Saturday, July 28, 2007

Losing the Battle

It's 2 a.m. and I'm up again. I really thought that after the past 2 nights of forcing a big sleep chunk (12 hours each night to be exact) with the help of Tylenol PM I would be over the jetlag hump. But it appears not as I went to sleep at about 10:30 last night and promptly woke up at 1:30 feeling fully awake. Not cool.

So, you get to hear about about trip. Not the whole trip as I do hope to sleep again at some point, but we'll start with a quick recount of our departure from India...
Katherine knew we were coming to Virginia. I don't know if she remembered when, but she figured it out by snooping through my iMac calendar months earlier. Figures. Rebecca had an idea but no specifics. The boys didn't have a clue. So about an hour before we left for the airport and just when they were thinking about changing into PJs and hitting the hay, we told them our plans. Nicholas set about packing when I told him it was done and even precious, smelly Woof-Woof was already stored away. The boys were thrilled as wistful moments were had the previous days. Oh, how they wished they could be in Virginia too. We made it to the airport in record time, passed through two levels of security before getting to the check-in line which then took 1 hour and 45 minutes to sit through. Jonathon prfoundly commented: "The Indian flag lies. It says India keeps moving, but it doesn't. It stops." I'm sure he learned that from Indian Studies at school, from the wheel in the middle of the flag.
It didn't help that one of the tickets, mine in fact, had the incorrect gender listed and the reservations numbers weren't consecutive. That alone took a half hour to fix, after previous flyers had already held up the line with their stuanch belief that they could have an enormous suitcase and more than the alotted -1- carry-on per person on board with them. The Chennai airport is ridiculous on that front, allowing a single carry-on. It's the airports doing, not the airline, and it doesn't matter the size. A purse or a laptop bag is the same as a bona fide carry-on to them and they will not let you bring more.
Jonathon fell asleep while the counter people wrestled with the manager or the computer or something, insisting I was female. Why that didn't take a single click of a button I do not know. But he got in a 30 minute power nap and was good to go until we boarded. Then we all had a miserable attempt at sleep in cattle car, something I have sworn much like Scarlett O'Hara to never do again. Awful awful. Awful.
The 2 hours in Frankfurt were a blur, the second flight was relatively painless and we landed to see my parents and the girls waiting for us. But right before that was Immigration and our Immigration Officer Jami. We hadn't been home in two years and I brought a gift for the person who officially welcomed us home. Officer Jami got a little elephant to hang on his cubicle.
Being back was a beautiful thing, seeing the girls, my parents, and made even better by the glorious weather outside. I already wrote about the ease of the U.S., just driving down the road can be a pleasure. No one drives in India for fun. Ever. But those wide, clean, open roads of home are the stuff of dreams. You have to live in India or someplace like it to understand.
I need to pull out my notebook and see all the stuff we did before going on. As it is, it's now 3:15 in the morning and I really need to try to get some additional sleep. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Should we laugh?...

Should we laugh? Should we cry? Should we keep our opinions to ourselves without even seeing it? Uh, should we see it? Hmmm.

Harry Potter the Indian Musical

Barely Coherent

Yes, I still hate jetlag.

But I've put it to good use. Heading east means being up too late, sleeping in too late and feeling dead in the middle of the day. So while I was up until 3 a.m. anyway I finished HP7. No spoilers, it wrapped up just right and most HP fans will appreciate it. I'm thinking I'll just start the whole series over again. I've only ever reread one of the books and I know that over the past 10 years there must be some things I've forgotten.
That's all for now. Eventually I'll do a write up of our vacation, but for the moment I'm still thinking through a cloud.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Quick note to say (for those keeping track of such things) we are back in Chennai. More later. Tired.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back from the beach.

There are days I think my kids are the most ungrateful little wretches (wrech? retch?) in town. Seriously. This week they topped their all time record I'm sure with the amount of whining, complaining and begging they did. That's not to say we didn't have fun, but a pair (or 4) of earplugs would have come in quite handy.

