Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Maldives

The Maldives is basically a group of several islands of the southern tip of India.
The area has very strong ties with the Islamic faith and obeying the traditions and religious rules is of the utmost concern. Translated several of the Island paradise destinations due not serve alcohol or meat so they were crossed off the list and Summer Island became the chosen destination.

Webster’s defines tranquility as: quality or state of being tranquil; calmness; peacefulness; quiet; serenity.

Which is nice however a more up to date definition is, no kids, large Target cups filled with ice and the drink of the day, a book, chaise lounge and the sound of the ocean waves gently rolling onto shore.

The all-inclusive choice is the way to go and while the food is ok, the cocktails, water and free soda more then make up for it. We basically read books, took naps and snorkeled, everyday. We were lucky enough to go night fishing and caught several fish. The next night they prepared them for us for dinner!

The three nights and four days were about all you can handle, as on each Island there is only one resort and that is it! Even going for a walk entails. Walk for 5 min’s, hit the end of the island, turn around, walk for 5 minutes, hit the other end of the island, turn around. You’d get dizzy before you got in shape. So if you decided to go to the Maldives bring a large glass, several books and American dollars, the Maldives does not accept Indian Rupees! Here is our suggestion on a sample itinerary…..

Sample Itinerary
Schedule: eat read snorkel drink sleep eat read snorkel drink sleep eat read snorkel drink sleep.

Duration: 3 days is heaven, 4 days is hell

Attire: swimsuit, sarong, sunscreen, and preferably lots of tattoos (no need to bring shoes or even a clean t-shirt)

Guest List: Germans and Australians (see above note on swimsuits and tattoos, there were people here that shouldn’t have been “sporting” either) we were only the 2nd Americans that had ever come to this island.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sue's Here!! Let's get Busy (aka another trip - to Kabini)

Well... our string of visitors continues. This month it is our wonderful Aunt Sue! She is with us for 3 weeks and the kids are in heaven (again!).

She landed in Dehli on Monday 4/9 and we quickly adjusted her schedule so that she could get a quick, hand guided trip through the Taj Mahal. Then she flew into Bangalore (4/11) and we wisked her away for a weekend at Kabini Jungle Lodge. So in her 1st 6 days here, she was on some sort of sight seeing tour for 5 of those days. We aim to please!

Kabini Jungle Lodge is exactly what it sounds like. An old hunting lodge in the middle of the Indian National Forest, filled with wild elephants, peacocks, boars, buffalo, striped deer, mongoose, birds, birds, birds, crocodiles and even tigers. We were lucky enough to see everything but a tiger.

The basic premise of the camp is ... eat, relax, have tea, go on a safari (6pm), watch a nature film, eat, sleep, go on a safari (6am), eat, relax, sleep, have tea, so on a safari (6pm), etc.

Now, in case this doesnt sound very adventurous, let me assure you, ANY travel with 3 kids under 6 is an adventure.

The 1st safari trip out, it was POURING rain. Not just a nice sprinkle or a cooling mist, but a full on downpour with thunder and lightning and the works. However, we seemed to the only ones that noticed since all the guides continued to get the jeeps packed up and our fellow travelers settled themselves as if it were a perfectly sunny day. Did I mention that these are open air jeeps with no sides and no roof? We also did not have rain coats or umbrellas. Tom and I debated on how many animals would actually be wandering around in the middle of a storm. I mean, I may not hunt, but I have listened to him enough to know that NOTHING comes out in the rain, just stupid humans. Fortunately, the rain lasted just long enough to get us soaking wet and then it cleared up. So... We did get to see tons of elephants, etc. Kay was amazed by the size of elephant poop and pointed it out the rest of the weekend (elephants poop a lot in case you are wondering).

The next day we passed on the 6am safari and opted instead to sleep in. For ONCE in my parenting years, the kids cooperated. They actually slept until 9am. Must be something about the fresh air and rain. It was heaven.

