Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Zealand and Merry Christmas

We finally have reached New Zealand. The place is beautiful. We arrived at midnight on the 18th after several hours of plane travel and movie watching by the kids. The moment we got onto the plane Kay promptly threw up in the bathroom, which we took as a good sign (usually she throws up in her seat, so this was auspicious). The airplane attendant looked at me and said " Kids always get a little nervous on their first flight", I just smiled and shook my head.

We landed up at our hotel at 1am and the kids had a hard time settling down. Tracy finally had to get up at 2:30am to make Jimmy a bowl of oatmeal for fear that he'd starve to death before morning. Again, another sign of the days to come.

Tom got up early the next morning and headed over for "Campervan Training" which was nothing more than giving me the keys and pointing the directions out of town. I had visions of Randy Quaid in vacation when he pulled up to the Griswalds and announced " Shitter's full!"

The van is really nice and clean. It is what they call a 6 berth however we are a little cramped during meals. The kids have claimed the berth above the drivers area for the new " fort" and they have been sleeping up there and for the most part doing quite well. They have been riding great, it is when we get to the next campsite that all hell breaks loose.

We arrived in Auckland and checked into the campsite of Friday the 19Th. Jimmy was giving a running commentary to which Billy responded ' Jimmy can you just stop talking for one minute". The Wartime Museum was our first stop and we attended the Maori Culture show. The people are very talented singers and were fierce hunters and warriors. The city has a population of around 1.2 million, while New Zealand has a total population of 4.5 million and they get around 2 million people per year as tourists. Auckland is a harbour town and there are tons of people sailing and seeing all of the sites. The city boasts of culture, dining and as they say around here she is the true capital of the country. It reminded us of San Francisco, all hills and cool views and cool weather.

We loaded up the Campervan and headed of to the town of Waitomo to visit the glow worms and to go " caving". There are two types of caving done here, black water and the basic hiking. Jimmy decided that we could go black water caving "maybe next time because you have to be 16". Black water caving means you get a life jacket a helmet and a small torch ( flashlight) and them jump down this hole into the water and the dark caves and then let the river carry you into the cave, as an added bonus the waters are eel infested, we chose to walk.

The glow worm caves are really spectacular. The caves are limestone and have stalagmites and stalactites, I do not believe one can exists with out the other. The caves have been known to the local Maoris who introduced the caves to the rest of the world around 1887. The glowworms are actually a marketing plow by the locals, the worms it turns out are maggots, who would want to go see glow maggots? hence the name change. These "worms" live on the top parts of these damp caves and live for 12 months. The first 9 months the are in larvae form and then in the last three they grow these long nerves, "fishing lines" as they are referred to. The worms eat mosquitoes and other little insects that rise from the river. The insect gets tangled in these fishing lines, the worm eats once or twice a month.Then as the 12th month approaches they females lay their eggs and the males do their thing and then off to glowworm heaven after 3 days of regular life and the cycle starts all over. When we asked Jimmy what he thought, he said "not enjoyable".

The next day we went to Ruakuri Cave and did a two hour walking tour. The cave was rather large and 65 mitres below ground. The kids had a great time and we got to see a group of black water cavers go underneath the walkway. The sight of this reassured that we made the correct choice in the walking option. For some reason the kids loved this tour, they talked non stop the whole time. We had lunch and the headed off for a small drive to Wellington.

7 hours later we reached Wellington and promptly froze near to death. Wellington is the capital and has a population of 165,000 people and is a harbor town as well. This place is an island wouldn't you expect to see harbor towns? Wellington is referred to as "Welly-Wood" as we all know about the success of Lord of the Rings. We checked into the Holiday Park had a bite to eat and settled the kids down for sleep. I awoke in the middle of the night and was shaking so hard I could not stop. I have not been that cold in my life, freezing. The next morning we thawed out the kids and headed off to the Pichton Car Ferry. The destination is Nelson, on the north part of the South Island.

Kay and Tracy fought off sea sickness the whole 3 hr ride to the south island but the views were spectacular and we even saw dolphins playing in the surf. As you approach the south island it looks like what I would imagine the norwigian fjords or alaska would look like. Steep hills, green meadows, sheep everywhere, and the blue-est water I have ever seen (yes, even more blue than the caribbean).

We found a cool mini yacht club to have lunch at and watch the sailboats being put in and pulled out. A very TDNS moment and gave us a minute to reflect on our boat friends.

