Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Nestled high int he Nilgrils mountains of Northern Kerala is a quaint and relaxing place called Fringeford. The place has 5 guestrooms and a kitchen that knocks out some of the best Dal in all of India. Maamotty and the boys provided us a great time and their hospitality was tremendous.

We set out from Bangalore early on Saturday morning and after 7 hours of basically not stop driving by Ajay, we finally reached. (Including 2 stops for kids puke clean up, a Coffee Day run and numerous potty breaks....)We had a relaxing lunch and spent the afternoon resting up from the drive. We took an easy 2 km hike down to the "small" waterfall and had a fabulous Kerala dinner of fish curry, dal, chappitti, puri and rice. Every night they stoke up a bonfire worthy of the northwoods and the fireflies come out in hoards. Its pretty magical to sit by a fire, overlooking a valley of tea bushes knowing there is a huge waterfall somewhere up the mountain behind you and just watch the fireflies twinkle.

We turned in early to rest up for our 8 km hike the next day (to the big waterfall).

Breakfast, biscuts, coffee and tea was waiting for us in the morning and after fortifying ourselves we headed off on our hike to the waterfall. We had to put on these knee high slipper/socks kinda things to fend off the leaches and we were off. The trail was somewhat easy to follow and the views were awesome. The waterfall was extremely cold and only Jimmy and Daddy were brave enough to get wet, Jimmy more so. The kids had a great time throwing rocks into the small pool and the adults had a snack of hard boiled eggs, swiss cheese and carrots. All very British, I do say.

Jimmy was a trooper, he completed his 1st official hike without a complaint. Tracy was pretty impressed. I think all that badmitton and swimming have paid off in a fit little kid. Kay and Billy made fast friends with Saji and Anil, our guides, hosts, cooks, waiters, etc for the weekend. They were carried the whole way there and back by said guides. All they needed was someone to hold an umbrella over their heads to protect them from the sun and you would have thought they were royalty.
(The log is not as big as it looks, Kay really is still tiny)

EVERYONE napped. YEAH! I think that's always the best part of vacation.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the twig bugs, ducks, magic bushes and playing Power Rangers with some very large sticks. The bonfire the 2nd night was equally awesome and I think we managed to retire even earlier than the 1st day.

We ended the trip with a final 6km hike into the valley and up through the tea plantation. We saw tons of elephant "sign" and places where they had stripped trees of their fruit & branches as high as they could reach. Sort of cool stuff. Jimmy did ok on this hike but you have to figure 10km over 3 days for a 6 yr old is pretty good. Billy and Kay even got a bit of a hike in this day as the path home was an old rock bed road. Billy's new best "prend" Anil spent the whole day with him hiking, exploring, digging under rocks, etc. It was pretty cute

The car ride home was reminiscent of the way there; puke, potty breaks, coffee breaks and naps. You know, a typical LoudAmericans roadtrip.

Friday, April 25, 2008

You will be missed

It was a full on Indian Video show and haircut roast as we gathered to say our farewells to Angela, Wade and Caden T Miller.

They have become close friends and we shared our time in India as somewhat an extended family. There was never an event that we were all not at. Birthdays, Anniversaries,Gotcha Days Sunday Brunch at the Taj West End and the normal "I need a friend day" that Wade, Angela and even Caden would help with.

We travelled all over India with them as well as shared many nights just talking and telling stories which were mostly about " When we get back to the US and go into Byerly's/Lunds, I am gonna buy....." "The first thing I am going to grill is..", The first restaurant I am going to is..." Yeah not all of our conversations were healthy nor were they productive but we always felt a little bit better after each one!

Then there was of course the talk of the kids, pests, parasites and our domestic help. Many of these discussions were held around a cocktail hour and the pending result was, well never really established.

Angela and Tracy spent a great deal of time carpooling together as well as working. They would see things on the way to work and the opposite things on the way home. They would do yoga every other day at 6:00 am , work until some ungodly hour, come home and still manage to have to text message each other in the middle of the night, go figure.