Once we had eased into the day, our good friends/neighbors invited us to swim at their lodge. They were joining us for the adventure, but we were unable to stay at the same lodge. This turned out well as they had a pool and we didnt. It wasnt as great at night when we wanted to relax with a glass of wine on the patio and the kids werent cooperating with bedtime, but not all is always accomodated. Of course the kids LOVED the pool and we had to drag them out by their teeth. Once again, I am sure this was Jimmy's favorite part of the whole weekend.

We did the evening safari and this time, rather than a jeep ride in a thuderstorm, we got to enjoy a boat ride in 110 degree heat with mandatory life preservers. They didnt mention that this weekend was also a spa/sweat lodge experience. I think I dropped 5 pounds on the 2 hour safari alone. But... the highlight was seeing the crocodile. That made it ALL worth it. Billy could hardly stand it, he was so excited. Very cool.

Sunday am we braved the 6 am safari, by this time, I have seen my share of elephants and wild life, but this safari proofs to be "different" as we get to do the jeep trip AND a boat ride during the same safari. The "boat" turns out to be a bamboo donut covered in a blue tarp (noting another use for blue tarps). Each boat seats 3. We are about 1 foot out of the water and I am remembering the crocodile we saw the day before. PLUS, I have both the boys with me, alone. Needless to say, it was not relaxing. The boat "driver" also thought it was fun to spin the boat in circles. I was trying not to hurl as the boys were screaming in joy (no wonder we didnt see a crocodile).

We headed home with 3 exhausted kids and 3 equally exhausted adults.

Another fun Indian adventure.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Annnual Day/Report Cards

One thing that continues to amaze me is the amount of energy the Indian people put into celebrations, like this one may be the last, so lets go for it.

Annual Day is the accumulation of the previous years learning all round into one on stage performance for the kids. The performance has nothing to due with the studies but everything to due with, performance.

Starting about a month before the last day of school the children are given the roles they are to play in the upcoming performance and then practice that role exclusively for the remainder of the year. Terse warnings are given to the parents as to keep the child under the allotted tardy days as "Jimmy is are star dancer" and if his misses one more day we will be in trouble, who knew.

Kay must be well rested and please give her a bath because she is our best "Egyptian Princess" and princesses must be well presented and proper, what?

The Annual Day performance was based on a trip around the world featuring all the continents and music from each. It was quite long in fact when the key note speaker got up to talk his 40 minute speech about topics best suited to a Harvard or Yale commencement ceremony, started to wear on even the most patient person.

So after much ado the day finally arrived. Jimmy was splendid in his "Elvis Costume" complete with this guitar and led the class to a standing ovation we are truly proud. I am mean what a great beginning to a wonderful air guitar career!

Kay went to the local beauty parlor and was doted upon for an hour. She had a hair piece put in, make up, a bindi along with several other facial ornaments and then gold glitter all over her. This is the only time in recent memory where she sat still and cooperated. She did as fabulous Egyptian dance and we again we proud. What a way to launch a career as a infomercial star.

Not to be out done Billy decided to get into the act. He has been listening to the story of the three little pigs and decided to make it four. He spent the entire evening crawling around in the dirt. Push piles of dirt around, rolling in it, picking it up and pouring over his head, we pretended to ignore him and when people would look at us we just shrugged our shoulders. What a little darling. The best is when he started crawling all over us and the chairs and then fell off hitting his head with a loud "thuwnk" on the hard dirt. Fortunately, he wasnt permanently hurt and it gave a good excuse to leave the event before the end.

I am proud to say we "made it" through 3 of the 4 hours of the annual day event. Next year we will be prepared!

Now the following day it was time to have the parent teacher conference and find out how well the little darlings did in scholastic participation, The Report Card.

Jimmy received such acclimates as "my super sixer" "Wonderful wonder boy" for his command of English. Mathematics drew him, Super performance, Superman!, Fabulous James I am proud of you. Environmental studies started out with Wonderful wonder boy and ended with "keep it up your almost there"? He received " shows a lot of interest in learning" along with, "keen learner" for his interest in Hindi. The activity based part of his studies garnered showing progress in sports, music( he has the music "in him"and in crafts/art he received the highest accolade, master!