We settled into Nelson after and easy drive and got to work on all the basics of camping - food, drink, showers, laundry, etc... We decided on a kayak tour the 1st day to be followed by horse back riding the 2nd. I have no words for how cool the kayak tour was. We went with Margarita (from Spain via about 12 prior places but originally Majagoria). She was nice enough to "take" JImmy in her kayak. We followed the coastline and saw the most unbelievable blue, green water, moved in and out and through caves, saw dolphins again and a pengiun even swam by us!! Proofing Tom can make friends anywhere, he made friends with a diver that swam up to show Kay the crab he had caught

Day 2 - the horse back ride place is full. We reconvien to our camper to replan our day and the stars/moon shine on us. If we have 25 min's they can give the kids a quick pony ride. While not the cowboy experience JImmy was expecting, still a great way to spend an hour. Off to the mini aquarium, lunch, a wine tasting that didnt include any wine but you could taste vodka (go figure) and finally a stop at our favorite local park (yes, just 2 days in town and we already have a favorite park).

Tonight holds a trip into town for Cmas carols in front of the local church, tomorrow Santa comes and we begin our LONG drive to Fox Glacier. Its a 8 hr drive without kids through the mountains and while will proof beautiful might go down as the longest Cmas day in history

We wish all the Merriest of Christmas and the most Prosperous New Year.

ALl our love! Watch for more updates!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Things we'll miss about Bangalore

The PEOPLE – they are amazing and kind and engaged and curious and attentive and loving and do everything in their power to make you feel like you are the most special person in the whole world every day.

Our Friends (see The People) – We have made truly once in a lifetime friends here. I have bonded faster and deeper with these fellow expats than I have with any group since “Week 1” Freshman year of college (and yes, they have seen me at my best and my worst and still love me for it)

The Food – all joking about weight loss aside, the food here is amazing. Carrots & tomatoes that ACTUALLY taste like carrots and tomatoes (not hot house synthetic versions of the vegetables). Fresh food, made from scratch, daily… the AMAZING variety of spices, the bountifulness & varieties of fruits & vegetables.

The Adventure – everyday is an adventure. Going to work or school or the grocery store can be a sensory overload of new smells, sites and adventures. We have seen donkey’s riding in ricksaws, the word chicken spelled 10 different ways, pot holes that look like small craters, blue blue skies and green green palm trees. We have also see one of the seven wonders of the world, some of the worst poverty imaginable, visited 2 other continents (not to mention 7 new countries), countless temples, ruins and ancient cultural locations. The diversity of experience here is so rich its unbelievable.

The Autonomy to be ourselves in our family – please don’t take this the wrong way BUT.. because we have so few friendships here we have much fewer commitments and our schedule is much more in our control. We can go on a long weekend at the drop of a hat. We can hole up and just spend 2 full days on our family. We can read to the kids, watch movies, play cricket, color, etc with having to worry about soccer practice or piano lessons or carpooling or the 9 thousand other things that seem to eat up your time in the U.S. We have some adjusting to do when we get back

The Designated Driver – yes, I admit it, I am going to miss saying “ok, I’ll have another glass of wine, I don’t need to drive” or “sure, let’s order a whole bottle of wine, we aren’t driving”. Besides being our sober cab on a few occasions, he’s also become part of the family. He plays with the kids, hugs them hello in the morning, gives them kisses at night and keeps an eye out for them as they cross the street, ride their bikes, etc… (he also makes amazing chai!!)

Raj & Florence (see The People) – we are the only people that I know that have had the same cook/housekeeper for 2 ½ years. As much as we had to get used to having 2 extra people in the house (and in our stuff) everyday, they had to learn to be around 5 loud Americans (I think was probably harder for them to adjust to us than us to them). They take care of us (and our visitors) when we are sick, are responsible for all the wonderful food we eat, love our children (bathing, feeding, playing with them), insure that any party we host is “properly grand” and are the people we rely on to have a smooth life experience in a foreign country & culture. They do this all without a dishwasher, oven, dryer, A/C, hot running water, electricity some days, etc.. AND, they do it with loving warm smiling faces.

The Weather – it’s the San Diego of India, enough said

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time

While old Mother Winter was blowing her storm filled breath on the Midwest we were in shorts and T-shirts attending Sunday Brunch at the Taj West End.

The Palm Meadow's group had yet another holiday gathering filled with fun, laughter and cheers. The kids all drew names and exchanged a small gift as well talked about the different family holiday plans and the winter storm back home.

The food was awesome however there were a few who did not heed the warning about the oyster on the half Shell and are paying a price. All but Kay who seemed to be able to eat just about any weird thing and never get sick, can not say that about Kay riding in a car!

The brunch was somewhat bittersweet as the Loudamericans were guests at the Taj for 2 weeks almost 21/2 years ago and it will most likely be our last brunch there :(.

These photos are the a comparisons between our first day in India and our almost last, my have the kids grown!

Hope you all have a blessed and prosperous New Year and Holiday Season.


Monday, December 15, 2008

The 2008 Samarthanam Walk-A-Thon event.

During this Holiday Season it was nice to take some time out of our stressful schedule to help raise money for one of the Target Sponsored NGO's.