Wade and I spent a great deal of time wondering where we would get the best beef and then who's house we would eat it at. We would push each other at the gym , on the golf course and talk endlessly about fishing and good food. We would have dinner at least two nights a week with each other and Caden and the Loudamerican kids had dinner 4 0r 5 days a week. Wade would bring over a couple of Kingfishers or I would and we would feed the kids put in a movie and just relax.

Where is Caden, "that's my plane Billy, Kay lets color, Tom can I make you a boat".We had a great time with Caden T and the kids miss him and ask about him everyday. Caden would always share his trucks and cars with Billy but the ongoing usage of the planes is still not an option. Jimmy and Caden would swim and go down the slide and Caden and Kay Kay would produce Picasscoestque paintings that will be sought after in the years to come.

We can not thank them enough for their friendship and help while they were here and we look forward to reuniting in May when we return.

They say what happens in India stays in India, is that true?

We love you and miss you more than you know!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Congratulations Raj and Florence

We are proud to annouce that Raj and Florence have a bouncing baby girl!

Both Mom and baby are fine and as you can see from the photos we went to visit them.

Kay and the baby were the center of attention and if you look close you will see Jimmy in the background working on the computer.

Florence will be staying with the baby and their son Sam at her family home in Tamil Nadu for about 4 months or so, as tradtion here dictates.

Poor Raj will be working like crazy around here keeping everything running smoothly.

We are awaiting to her the name of their new bundle of joy and will annouce it here as soon as we know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Come ONE, Come ALL

The LoudAmericans are coming BACK to town and plan on celebrating!! (We'll be home 5/23-6/17).

We will be hosting an open house on Sunday May 25th from 4:30pm onwards at our home in Golden Valley - all of our regular blog readers are invited!!! (see below address)

Please come say hi, get a hug, enjoy Piazza's yummy Italian food and raise a toast to the last 2 years.

Kids are mandatory and we cant WAIT to see you!!!

Tracy & Tom
480 Quebec Ave So
Golden Valley

Friday, April 11, 2008

We love you Brigid and Fud

The other event that happened during our somewhat crazy weekend here in India, happened in beautiful South Florida. Fort Meyer beach, on a dock be to be exact.


Aunt Brigid married Uncle Fud.

Now to explain who uncle Fud is well may be hard for some but not for me, Kay. You see when my Mom and Dad went to Korea to bring home our, Jimmy and my, new brother Billy, Brigid and Uncle Fud watched us, Jimmy and me. We played and had ice cream and even did hide and seek, and we loved them. And Uncle Fud always let me get my way, which is way it is easy for me to talk about them.

I wore my nice dress and the boys didn't spit it was great.

Brigid was radiant in her wedding gown and Uncle Fud had a hair cut and a shave too!!

My Grandma and Grandpa Kay and Jeremiah hosted the event and made sure sense I was not there to have cake and ice cream.

The bride and groom where just, well cool. I should have been there to make sure the make up for Brigid was right and that Fud had his cool look, but I was ensured by Grandma Kay that all will be well.

You know Brigid I think that you are a great Bride and my Dad says you are a great sister I should mention that you are a great aunt too, because you have that really cool butternut hair, how do you do it, I like to paint.

Well I want to raise my glass and welcome Uncle Fud who said he stills wants to be called Fud not Rud, Fud you know, Fud means Fake Uncle Dennis and Rud means real Uncle Dennis and we want Brigid to know we love her and think that she is really the best and want to say Congratulation's and would let Rud continue to be Fud. see Fud did not want to become Rud because he likes being Fud and we like him being in our family,forever!

We, the loudamericans wish you the happiest life together, ever.

Hip Hip hooray Dennis and Brigid got married today!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

How was your Weekend ?

These events happened simultaneously over the last weekend, really

Over the past several months Jimmy has been complaining that he has not lost a tooth. " I will be the only one who never loose a tooth" Then "Hey my tooth is loose!" "Come on Feel it" "WOW" and on and on, of course the tooth was not coming out. It was bound and determine to ruin the little guys life by holding on until much later into adult hood and then pop out causing 1000's of dollars of therapy and dental work. Then like a watched pot or like an unwatched pot of Friday afternoon at 5:10 pm Karnataka Standard Time, "Mom and Dad hurry up I lost my tooth, cool."

