Thursday, October 25, 2007

William Francis Kim Murphy aka Billy

Billy is now becoming a really big boy. He is talking non-stop and playing games and even wearing big boy underwear!!

He, as you all know is a big car/truck fan. So in the interest of speeding up the diaper-less goal Billy was given cars underwear with his hero Lighting McQueen on the back. Billy is bound and determined not to get Lighting wet lest he would have to use rustezze on him and we all know what type of product rustezze is!

He was all smiles as he was wearing his new underwear ands even came to get Daddy when it was time to use the potty! Now this all sounds great and fine and all that, however the situation is ,that when Billy is out of diapers we can get a puppy. (A negotiation with the other 2 kids to delay the inevidable) So ,what is Billy’s second favorite thing besides Lightening McQueen, yup DOGS!

Some of Billy’s new quotes are:

Are you my priend? (Friend)
Are you crabby at me?
I don’t like that!
Can I have more chocolate milk?
Can I bus my dishes?
Is this mine?
Read this to me, now!
I woub you (I love you)
I woub you too (see above)

While we are working on his manners, he is looking forward to his Birthday so much so that every party we have gone to lately he thinks is his Birthday. !

He is becoming very adventurous and even thought it would be a good idea to jump on the bed. Well, we all know there is no more jumping on the bed, because you can fall off and bump your head, or in Billy’s case get a fat lip! He is fine and ready for more action.

He is also very fond of getting up in the middle of the night coming into mom and dads room. With his pillow and slamming the door to ensure the other two kids get the picture that he has staked his claim. Mom and Dad however are not real happy about this new territorial move on Bill’s part.

Billy is in Nursery at Gopalan and he is the teachers favorite mainly because he loves to give kisses to the teachers each day before he goes home, quite cute.
He is a typical 2 almost 3 year old. Happy one minute, pissed off the next. BUT... he is the most affectionate of the kids and if you lie real still in bed in the morning, you are likely to get 20-30 gentle wake up kisses on your cheek.
It doesnt get much better than that!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

SrI Lanka

We have been dragging the kids all around Asia for the past year and decided that the next trip we go on will be their choice, well with some overwhelming influence from Mom and Dad. Left to their own our the kids would just stay at home and eat spicy Kurkure's. So we suggested a beach holiday in Bentota, Sri Lanka, and they agreed!!!

Sri Lanka is a relatively small Island that was recently of course hit by the Tsunami and faced unbelievable devastation. The people of Sri Lanka are very friendly and courteous and like all people over here they are fascinated by the two white foreigners with the three Korean kids.

We landed late in the evening and our driver and van took us directly to our hotel. The Taj Cinnamon is and old style English influenced Hotel. The rooms actually have carpeted floors which is rare here and the woodwork is all dark oak and very "stoic". There was a wedding reception going on when we arrived and Kay was enamored with the bride. We were given a mango welcome drink which was odd being that mangos are not now in season? The kids had been in a car, on a plane, in a car for a total of about 5 hours so it was a welcome surprise that the wedding reception was there because it provide a decoy to the usually arrive of the Loudamericans and what is becoming a tradition of running up and down the hallways while trying to wake up everyone in the hotel! Quite embarrassing for the elder two of the five some.

The next morning at breakfast Jimmy announced that he was hungry. Now for a parent this is usually welcome to hear as most parents, at least these two, trying to convince the kids that they need to eat is much like negotiating the Tready of Versi!

So Jimmy began a five day eating frenzy starting each day with 2 donuts, one cinnamon roll, 3-4 pigs in a blanket( those yummy sausage pancake things) two minutes steaks some fruit and to finish, a cup of hot chocolate this was everyday!!

After that we got into the van for a 3-4 hour ride to the beach. We cancelled the city tour of Columbo and headed directly to beach,waves,pool and God help us naps:)! The drive south out of Columbo to Bentota was somewhat uneventful. The roads are similar the traffic no more educated than their Indian brothers or sisters however one important note of distinction was the absence of domestic farm animals wondering aimlessly the roads!

There are many Buddhist temples as will as Hindu shrines however we did not stop as this trip was about the beach. We arrived at the Taj Exoctica and were greeted by a small band of porters and such and caused quite a moment as we arrived several hours earlier than expected as we cancelled the city tour. The front desk manager was all shook up as to what to do so he gave a welcome coconut drink which was so terrible that we could not even choke down a sip!! we solved his dilemma by having lunch while they got our room ready.