This is a very well run organization and the really do great work here in Bangalore.

Not to criticize the event but it was not real a Walk-A-Thon as it was more of a stand, then sit then Stand-A-Thon.

The organizers provided us with many false starts and the directions from the MC were too much. I mean we were in a cricket stadium with a running track that was oval. The MC was screaming that we were going the wrong way? The track is oval almost a circle, how could we go the wrong way, really?
That aside the kids had a blast and as you can see Jimmy was leading the way and Billy was pushing Roshen. Kay was running and then had to carried most of the way!

Here is a link to some other photo's and an article on the event.


Happy Holidays!
The Loudamericans

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I am looking forward to in Minneapolis

The PEOPLE – I cant wait to be back with people that I grew up with, that “know” me without me having to explain my history, that I love, that I can start up our never ending conversation, that I can call on the phone when I am having a bad day or need a pep talk at anytime of the day, that I can give a hug to when they are hurting, that I can meet for coffee or a bike ride or a walk or a play date, that I can ask for help when my basement floods or when I need a girls night out, babysitters that show up when called and pick up the house, …

Our Friends/Family – See aboveJ YOU are the reason we are excited to come home and are worth mentioning twice!!!

The Food – Let’s see – Beef, triscuts, sour cream, cottage cheese, pepper jelly, REAL Mexican food, Good wine, ready to eat food, CHEESE, skim milk, Super America hot dog buns, fountain Dt Coke, nachos, walleye, Caesar salad, ANY kind of salad, center cut pork chops, … ok, now I am getting hungry!!

The security of life – The sense of security that comes with birthdays and anniversaries and weddings and all the life long milestones that mark our lifes. People that wear helmets and don’t put their babies on motorbikes, seat belts that work, cars that stop for stop signs, policemen that don’t need bribes to enforce the laws…

The predictability of life – hot running water on demand, a dryer (and warm cuddly dry towels), an oven to bake in, an oven to cook cataplana and lasagna in (see food), central air, central A/C, the gas stations actually HAVING gas when you drive up, a commute that is on the short side 7 mins’ and on the long side 12 min’s, TARGET, instocks, TV that’s in English, newspaper articles that are written at a 6th grade level (and that I can actually understand), having a whole square acre ONLY to yourself, driving from MPLS to Milwaukee and never having to turn…..

The weather – Believe it or not, we are looking forward to snow and sledding and ice skating and skiing and snow shoeing and driving to work in the dark and coming home in the dark and the small green buds popping up through the snow and the rain washing away the dirt and muck from March and the tulips and the robins in spring and the colors of fall and the crunch of leaves and warm days and cool nights and finally….not having to wear the same damn clothes for 2 ½ yrs straight!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Billy turns 4

It is hard to believe that yet another birthday for young William has come. Billy now has lived in India for 2.5 years which is over half his life and longer than he has lived anywhere else. No wonder he likes rice and dal.

That aside he roared into his fourth birthday eating rum plum cake that Saravan thoughtfully gave him. Then after school it was off to the airplane museum with his four year old buddies and Kay.

The kids were like crazed when we reached the museum. They ran all over the place Billy leading the way. We lucked out because the Indian Air force was conductiong training exercises for the Helicopter pilots and they were taking off and landing the whole time we were there. The kids had a blast.

The we got into the simulator and everyone got a chance to "fly" the plane. This of course caused a problem because no one wanted to stop nor did they want to share. The crew was able to pull themselves away and back to looking at the planes until Billy said, 'OK I want to go home"

We could not wait for the other kids to arrive so into the presents we went. Billy had no real desire to open them so Kay helped out. Billy kept a running commentary " wow that is a really nice car" and things like that. The presents were all related to cars and he was thrilled.

Pasta, fruit salad and cucumbers were this years meal selection and then after actually cleaning up and putting away the toys, CUPCAKES!

We chose to put up the Christmas tree and the kids along with our neighbor, Zari, Billy's current love interest, did a great job of decorating it. Zari, who is from Australia rad the kids An Australian Night Before Christmas and old Bill was teetering next to her on the couch.

Finally it was lights out and Billy's Birthday Bash was a smashing success.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"We're leaving, on a jet plane, dont know when we'll be back again...

Oh babe, I hate to go...." John Denver

Well, its official, we are coming home:)

I have been offered a position in Target Financial Services (our credit card business) as Director of Business Systems. Not sure what this means in totality, but from what I understand this team helps develop the IT systems we need to support our credit card business. I am really excited to be learning a new part of Target and being a part of the fabulous team at TFS (I have heard great great things on their leadership and people). I'll also be a bit closer to home in our office on 394:) (ok, that's relative, anything in the US would be closer to home, however, this office is actually 2 miles closer to our house in MPLS than the downtown headquarters. SO, I'll be 3 miles from our house instead of 9000 miles, I'd say that's "a bit").

