Archive for August, 2009

Vanilla ice.

OK, no ice, but I am making my own vanilla extract.

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August 25, 2009 at 7:51 PM Leave a comment

Spice trail.

Spices direct from my grandparents’ property: black and white peppercorns, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.  I wish you could smell this photo.

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August 24, 2009 at 9:47 PM Leave a comment

All good things come to an end.

Our final destination before leaving India was Mumbai.  We met up with my mom and sister again (who had recovered from dengue fever) and spent the night with my mom’s childhood friend and her family.

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Zeenat was kind to take Jay and me out shopping, while my parents and sister entertained Meena at the Bombay Gymkhana, a colonial-era club in the southern part of the city.  I apologize for not taking photos of our lunch at the Gym – by this point of our vacation I was done taking pictures!  We headed to the airport that night and embarked on the long journey back home.  Meena wasn’t as docile for this leg, but we all made it home without indicident.  Meena was definitely happy to sleep in her own bed again.

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August 17, 2009 at 2:47 PM 3 comments

We’re all “Goan” on a summer holiday.

The family reunion in Goa was one of the highlights of our vacation.  We’re sorry that a few extended family members  couldn’t enjoy the resort with the rest of us!

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Technically August is the off-peak tourist season because it’s during the monsoon, but we had great weather during our stay.  We managed to get in some good pool time.

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We also did a little sight-seeing in the form of shopping in Panjim and Mapusa.

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Our last night in Goa was an evening of reminiscing and celebrating together as a family.

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August 15, 2009 at 2:26 PM 1 comment

Southern comfort.

Our next leg of the vacation was in Kerala, the state on the southwestern tip of India, where my mom grew up.  South India is very different from the north; the food, the people, and the languages are all a different experience.  We spent the first night in a hotel in Cochin after that long day of travel from Assam.  The next morning we did a little shopping in town and then headed up the mountain to Peermade.

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Being at my grandparents’ house in the cool mountains of Kerala is one of my favorite parts of any visit to India.  Jay has also come to enjoy the leisurely walks around the grounds and then feasting on Ammachi’s delicious food.  Peermade is all about food and relaxing – what else do you need for a great vacation?

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One downer of this part of the vacation was that we had to part ways with my mom and sister the day after we arrived.  Laylah’s fever continued, so they headed back to a larger town where there was a good hospital.  The diagnosis the next day was dengue fever, which meant they wouldn’t be able to join us for the next week until Laylah was well enough to travel again.  The rest of the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) drove down to my aunt’s house in Alleppey, but first we stopped at my grandfather’s ancestral home for lunch.  The house had recently been renovated, so this was our chance to see the changes.  Jay won major brownie points for wearing a traditional Kerala mundu (sarong) for the occasion!

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That evening we all stayed at my aunt Rani’s house and prepared for the next part of our Indian adventure: an overnight train ride up the Arabian Sea coast to Goa.  We boarded the train at 1 PM and only arrived in Goa at 8 the next morning.  While it was fun to be able to travel with my extended family, this was probably the most challenging part of the vacation for Jay and me because Meena wasn’t too thrilled about spending 19 hours confined to a train car.

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August 11, 2009 at 1:38 PM Leave a comment

On the banks of the Brahmaputra.

The first part of our stay was in the northeastern state of Assam, where my dad grew up.  My grandparents live in Guwahati, Assam’s largest city.  The big challenge for us during the 3 days we spent there was trying to help Meena deal with jet lag and the oppressive heat, so we didn’t really do much by way of sightseeing or shopping.  My parents and we stayed in a rented apartment near my grandparents’ home, which had great views of the Brahmaputra River (India’s longest) and of the city.

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We spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house with family that lives there (grandparents, uncle and aunt) and family that were visiting at the same time (parents, siblings, aunt and uncle from the States).  What an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to introduce Meena to her great-grandparents!  Meena and my grandfather share a birthday; there’s an 89-year age difference.

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The photographic highlight for me was visiting a local marketplace.

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We left Guwahati in the early hours of August 6, heading to Kerala to see my mom’s family.  Our intended route was Guwahati-Kolkata-Mumbai-Cochin by 3 PM, but what ended up happening was Guwahati-Kolkata-5 hours in Chennai-Cochin at 7:30 PM.  When our plane landed in Kolkata, the person operating the stair ramp somehow managed to ram into the plane, damaging the side of the aircraft, grounding it.  We all deplaned and had to find alternate routes to our various destinations.   We camped out at the restaurant in Chennai airport, giving Meena a chance to nap in a booth.  My sister was not feeling well at all (more on that later) so she was also able to rest for a while.

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August 6, 2009 at 7:42 AM 1 comment

Planes, trains and automobiles.

NINE planes (2 of which were 30-hour journeys) + ONE 18-hour train + COUNTLESS automobiles (including 2 4-hour bus trips on mountain roads) = UNMEASURABLE memories and fun on our vacation.  We had a wonderful time visiting my family in India.  I’ll give you a recap on this blog, but for more photos you can refer to the photo album links I emailed you or my albums on Facebook.  If you don’t have the link you can email me or leave a comment on this blog and I’ll send it to you.  I don’t want to post the links here because this is a public site – hope you understand!

We left our house at 7:30 AM on August 1.  Our flight from Denver to Newark was uneventful.  A 4 hour wait at Newark airport was a little longer than we wanted, but we passed the time by walking around the terminal and letting Meena run around the quieter areas.  She was charming all the strangers; smiling, flirting, laughing.

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We finally started boarding our flight to Mumbai – it took an hour to get on the plane, and then we sat for another hour in the plane before we even took off!  Thankfully once we got the bassinet set up for Meena, she slept for a 4-hour stretch, giving us time to eat dinner, watch a movie and take a short nap.  The rest of the flight we spent entertaining Meena – she was pretty content to sit on our laps and sing or read.  We were so proud of her for doing so well on the 15 hour flight.

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We arrived in Mumbai at 9 PM on August 2.  Getting through customs and immigration was a breeze. People give you preferential treatment when you’re travelling with a baby in India – what a nice surprise!  When our entire flight of 250+ people were standing in line trying to clear customs, Meena started crying while in her stroller, which caught the attention of the chief customs official.  He came over to us and waved us right through – no x-raying the luggage, no standing in line, nothing!

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Although I didn’t take any photos of our hotel that night, here’s a video shot by Jay:

August 1, 2009 at 7:42 AM 4 comments


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