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.