We have 1 week to start getting ready, 2 weeks of vacation in New Zealand and then 2 weeks back in Bangalore getting packed up and saying goodbye. (Stay tuned for cool NZ blogs)

We are aiming to arrive in MPLS 1/19 and I'll be starting my new job 1/26.

What will we be doing 1/20-1/25??? Doctors appointments, getting kids set up in school, painting the house, moving in, buying a car, getting over jet lag, a couple mother Target runs, reinstating our health/car insurance, blogging, etc... You know, the usual major life change event stuff.

With that being said, while we want to see all of you as soon as we can when we are back, we might need a minute or two in getting settle in:) AND...we also might need your help.

Once we have further details/info, we'll let you know.

So, start the count down, we'll be home in time to enjoy winter and in no time flat will be giving each of you a BIG hug.

Tom, Tracy, Jimmy, Kay and Billy

PS - This info is being officially communicated to my team here and in MPLS today

PSS - Hold March 14th as the re-instated Annual Murphy St Patricks Day Party - and probably our 1st big bash upon our return:)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Things that come home in a back pack Update

Billy's Journal Update:

Journal Entry: Date 12/8/ 2008

He got a little scratch on his nose while taking slide outside.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Things that come home in the back pack

This has been driving me crazy for the past couple of years and I finally realized there was something I could do about. Use the blog to vent!

The school system here is fabulous for education and for preparing the youngsters for the cruel world however it is absolutely horrible at communicating. The school that the kids attend is an Indian school in Brookfield. The school uses a diary to communicate the child's needs, the schools needs and sends it home each day with the instructions to the parents. This year it has become young Jim's task to write in the diary what the day's homework assignments are and then to be responsible for bringing the proper books home to do said homework. Needless to say there are several nights where the diary says's in Jimmy's writing, No homework today and there are no books in the back pack.

Here are some example's of communication between the teachers and yours truly.

Billy's Diary:

Journal Entry: Date 6/23/2008
Please send the crayon set your previously purchased at the book store, it will cost you 25 rupees.

Response: I have no idea what you are referring to
Journal Entry: Date 7/10/2008
The previously mentioned crayon set that was not available is now please purchase and send today.

Response: The bookstore is not open and I can get to the school until Friday, please issue the crayon set and I will pay on Friday.
Journal Entry: Date 7/17/2008
As you were absent from the PTM on July 9th the admission form was collected please fill it up and send it back it is needed or the child will not be admitted.

Response: William is already enrolled and the form was sent across.

Journal Entry: Date 7/18/2008 The previously filled out form is no longer valid as the school's name has changed.
Response: I remember when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor

Journal Entry: Date 8/28/2008

I like to inform you now assessment has already started & he is a very moody child,whenever I ask anything he only answers if he is in a mood, but this will effect his progress report please take care and talk to him personally.

Response: Williams Mother and myself feel that since this behavior is consistent both at school and home that it is the teachers responsibility to cure him of this at school first and to ensure he does not bring this behavior home.

Journal Entry: Date 11/12/2008

I would like to inform you that William has the habit of scratching his nose please take care.

Kay's Diary:

Journal Entry: Date 8/18/2008

Tomorrow is pink day please send one fuzzy soft toy.

Response: Sending green horse

Journal Entry: Date 9/16/ 2008

Sports uniform to be worn on Thursday

Response: OK

Journal Entry Date 10/17/ 2008

Please send 2 divas for Diwali decorations

Response: Could you please tell us what a Diva is?

Journal Entry: Date 11/17/2008

They are made from mud and can be found in the markets.

Response: Thank you, I thought they were teenage pop stars with no supervision found in bars and on stage.

Journal Entry: Date 10/21/2008

Kay has been chosen for the recitation competition please help her practice at home.

Response: What is Kay to practice?

Journal Entry : Date 10/22/2008

Kay is to practice the rhyme 1,2,3 once I caught a fish alive

Response: Is that all there is?

Journal Entry: Date 10/23/2008


Response: This rhyme is only 3 numbers and 6 words? That makes no sense

Journal Entry: Date 10/24/2008

Diawali celebration tomorrow Indian clothes to be worn. That is the name of the rhyme, Kay knows the rhyme further assistance from you not needed.

Jimmy's Backpack

Journal Entry ; Date 6/23/2008

Bring pictures of work done by the sense organs

Response: Jimmy would like to be called Jimmy not James

Journal Entry: Date 7/1 2008

Learn difficult words

Response: ?

Journal Entry: Date 7/2/2008

Hindi home work page 17

Response: We need more information in regards to what the actual homework is. Page 17 does not help as there is no Hindi book in his back pack.