Jimmy had a great first year at Gopalan and proved that he indeed is a school ager!

Kay was rated on several levels of creativity , personal work habits, social habits, participation and finally cognitive and language development which I dare say is a tough ciriculum for a 3 year old in nursery school.

She was not deterred and received the highest marks and her teacher stated that she works well with others, follows directions well ( yea right) and is careful and neat. In her social habits she partakes in informal conversation as well as respects other people's property. At this point I asked for a picture of the child in question for just that morning our Kay spend several minutes on a time out for biting Billy over a puzzle right after she snuck into the freezer and ate a Kit Kat bar for breakfast! I am sure the 2 incidents are not related.

Gladys Ma'am (Kay's teacher) did indeed confirm that child in question to be Kay Marie Jeon Murphy so we continued with the assessment. Kay loves music and excels in arts and craft enjoys reading and even taught the entire class a song about the 7 days in a week. (Thank you Sandy!!) The children to follow in Kay's footsteps will also be taught, "Sunday, Monday , Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. There are seven days there are seven days there are seven days in the week".....The closing remarks about Kay and her ability to be stubborn were summed up as " Kay is creative and exhibits and expresses her ideas very well".
Gladys Ma'am will miss her "little butterfly" and is even trying to maneuver her way into being Kay's teacher next year. Who knew Kay had that kind of pull.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The loudamericans plus two( Grandpa Jeremiah and Grandma Kay) headed off to the town of Hampi. Hampi is a religious town in the deserted area of Vijayanagar, of which Hampi is the capital. It is India’s most evocative ruin. It lies about 5 hours north of Bangalore and you can not bring your American Express, Visa, or any other card, Hampi excepts rupees, cash.

The way to Hampi is quite an interesting view into India. Many villages, no electricity and Government ration water supplies keep the people and tourists survival instinct alive!

Hampi itself was destroyed in 1565 after the battle of Talikota, in which the Vijayanagar army was defeated by the Bijapur confederacy. There are many temples and ruins highlighted by the World Heritage site. The backbone of trade came from the wealth of spices and cotton trade, and at one time the population was 500,000.

Among it’s many sites, the Vittala Temples remarkable. The sculptural detail is awesome. The Royal enclosures house the remains of the Lotus Mahal and the domed chambers of the Elephant Stables.
Enough history.

We set out full of adventure and the van full of gas. We arrived to find a somewhat Bohemic group of people and the area was borderline a state fair gone bad, that however did not deter us. We found our hotel only after our driver Saravanna forced our way into the gated city where no cars were allowed.

The rooms were 500 rupees per night; around $10.00 and that did not stop us either. Although it should have warned up.

There is a picturesque view of the river Tungabadhra where many of the locals do laundry and bathe.

We were in need of lunch and some cold water, alcohol here is forbidden. Surprisingly the menu had a great deal to offer, Chinese, Mexican and Western along with the usual array of Indian food. We consulted with the waiter/owner only to find there was only veg items, no meat in the religious city.

Noodles for everyone seemed the hunger cry. We actually had some additional Indian items that were bland and really disappointing. We toured the city walked to several great ruins and through a real Indian village, which was both beautiful and impoverish.

Dinner was much the same as lunch and then off to our rooms for what became a hot and restless affair. The Millers whom also traveled with us had no air conditioning and no lights. What can one hope for at $10 a night?

We had negotiated with a local guide for a tour via rickshaws son after breakfast off we went. We toured the Lotus Mahal, the underground Virupaksha Temple, and the Queens Bath. They used to keep crocodiles in the moat around the queen's bath to keep people from disturbing the ladies while they swam....

The tour was awesome and definitely worth taking.

We headed back to Bangalore with a stop in Hospet for a quick lunch. One and a half hours later we finally got our “to go” lunch and were on the way. We used the last of our rupees for lunch but figured we would not need any more being we were going home, wrong.

