Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Flat Stanley Project

Here is our friend Claire and she lives by us back in the USA.

Claire asked us to help out on a school project called Flat Stanley. This is a cool new way for kids to learn about geography,different cultures and places in the world that are not on the beaten path. So when she asked we jumped at the chance.

We have taken Flat Stanley to an India engagement ceremony,to a limestone cave in south Australia as well as a sink hole in a town called Mount Gambier. Flat Stanley visited the Melbourne Zoo and will soon be at the Taj Mahal and in New Delhi , India!

Thank you Claire giving us the honor to be part of you project and don't worry Flat Stanley will be home real soon!!
We are hoping to win the prize for "most creative" and "most adventurous" Flat Stanley travels in her grade school class. Wish us luck!!

Georgia Sunshine Village

Georgia Sunshine village is situated in shivanasamudram skirting the cauvery wildlife sanctuary 120 kms. away from Bangalore and 60 kms. from Mysore.
Shivanasamudram is a small hamlet town surrounded by forested hills and lush green valleys. It is here that the river cauvery divides into two and plummets into a 75 meter deep , rocky gorge to form the picturesque Bharrachukki and the Gaganchukki waterfalls
Downstream from these waterfalls is Asia's first hydro electric power generating station established in the year 1902 by the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore with the intention of feeding power to the former kolar gold fields .......really it is true!

So off we went for an overnight of fun in the sun,camp fires and fishing.

The drive is quite treacherous and the road is about the worse one we have been on here in India, however the place was very nice. We arrived in the afternoon on a Saturday in time for lunch. The place had a buffet lunch and was very kid and non-spicy food eater friendly.

We had a lazy lunch and then Billy and Saravana took naps while Tracy, Kay, Jimmy and myself went swimming in the pool killing time until 4:30 when we could go fishing!

The pool was clean and cold but Jimmy did not mind and soon he learned how to dive! Kay was busy collecting rocks and looking at the sheep and generally not caring about the pool at all!

After naps and swimming we met the guide to go fishing. The anticipation was in the air Jimmy was going to land a world record fish, Saravana had not been fishing before and the gleam in his eye told the story. Meanwhile Tom was wondering what kind of fish are we going to catch on poles that were made out of tree branches and hooks that were barb less,small and rusted?

On we went...

It turns out that what you catch is too small to get the hook in its mouth, jumps out of the water to eat the bait off the hook and generally it was a nuisance! The good news is that there are a lot of these aggressive minnows and we had fun seeing how far out of the water they would jump to get the "bait".

The night was great fun with a bonfire, great dinner and Billy playing with the nine dogs that ran all over the place. He was more interested in sitting on the floor playing with the dogs than anything else. Well besides the 50 or so rabbits they had in a "hutch". (They had started off with 2 rabbits and now have 50, go figure)

We retired for the evening and had a great night sleep. We woke the next morning for a nature hike that ended abruptly because we could not tolerate Jimmy and his constant whining about his legs hurt....Never take a 5 year on a nature walk before breakfast. Lesson learned.

So we had breakfast packed up and returned to Bangalore rested and ready for the Grand Parents to visit!
This is a HIGHLY recommended stop if you are ever in the Mysore/Bangalore area...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bangalore Supper Club

The mere idea that this group of Ex-Pats needs another reason to get together and party in itself explains a lot about this group.!!

We have had the good fortune to meet several like minded and adventurous and fun people here in Bangalore.

The idea behind the Supper Club was to get the group of about 15 of us out to a different restaurant once a month. This way we would be able to see experience many types of food and have a nice night away from kids, work and the other pressures one faces while living abroad.

The first event was a smashing success so much so that after the dinner the group returned to Trish and Kens house and partied until 7:00 am, dancing to Madonna and singing songs from The Sound of Music !!

Before I go any further I will take a moment to introduce to you the "Supper Club". In honoring anonymity I will be using only first names and then taking writers privilege with the rest.

As I mention our fearless leader Claude, who was born here in India and then moved to France and then Canada. Claude is the favorite of all the girls and Kay is no exception. She runs to him every morning yelling "Hi Claude". He falls all over her and it is quite cute.

Claude has a roommate named Damien whom I have dubbed "Inspector Clouseau" as he is from France and his accent is so French , obviously as he is French, however you can not understand a word he says. Particularly after a few drinks (I am sure that its his accent that gets worse as the night goes on and not our ability to understand....)

We then have a couple from Ireland Ken, Trish and their three kids. They have a constant flow of kids and neighbors and help flowing through their house it is a wonder they have time to play!
The next group hails from Germany by way of Bavaria, Gerald and Petra along with their three kids and newly acquired cat and dog which they found in a garbage pit behind one of the local "food stores".

We also have a couple whom are from England/California respectably, Peter and Gemma. They have just had their first baby and her name is Kyra. She is a doll!

Our neighbors Larry and Claire and their two child hail from New Jersey via Philadelphia which of course is America.

Carol and her two children are from Montreal and her husband Davis is a frequent visitor which in itself is another reason for a party!

Simon and Debbie have two children as well and are the longest family of the group staying here 18 months already. They come to Bangalore via England and have just found out they will be permanently relocating to New York in May. Very sad for us.

Of course last but not least is The LoudAmericans...

There are some fringe guests that come periodically and add some excitement however this is the main cast.

Now if I were try to describe a typical " Supper Club" event it would take way to much space so the following are a couple excerpts of different Parties...

