Saturday, December 27, 2008

Are we there yet?

We had a very nice Christmas day, unexpectedly hosting ten of our new friends for dinner. Thankfully, the downstairs neighbor and chef extraordinaire, Eric, cooked the ducks and side dish. (Funny story: we do a lot of grocery shopping over the phone here - one of the conveniences of living in India. At any rate, he ordered a pound of green beans on Christmas morning but the delivery guy turned up with a pound of dill. We used it to form a wreath-like garnish for the water jug and will all be enjoying a variety of Eastern European dishes over the coming weeks with the leftovers).

At any rate, it was a nice group - good company, fabulous food, and plenty of drink. Everyone had a good time, including Liam, who was very busy with all of his new toys, and baby Siobhan (Eric and Sandy's daughter), who enjoyed her first grown-up baby meal at the dinner table with the rest of the group.

It was a nice way to end the year and put the November 26 events behind us. We stayed up quite late sampling some of Steve's Christmas present (the Johnnie Walker Blue Label) as well as a sampling of other fine Scottish beverages brought by Glen. Another highlight was the homemade Christmas pudding - which had been "fed" for a month on a large quantity of whiskey.

We're ready to move on to 2009 and all that it will bring. Happy holidays and all the best for a fabulous, healthy, happy, and peaceful new year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Tis the season...and feeling more like it.

So life is returning to a new normal in Mumbai. Not only for us but for colleagues and the city's OTHER twenty million people. Folks are on edge, but you really have to admire the Mumbaikers. They, like New Yorkers after 9/11, are angry at the terrorists, fed up with the politicians, and they're not going to live in fear. The Taj and Oberoi hotels are opening this weekend - a triumphant snub to terrorists who held the city hostage for three days. Only one of them survives - I hope he realizes he lost.

It's been an uphill struggle at work - folks are still exhausted and dealing with the aftermath. (Note to those who travel - if you're ever in a terrorist attack, please take your luggage with you when when you escape. You don't want folks like me having to pick through it later :)). Seriously, the staff at the Consulate has done a tremendous job and Steve and I both are really proud to be part of such an amazing team. When the going got tough, the seersucker-clad diplomats put down the proverbial cocktails and dug in. Folks had to do some pretty difficult stuff - things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies - and they did it willingly because fellow citizens were in danger and in need. Everyone still feels tremendous sadness at the loss of so many lives, but I know that every single one of my colleagues, Indian and American alike, worked 110%, even at risk to personal safety, to ensure that we took care of the survivors in the best way we could (despite what some media reports have regretfully said).

So now we move forward. Trying to get into the Christmas spirit and bring a little joy into our lives and the lives of those around us. The Consulate sponsored a giving tree for a local orphanage this year, and when I left the office yesterday, there were so many packages waiting to be delivered - I know we haven't forgotten the spirit of the season.

We had an informal holiday party at work last week - complete with a visit from Santa - and Liam's school put on a Mumbai circus show Saturday night - a chance for kids to showcase what they've been doing all year in English AND in French. As I mentioned in a previous post, Liam has been a real star throughout all of this. His school vacation starts Saturday and he'll be participating in a two-week gym camp.

Santa Clause is coming to town...

Yes, my boss....

Laying low for Christmas day - thanks to President Bush, we have Boxing Day off as well this year (for the first time ever!). Will celebrate with free range duck and, if my calculations are right, my first batch of home-brewed IPA. Joining neighbors in our building for the holiday fixin's.

Here's to a peaceful festive season and a better 2009!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Light at the end of the tunnel...

Life seems to be returning to normal - a new normal - in Mumbai. I think the reality of the situation hasn't sunken in for most. We've managed to get through it by focusing on our work. The larger implications of the attacks are terrifying so we're just trying to make sense of our own small part. Six Americans were among those killed by the terrorists. So tragic and we also grieve for their families and those of the hundreds of others who were hurt and killed, including the brave police and commandos who died trying to save others. Working closely with the families has been by far the most challenging and difficult aspect of these past five days.

Liam is a champ. He's been passed between a series of friends, neighbors, and nannies while we've worked 'round the clock and still has smiles and hugs at the drop of a hat.

We continue to handle the issue at work - I suspect it will take many days to get closure. Our staff has been through some pretty horrible events and will need time to recover.

Thanks again for your support and kind words. It was always a bright spot in very dark times to open our email and find a friendly word and know that our community stretches far and wide across this big world.

I got eight hours of sleep last night and won't work again until this evening so will finally cook our Thanksgiving turkey today. We are so thankful to have such wonderful family and friends.

Friday, November 28, 2008

And still okay...

You may be hearing mixed reports of new activity in Mumbai. We're safe - working crazy hours to help our American citizens in distress so a bit tired but otherwise, hanging in there. Thanks for your continued support!

November 28
4pm local

Thanks again...

Thanks to you all for your support and kind messages. It's getting us through these difficult times. Steve and I continue to work 18 hour days while this continues. Not fun but as many of you know, some of the most valuable work there is. We did get some turkey this afternoon on the fly and have much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We are safe.