One hour out of Hospet is the beginning of nowhere and it does not end until you reach the outer limits of Bangalore. This was the spot Saravanna informed us that we needed gas. !7 gas stations later, none taking credit cars, we ran out of gas. On the highway, in the middle of nowhere, with a temp of about 95 and 8 people in a 6 passanger car. Why didnt we stop for cash, you ask? It was a public holiday and all ATM's were closed. We had three American dollars and several frayed wits!

Luckily for us the Millers were ahead of us and we were able to call them and they brought us three water bottles full of gas. That only took an hour and a half; they were a ways in front of us. The next stop a gas station, which of course did not take a card. We then ran out of gas again. The Millers returned with more gas and more importantly rupees. We made it the gas station and finally back to Bangalore. The original 5-hour journey became nine.

A final note:
Dangers& Annoyances: quoted from the lonely planet India book page 841:
Hampi is a safe place, generally free of any aggression. That said, don’t wander around the ruins at sunrise or sunset, particularly on the climb up Mantaga Hill and don’t wander alone, as muggings and violence have been on the rise in recent years. Foreigners should register at the police station inside the Virupaksha Temple upon arrival. This is a simple process involving logging your details in a book –it’s routine as a hotel check-in. The station, which is just inside the temple entrance on the right, has a photo gallery of crooks.

For another view of Hampi visit www.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rhythm of Life - Plagarized from

So... I read this on my friends site and it really hit home. So, I am going to take a couple liberties with editing it (my comments in bold) and cutting bits out for clarity. If you want a full version, check out her site - see above. She is pretty dead on and this should give you a good overview of the day to day here...The highs and lows ...

Just in case you were starting to think that our whole life was a series of tourist adventures:)

".. the rhythm to being an American expat in India. The roller coaster analogy is probably the most helpful at illuminating the general feel of it in most things.

Some days are awesome - relaxing in Palm Meadows, exploring the Vijayanagar ruins of Hampi, champagne brunch, no laundry or cleaning or cooking....

Some days just suck - sitting in traffic next to a cow, the utter dirtiness of India, days spent in the bathroom and the subsequent lingering fear of eating, the frequent cold showers and warm beverages.

But the roller coaster is about more than just cool adventures and minor (and some major) annoyances. There's just not much middle here - no gentle sloping part to this ride where you go peacefully around the corner and reflect on the rest of the park. That's because it's entirely unfamiliar - there's so little that isn't extremely cool or really crappy; living here generates a near-constant unsettled feeling.

For instance, you are never alone to reflect or be with yourself... having a driver, cook and maid seems simple enough to explain and a luxury at that. What's hard to explain are the days that drive you to drink....

You have to wait for your driver to show up to go anywhere, you have 5 people, 1 car and potentially 5 destinations. NONE of which can be done in under an hour have no control over when you leave or when you get there, never alone in the car to turn up the music and jam out to a song you can actually understand, or alone to fight with your husband about his/your parenting style.

Our cook now is actually really, really good, everything is fresh, from scratch... but there's days where I would kill to actually have a decision in what I'm eating. Taco's, fahitas, lasgana, the grill... nope, you get what they decide to cook. They also have an opinon on what you should eat, drink and how you look. I have been told 3 times in the last 2 weeks that I am looking dull and need more fruit/protein in my diet. So... what do you think I get for dinner?! Not hard to figure out....

The maid sound nice, and generally are - but they are there constantly. In six days of two people working nearly full time, they get less done than our housekeeper/friend did in two hours. Part of it is not their fault. The red dirt here is EVERYWHERE and you need to sweep, dust, mop, everyday. Not a small task with 8 people tracking dirt in and out...

Now, since I realize this sounds like me bitching about our pampered existence, I am bitching about a full-time staff of three people in a palm-tree lined resort. I know. There's times I just loose all patience.- I CAN DO MY OWN DAMN LAUNDRY AND DRIVE MY OWN DAMN CAR!!! Stop calling me "ma'am"! And... stop calling my 2 year old "sir".

