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Lazy and Loving it in Ludhiana

Today is Monday. Last Thursday, while in Bangalore, and after a spur of the moment conversation and decision, we decided to try and make it all the way back to North India to my Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin's house. Marsha was not feeling great, we were probably both a little weary from six weeks of travel (although, I am less likely to actually admit it).

So, after a interesting and long journey comprising of one taxi ride, a flight over a lot of India, another taxi ride, and a 5 hour train journey, we arrived here.

We have done little but read, eat, sleep, love and be loved since we arrived here three days ago. It has been totally wonderful. Today, we sit down to plan our next move.

Oh yes, and Diwali was amazing with our family.

Bits and Bytes on Bangalore

Over the past decade, I have increasingly heard more and more about Bangalore. The tech capital of India. A progressive and dynamic city - very 'modern'. True, I have seen the outsides of the offices of a huge amount of foreign technololgy companies, just in the small area I have explored on and around MG road. MG Road is certainly very interesting....lots of young people proudly displaying cell phone and their office ID cards around their necks. Young men greeting each other much more enthusiastically than their Canadian counterparts meeting for coffee or snacks. But, Bangalore cannot yet escape some of the challenges still facing India - sidewalks in disrepair, stray dogs (is this a challenge) and drivers with no regard really for pedestrians.

I guess my main feeling about Bangalore is that I want to see more of this place...get more under its skin. Will have to visit soon again...

Rotary in Bangalore

We arrived in Bangalore, two days ago morning. Before reaching, I had emailed a number of fellow members of Rotary in Bangalore. I was overwhelmed by the positive responses. Both last evening and the evening before, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Rotary meetings. The members have been so friendly and the programs so interesting. The program at the Rotary Club of Bangalore Indira Nagar was given by one of India's foremost proponents and experts on nanotechnology. And the program at the Rotary Club of Bangalore High Grounds was the giving of Vocational Awards to oft overlooked people in society all over the world - a nurse, a police officer, and a postmistress. Great stuff!

Confirmed: Kiruba and Family Wonderful, Interesting People

India is certainly a land renowned for its friendliness and emphasis on human values. But, yesterday, even I, having experienced Indian hospitality many times before, was taken aback. Kiruba partly attributes his openess and disposition to being part of this growing, dynamic community of bloggers worldwide. I think this only partly explains it. Look at his family. His wife, Sujoni, is as friendly as Kiruba and has this warm, genuine, incredibly lovely smile that caused me to smile just by seeing it (she also makes great Sambar). Their two year old daughter, Kritya, is not only friendly, but remarkably lively and bright.

Kiruba, I , and our families had fascinating discussions about Indian culture, Western culture, technology, and travel through India. It was a wonderful, wonderful afternoon and I am pleased as punch that the stars aligned favourably for this meeting.

at the movies

We've been to three movies since we've been in India. One was in Hindi - fairly easy to understand...Boy loves girl...girl loves boy...girl already has a husband...husband comes back...girl is torn as the husband is her son's the end she chooses the first boy - lots of singing and dancing....the other two movies were American movies. In all of the movies, people clap and cheer for their favourite characters (sometimes even the bad guys)....Also, there is an interval...During the Hindi movie, one of the theatre workers came in with bottles of pop and jangled them with an opener...a real commercial break...Every advertisement or trailer is first introduced by the certificate signed by the person who inspected the advertisement/trailer. The most amazing thing is that two of us saw these three movies...two of us for less than the price of one movie ticket at home!!!?!!

Marsha on entertaining in the bedroom

This afternoon Arjun and I were invited to Kiruba Shankar's home for lunch. Kiruba, his wife and daughter are wonderful hosts (sorry I'm not sure of the spelling of their names). Arjun and I are both grateful for that chance as we both know the average tourist doesn't always get such great opportunities. Oops I forgot I'm not travelling with an average tourist. Visiting people's homes has been one of the highlights of this trip. Travelling with Arjun has given me a lot of opportunity to do just that. In the homes we have visited, there is one thing that has struck me that is common in many of these visits. Very often I am/we are invited to the bedroom to sit around and chat. The beds are often covered with cushions, so you can comfortably put your back up against the headboard or you can just full out lie down. It seems to be quite a common occurence and our hosts have seemed quite comfortable with that. Coming from North America, I feel strange entering someone else's bedroom let alone lounging around and talking. While I was growing up, I saw my parents entertain friends in the dining or living rooms. I also entertain family and friends in the dining and living areas of my apartment. My bedroom door is always shut when guests come over for a visit. It had never occurred to me to invite people to lounge around on my bed and in my bedroom. My bedroom has always been a sanctuary where I go to read, relax or just get away from it all. It is the place that I can just toss all my cares and clothes around and no one will see or judge any of it. While I still feel strange about going into someone else's bedroom, there is something that is becoming comfortable and friendly. One of the challenges of returning home is adjusting to life as I've always known it. Perhaps one way to adjust is to incorporate the best of all cultures into my life at home. Inviting friends to sit around on my bed and visit is one such custom I might have to try.

In Chennai / Looking forward to meeting Kiruba

I am also looking forward to meeting Kiruba Shankar. I have been reading his blog for quite some time and found it very interesting. And after an email exchange and telephone conversation, I think this is quite a wonderful man.

Spent some time poking around a large shopping area in Chennai and traveling on the roads. Wheres the incessant beeping you hear in North India? The people asking you for 'rickshaw', 'change money', etc seem politer and gentler. The shopping plaza, Spencer's Plaza, we visited had some quite modern stores. Marsha and I spent some time browsing the supermarket for all the different products, some the same, some different, and some very interesting variations from Canada - how about Pistachio Chicken Salami.

Marsha Stewart : World Traveler

Marsha is certainly not giving herself enough credit in the below post. She knows she is a person who worries a lot. But, she has tackled the challenges of this trip with a lot of determination. I think that if she really admits it to herself, she will realize we are having a great, wonderful experience of a lifetime. And I know we will have many more, all over this incredible planet.

As for me caring for her and loving her, thats the strength of my feeling for her. When I was asked by the marriage commiessiner if I would marry her, in front of all those family and friends, I said "I absolutely will". Nothing has changed in my absolute commitment to our relationship. Onwards, my true love, on this incredible trip of ours!

thank you to my husband

This entry is more about my husband than about India. Two months ago today I made a life time commitment to a wonderful man. He is patient kind and caring. We've spent most of these past two months in India, and believe me it hasn't been the easiest time. Arjun has been there to hold me when I cry and to rub my back when I can't sleep. He yells at the touts when they give me/us a hard matter what has happened he has stood by me and said that he will follow me regardless of where I go...Arjun I love you very much and I'm so happy that we made the commitment we did two months ago...

Moving South - Puri, Orissa

We left Calcutta two days ago by night train to the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa. Train ride was good, except neither of us slept all that well. Puri has a lovely geography, although the people trying to sell you stuff and ask you to take a rickshaw ride are a little much take. We have had great meals here so far. One of the nicest restaurants here is called the Wild Grass, set in a large and lush garden with all these little hideways where people can sit and enjoy the meal. Its also owned by another member of Rotary, very interesting and friendly man. Weather has become hot again so thats a little bit of a struggle. But, all in all, a pleasant few days.