The room was worth the wait as it was a deluxe suite with two separate rooms !! We put the kids in one and us in the other and it was great. We changed clothes and headed down to the pool and to "look" around. The place was somewhat deserted with only about 50 or so guests. The pool was great and it even had a swim up bar that only Jimmy actually used. We were watching Billy and Kay in the little pool and looked over and was Jimmy at the bar drinking an orange soda, only here would they serve a 6 year old at the bar and when asked for money he said I have none, so the next question was "what is your room number", of course.

We spent Sunday afternoon exploring the beach and local area found a turtle hatchery not far away and then settled in for the late afternoon and evening at the hotel. The kids were nap free on Sunday and after swimming all afternoon and dinner at the hotel they crashed. which was our plan. Mom and Dad then had some fine in room dining complete with a linen table cloth!!

We got up and had another big breakfast and then headed down the beach for the turtle hatchery and swimming. The turtle hatchery is well generous to call it that. It is basically several concrete tanks that hold one each of a sea turtle. These turtles have been injured in some sort and are being taken care of by whom, I am not sure with the hopes of returning them to the ocean. There is also a fenced in area that is rumored to have turtle eggs. We were told to come back to the restaurant that night for dinner and we would be able to see the turtles hatching as now is the perfect time.?

We then spent the late morning and early afternoon chasing Jimmy in and out of the ocean. Kay and Billy were content to play in the sand and make sand angels and like that. Finally tired out we headed back for lunch and hopefully naps. Tracy headed out to get some provisions whilst Tom tried to get the kids to nap. Jimmy said" actually I am quite tired form all that swimming I think I am going to lay down for a bit" 2 hours later he was up and ready to while Billy and Kay were losing energy. We took the fine gentleman up on his offer to see the turtles hatch and try the restaurant. There as you would assume no activity in the hatchery and upon inquiry I was told perhaps tomorrow you never know!. The food was quite good, Jimmy eat and Adult size portion of Mac and Cheeses while Kay devoured a plate of pasta and Billy as usual said" I don't like it, I want chocolate milk" but managed to eat a plate of pasta. Fish and prawns for Mom and Dad and we all retired for a good night sleep.


More breakfast and then the beach. Today we acquired a boogie board for jimmy at around 10:00 in the morning and Tracy and him were never seen again. They had a blast for a couple of hours while Tom, Billy and Kay played with the bowls and cups and pictures Tracy had found on her shopping trip. Naming them sand toys made perfect sense to the kids. Pool in the afternoon followed by an auto rickshaw ride to this awesome restaurant. We made the mistake of going out when the kids were again nap free. Food takes along time in Sri Lanka as they usually have a menu but no inventory. So the food is fresh it just takes awhile and poor Billy fell asleep in his chair followed by Jimmy.


More of the same followed by a learning curve for Mom and Dad. Acting on a tip from our friends the Webb's we went to this restaurant called Sun and Surf. They also have massage. This is where the learning curve comes into play.Tracy went to the place in the early afternoon as the kids actually succumbed to a nap. Then she placed our dinner order and got a head,neck and shoulder rub as well as one for Tom.!!

we showed up at 7:00 cold beer was there for Tom and a whole fried chicken and fries for the kids which they devoured. Then the main course of puffin fish,prawns and a cold bottle of Chardonnay!!! It was a great treat. The restuarant is right by the railroad tracks and when the train came the kids all thought that was the coolest thing ever!


We were sad to leave the beach but all good things have to temporarily rest. We were told it would take 4 hours to get to the airport and being that we had an international flight we had to be there two hours early. So to catch our 6:55 flight we left at noon. We had promised the kids a trip to MacDonald's and the driver miss-lead us by telling us there was one at the airport which there is not. He also pulled into the airport at 3:30, it was a long wait!

Sri Lanka is a lovely place, friendly people and a spot that the Loudamericans highly recommend.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


The prep kids at Gopalan have been rehearing and practicing for the past couple of months to take the stage and bring alive the many festivals of India.

There are many however with the prep class going only from A-E the choices were limited. There was a slight miss-understanding with Jimmy's teacher as we were originally going to be on vacation during the performance Jimmy was not given a part. Several times we instructed her that we indeed were here only and not leaving until after still no part. Finally we had an in person meeting and Jimmy was at the last minute given a part.

There is a special day in September that is called Sister day. All the women give bracelets and sweets as a memento of friendship and love to their male and female friends. Jimmy was the main lead in the skit and received a sweet and a bracelet along with a standing ovation from Mom and Dad.

It was fun to see all the kids in costumes and acting parts, extremely well.

As they say : break a leg " Jimmy!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Random Thoughts and Religious goings on

During the months of September through November here in India one needs a flow chart and a list of players to keep track of all the,Political and Religious leaders birthday's, Gods real or Deity.

