Thursday, March 29, 2007


The next day we headed back to Delhi in the van. I think for the kids the highlight of the trip was stopping at McDonald's for lunch. Yep right in the middle of now where India on the highway was McDonald's, go capitalism go.!

The entire day was taken up with the drive as we had to wait to leave until after 1:00 due to the Festival known as Holi. Basically you dress up in white get drunk and then through paint at each other, cars, buses, buildings or anything else that you feel needs to be painted. Then starting around 1:00 in the afternoon you go home and pass out, sound familiar to anyone, Happy St.
Patrick's Day.

We arrived in Delhi with no problems checked in and spent the afternoon hanging around the hotel. We then went to the world famous American bistro..TGI Friays. It was very similar to back home with the one exception of the noise. The music was so loud we could not even talk to each other.

Delhi which is currently the capital of India has not always been so. The city which is the center of North Indian travel and commerce has been attacked with the same voracity as the other cities having in common with the that the English were the last to be booted out.There have been eight Delhi's created over time. The eighth Delhi, New Delhi was constructed by the British. They then moved the British Capital of Calcutta to Delhi in 1911 however the construction was not done until 1931 and then in 1941 it became the Capital...

We toured the Red Fort which Shah Jahn was trying to build when his pesky son put him in jail.
We also saw Humayun's Tomb which is quite impressive. For us however the bike powered rickshaw ride through the commercial are of Delhi was fantastic. We saw things from tailors, flower shops, food markets and so on. The streets were so narrow that the bike could barely make it through. There was a school bus that was powered by a cyclist and the colors we saw and the wares for sale were incredible.

Then we were off to the hotel so the Grandparents could watch the kids and Tom and Tracy could go to dinner and what a great dinner we had. It was a sad ending to the day however because Grandpa Jim and Grandma Bunny were off to the airport and back home. We missed them already. Hugs and Kisses were exchanged and safe travels.(At the time of publishing the Hickeys were playing 18 holes of golf with their friends in Florida).

The next morning the rest of us headed out for a small tour of the places we missed.The first place we went to is called Bahai Temple. This is shaped like a white lotus and quite striking.

We visited a ceremonial gardens which is the exact spot where Gandhi utter his last words"My God". The final temple on our tour was a brand new Mosque which was completed in 2005. The place is a very ornate Temple with 1300 hand carved elephants surrounding it. It was built in honor of a young Swami who at the age of 7 set out bare foot and crossed India over a 20 year period and became one the they most revered Swami's. Unfortunately I can not remember his name.

We then returned to the hotel and collected our stuff and headed to the airport where thankfully we had no delays and returned to Bangalore with Grandma and Grandpa Murphy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fort Agra

This is a massive red-sandstone structure that was begun in 1565 bu Emperor Akbar and completed in 1658 by his grandson Shah Jahan. It is on the banks of the Yamuna River and was primarily used as a military structure. When Shah Jahan came into power he updated the place using his favorite building material you guessed it, white marble.

The Fort itself is an ear shaped structure with walls that are 2o meters high and the circumference of the walls is 2.5 kilometers. That would be 65 feet tall and a mile and a half around for you metrically challenged Americans! Inside the Fort is a maze of many different buildings and structures giving the appearance of a city with in a city. the Many of the structures have been destroyed over the years by all the attackers the last being of course the British.

The only entrance to the fort is called Amar Singh Gate and allows for entrance from the south. The entrance itself and dog-leg design are to confuse attackers, a lot of good that did!

The main hall of the fort called Diwan-i-Am was used primarily by Shah Jahan for domestic government business. Perhaps one of the most beautiful internal structures called Nagina Masjid, built in 1635 by Shah Jahan, is a marble monument dedicated to the ladies of the court.

Now the interesting historical part of the Fort in my opinion was what the son of Shah Jahan
used this place for.It seems that the eldest son of Shah Jahan and the next ruler to be was upset that his Dad had spent something like $70,000,000 bucks to build the Taj and was in the process of spending another boat load of his inheritance on what would be called the Black Mahal. The Black Mahal would become the burial place for Shah Jahan and would be right across the river from the Taj Mahal, which as you know is white.

Well not if Aurangzeb had anything to say about. So in 1658 he seized power from his Dad, Shah Jahan and then threw him in prison in the Fort. Aurangzeb must have been a real troubled man because in the fort there is a room called Musamman Burj and Khas Mahal this is were Shah Jahan was kept and could not even see the Taj and his beloved. Shah Jahan was ingenious and figured out that if lay a certain way and used a mirror he could then see the Taj.
There are beautiful gardens and monuments to all the different religions of the times. Seems like old Aurangzeb, after ousting the old man took no chances and prayed using every religion avaiable.
More on Delhi next!

