Tuesday, July 8, 2014

10 Great Things about India

It's impossible to list all the great things I've experienced in India, especially all the kind-hearted people, but there are a few that deserve special mention, along with some final photos the last day we were in India.

1.     Mangoes, the best I’ve ever consumed.  Also the Keralan epicurean delights of appam, dosas, and the coconut curries, and the paneer of the north and the lassis from M.I. Road in Jaipur
2.     Fabulous Textiles, hand-block prints, embroidery work, silks, and cottons
3.     Mughal era Palaces:  Udaipur’s, Jodphur’s, and Jaipur’s were all winners
4.     Sari Shops:  Both the products and the shopping experience.  Saris are the coolest clothing I’ve ever worn, and probably ever will.
5.     Nature, from the gorgeous coffee plantations of Wayanad, to the especially exotic birds like kingfishers, green bee eaters, and water fowl of every color of the rainbow
6.     The beach at Kovalam, 30 minutes from our home in Trivandrum.  We didn’t get there often enough, but it was enough just to know it was there if we needed to escape.
7.     Great traditions and festivals of both the Rajastanis and Keralan people, especially Devali in Jaipur and Onam in Trivandrum
8.     The people, all the friends we made and all the people who were friendly and curious and very pro-American
9.     Cheap books
10. JLF:  Jaipur Literature Festival:  enuf said

There are dozens of other things, but I'm here in China now, and it's time to say good-bye to India for now.
Here's a link to the my new blog which will illustrate my life in China….  http://iowalaoshi.blogspot.com
Ambassador:  Soon to be Discontinued
Squid and Coconut Chips Keralan Style

Crazy Nature…Elvis is in the House on this one!

Bright colors like this house down our street

Again with the crazy looks from the birds with the rat tail

Durga Temple full of color and Hindu symbolism

Famous Temple with Loads of Gold in the Basement!

Just because we can, we do...

Maha's Famous Banana Masala Chips and Sunset from Plane on way to China

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jaipur Redux

Today is our last day in Trivandrum, and there is some unfinished business to report.  First, I was in Jaipur last week for a week, and it was an unhuman temperature of 49-50 degrees.  You do the conversion; it’s too scary for me.  I worked with a great group of  women who I’ve been training for 2 years as master trainers and they were great fun as usual.  Picture below.  It was great fun to see old friends, old haunts, and see the peacocks in full strut at Rambagh Palace. Here are some great pictures of various poses the peacocks struck:  https://flic.kr/s/aHsjZgoTsy

I also failed to post my “Monsoon is Here” blog, because I couldn’t get my super short videos (7 seconds) to load for some reason. Here are some pics of monsoon time:  https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYWqUUN  Let me just describe the wind bending the trees:  There was lots.  The monsoon weather here is a little odd, because I expected daily sheets of rain, backed up gutters, flooding in the streets, etc, but it’s been much much less than that.  We have had 2-3 days where it doesn’t rain at all and sometimes it’s gorgeous weather with a cool ocean breeze and sunny skies.  Some days it’s sultry and humid to a point where it eventually rains just to relieve itself of the humidity.  I was told that Trivandrum doesn’t receive “the rains” nearly as much as most other parts of Kerala, for some unknown reason, and there is worry here that they are receiving far too little and will suffer in the future.  There are also some clicks of a textile showcumsale at the bottom of the hill where I may or may not have purchased the gorgeous handsewn dupatta the man is holding up… Look for it on our sofa in China when you come visit.

Enough on the rain, the big news since my last blog is we’re headed to China!  I’ve got a great job in Suzhou, China, about 30 minutes by bullet train to the north of Shanghai, on the eastern seaboard.  It’s an IB school, and I’ll be coordinating ESL programs and also teaching, probably 4th grade.  It’s a private school which was constructed with the purpose of teaching the kids of ex-pats who are working on the IT Park.  We will be living in a gated compound of some sort and it has lots of Western amenities, so it will be a change for us from here.  The school’s population is quite similar to that of Weber’s, so I’m looking forward to working with about 40 nationalities.  Here’s the link to the school:  http://www.ssis-suzhou.net/index.aspx Caution:  It’s such a bright future you may need sunglasses!  It’s a welcome return to the world of the knee-high humans, and the administration and school seem very welcoming and organized.  Yes, organized, sigh….

Tomorrow I’ll be writing my last Land of the Coconuts blog, with a list of favorites from India and a link to a new blog site, Iowa Laoshi in the Middle Kingdom, which will chronicle first our two-week visit to Chengdu and #1 daughter which starts on July 4,  then our two years in Suzhou (yep, signed a 2-year contract, but there were enough perks on the contract I didn’t read that calendar part carefully. )  After having to pack up everything for the 3rd time in as many years, I’m ready to put down some roots, and hope we will see lots more of Daughter #1, and probably #2 as well, craving the China vibe.