Saturday, February 7, 2009

2008 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Our Year End Christmas News Letter:

“Incredible India!” is more than just a slogan for us now. After a year in India, we can certainly attest that it is incredible. It is incredible in more ways than the ads might want you to know!

Steven moved to Kochi in the southwest corner of India after Christmas of last year and Angela stayed in Florida to find a housesitter. Her mom and step-dad were available so Angela went over in February. We spent a few days sightseeing in Mumbai, where she arrived. The trip made the recent attacks there personal since we had visited the places shown burning on the news. During her month stay, we also went to visit an elephant orphanage near Kochi.

Steven returned to the U.S. in April to renew his visa. His mom came to visit and we all enjoyed the Melbourne Art Show and visiting with friends. While Steven was home we found new housesitters so Angela moved back to India with him in May. On the way back we stopped in Singapore for a quick 2 day visit to see expat friends and to eat our favorite chili crab.

A coworker invited us to attend her daughter’s wedding in the spring. We were clueless about the etiquette for an Indian/Muslim wedding and a little reluctant to go but went anyway. It was very educational for us and everyone made efforts to make us feel at home. Afterward, we were glad we attended, even though eating with our hands in front of everyone was a little embarrassing.

The middle of the year was a low point when we began having problems with our housesitters and our 21 year old cat Maggie died. Maggie was part of us and is missed every day. Knowing we might need to evict them, we came home in July to find the housesitters had abandoned the house. It was a hard decision, but after bad experiences with 2 different housesitters, we sold all the fish, sent Miss Kitty to a friend, and boarded up the house. We are very fortunate to have wonderful neighbors who have looked after the house since then. They have helped us more than we can say.

In August, we drove east to Thekkady to visit the Periyar National Park and Tiger Preserve. The cooler air going over the Western Ghats (3000 feet above sea level) was a welcome change. The trip’s highlight was a tie between seeing a recent tiger print as big as a salad plate and being close enough to a wild bull elephant that our guide felt compelled to put the
magazine in his rifle.

August stayed busy when, after months of living in a hotel room, we were offered an apartment to call home in Kochi. It’s almost posh by Indian standards, and after Angela added her touches, we are comfortable enough. We gained another level of
familiarity with India while dealing with the service providers and the management company for the apartment.

In early September Angela flitted off to Singapore to attend a goodbye party and to visit friends we know there. The hospitality she received from her friends that week was marvelous.

We saw Kanchenjunga, the world’s 3rd highest mountain, from Darjeeling on our trip to the Himalayas in October. We went as high as 13,000 feet to a mountaintop lake less than 3 miles from China. At the lake, we rode on mountain yaks—they
really do use them! We also chugged along on the steam
powered Himalayan Railway or “toy train.”

We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in November. Can you believe it’s been that long? We look back with wonder at all that we’ve seen and done. We went to Sri Lanka to celebrate. While diving there we saw a killer, as in deadly, jellyfish with tentacles so long we couldn’t see their ends. We stayed on the southwest side of the island where the 2004 tsunami hit. It was eerie and educational seeing all of the damage, reconstruction, and memorials. Everyone we met had a close relative or friend who died in it and they all had stories to tell.

Over the year, Steven’s work changed from setting up the production line for the existing products to developing a new product. As part of his agreement to support the project longer, we will receive a home leave every 4 to 5 months. Our first was for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our layover in Mumbai 2 days before the attacks made us reevaluate living in India. We’ve decided it’s safe to return and will fly back after Christmas. With this extension, we now expect to be in India through the fall of 2009.

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday and much happiness to come. We think of each and every one of you often and miss you all. Please email and call. We have SkypeIn numbers that forward to us wherever we are. Better yet, come for a visit!

Love, Angela and Steven

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