Friday, July 27, 2007

Homesick - A study ....

Here's my theory on homesickness....

Is not like a cold - a slightly irritating stuffy nose that you can work around but is always there in the background.

Its the stomach flu - a sudden, overwhelming feeling that brings you to your knees and leaves you reeling for a few days. Not chronic or terminal. Just all encompassing for a short time.

What are the causes?

~An email from a dear friend telling you about a fabulous dinner they had with 2 of your other favorite couples.

~ A co worker stopping you in the hall to tell you "Leona and Shinbee say 'hi'. Shinbee cant wait to be 7 since that's when she'll get to see Jimmy again".

~ Finding out a friend is waiting for test results on cancer and you cant be there to help

~ Realizing that by the time you DO get home, your youngest child will have lived in India longer than any other place in the world.

~ Hearing about the reaction of your favorite restaurant owner (Mrs Choi) when she got the pictures of the kids you hand delivered through a friend.

That's it. The emtional equivalent to the stomach flu. Man... it sucks today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

1 Year in India!!

Its official, we have been in India a year. Holy Cow!! (literally)

What are our reflections on the past year????? Here are the typical questions we get and our standard response:)

What is the strangest thing you have seen? To be honest, this is really hard as the daily occurance of strange sighting is really high. I'd have to say: the donkey riding in a rickhsaw. But.. the florescent green lake by our house is quite a sight (and smell).People sleeping in the median of a busy road, people just walking in the monsoon down pours trying to get from one place to another because they have no choice.

What do you like the most? This one is WAY too easy ..The PEOPLE, followed by The FOOD! The people we have met, both through work, the OWC, school and our neighborhood are incredible. They are smart, flexible, open, helpful, friendly and welcoming (ten fold when discussing our cook, maid and driver!!). The FOOD is fantastic and we have each just naturally lost weight here. Yippee!

What is the hardest part? huh... How to answer ... the lack of convienence? (ie. not being able to drive, cook, have a reliable source of electricity or internet?) But .. this is probably where we have learned the most in terms of patience and going WITH the flow instead of against it. The other really hard thing is the poverty. You just dont get used to it. Its gut wrenching and a daily struggle to see how a good portion of the people in the world live.

What have you learned? That diversity comes in MANY forms. Religon, country, experience, education, values.... We have been able to really really LIVE our spiritual principles here and it feels really good. You should try it:)

What is it like? Do you remember the Calgon commercial from the '70s where the phone is ringing, the baby crying, the postman is at the door, the dinner is burning, etc.... Like that, every minute of every day, but add to it other sensory overload stuff like... airplanes so close that you can read their id numbers, smog, 7 million people, traffic, snakes, rats, 3-5 languages AND then add in all the good stuff too... new friends, spicy food, loud music, fragrant flowers, signs signs signs everywhere. Its basically sensory overload 20 hours a day (I think there are about 4 hours of the day when there is actual "quiet" and things settle down a bit- I usually am asleep though, so don't quote me on this).

Then trying to get the simpliest things done like ordering flowers and your driver brings you a bundle of colored paper...

What do you miss from the U.S.? Our family and friends, Mexican food, good red wine, good cheese. Any real Steak House and a Grey Goose Dirty Martini, and a relaxed atmoshere that is not rushed. Home.

When are you coming home? Good question, we'll let you know when we find out:) You are ALL welcome to come visit. We are taking the 1 year down, 1 to go approach.

Overall, we are LOVING this experience, both for ourselves, our relationship and for the kids.

We are truly blessed to be able to be here experiencing LIFE :)

The phenomenon that is "High School Musical"

WARNING: When reading this blog, remember, we havent seen/touched/heard American pop culture "live" in 12 months....

The kids newest addiction? "High School Musical!" Our great new friends the Herkelman's hooked us onto this. We were looking for non-fighting DVD's to watch and this IS the G'est of the G rated movies. Its basically Grease with none of the adult inuendo and with real kids instead of 30 year olds playing kids (Kiniky is STILL my favorite although I must admit I am developing a bit of a crush on Troy). There is music, dancing, singing, a good message and of course the Disney "sheen".

We have now watched the movie 1,274 times and have a daily routine. The kids strip down to their underwear (not sure why this is important for DVD viewing, but its critical). They grab their pretend microphones and take their positions. Jimmy is Troy, Kay is Gabrielle and Billy is whoever else is needed in the dance sequence. They all have the hand movements and facial expressions DOWN to a science. Then the music starts. We dont seem to be too concerned about the plot as they fast forward from one dance sequence to another. This is nice because it cuts the 90 minute movie down to a managable 50 minutes. The kids sing, dance and sweat up a storm.

