gotten stuck, making things a LOT more complicated. He's got to stay there for the next two days and then I pick him up Friday afternoon. I was supposed to run my 10K race up in Brenham on Saturday and then stay with my friends Angie and Andrew the rest of the weekend in College Station...but I just feel too bad leaving Bacon. So, to make it up to myself, I am going to run 6.2 miles at some point next week and then eat some Blue Bell ice cream. :) (The 10K is the Blue Bell Fun Run).

There will be other races and God willing, longer races...

Monday, April 7, 2008

The saga continues...

So the vet had me bring Bacon home tonight because the stubborn feline refuses to go to the bathroom there. So of course, it turns out I was the impetus he was waiting for...he proceeded to pee in his carrying cage as I was putting him into the car. Yeah, three day old cat urine smell in a Honda Civic...not exactly Eau de Parfum let me tell you. So then I get him home and semi-cleaned up and he drinks a bit of water and that's it...no more going to the bathroom and let me tell you, he is definitely walking funny. And he still hasn't eaten.

I have to take him back tomorrow morning for more scans, but they thought bringing him home might move things along... . Bacon, looks like you might be going under the knife.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bacon status

Bacon is still in the "hospital", being pumped with barium (helps them to see his insides better when they do the scans) and food...seems that he still has quite a chunk(s?) of flipflop stuck in his stomach. Unless it "moves" (I don't think I need to explain to you what I mean by "move"), they are going to have to surgerize him on Tuesday...I did get some good news...him staying overnight in the hospital is only like $20 a day...I will not however, tell you how much the x-rays and barium thing is costing... :)...I think I should have gotten pet insurance...stupid cat...(yeah, I will be happy when he is back here)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My cat ate my shoe

Yeah, unfortunately, I am not joking. Bacon ate part of my purple flipflop yesterday. He's always attacked flipflops (particularly the Old Navy brand) and likes to shred them with his claws. Last year, he got a hold of a brand new pair so I just let him keep them as a toy. I came home Thursday from work and noticed cat sick on the floor. No biggie, cleaned it up and went on my way. There were a couple more episodes (I am trying to make this not gross, by the way). And then I noticed bits of foam rubber in one episode (it took me a few minutes to realize WHAT it was). I looked at the shoes and sure enough, rather than little tiny pieces, there were chunks missing- I mean, we are talking like the size of a quarter. So admittedly, I giggled a bit, because we are talking about the cat who crashed into my kitchen window and broke it, the cat who tried to climb UP the chimney when he was a kitten- there are lots of Bacon stories. He seemed okay yesterday, just a bit quieter, but he's still getting sick and is now just sitting there, staring at nothing- not causing trouble. So I am going to be at the vet when it opens this morning. Crazy cat- I thought instinct would tell him NOT to eat a shoe (it's obviously helping by now trying to get rid of it...)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And done...

Three weeks of craziness later- 1JA mission complete, ATV IS DOCKED!!!, and yes folks, that's right...

So excited! Going to see the Fraziers....going to see the Fraziers (I'm doing a happy dance in my head right now...)

This the Automated Transfer Vehicle, built by the European Space Agency (ESA) that docked to the ISS today...