Starting on the 4th of September Janmashtami is the joyful celebration of Lord Krishna's birth. Major celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami takes place at midnight as Krishna is said to have made his divine appearance in that hour. Fasting, bhajans, pujas and many other rituals mark Janmashtami celebrations in India.

Janmashtami Pooja Process
The festival of Janmashtami is considered a very pious day by Hindus. Lot of bhajan singing, hymn chanting and poojas are performed this day. Devotees queue all the major Krishna temples to seek his blessings. People perform elaborate poojas during the festival. They keep day long fast. Functions and prayer meetings are organised to share the glory of their favourite God.The general pooja process begins early in the morning with devotees giving a bath or abhishek to Bal Gopal's idol with gangajal, ghee, water, honey and curd. The idol is then adorned with new clothes (preferably in yellow colour), stone or other precious jewellery.Next, the idol of lord is offered bhog, the contents of bhog may vary. Fruits, kheer, pedha, milk, and milk products are made. There are devotees who offer chappan bhog(56 dishes) to Bal Gopal. Thereafter, special Krishna pooja is performed. The cradle containing the divine infant's idol is rocked, conch is blown. Devotees sing Krishna arti, some people read out 108 names of lord. They get totally immersed in the name and praise of Gopal. After the entire pooja is over, devotees break their fast by having panchamrit. The time of breaking the fast may vary, this is so, because the time of performing pooja also differs from place to place. While some devotees choose to perform pooja at midnight and break fast, others perform pooja in the evening and have food.
There are several items needed for pooja which are but not limited to the following:
There are certain special items required for Krishnashtami pooja. Important pooja items are listed below:
Lord Krishna's idol with cradle and conch
New clothes, flute and ornaments for Lord Krishna
Pooja thali containing a bell, diya, rice, elaichi(cardamom), supari, paan leaves, roli, small container filled with water, sindoor, incense sticks, flowers and ghee.
For Panchamrit -milk, curd, gangajal, honey and ghee.
A book containing shri Krishna's arti.
Devotees welcome and celebrate the birth of their favourite god with lot of fervor.

If that is not enough this is followed with the celebration of the birth of Ganesha:
Ganesha — the elephant-deity riding a mouse — has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses. The proper way to worship this diety is:
A life-like clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet.
On the day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is the pranapratishhtha. After this the shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas (rice flour preparation), 21 durva (trefoil) blades and red flowers are offered. The idol is anointed with red unguent (rakta chandan). Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped.
On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all man. All join in this final procession shouting "Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya" (O father Ganesha, come again early next year). After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.
The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents. These also serve as the venue for free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, dramatic performances, films, devotional songs, etc. during the days of the festival.

Then, Whew, after that Pooja Hoilday starts which takes the children out of the classroom and into the living room for 14 daysURGH!! This is presumably to prepare for the upcomng Festival of Lights better know as Divali, which is and inspiring time and brings families, friends and communities together. What is Davali:
The festival of Divali has existed from time immemorial, ever since man became aware of truth and untruth, darkness and light, death and immortality. Divali (or alternatively Deepawali, Deepavali or Diwali) is the Festival Of Light. Hindus celebrate it all over the world. In Trinidad and Tobago, particularly for our Hindu nationals, it has not lost any of its significance nor is it celebrated with any less fervor.
The true meaning of Divali can be expressed as being to bring light where darkness prevails, truth where untruth prevails, to bring life where death prevails, to brighten our surroundings, to illumine our minds.
Deepavali in Sanskrit means "row of lighted lamps", is one of the most important Hindu festivals. It falls on the Amavasya of the month of Kartik every year in the Hindu calendar. By the English or Western Calendar this festival generally occurs over a period that covers the last week of October to the first half of the month of November.
The Festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, justice over injustice and intelligence over ignorance. The goddess worshipped at Divali is Mother Lakshmi or Lakshmi Mata. Lakshmi Mata is the goddess of light, wealth and beauty and is also associated with prosperity, luck, riches, abundance, financial well being, and generosity.
In statues and artwork, Lakshmi Mata is portrayed wearing gold and lotus flowers either sitting on a lotus, standing on one, wearing lotus blossoms in her hair and on her gown, or holding a lotus blossom which to many Hindus symbolises fertility, spiritual power, and purity.
At Divali it is not surprising to see elaborate preparations being made to welcome the goddess into the homes of devotees. Though it is titled as being a festival, it is one with a difference since at the heart of the festival is a very significant religious observance as Lakshmi Mata is honoured and worshipped in the form of pujas, singing bhajans and with the chanting of mantras.
It is a very busy time however being here and seeing these things for the second time one learns to apprecciate their deep rooted meanings and one is also quite impressed with the commitment of the Indian people.
Being a non-Hindu I appoligize for any of these facts that may be not quite right.