Our family loves the beach. The sound of the waves, the sun, the sand, just the whole idea of being on a beach makes us happy. This past week was no exception. We arrived on Monday afternoon after a stop at the Ripley's Believe it or Not somewhere around Lightfoot, across the street from the Chili's we had lunch at. Mmmm, Chili's. And true to form, we spent several hours at the beach in the late afternoon most days, followed by a late dinner around 9 p.m. when it would finally get dark. And of course ice cream on the boardwalk. It's the fault of summer in a high (to us) latitude where the days just go on and on, but we enjoyed it. One evening brought the Beach Street performers, another washed out the Wednesday fireworks with a big old rain storm, but most days we walked the strip, swam in the pool, got sandy and ate way too much food at odd hours. That's beach week. And also true to form we took a day off in the middle of the week to do something else, the Virginia Aquarium and the opening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on IMAX and in 3D (the wand battle at the end). Awesome.
My dad arrived later in the week, so we saved Jungle Golf and the Rudee Rocket for then. Actually, we did Jungle Golf in the morning, but like all things at the beach it came with a heavy price tag. To make it attractive though, they allow you to play as many rounds as you like before 6 p.m. We managed three rounds of 18 holes that day. The Rudee Rocket starts at Rudee Inlet and is a speedboat that trips out to the Cape Henry lighthouses and back, with a stop to watch dolphins. A total blast and highly recommended.
So after much boogie boarding and too many silly souvenirs bought, we returned home. But like our stop at Ripleys on the way down, today we detoured to Jamestown via the Colonial Parkway. I thoroughly enjoy the Parkway, it's a gorgeous drive and a vivid reminder of what we had in our backyard when we lived in Newport News. Jamestown was a pleasant stop, something I really wanted to see again especially with its 400th anniversary this year. I still can't fathom how the Susan Constant held 50+ passengers and 17 crew, even though we walked on her replica. I really would have liked to see the archaelogical excavation site of the true Jamestown, that would have been amazing.
But back to the whining bit: Jonathon wanted to do Pirate mini golf immediately after the 54 holes of Jungle golf.... Katherine wanted to do "Old Tyme Photos" and Busch Gardens... we didn't let them go on the fair rides (you know, the $6/person mini log flume)... pieces of junk and weapons were begged for... clothing was drooled over... there wasn't enough time on the beach... I wouldn't let them have french fries at every meal... blah blah blah. My youngest child had the gall to tell me I NEVER let him do ANYTHING fun. Ever. Thank goodness I had fun anyway because if I'd been in a bad mood he'd have been strapped to the roof of the car for the ride home.
Ian came home red as a lobster and sick, I came home sick but nice and pale thanks to my giant floppy hat, the kids (aside from the sore voices from whining so much) are just fine. We really like beach week and look forward to next time. Of course, I can't forget to thank my parents who set it all up and picked up the room tab too. Next time hopefully we'll head back to Sandbridge and maybe, just maybe, we'll get to chip in. Can't wait.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ah, Virginia

The beach is one of our favorite places to be, and it's even better when we get to be in Virginia to enjoy it.