"When am I going to loose the next one?"

Later that evening as Raj was preparing dinner for the Target India Executives, which Tracy is now a member, the rain came like there was no tomorrow. We had this dinner planned for weeks and of course the weather choose that day to hail. That is right, here on the Equator where it is 90 degrees all the time it hails on our dinner party. Everyone was in the streets dancing. Lokesh Angela and Wades driver wanted to know if it was true that if you eat hail you will have long life and prosperity, of course. Meanwhile during the rain Florence, Raj's wife, water broke and she was sent to the hospital to have their baby.

We were in a panic ..."come Raj you need to go. " "No problem this is my job and I will do it". So the story went. Raj was fine with making us dinner and staying out of the hospital room that was full of sister's ,Mother in Law, Mothers and a bunch of other women. Not a bad plan.

He created some fabulous dishes from Curd Rice, Green Chicken Prawns in a brown garlic Sauce, fresh Chapatti and Gobi Manchuria all awesome. The rain did abate and the dinner was under the stars and the night was very nice.

Meanwhile Saravana was planning a party of his own. It seems that the Hindu's or maybe Indians in general,have a tradition that about two weeks before the baby is due the Dad to be has a send off party. You read me correctly, he has a party, invites all the family over, feeds them and then sends his expecting wife and the rest of the family away and they do not return for about 5 months. 5 months - no wonder they are so happy when the child is born.

Sunday brought a day of rest as we meet Ajay and Angelica at the Bangalore Club for lunch. We had the extra special privilege to have Ajay's Mom and Dad join us as well as their friend David. David needs honorable mention being that he is from New Zealand and has agreed to assist us in our trip planning for this coming December!! The kids spent most of the day in an old cart that was used to bring the tables and chairs claiming it was their rocket ship and were heard continuously saying " Start the countdown, five, four....." (Photo disclaimer: this was taken by Billy and does not truly capture the essence of Ajay and Angelica:))

Then Lokesh had to have us all over for the holiday Ugadi which is:
"The New year festival or Ugadi comes close on the heels of Holi. While the strong colors of Holi start fading away, the freshness of spring lingers on with sprightliness all around. It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on this day - Chaitra suddha padhyami or the Ugadi day. Also the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya's calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise on as the beginning of the new year, new month and new day. Spring is considered the first season of the year hence also heralding a new year and a new beginning. The vibrancy of life and verdent fields, meadows full of colorful blossoms signifies growth, prosperity and well-being.
Predictions of the Year : Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon's orbit. It is a day when mantras are chanted and predictions made for the new year. Traditionally, the panchangasravanam or listening to the yearly calendar was done at the temples or at the Town square but with the onset of modern technology, one can get to hear the priest-scholar on television sets right in one's living room.
It is noteworthy that we use mango leaves and coconuts (as in a Kalasam, to initiate any pooja) only on auspicious occasions to propitiate gods. People also splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house and draw colorful floral designs. This is a common sight in every household. People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the new year. They pray for their health, wealth and prosperity and success in business too. Ugadi is also the most auspicious time to start new ventures.

It is said that what you do on Ugadi is a prediction on how your year will be. Our plan was to sit by the pool and relax. It was not to be so....
Our day was little more akin to Apocalypse Now. We arrived in a Banana field where Wade was prominently seated at a table with four Indian fellows waiting on him. Tracy and I sat down and the fellows were all fevered trying to get us comfortable. I mean as comfortable as you can be in a Banana field with the kids running around trying to use the banana tress supports as lances and going on safari arguing whom was Dora and who was Diego.

We had warm beer and red wine served along with some nice chicken briyana and spicy chips. Very Nice. We had to make a stop at some relative or another and were invited to yet another wedding.

We then made it home and had our final Taco night with the Millers and headed home to sleep. Waking on Monday to a call from Saravana that he had to rush Sunita to the hospital and would not be driving today....

On a better note, the bridge they have been working on near our house for the past 1 1/2 years(and the one we need to cross multiple times a day) is OPEN! It seems Ugadi is also an auspicious day to say pooja on new bridges. Coincidence?! I think not....