The Taj Mahal

Seldom in ones life does the opportunity to travel with your parents and their parents come along. However for the loudamericans kids such a trip is upon us. Not only are we able to do so we did it at the Taj Mahal.

Grandma and Grandpa Hickey along with the loudamericans headed to the airport to fly up to Delhi to meet Grandma and Grandpa Murphy whom have just arrived from Florida. Good thing too because it is hot here now...

We got to the airport just as our cell phone informed us our flight was going to be late and it turned out several hours late. We were to meet the Grandparent Murphy’s in Delhi at 3:00 and then drive to Agra which is we were told about 4 hours from Delhi. No problem. We finally arrived in Delhi and meet them around 5:00 in the afternoon. We exchanged hello hugs and kisses and loaded up the “van” to head off to Delhi.
I must explain our transportation.
Here in India most things are done via the mobile phone and computer, as were our transport plans from Agra to Delhi and back. When we arrived at the airport we were met by this nice young man whom spoke no English (we are used to that) and he led us to the 15-person van. WOW! It was as small tour bus. It had ac, drapes and most importantly storage, we do not travel light. We were way high and somewhat impervious to those whom need to knock on your windows for food or to sell you something, perfect.

So in the bus and off we went. It became known to all of the adults fairly soon that the suspension was not the best but hey we are going to see the Taj. Four hours from Delhi to Agra, not in our van. It took about 6 hours, several speed bumps and all of our cash to get there. It seems that when we booked this luxury van I just assumed that we would pay for it when we were finished, not so. We had to pay for tolls, boarder crossings, food for the driver and the cabin boy. Of course all of this came out of the total. It reminded me of a car I had fixed back in college that was sent in as a fuel injection motor and came back with a carburetor that is another story.

We saw several unbelievable things on Mulberry Street that day but the one that was the most unusual was the donkey riding in the back of the auto-rickshaw! Camels are a common mode of transportation on the highway as well:) The kids loved that.

We finally made it. The Hotel was good and more to the point the restaurant and bar were still opened. So we had dinner, a welcome to India drink for Grandma Kay and Grandpa Jeremiah and hit the hay.

The Taj Mahal tour is something that we will remember for a long time, perhaps as long as the Christmas Story Dinner.

The construction of the Taj began in 1631 and was completed in 1653. There were 20, 000 people whom worked on the project for the designer and then ruler of Agra, Emperor Shah Jahan. The Shahs second wife whose name is Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631 giving birth to their 14th child. They say the emperor was so distraught by the death of Mumtaz his hair turned silver overnight. The Taj is constructed of World Heritage Marble and has countless beautiful pietra dura, which are inlays. It is truly gorgeous. There are two monuments on either side of the Taj of which one is a Mosque and the other a jawab, which house travelers and are identical in design and construction. The four pillars (minards) of the Taj were made to slope slightly outward in the event of an earthquake they would not fall on the main building.
The inside of the Taj is lined with all the verses of the Koran Below the main dome is the Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal which is an elaborate false tomb. There next to her is the Cenotaph of Shah Jahan. The real tombs are locked in a chamber below and are no longer able to be viewed by the general public.

We spent a good deal of time here until Jimmy declared "lets get out of here this place is boring and I am never coming back!" No kidding...

The only way to get to the Taj is to walk about 1.5 miles from the carpark. It seems that in 1994 they outlawed vehicular traffic due to discoloring of the Taj. We walked in but took a horse drawn cart back with Jimmy at the wheel and Kay and Billy singing Jingle Bells at the top of their lungs.

Off to the fort which is a story and a blog of its own!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patricks Day

I am well aware that we are several posts behind however there are certain events that when the occur they supersede all others and St. Patrick's Day as such an event!

So here we are in beautiful Bangalore and celebrating this event not only with our new Irish "Indian " friends but the Grand Marshal and his bride, Jeremiah and Kay Murphy have graced us with their presence!

We did not have to deal with snow,ice and the other elements so critical to the success of the event however here in India we had to deal with the Sun, and man it was hot.

The day stared with the party planners, yes here in India one uses a party planner, showed up to decorate our street. We had green and white balloons and Styrofoam shamrocks on each of the palm trees along with two face painters and custom made Happy St. Patricks Day 2007 wristbands, party planners think of everything!! Grandma and Grandpa brought with them several trinkets and such so all were dressed superb!
Then of course there is the cake. Jeremiah and I went to the local bakery and explained what we wanted which to someone who has no clue about St.Patrick let alone speak English, we were unsure what to expect. There is never a function here that does not include a cake and as you can see by the photo what a grand cake it was.

Perhaps the highlight of the day came when we decorated an auto rickshaw and lieu of a parade all the kids and adults took rides around palm meadows, it was quite the scene.