If we can ever figure out how to attach a movie to our blog, we will post our favorite (Billy's dance routine). (Gary S - are you out there?)

In the meantime, enjoy the "snaps" of our future American Idol contestants!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eagleton Golf Weekend

Well, we had the travel bug, it had been over 6 weeks since our last trip! But.. school is in session, we dont have any long weekends and all the "next" spots on our list are too far away for a 1 night stay. What to do? I know, let's get a golf/spa/ex pat weekend organized at Eagleton!

This actually turned out to be a great idea and in the words of Jimmy Murphy "I love Eagleton, when can we go back?"

Eagleton is about 1 1/2 hours from our house. A round of golf takes 6 hours. So... do the math, it actually made sense to get a room and spend the night. I watched the kids (plus Caden) while the grown ups golfed. Tom even got to go to the driving range the next day.

The "kids group" went to the park , rode a camel (ok, Kay, Billy and I rode the camel, Jimmy and Caden were too scared. Go figure), flew kites (Thank YOU Aunt Tammy), took a golf cart ride and watched Power Rangers Mystic Force. Tom then took Jimmy and Caden swimming when he was done with golf. All and all a pretty good weekend if you are 4 or 5 years old.

The "adults group" golfed. Not sure what else to say here except its a nice course, quiet and each person gets a caddy. (that's a little surreal). Mike proved himself to be the "best new expat golfer" with an 82. Tom was happy with his score, but we wont publish it here as he hasnt golfed in 7 months and its not in the handicap range.

Below is an excerpt from our fabulous neighbors (in red) ... check out their blog sometime at

Keep your eye on our blog though, I promise we'll get better at posting. Next trip? Goa in August. Jimmy is already planning the plane trip is is angling for a new backpack "just for the plane since my school backpack is too big" (see proof in below blogs:) )

In other news, the "girls" had been planning a spa weekend for Saturday that turned into a family affair at Eagleton, a golf resort not far from town but worth an overnight in Bangalore traffic. So we all piled in and I FINALLY got in my first round of golf since moving to India. Who knew life here wouldn't be full of tee times at palm-tree lined courses?? I must not have read that contract very well... Anyhow, it was a great outing even if the golf was a lot rusty and the weather was a little overcast. Turns out golf actually isn't that popular here. But not to worry Dad, Caden is getting the itch also but we've resisted buying the little guy a bunch of sticks with metal clubs at the end and direction to hit hard balls as far as possible... for now. Otherwise, a fun time with great friends and the girls got to ride home in our own car and stop for one of these wonderful all you can eat (and drink) Bangalore brunches. I do say, Bangalore brunch rocks.

Kay Marie Jeon Murphy Turns 4!!!

The day stared out as all days do getting the kids up, sticker awards from the previous day along with breakfast and getting ready for school, however on this day things were different.

"Mommy, Daddy I can do it myself because I am 4".

Kay has had a very fun filled, trying but for the most part great year.

She learned to go to the potty ON the potty, YEAH! She learned more than anyone knows about coloring and painting so much so she has to wear a painting shirt every time she paints. She rides a bike, loves to wear dresses, make up, dancing and singing, teasing her brothers and her new most favorite thing, the beauty parlor.

So when we had our party planning session with Kay about her party she was very specific.

The girls will be downstairs and we can go to the beauty parlor. We can get our nails done and make up then when we go home the boys can be upstairs only if the bring me a present!

So the invitations were "created" and Kay passed them out and wanted to tell everyone to bring her a present, being the lady she is, when she found out that it was impolite to ask for a present, she then informed everyone the could not get into the party without the invitation! A shrewed way to ask for something.

Then the afternoon of the party tragedy almost struck, Kay woke up from her nap with a fever and temp and as they say here in India, "she is not well". We consulted with Kay as what we should do, Daddy offered" Kay we can cancel the party until tomorrow" to which Kay's reply was " Will it be my birthday tomorrow" Daddy said " no today is your birthday" "then we have the party today!", enough said.

So filled with Tylenol and battling a fever the party was on!

Kay had a great time at the beauty parlor, came home to this odd combination of Barbie meets Batman decorations and cake. She tore through her presents had cake and pizza thanked everyone for coming and then was, finally wore out.

Even Jimmy was impressed. "This was the best party Kay, thank you, I really had fun!". No kidding, he said that to her twice! A roaring success:)

Monday, July 09, 2007

No Fricking Way Man

Two days after we moved into the Taj West End last year this wonderful lady and her two children moved in down the hall from us.