Monday, the day that lasted 3 days, brought us from Chennai to Dulles, and what a welcome break from the last 2 years of "making do" and running on a sense of humor and a side order of patience. Life in the U.S. is easy. I know many (many, many, many) people would disagree with that, and even more would like to say something about how easy our lives are overseas (that cook and driver thing), but really the U.S. has so much and is so -convenient- we can't help but stare in wonder and find a thrill in things some would consider annoyances. All those roads, all those cars, waiting in a checkout line... we see organized highway systems, considerate drivers and a checkout line filled with orderly people in a store that has just about everything one could need.
Yup, we love being home.
In a couple weeks we head back to India and it will be our first time doing this long trip only to go back to the same post. It will be different this time, every other time we've gotten over jetlag in a largely empty house, lived out of suitcases, clueless about how to get around. This time our cats will be quite angry with us and I changed all the bed sheets before we left so we'll return to a cozy home and a familiar city with friends nearby. School starts on the 6th, I start work on the 13th, we won't be discombobulated (but for that jetlag thing). It'll be wonderful.
Meanwhile, we're here in Virginia. Shopping has been a top priority, but that came after surprising the girls and the boys. We told the boys we were coming to the States about an hour before we left for the airport. With a flight at 2 a.m. we had to let them in on the surprise at some point before they changed into PJs and went to bed. They were quite happy to get on the plane as I'd been hearing for the past week how they missed their sisters and wished they could be in Virginia too. The two didn't always coincide, sometimes they just wanted to go to Virginia, sisters or not. They just wished we flew business class.
The girls didn't know we were coming. My folks made up some excuse to bring them to the airport and we were right on time. They spent the prior 3 weeks taking their fencing class, visiting with Babcia, shopping, swimming, and eating out. Goodness, they ate out quite a bit. This past week with us we spent the 4th on the Mall, did more shopping and eating out, saw "Ratatouille" (cute, but wait for the DVD). We also had Ian's birthday on the 3rd and my birthday on the 8th, made better by finally catching up with our friend, Jeff, whose birthday is on the 5th. Whenever we're all in the same town together we go out for a birthday dinner and this year we continued the tradition.
Familiarity is a wonderful thing. Even better is the sense of being able to breathe, both physically and emotionally. Driving down open roads with the windows open, not having to think every minute of the day about people on the road/on your property/in your house (people not related to you), inhaling clean air that smells like leaves or grass or sunshine or nothing at all, sitting by the ocean without feeling self-conscious, walking on a maintained sidewalk and talking freely. India is an amazing country and at the same time overwhelming to all the senses, it takes energy and focus no matter what you're trying to achieve. At home in Virginia we can just be. It's a priceless feeling.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rough Start to the Week

Mass this morning for Christ the King...

The English service at noon was changed from the Basilica to the school chapel next door. Not a problem, except that no one had planned for the two hour Malayalam mass that started at 11 and went completely over the noon time service. So folks waiting around were gathered and brought to the chapel, a much simpler and more pleasant place than the Basilica. There's not enough parking at the Basilica for one normal mass, so having a marathon service followed by a processional around the building, coupled with a regular mass immediately next door (with no parking of its own), led to a worse than normal disaster of a parking lot.
We left mass to find someone squeezing and scraping their way past our car, spot us (as I ran up to say that was -our- car they were hitting) and start screaming at us how they'd had to sit there for an hour and how we were blocking 10 cars. One guy walked up to Ian yelling at him about it too, which found us yelling back at everyone asking where the heck we were supposed to park? Yeah, we were blocking cars. Everyone was blocking cars. The guys pulling out had been blocking 10 cars themselves. We moved a couple feet forward to let them out without further damage to our car, then saw (duh!) there was no where else to go. Three cars in front of us facing the outside chapel and the ocean, more than a dozen cars perpendicular to us along church buildings and a number behind us preventing any form of backing up. And if no one noticed, there were hundreds of people circling the church right along the single driving lane and no one was going anywhere anyway.
We left the church grounds in foul moods. I was disappointed in our reaction to the onslaught, and disappointed in those people for taking out their frustrations on us. We were parked badly, everyone was parked badly, and all I could think of was how little patience and understanding was shared. Bleh.
By the time we arrived at the Park Sheraton it was nearly 2 p.m. and time for haircuts. The boys look great, I look like a fluffball which will hopefully tame itself after a wash. This afternoon was spent putting the house in order after having company yesterday, a new family at post along with our neighbors. I finally was able to chat with the girls and hear what they've done the past week. Fencing kept them busy and this coming week with the 4th of July festivities should be fun as well.
Have a great Independence Day!