We managed to make the day such a success that two other bloggers posted our parade on their blogs,here are the links and the palm meadows wiki

The palm meadows site will give you all the in depth details on St. Patrick himself starting the moment he was born onwards..

The party was the usual success opening the first beer around 11:00 am and pouring out the last unfinished one at 8:30pm. Man it was hot!

Happy St. Patricks Day to you all and to all a good night.
One last thing, where's Kay?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Temp Blog

Ok, consider this a "temporarly blog" sort of like "temporary tatoo" - cool but not the real thing.

Here's the deal on why we've had so few blogs posted lately. Visitors that are staying in our computer room, the computer was down for 3 days last week AND we've been traveling with our visitors...

So... I wanted to at least get a few updates out there for all you that are thristing for Murphy news...

St Patricks day... As you know, this is our MAJOR holiday/party of the year. We are currently planning our annual St Pats Day parade/party in India for Saturday. Should be interesting, we'll post pictures on the blog next week:) We have arm bands being made, 4 meter tall shamrocks being decorated and are trying to "source" a caterer that will try to make us Corn Beef and Cabbage. If we find a keg of green beer, it'll be nirvana. True Indian experience. Wish us luck!

In terms of family updates....
Billy has started to say "I love you" and when you ask him his name, he says "Billy!". His verbal skills amaze me. He's really fun, except for the hunger strike he is currently on and the fact the very question is immediately answered with 'no':)

Kay is hysterical (as always). She is into cooking her own food now and will go into the refrig (when we aren't looking) pull out all the food and mix it together. Nice big fat mess. She also sings non stop. Currently we are still stuck on Cmas carols, (BNL Jiggle Bells to be specific) but I am hoping we find a new obsession soon.

Jimmy is LOVING school and has developed this habit of speaking in an Indian accent with Indian people and a regular (i.e. Minnesotan) accent with everyone else. He is their "ace" dancer and will be an Arab dancer in their annual program, they are even asking him to "play" guitar in his dance sequence. I have visions of Napolean Dynamite....

Tom is getting WAY involved in the charity committee here (through the Overseas Women's Club) so I'm glad that we aren't just living and working in India but actually giving something back. There is so much need here. Its truly mind blowing....

We are in the midst of visitors. My parents were here for 3 weeks and now Tom's parents are here for 3 weeks. We get a 2 weeks "off" and then my aunt comes for 3 weeks and I just found out my sister is coming for 3 weeks in May... Its fun but hard to balance work and home when you really want to be home with your family.

The 1st week of March we had our family adventure to Delhi/Agra and the Taj Mahal. We had a great but busy time. It was truly a once in a lifetime to have both sets of parents at the Taj Mahal together with our kids. Amazing! I feel so lucky that Mom and Dad and the Murphys are healthy and adventurous, that they get along and that, that the kids are (relatively) good travelers and that we got to have such an amazing life experience with our parents and our kids. We really feel blessed. Be on the look out for some good blogs on the experience:) Jimmy's comment on the Taj was "I'm never coming back here". He was much more impressed with the game room at the hotel. I am not sure why we bother taking him anywhere. He's just 5 I guess. My Mom's comment was "This was the best experience of my life". That about sums up that trip!

Love to you all and I PROMISE TONS of blogs are coming in the next week....!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Grandma and Grandpa Hickey

The Hickeys have arrived! We are in the middle of a Grandparents invasion and what fun. Jim and Bunny arrived fresh off a not so wonderful trip to Paris. They were given wrong directions,were treated rude,terrible service but good food. Sounds like Paris to me! The highlight of their Paris experience came when they finally got back to their room and had a Happy Birthday Grandpa voice mail from the Loudamericans, Happy Birthday Grandpa.
They have been getting to spend some great time with the kids and us, more Tom than Tracy as work is very busy. They did have a little of an adjustment to the "atmosphere" here however we are having a wonderful time.

They have been all over Bangalore and then made the trip to Mysore, a great Bird Sanctuary,a Hindu temple and tamed the wild beast, yes they rode an elephant!!

I think the highlight so far has been Grandparents day at school because the only Grandparents there of course were Jim and Bunny!! The kids love it and the teachers thought it was fun to.

The food has been painstaking prepared by Raj and Florence and I have to believe that they have never made food with this little spice or curry before.

We are getting ready to head up to Delhi to meet the other set of Grandparents,Jeremiah and Kay. Then of to Agra and The Taj Mahal.....
The kids are LOVING the attention and we really appreciate all Grandma and Grandpa's extra help and attention. Stories are being read, hair combed, outfits coordinated.... You know all the stuff we dont get time to do with 3 kids:)
Next Blog... Welcome the Murphy and we ALL go to the Taj Mahal!!