Last observation in this theme, is the sense of time. There's really only two times here - now, or later. Not too many clocks (why would there be when the power goes out every day?). Either there is a sense of urgency, real or imagined, that it must be done NOW or it can wait until LATER (which is never specified). Our days at home too are either a whirl-wind of activity or a complete lack of it (refer to above and the stigma tied to doing your own chores). It took us 4 months to get a bank account opened and its been 8 months and we STILL dont have screens on our windows. can call a party planner on a Wednesday and throw a full blown St Patricks day themed party 2 days later."

Over all, we are loving the experience, the adventures and the growth its given us as a family to be living in India as Americans. However, its not easy. Fun, exhausting, stressful, invigorating, adreniline pumping, but not easy. Sort of a roller coaster ride as my friend states above:)

Friday, April 06, 2007


The thing about this creature is that they look so cute but in reality they are mean as hell.

They steal things, attack you and generally are a pain in the ass.

However no matter where you go people stop and say " look Monkey's" what I do not understand is why?

We don't stop and say "look rats" or "look crows", I mean they are the same when it comes right down to it, right.

I will grant Darwin some slack I mean look at the comparison..

However by these photos you can clearly tell that Billy had the Vada first, no question.

It's not like I hate monkey's, it is just that I never really cared for them in the first place.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Grandpa Jeremiah and Grandma Kay in Bangalore

We finally returned home to Bangalore and settled in. The Grandparents spent a day or two getting acquainted with Palm Meadows and Raj and Florence.

We toured Bangalore and saw the pathetic Bangalore Palace, Cubbon Park which is very nice and the old and new Parliament buildings. There are so many things to see here that days go by just experiencing everyday Bangalore.

There was a moment during our visit to Iskcon Temple, better known as the Hari Krishna, you know the people from the airport, that the Catholic Church skipped a beat. Jeremiah actually went into the Temple and donated money and said a prayer, although brief, a prayer, to the god Krinshna and received a bindi for his effort! Out of respect for my dad I will not publish this photo however Jeremiah just so you know it does exist!

With Jimmy and Kay off to school Tom and Billy took Grandma and Grandpa to Mysore. We first visited Chamundi Hill which over looks the entire city and upon which rests the Sri Chamundeswari Temple. There is a gauntlet of street vendors one must navigate through in order to see this beautiful Temple. We were fortunate enough to arrive on a day in which there was a bundt and therefore no vendors! I can not tell you how to anticipate when a bundt will be called they just simply happen.

We then paid for our offering of flowers and banana's and proceeded into the Temple where Grandma was promptly attacked by a cow looking for her banana! The attacks did not stop there after fending off the aggressive cow a mother monkey sprung from the rafters and after a fierce battle Grandma gave up the banana to save Billy who innocently entered the foray, Whew!

The zoo provided us with some interesting views as Wednesdays must be mating days. We were treated to Lions mating, monkeys and finally turtles. When you think about it what else is the really to do in a zoo, sleep, eat and mate.

After a spectacular tour of the zoo Billy and the Grandparents were tired so we had a break then for lunch.

The palace is really something and as is custom the Grandparents took Billy on an elephant ride.
We then headed back to Bangalore and to rest up for our journey to Hampi.

I am going to continue with Jeremiah and Kay in Bangalore and then post the "hampi" tour.

So after we returned from Hampi we only had a few days left.So the Grandparents took each Jimmy,Kay and Billy separately to the pool for swimming and lunch. They also got to visit school however it was the last week of classes and the kids were busy practicing for the Annual Day show and Jeremiah and Kay were lucky enough to see the entire dress rehearsal!

The last tour day was probably their favorite being that they visited Murphy Town, Russel Market and Jeremiah even got to see a hardware store!!

It was a sad day when they had to leave.It was fun having all the Grandparents here. The kids sure enjoyed themselves and Tom and Tracy were very happy and proud of our parents travelling over here and doing as well with the "challenges" as they did.
We love you!!