Wednesday, July 30, 2014


A big Thank-you to the Roberts family.  They have treated us like family.  Things happen a bit differently here in India, and it is a welcome feeling to know that we have someone that will hold our hands through the process.  Eric keeps telling us that we do not have to say thank-you, but I'm not sure how else to express our gratitude.

We were introduced to a banker so we could begin the process of opening a local bank account.  Our paperwork still needs to travel to Bombay and back before we will have an account number.  If everything goes well, that will be in 8-10 days.  Once we have an account we will write a check from our US account, then wait 3 weeks for the money to make it into our account.  We could have money wired, but even that sounds like it will take a couple weeks before we will have access to it here.  No worries though, the ATM at Woodstock works, and we have money.

Mr. Roberts also secured a couple SIM card for us.  We brought along a couple of my brother, Darren's, old iPhones which he unlocked for us.  Today we went down to the bazaar with the Robert's daughter.  She helped us pay for some talk and data time for our phones.  We will still have to wait a few days for the phones to be activated before we can use them.  Have I mentioned that things happen at a different pace in India?

School Begins

The kids started school today.  Oscar walked up from Ridgewood dorm, and Zibby, Felix, Gregg, and I walked down from La Villa Bethany.  We will have to leave a bit earlier since we were 10 minutes late for Zibby's start.  Felix had 20 minutes to play with his classmates before his school day began.
This is a photo in the quad where the kids hang out before school, during lunch, after school.  Gregg and I spent quite a bit of time there the past few days during orientation, and today chatting with parents and Woodstock staff.  It was wonderful to join the kids for lunch.

Land of Contrasts

Such beauty we see on our daily walks around the  hill top.
 Yet, from the same spot, just turn the camera down, we see ugliness.  
I've talked with a few people that live here.  The garbage "problem" is a cultural one.  Indians keep their home clean, but outside their home, it is not theirs to care about.  "They will pick up the garbage in their house and put it in the next house." A quote from 2 independent sources.  I think Gregg and I are going to start carrying a bag with, and maybe some gloves.  A garbage free walk would be so much more enjoyable.  I know we cannot move a mountain, but maybe we can shift  a few rocks.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Views of and from Bethany

It is monsoon season.  We expect rain everyday, carry an umbrella, and expect towels to be damp, and are careful of slippery patches on the slopes of the paths.  Yesterday the sun cam out and everyone went outside to bask a bit.  Here is what we saw from the balcony off our rooms.


We are staying at LaVilla Bethany.  We have a lounge which connects the 3 bedrooms, balcony and conservatory where the kids have found room to play with their legos.
  A few hours later, the clouds moved in.  The kids have enjoyed jumping through and catching the clouds.  You can see the clouds just above the roof.  The balcony is to the left, the conservatory is the bank of windows to the right.  

 Below is the contrast of clouds and no clouds.  The tree is covered in ferns, which because it is monsoons are green.  We have been told that when the ferns turn brown, monsoons are over.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

We have made it to our new home for the next few months.  La Villa Bethany in Mussoorie India.  We have the top floor of this bed and breakfast which includes 3 bedrooms and a lounge, there is also a conservatory (a patio) and a library used by us and other guests.  We have a lead on an apartment for January, but we will look into that later.

The monsoon has started and it is raining today, but we arrived to sunshine.  The drive from Dehra Dun was spectacular.  As we neared our current altitued of 7,500 ft, the clouds were like sheets of mist reaching out to touch parts of the hills.  The driving in India is always an adventure.  I've traveled in India a few time, but for those who haven't been here, I will attempt to convey what it is like.

I'll begin in Delhi at the train station.  As soon as our van pulled into the exit, yes exit, signs are only a suggestion, like their roundabouts that some drivers use as shortcut by driving counerclockwise instead of the suggested clockwise.  As soon as our van pulled into the exit the porters who wear red shirts started running.  Our guide said he would take care of the bargaining as foreigners are always chared 2 to 3 times the rate as Indians.  Bargaining didn't go well, the porters wanted around $7 per bag, so we bagan the movement of bags pausing twice more to bargain again, but not getting any better deal, which surprises me.  Usually walking away drops the price while bargaining.  
To get into to train station, our bags had to go through a scanner like at the airport and we had to go though a detector.  However the line was not a line, and we kept our handheld bags setting of the detector, but the guard waved us through.  Rules, like signs, are only a suggestion.  Elbows were important while getting onto the train, but once in the first class car (assigned seats and air conditioning), the press of people evaporated.

Six hour train ride.  India is not all people, there is green.  We saw rice patties, and I think sugar cane, trees, and houses.  7 stops later (I will try to get one of the kids to describe the trainride), we arrived in Dehradun.  There were porters wanting to help us, but we waited for our guide who had already hired a half dozen (did I mention we have 10 large suitcases, and 6 carryon suitcases, and our backpacks).  They loaded our suitcases to the roof of the van and we were off.  The horn in India is a means of communication.  The center line is only a suggestion.  Cows and dogs roam on the roads.  Dogs move, but the cows go where they please.  There are tuk tuks (3 wheel taxis), scooters, cars, trucks all competing for space.  The horn is used to say I'm here behind you wanting to move around.  The drivers all work together and somehow make it work.

Since he last time I drove up the hillside, there have been mudslides and road improvements.  There are now a lot more guard rails on the twisty narrow road, but also more piles of rocks.  The kids did get a bit queasy with all the twists and the change in elevation, but nothing to worry about.  Once in Mussoorie, there were a few times we had to wait for a scooter to be moved so the van could squeeze through the narrow corridor of shops.

Monday, July 21, 2014

We have arrived in Delhi.  We are a bit tired as our bodies are saying it is 7:00am and local time is 5:30pm.  We have more travel tomorrow, but so far our only hitch is having to pay a bit extra for our excess luggage, and a misplaced cell phone.  For those trying to reach us, email is your only option right now- our cell phones are on hold until we return to the States.  The photo is at house in MN in front of our transport to the airport.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We have begun our goodbyes to our family and friends.  Sunday we depart for the start to our Adventure in India.  We will miss you!  This photo is taken outside Buca di Beppo restaurant in Burnsville after a family style meal.  We miss you already Jaime, Jeff, Marny, and Valerie!