Journal Entry: Date 7/3/2008

Sending the informed coursework.

Response: Thank you for sending the book, it is in Hindi which none of us can read.

Journal Entry: Date 7/4/ 2008
Sending Nandakisher's work please complete James book and send both books back on Monday without fail.

Response: The books were not in the bag. Please inform us how we can be assured that the proper books are being sent.

Journal Entry: Date 7/5/2008

I am sending अ-ज़ as H.W. was written in big lines and neatly

Response: Great

Journal Entry: Date 7/15/2008 Learn articles from page 20,21,22,23

Response: Please note in the English worksheets two wrong uses of a and an were mark correct and they were not.

Journal Entry: Date 7/16/2008

The words written in the book were correct Jimmy must have changed them at a later date.

No response seemed appropriate

Journal Entry: Date 7/17/2008

Revise the revision words done so far

Journal Entry: Date 9/4/2008

In honor of teachers day we will only work until 10:30 please pick your child up by 10:30

These are just a few of the conversations that I am having and not really sure whom I am having them with. The kids now only have school from 8:30-12:30 until the 17th of December because of exams. I really have no idea why an exam that takes an hour to complete causes the school to shut down at 12:30 for the next two weeks. Then again maybe I should learn the difficult words and practice revising the revision.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holidays in India - the same but different

Celebrating holidays in India over the last 2 years has proven to be similar yet different.

Similar in the sense that we gather with those closest to us, our family (if they are visiting) and friends, and do our best to uphold the traditions from home. Turkey, mashed potato's, pumpkin pie, the works. We think of all the people we are thankful in our lives and take time to reflect on how blessed we are to have each other, our health and our prosperity.

Different in the sense that we go on Christmas camel rides, chase our turkey's down the bazaar, cook the food in a toaster oven and celebrate in a warm tropical climate (many Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners were proceeded by a dip in the pool).

This year was no different. We had planned to meet up at The Only Place with 40-60 of our closest friends (same) but had to cancel due to the tragedy in Mumbai (different - but not that different than 911). We quickly flexed our plans (same) and ended up with 20-30 of our favorite people at Debesh's house with take out Thanksgiving dinner (different).

We also headed out to St Marks Cathedral for the annual Christmas Bazaar. Food stands, crafts, Santa, carols and Christmas ornaments to buy (same as church bazaars around the world) were accompanied by camel rides, dosa, chutney and 80 degree weather (different).

Are we feeling appropriately festive this season?? Yes and No. Yes in the fact that the kids haven't stopped talking about Santa, what's he going to bring, what they want, what he might want, etc... (same) No in the fact that we have to explain that while Santa will find us on our Christmas holiday in New Zealand (different), he is only bringing a very few very small gifts.

Its also a bitter sweet season for us in the fact that its our last holiday season in Bangalore. After 2 previous holiday seasons and 2 1/2 years of our lives, we are looking at coming home in early 2009. We are in that predeparture time frame of "this might be the last time we eat at xxx's restaurant" or "go to Cosmos mall" or "see yyy before they move back to the US/UK/Mumbai/Brazil" etc (sad). While we are VERY excited to see all our family and friends back home (and get back into our OWN house- happy!!) we are VERY sad to be leaving people that we are blessed to call our "family away from family". When we left MN 2 1/2 yr's ago, we KNEW we'd see everyone again, it was just a matter of time. We are trying to remind ourselves of that with our friends here. We WILL see them again, it just might be a very very long time and will definitely be in different circumstances:)

So, in the next few weeks/months, enjoy our posts of life in Bangalore as 5 loud americans (happy/sad). Soon we'll be posting about our life in Minneapolis as 5 loud americans (happy/sad).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day KAY!!!

Well, its Kay's day:) No need to tell her, she knows. She was prancing around all day like she was just crowned Ms India or some such thing.

5 years ago today, we boarded a plane from Seoul Korea to bring Ms Kay - the pook-a-rook home to become a forever part of our family. She screamed the whole way. (an early indicator that we would soon be known as the Loud Americans). After a fairly loud and stressful trip, we landed up in chilly MN. Jimmy promptly introduced himself has her big brother and gave her a tour of the house. He then proceeded to try and feed her a bottle. She was not happy.

But, all's well that ends well. She became progressively happier with us (and Jimmy) and soon carved out a place for us in her heart.

To celebrate Kay chosing us as her family, we had chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles with all our friends. The day officially came to a close with dinner at our favorite (and the only) Korean restaraunt in town. The kids ate like we never feed them, all their favorites - Jap Chae, Kim Bop, Bi Bim Bop, Bulgulgi, etc... It was a feast!!