Thanks for your messages of support. Steve and I have been at the Consulate all night in support of efforts to provide service to our fellow American citizens.

Please keep us in your thougths today, Thanksgiving, as we work to assist others who weren't so lucky.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A relaxing day at Babulnath Temple

After what can only be described as the night from hell (I was duty officer and took not one but TWO calls about death cases and didn't get home until well after midnight after having been assaulted while in a taxi returning from what was supposed to be fabulous Thai dinner with colleagues...), we spent a lovely afternoon at a super yummy Gujarati restaurant, Soam, and then went for a stroll to Babulnath Temple (Lord Shiva's temple). (Okay - stroll - it necessitated climbing 103 stairs, we later learned but we didn't succumb to the allure of the elevator). It's beauty is hidden from the street and it felt so peaceful (except for Liam running to and fro). Folks were really friendly and, although we didn't understand everything that was going on, felt very welcomed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Welcome to my life...

A compelling article from the NYT - pretty much describes the whole paradox that is Mumbai. Some days are hell - not sure we've experienced the paradise part yet.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hard Rock Heaven

Went to the kids' brunch at Hard Rock today - awesome. (Slogan: Be the Kurt to your Frances Cobain). Lots of activities, good food, and fun for Liam, including swanky mocktails. Pictures next time.

Night at an Indian Village

The whole family was invited to an American Chamber-sponsored event at the Consulate last night. It was great fun and Liam had a ball - carnival style games, making pottery and traditional bangles, dancing, and eating tons of food. It was a "traditional Indian" dress code so we all made our best efforts...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Diwali

We're gearing up for Diwali, which starts next week. Liam attended a party at school and is now off for ten days. Out to get some "diyas" today - oil lamps. It almost feels like Christmas around here with all the lights!

Happy Halloween...

We celebrated Halloween a bit early this year, both at school and work. Liam was conflicted - to be a chef or a wizard? In the end, he tried on BOTH costumes mutliple times. I, of course, had to go with a patriotic immigration themed costume...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ganesh Chaturthi

We're still in the "Mumbai for Beginners" stage so aren't going this year but today marks the 11th and final day of Ganesh Chaturthi, a local festival honoring the god Ganesh. Families and communities worship large Ganesh statues made of plaster and then take them down to Chowpatty beach, along with about 3 million other Mumbaikers, and immerse them in the ocean.

Our neighborhood Ganesh was getting ready to set off for the beach so Liam and I headed out to see the excitment. Unfortunately, it was all a bit to much for him with the firecrakers and smoke, but it was very cool and I think we'll have to make the trip to the beach next year.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Liam's First Day of School

Liam started school at the French school. It was a traditional French "rentree" and they did a kooky call to all the students - the teachers line 'em up and do a rolll call. It was interesting and he seemed to have a good time. The facility is nice and just down the block from work. Adhering to French hours, he goes full time every day except for Wednesdays, which is a half day. He's taking some tumbling and storytelling classes at a local Gymboree style club which keeps him busy the rest of the week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Here we are!

We've been in Mumbai a little over a week now and finally got the internet hooked up at home today - a major challenge and triumph! So far, so good! The apartment is fine - spacious with plenty of room for guests. It has a bit of a 70's feel about it.

Work is good -- super busy for both Steve and I. I think we'll be ramping up quickly - we're both looking forward to being up to speed as soon as possible.

We found a terrific nanny who has been spending her days with Liam. He is enjoying getting to know the parks of Mumbai. Unfortunately, there's not a ton to do and he is absolutely looking forward to getting back to school. He'll be in the French school, not the German, as we'd hoped, but it's close to work and has a bilingual curriculum.

Otherwise, we're busy settling in and doing a bit of exploring. It's monsoon season, so the weather has been wet and hot and humid. Nonetheless, we've managed to get out and about.

Stay tuned - photos and adventures to follow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DC at Last

Finally, after four weeks on the road, we arrived in DC over the weekend to begin our training/consultation period. It's the final countdown to Mumbai and I think we are all ready. We're at the ever-posh Virginian Suites - I think this is the fourth or fifth time I've stayed here and it NEVER changes. It's been great hooking up with old friends and Liam seems to be enjoying his time at Diplotots (a nice break for us all!). We leave two weeks from today....scary!

New York, New York

We arrived in upstate New York last week, chez Springfield Oaks friends Andrew, Deanna, and Markus. We had a great week - visited the lake as well as Lake Ontario, Andrew's museum, and the local outlet mall. Markus is getting so big and he and Liam had a ball. It wen too fast but thanks for the hospitality!

Whirlwind visit to Colorado

If it seems like we spent a lot of time on the road, we did. Liam has been on 8 flights since we left Mauritius. We took a quick trip to Colorado to visit my 90 year old Grandma - and to give Steve a quick break. We were able to hook up with some other family as well but unfortunately, missed the Smillie family reunion, which took place a week later.

Happy Birthday America!

We spent the fourth in Boise with Brian and his family. A good time was had by all -- visiting a working farm and riding horses, engaging in a watergun fight, enjoying firworks, and watching a small town Indpendence Day parade (and it was nice to NOT be working the event, for once!).