Carol her daughter Lauren and her son Josh relocated to Bangalore from Montreal to be here for two or maybe three years and we all became fast friends. We share a love of Bangalore and India for that matter, good food, family, good wine (which we can not get here) does not mean we do not try, and having fun.

Carol’s husband David stayed back in Montreal for work however his visit’s to Bangalore always brought great laughs and awesome going away parties!

In fact at one of the parties our mutual friend Petra from Germany lead us in a rendition of “ So long Farewell Auvierdersien Goodbye” which actually brought tears to David's eyes!!

It was with great sadness the day Carol found out that she would be leaving Bangalore after only 11 months and be returning to Montreal.

Carol you are missed.

Her love of the people, India and saying what ever was on her mind meant you always knew where Carol was on any topic because you would hear he say “ you have got to be shitting me" or “no fricking way eh!”

To Carol, David, Lauren and Josh thank you for all you gave us while you were here and for our continued friendship as we all move into the next stage of the journey!
The Loud Americans.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Safe Travels

One year ago we landed in Bangalore somewhat lost, confused, excited and a little scared as to what were we thinking?! The very first day we were here we went to wander around the hotel grounds only to find there was this terrific champagne brunch going on along with games and activities for the kids. Amidst all this we met a couple from the UK named Debbie and Simon.

Debbie was extremely nice (and still is) and got me steered towards the OWC, gave me her mobile number and set up play dates with her kids, Hope and Freddie (whom Jimmy and Kay became fast friends with) AND explained the inner workings of Bangalore .... all within about 30 minutes of meeting us. Tracy and I were and still are extremely thankful for Debbie and Simon's friendship and help.

We have since become great friends and have spent the past year getting together at least once if not twice a month for BBQ's, swimming, and general good times. We would share travel stories and restaurant information and talk about our kids. We just really have fun together.

So it was with great joy when we heard the news that they were going to be leaving Bangalore and moving to the US! Simon will be taking a position overseeing two office's in the New York area and they will be living there for at least two or three years, which means we will be able to see them when we get home.

It was also with great sadness when we had to wish them safe travels. We all decided that we would not say goodbye as we are planning a great reunion in the US when we return. Debbie sent us a text message when they reached the UK which said "I could now delete her from my phone now, a mail now and then would be nice". I can say that we will never delete them from our contact list and we will be sending them our love and best wishes for their next journey from the UK to their new home in New York.!

Debbie and Simon thank you for your kindness and generosity and when we meet back in Minnesota ,Tracy and I promise you more than a cheese omelet sandwich for dinner!

All our love,

Tom, Tracy, Jimmy, Kay and Billy.


The holiday here in India has finally come to an end for the kids. They were on school break from for all of April and May. They had a great time at summer camp and learned yoga, coloring, how to wiggle their ears and go he he and ha ha and other important stuff like that.

The first order of business to get ready was the all important new backpack. The search began in the small hamlet, village, of Whitefield, which is the town we live in. The focus of the search was of course, power rangers. The thing about the mind of a 51/2 year old is their ability to focus on one thing and and never let go. We actually saw a power ranger backpack in Whitefield the problem however is that the vendor was selling them from a small stand with no roof, which means that since it is the rainy season that the backpack would not be in real good shape. We then drove around looking for power rangers backpacks in other places only to be reminded by Jimmy that he knows a place in Whitefield where they have them!

The search then changed direction to whatever backpack we saw and then finally to Spiderman. Jimmy tried on several and settled for the largest backpack available in India (see photo). That being done uniforms were then picked up and new shoes bought, Jimmy was ready to go!

Kay on the other hand was perfectly fine with her Dora backpack however she needed new clothes, not just any clothes they had to consist of dresses, skirts and tops that she picked out!

Several skirts were tried and discarded until 5 were chosen with extreme care. The tops of course did not have to match the skirts, I mean anyone can do that, no Kay's had to match her Dora backpack! Apparently the notion or maybe religion, accessories are important , is an inborn female trait, who knows. I know from experience that when Kay decides on something, so it is,Amen!

New clothes, haircut, nails done and a final look at bangles Kay announced that she was ready to go, God save Gopalan!

Billy, well lets just say that he was not going to be outdone. In his current state everything, and I mean everything is his. So seeing Jimmy's new backpack, Kay's new clothes sort of set him off. Being 2 1/2 gives him the accuse to not have to negotiate, just to demand.! So Billy got some new clothes, a "new" recycled Wiggles backpack and a new play car. The car was the important item and he seemed ready, I mean he has no clue what is about to happen .

The day came and we went to the bus where Jimmy promptly jumped on, Kay followed suit and Billy burst into hysterics as he too wanted to take the bus! Billy was finally escorted to school by Tom and Saravana and now we await the verdict!