So, here's to you - Kay Marie Jeon Murphy - We Love You!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I couldnt have said it better myself

I have a steady string of blogs that I keep up on, when I find one that resonates, I feel compelled to share it. So... these are NOT my words, I am not that eloquent nor insightful. But, I do believe in these statements and sentiments... Given that our time here is running short, it has made me hyper aware of the time we DO have left. I am trying to absorb a lifetime of experiences each day....

So, in other words, I couldnt have said it better myself...

From - Where are the Fischers?!

"Why does India hold such powerful sway over people? Why do some foreigners come to this country, with all its squalor…garbage, poverty, strangeness, dust, and find beauty? How can anyone, by Western standards, claim to “love India?” On a personal level, why do we find India both completely, frustratingly exasperating and intoxicatingly wonderful?

I think it is directly related to this concept of being AWAKE, of being present, attuned, attentive to the very moment. It is difficult to be complacent here. Everything, the horrific and the lovely, can be seen. Nothing is hidden. As a friend has said, the highs are higher here and the lows are much lower!

I awake to sound and smell; the pungent taste of the air. We drive and are constantly shifted. I stand still on a swirling street and purposely notice others posed in stillness. A visit to the shops finds empty shelves, or twelve of everything I do not need to buy. A bus has driven off the edge of the earth and 35 people are dead. The T.V. blares out ads for bubble gum and noodles and washing machines, while the woman down the road beats her clothing on a rock. An elephant is accidentally electrocuted by power lines slung too low in a jungle village. My driver who makes the equivalent of $200 per month and has just recovered from some personal and financial losses takes out a loan for a $500 television. There is money here…a lot or a little depending upon your position in society, your karma, your luck… There is passion here…for family, duty, intelligence, God, freedom and at the same time, a lack of freedom. There is brutal hardship here. Corruption here. Laughter here. Some people cannot imagine how India functions, how anyone can claim that India is the world’s next “superpower….” I’ve heard it said by more than one person upset by the seeming disconnection and lack of outrage at the absence of infrastructure that “Indians don’t care about their own country.” I am sometimes as puzzled as anyone…not understanding…exasperated or even angry but I have to say that my experience has shown me that the opposite is true. The problems are immense and some may be insurmountable but it seems there are plenty of people willing to try climbing that mountain, anyway. "

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wyatt John Miller

For all of you avid Loudamerican readers you will remember the blog titled: We will miss you
dated April 25th 2008,

In this blog the author made the comment what happens in India stays in India,is that true?

Well not true! We were referring to Wade , Angela and Caden:

We are happy to (finally) announce the arrival of Wyatt John Miller!!!

Born: November 13, 2008
Time: 5:36am
Weight: 8 pounds, 11 ounces
Length: 21 1/2 inches

All are well, and we wish the same for you and yours.

Congrats and tons of love and happiness coming your way from,


ps. He looks like Caden

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jimmy's first drum solo

The lessons began in January of 2008. Every Thursday evening without fail Jimmy would be picked up in the 'little" van and driven 5 kilometers down the road to a secluded sound proof room. The instructor would hand over the sticks and Jimmy would learn the ins and outs of his beloved drums.

There were times when we thought "OH my God what have we done???", and there still are.

Jimmy instantly knew the exact location of each drum on his " stage" how to tune them, fix them and some people even made comments. "Wow is he good." "Look at how he holds those sticks, awesome". Mom and Dad keep right on paying for lessons the rupees were flowing like water. But can he play a song? "Oh yes Ma'am"? What song can he play? "It is a solo Ma'am". (we never did get clarity on this and it seemed that they were going to let our 7 year old "loose" on stage with drums and no plan. We were nervous, very nervous.....

So without further ado here is Jimmy's first live drum performance coinciding with our first posted video, God help us. (I think we have many years of smoky bars and back stage auditions ahead of us. Please note that he was the only kid in the recital that got hoots and hollers. He was pretty energetic and very engaged....)

http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=L2KNEd2JJ4I youtube - Jimmy's 1st drum solo if you can search the internet

Monday, November 03, 2008

Jimmy came home from school today

with a badge that says Prefect
I looked it up and it means:
Prefect (from the Latin praefectus, perfect participle of praeficere: "make in front", i.e., put in charge) is a magisterial title of varying definition.
A prefect's office, department, or area of control is called a prefecture, but in various post-Roman cases there is a prefect without a prefecture or vice versa. The words "prefect" and "prefecture" are also used, more or less conventionally, to render analogous words in other languages, especially Romance languages.

Jimmy says he is the second monitor

He is not a maorning person:)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween

Halaween, Holaween, or however your 7 year old decides to spells it.
The days leading up to Halloween are perhaps some of the most stressful days of parenting. The numerous costume changes, super hero affiliations that change like the wind a s well as the unending questions regarding monsters, costumes and what size trick or treat basket/bag should we use all add up " God and I am glad that is over".