Everyone was gathered on the terrace at Tom and Tracy's there is a nice wood fire going cocktails and dinner have been had when one couple announces "we have a new hookah" lets fire it up! For those who do not know a hookah is a water pipe that you smoke " flavored" tobacco with. This is truly tobacco for the record. Well the hookah is going all the adults have tried when I look over and there is a 7 year old taking a puff! The parents response was " well there a great deal of things that happen here in India that if people knew about back home we would be in jail for it". It is best to let what happens in India stay in India....

Another club gathering was at Carols home. She by far and away has the biggest and best house here.! We were sitting around here gazebo when Tracy says "I am going to go in and see what is going, I will be right back" 30 minutes later and no Tracy I had to go in and see what is up. Gerald and Petra had recently purchased a play station which included competion Karoke. (for some reason this game isnt being sold in the US yet. It rocks!) Tracy had challenged Petra to 99 Luft Balloons in German and was winning until Claude snatched the microphone from her hand. She was NOT happy... Claude says... "your wife isnt at all competitive is she?!"

Occassionaly we do venture out, like for Thanksgiving dinner at the Only Place. But... we've found that going to someone's home and having dinner catered is WAY cheaper as we all provide the drinks and dont need to pay restarant prices for alcohol. PLUS the kids love playing together and have their own "kid" party while the adults are also partying. The only scary part about this is, we came downstairs at the last party to find Jimmy pouring scotch and waters for all the kids. Another (older) kid had asked him too. It was funny in a really bad parent/call social services sort of way. At least we caught them at it before anyone tasted it. Although, I suppose after one sip they'ed stay away from the stuff for life as its nasty!

The group is now discussing taking the show on the road. They want to hop a flight to Bangkok or Singapore or Sri Lanka (all 3 hr flights) get hotel rooms, eat at the hotel and party back in the rooms. Fly out one day and back the next is the plan.

God help us.....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sports Day

Not since the likes of Mark Spitz, Mary Lou Retton,Jim Thrope and that speed skating guy who's name it can't remember, has the fanfare for sports been as over the top as was displayed at Goplan International School.

We woke early as Jimmy had to do some exercises to warm up. Sit ups, push ups and four hard boiled eggs were enough to prepare for his upcoming event.

Kay dragged her bum out of bed gave us the " look" and then said give me what Jimmy is having. A bowl of cereal, some melon and chocolate were the base Kay needed to attack to field.

We then broke out the brand new sports day uniforms. Jimmy in his black spandex shorts,white spandex shirt, white shoes and yes because even at age five perspiration will become an issue, black wrist bands. I could hear Tracy in the background humming "lets get physical,physical"

Kay was meanwhile trying to raid the refrigerator for another crumb of something clad in her black spandex pants and blueish green spandex top, no wrists bands for her!
Billy meanwhile was not in any uniform as he was not competing on the field.

The kids as usual took the bus and Tracy,Billy and myself arrived with Saravanna. When we approached the Sporting Field at what we were told a very diverse school it was comical to be the only people there with out black hair!

The stands were packed and we pushed our way into "the spot" to see the kids take the field and to marvel at our children's athletic ability..little did we know.
Meanwhile the band began to play the Indian National song , the master of ceremonies was announce. His honer The Minister of electricity for Whitefield, the applause was thundering. Nervously we awaited the arrival of the combatants. The again the band began to play and the House Captains began goosestepping around the track as the Master of Ceremonies followed with the Flag. A moment of silence and the up went the Flag along with several white doves and I believe I could see a tear shed by the lady next to me. Overcome with emotion we took our seats because now was the time for SPORTS.

The children of Nursery A,B,C came out first. Jimmy is in Nursery C. The kids were lined up by order of size there must of been at least 45 kids,and of course Jimmy was at the end of the line. The biggest kid! How proud Dad was as they took the field anticipating that which ever event Jimmy would enter he would take first place. The practicing, or whatever it was ,that led to the middle of the night sit ups and push ups was about to pay off! Then the band begun to play and to our horror, I mean , surprise the children of Nursery all 45 of them were handed pomp pomps and began to lead cheers.
We will not take this moment to bring up "Glory Days"

The children did rebound after the cheer leading event and began to do some track and field related events. Now we know why they needed the wrist bands. Jimmy and the rest of the class made the traditional trip around the track waving at the fans and screaming parents and were lead off for water and a treat. Later we properly chastised for not sending him with the "right" after sports day treats, so he was very hungry and thirsty.

Kay is in Playgroup1 of which there are 3 playgroups. The children were also lined up by size and how proud we were to see Kay KAY at the front of the line! She is so smart and listens to Mam so well that is why she is first. The kids of the playgroup astounded us with their ability to slide down slides,quack like ducks and sing Old MacDonald"s farm. Who says sports have to be all contact.You should have seen Kay attack the slide and belt out "Had a Yamb" EiEiO

Now I will acknowledge that there could not be a Sports day without having a bunch of jocks around. There is a misnomer that because one is a "jock" they tend to hit on the ladies. Well in the case of William Francis Kim Murphy that is true. While his brother and sister were out there giving their all for old Goplan International, Billy was on the playground giving his all trying to catch the attention of yet another unsuspecting coed. We had to drag Billy away and finally were able to corral the "athletes" for a sports day picture.

The vision of the "releasing" of the white doves at Gopalan Sports Day will remain with us as inspiration as our children strive towards their Olympic dreams...