Welcome to the new year!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Summer Vacation

As they say all good things must come to an end so has school for the students of Gopolan National School. Coinciding with the end of school are two important events of note. The first being Annual Day which I will go into detail here. The second and perhaps more scary for the author is the two plus months the kids will be out of school and on summer vacation. That blog is still forming so more on that later.

Annual Day is nothing short of insane. The school is light up with thousands of lights and banners and the students are dressed in the most amazing costumes and the parents are rapidly taking photos which is against school policy but we are in India so fire away.

Kay's class came out and performed a marvelous dance to a beach theme and Kay was dressed in her two piece pink bikini along with an orange sarong. This orange sarong caused quite a scene as Kay came home from school the day before the event with this orange sarong thing but no one told us that she needed it for the performance, so we left it at home. Well the Ma'ams were mad Saravana drove home to get it which takes about 15 minutes each way and finally returned with it. I mean what is Annual Day without a little drama!

The next came the children of prep D in which Jimmy is a pupil. The class was i all dressed in black pants and white puffy shirts that would have made both Elvis and Steinfield jealous!!

They performed the timeless classic from Sound of Music, "So long farewell auveidersein go bye"

of course Jimmy was having a ball and we were extremely proud Parents.

This year the school showed amazing insight and had the younger children perform first and then had an intermission for which we could gather our children and retreat home, which we did.

Billy was left out as he is not old enough to be in the program and he kept saying " but I want a program" however not to be out done he and Noah played and had a good time.

Now to the academic reflections on our little ones:

James is learning to be a better listener. He is enthusiastic about all his class activities.

In English he began the term with the mark of excellent A+ keep up the good work. He finished out the term with " Excellent grasp over grammar coupled with good vocabulary, keep going"

Mathematics began with James is an observant child and he grasps concepts quickly and ended with the marks of mastered, well done Jimmy A+.

In Hindi James has improved steadily and by terms end James has mastered the recitation and hand writing.

James is ready to step up the ladder and is promoted to Standard 1 and is to report promptly on 4th June 2008.

Kay Marie Leon Murphy:

For some reason we can not get the school to properly spell Jeon so Kay is known as Leon..Kay is a bright and energetic child in class, has unusually good memory. She is very good in verbal skills and her vocabulary needs special mention. She has great talent in drawing and also shows good leadership quality.

She know knows here name and her address as well as she can walk in a straight line. She needs to improve in her ability to speak politely to others and respect their rights and property.

She enjoys the splash pool and is keen in the areas of dance and art. Kay Marie Leon Murphy is awarded the path to nursery and should be promptly in place on 11th June 2008.

William Francis Kim Murphy:

The child is a joy to have in class. He is interested in airplanes and has a veracious appetite for books.

He is learning colors and numbers. It is our extreme hope that William will move into PGII and thereby into the main building and at that time he will be free from mosquito bites.

William Francis Kim Murphy was been awarded the passing grade of A+ and will continue on his path to enlightenment. He is requested to be present for roll call on the 11th of June 2008.
As they say, a hearty congratulations to all our graduates:)

Holi a Celebration of Colors

Holi – Festival of Colors!!!
Holi is spread out over two days (it used to be five, and in some places it is longer). The entire holiday is associated with a loosening of social restrictions normally associated with caste, sex, status and age. Holi thus bridges social gaps and brings people together: employees and employers, men and women, rich and poor, young and old. A common saying heard during Holi is bura na mano, Holi hai ("don't feel offended, it's Holi").
On the evening of the first day of Holi, a public bonfire is held, commemorating the burning of Holika. Traditionally, Hindu boys spend the weeks prior to Holi combing the neighborhood for any waste wood they can find for the bonfire. The fire is lit sometime between 10 PM and midnight (at the rising of the moon), not generally in an orderly fashion. Everyone gathers in the street for the event, and the air rings with shouts, catcalls, curses and general mayhem.
The central ritual of Holi is the throwing and applying of colored water and powders on friends and family, which gives the holiday its common name "Festival of Colors." Also it celebrates the coming of spring with all its beautiful colors and vibrant life.

As you can see the young loudamericans had and awesome time!!