The three kids were fairly in tune with each other as what to go as. Jimmy a mummy, Kay Cinderella and Billy Lightening McQueen. Then Mommy began the 2 hour mummy making event and immediately both Billy and Kay had to be ghost's. The mummy making is a separate blog which may or may not see the light of day. In summary we used the wrong size shirt and getting the thing off Jimmy was, well, a disaster. The sewing skills of Tracy were put to the test and indeed the costume held together. The ghosts could not be talked into being Charlie Brown style, you know with holes all over the costume sort of like Swiss cheese.

Trick or treating was wielded like a spear by Mom and Dad all week insuring early to bed, eating complete meals and playing nicely with others and then finally Friday October 31st,2008
The day began at 7:08 am with Jimmy running into our room and screaming scary noises at the top of his lungs!! The costumes were then hung in the " clubhouse" so we could ask 2,910 times " can we put our costumes on now?" which received the same response " wait till Mommy gets home! Finally at 4:28 pm the adorning of the costumes began. It was quite crazy several changes and the final ended Jimmy a mummy, Kay from ghosts to Cinderella back to ghost and finally Cinderella but I am not wearing my crown!, Billy from ghost to Lightening McQueen and my new lighting McQueen red shoes and my orange pumken halaween socks because I like them there comfty. Off to the Palm Meadows Halloween parade and costume judging.
There were around a 100 kids of all ages dressed in everything from vamp to vampire. We hered them into 4 different age groups and they paraded down main street past the judges down to the amneinites center where food and beverage awaited and the judging began. I am proud to say that in the 4-8 age group Tracy and Jimmy were toppers!! Jimmy received a book tiltled " "The Arabian Princess". Just what a 7 yr old boy always wanted.

Then, off to trick or treating! The kids literally ran from house to house. The good news is, only about every 5th house here celebrates Halloween so while we covered a lot of ground and got some good exercise, we werent too sugarred up.

After about 1 1/2 hrs of this mayham, we landed at Heihn's for their big Halaween bash. They had witches brew, candy, cupcakes, pigs in a blanket, etc... They also had a fog machine, tombstones and scary music all were the hit of the party. The usual crowd was there (see Diwali entry). Everyone had a great time:)

So, another year, another Halloween. They are already planning their costumes for next year.
God help us.

Finally a Holaween Poem from Jimmy Murphy

Beware of the other mosters like these scall, Jackalanter, ghost.

The Holaween Bat
It scarys at night.
and scarys people to.
Beware of this BAT.
At night.
It turns into a vampire
at twelve a clock.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Dog Days of Diwali

It was a busy and festive weekend!!

We had our favorite canines with us for a long visit. Chunk, Moti and Walter made a special guest appearance and helped entertain the entire neighborhood. Other than the photos, what can I say... they havent gotten any smarter, but I do think their snoring has gotten louder and they are smellier. We had 6+ walks a day and all the neighbor kids had to come over to "visit" the dogs. The kids were in heaven. The highlight of the weekend? When Chunk got off his lease and "visited" 2 of our neighbors INSIDE their houses with muddy paws. Catching a determined bulldog is like trying to catch a greased pig. Not Fun. I am sure these specific neighbors were glad to see the dogs go. It has also underscored that we will NEVER own 3 dogs at once. NEVER.

In typical Gopalan administration form, they informed us last week that since the kids had Mon-Wed off this week for Diwali, why not give them Thurs & Fri off as well. Why not? I mean the kids were only off school Sept 26-Oct 12 and back in school Oct 13-24. Why not give them another full week off at home? I mean, as parents I am sure we had no plans during that time...

(Can you tell I am a bit irritated by the whole thing?)

The good news in this whole thing? The weather FINALLY broke. After days on days of torrential down pours 2-3 times per day, the sun came out and it warmed up. The weather is perfect and we spent all day yesterday at the pool (1st time we've done a pool day since early August). It was gorgeous, but I digress.

The dogs left us on Sunday, just in time for all our Diwali celebrations. We had a birthday party and 2 Diwali parties to attend Sunday and Monday. Diwali is a mix of the 4th of July and Christmas. Everyone cooks sweets, buys fancy new clothes and lights off amazing amounts of fireworks. You travel to all your neighbors giving sweets and then the minute the sun goes down you start lighting fireworks.

Note I said fireworks, not firecrackers. These are not the lame sparklers and stink bombs and bottle rockets of our youth (and our over regulated government). These are full fledged fireworks. Anyone can buy anything on the street and they do. We had full airshow quality fireworks being lit off over the neighbors house. The houses are all decorated with lights and everyone starts lighting fireworks in the middle of the street. I went for a run this morning and the streets all looked like a ticker tap parade went through. The kids loved it!

Other fun comments of the weekend (mostly by Kay):

Kay and I were talking about numbers. She had a sheet of paper of with the numbers 1-10 written on it (she wrote them out). She asked me, which one is the biggest, I said 10 "NO, she said, its 1) (and it was, size wize, she had written that one larger than the others). So, I tried another tactic, which number is the highest? Her response "google". I was in shock. She's right, go check it out. Google it.

Her next famous quote of the day? I am trying to read to them once a day at breakfast. Since they arent in school today, I forgot. On the way out, I said, "I forgot to read to you this morning, pick out a book and I'll read it to you at dinner". Her response? "Oh Damn it!" followed by "I'll find a book Mommy, no worries".


Happy Diwali!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where did all our stuff go?

Tracy was back in Minneapolis for the last two weeks and took some time out of her busy schedule to stop by our house just to check in things and BOY what a surprise. She looked in the window and this is what she saw:

We have started the remodel on the house and none too soon! The project should be complete by early 2009 and we can not wait. We will have a new kitchen, living room, dining room, fireplace and hardwood floors, you think we are loud now ??? just you wait! (oh where oh where to put that new drum set?:) )

For those of you who have spent many an evening solving the worlds problems at our dining room table or on the back deck, holy cow, I didn't realize how small our house really was! I think I freaked out a bit and might have scared off our contractor. He assures me that it will look HUGE when its finished, but seeing your home ripped apart is a bit unnerving...

When this project is complete, we will also be passing into the fourth stage of adulthood. Stage one getting married, stage two buying a house , stage three having children and stage four, buying your own furniture. Yep without the influence of anyone else we will buy our own furniture. Table and chairs here in India and then couches, chairs and love seat when we get back home. Keep posted on stage five:) - empty nest? mid life crisis? retirement?

Here are a couple of other pics so keep posted we will update on the process.

Cocktails and appetisers when complete, black tie required.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Welcome to the world Baby Anastasia and Congrats Brigie and FUD!!

Brigid and Dennis (aka FUD or otherwise known as Fake Uncle Dennis) are proud to announce the birth of their baby daughter, Anastasia Rose!
She was born at 8:48 pm on Friday Oct 17. She is 7 lbs, 14 ounces and 20.5 inches long!

She is way too cute and I think I see a hint of red hair?! :)

The Bangalore Murphy's toasted her arrival with juice and wine and big hugs that were felt all the way around the world.

Send them all your love!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Where are the Blogs?

I must apologise for not posting any Blogs in the last couple of weeks, but let me explain.

Tracy left about two weeks ago to travel back to MPLS for training and informational meetings as to our next assignment. The kids have been out of school for the first week which also coincided with my finals week as well as the Pooja holiday. What does all this mean??

Well as many of you who have travelled here, realized about a year ago that we were eating brains, and to clarify, mutton brain. Tracy immediately put a ban on any more brain in the house. So the day after she left I had a couple of my Indian buddies over, Ajay and Rakesh and Raj made us brain and so you know , here it is! It is really quite good but as Raj says " Sir, very fat", he means the brain dish.

Then we had the Pooja event. This particular Pooja is for vehicles and electronics and like that.

The correct name for the event is Ayudha Pooja. Raju our drive placed the newly cleaned vehicle in the middle of the street along with the bikes, scooters and the " buggy" He then decorated all the vehicles with garland and dried flower paste and placed sweets and fruit in front. Then finally he places a lime under each tire. Our gardener Chennapau then blessed the vehicles and smashed the traditional gourd while Raju did a mantra and then smashed open the coconut. Billy was not really sure about this whole thing while Kay was deeply involved and Jimmy claimed no more pooja on my bike!

Later, back at headquarters Jimmy announced it was time to form the new clubhouse, properly named Jimmy's Clubhouse. Immediately the guest room was transformed complete with a sign on the door that reads " Jimmy's club no three years olds except Billy"

The walls were decorated with many power ranger photos and pics of super hero's. No - I must explain that we have a moratorium on glue. It was then quite difficult to figure out how to attach these pictures to the walls. Tape was out of the question because people could see that there was tape and this is a magic clubhouse and tape would not do. The leader of the clubhouse was spotted, spitting, yes spitting, onto the back of the papers and stating look they stick! God Help us.

The kids vacation finally ended and back to school they went. It was a relief for them to be in school and not have Dad constantly telling then to pick up toys, if you are going to have a clubhouse keep it clean, and things like that. The school schedule and fast pace took it's toll on old Bill and the first day home from school he actually fell asleep doing his "homework"

Then finally Mommy returned Kay presented here with a big bouquet of flowers and Jimmy made a Welcome Home Mommy Love Jimmy card which he signed from Jimmy!, and things got back to normal, whatever that may be!

Mommy we missed you ,we Love you and were glad you are home!!