Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Time to tell on myself...

I might have had a few faux-pas during the last 3 1/2 weeks (scratch that, A LOT) so in my effort to battle pride, I will share a few...

1) While riding in an auto-rickshaw (which they just call "auto") I wanted to try out some of my new Tamil skills. The driver asked if he was supposed to turn right, to which I replied, "Yes" in Tamil ("Amma"). He looked in his rearview mirror at me like, "What is wrong with you, lady?". I immediately realized what I had done. I had put the stress on the wrong part of the word. I had called him "mom".

2) (this one is both of us) We have been frequenting lots of shops in the area trying to get a feel of what is available in Chennai. There is one little treasure of a store that we found called Conne Xions (we weren't totally sure how to pronounce it, so we just called it "Connie Zions"). We kept giving auto drivers the name of the store, but they were always really confused. A few days later, Neil was cleaning up in the kitchen and started to throw away a "Connie Zions" bag. He looked at the website address and noticed that it said 'Connexions' all in a row. The store is called "Connections".

3) (I think this one takes the cake) I had been told that auto drivers strike fairly often in the city & that you have to watch out to make sure you aren't trying to travel very much on the days that they strike. We had just passed a group of auto's parked in front of a sign that said, "Stand for Auto-rickshaws". Me, trying to be really observant & savvy, leaned over to Neil while we were riding in the bus and said, "I think the auto drivers are getting ready to strike". I pointed the sign out to Neil and instead of the "What's wrong with you, lady?" look I got the, "oh my goodness, I can't believe you just said that," look. He responded to me by saying, "It's a place where the auto's park".


Sunday, January 24, 2010


Our friend, Marianne, wrote a beautiful post on her blog entitled "Why I Love Orphans". I highly recommend reading it... http://thegrossfam.blogspot.com/.

Our Father is good.

Friday, January 22, 2010

View from our laundry

I was hanging clothes out to dry today and felt inspired. Here's the view from our laundry...

"Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 12:6)

Be blessed in the mundane today. He is near.


The Night Life

Of the many things that we are adjusting to in India, one is the time that things happen. For example, our favorite restaurant doesn't even open for lunch until 12:30. When we go out for dinner and arrive at a place around 7, we are generally sitting in an empty restaurant. Most people do not eat until at least 8 or later.

This is a video of one of the more organized street crossings we've been to in a part of town called Saidapet ("side-a-pet"). Usually you just cross when there's a small break in the traffic, but here there were lights and everything. This was around 7:30, when things were just starting to pick up.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Perpetual Saturdays

While we were back in the States, Courtney said that she felt our lives felt like they were perpetual Saturdays. Not in the sense that we get to watch cartoons every morning and go outside and play. But in the sense that Saturday is the day that you usually get all those little tasks done that have been waiting on you all week or all month. Every day it seems we get to make a list of all those little things that we haven't got to yet...balancing the checkbook, running to the store to get some household things, catching up on email, fixing things around the house.

While this might sound appealing to some, after a year of it, we are both ready to have a reason to look forward to Saturday. It will be so nice to get into a routine and a schedule where we are able to see a lot of the same people, build great relationships, feel comfortable with our lives, know what to expect.

Saturdays are great, but I'm a guy who is actually looking forward to Monday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pressure cookers are not for soup

Despite lacking many useful items, I braved my way into the kitchen to cook my first dish: Eastern European Lentil Soup (I know, I know, not an Indian dish, but the only dish I had all of the ingredients for). One of the 'useful items' I don't have is a stockpot, which comes in handy for soup. The kitchen did come stocked with a pressure cooker; the only item large enough to hold the amount of soup I was cooking. It was all pretty uneventful until the last 10 minutes of simmering. I checked the pot, stirred it, and decided it needed an additional 5 minutes. I put the lid back on (*ahem, the pressure cooker lid) and unknowingly latched the lid. For those who have used a pressure cooker, you know that latching the lid is what guarantees the "pressure" part...

I'm sitting in the living room, checking email, when I hear a hissing sound. I stop, concerned it is the soup, but then resume my emailing when I decide it isn't. I keep hearing it. I stop again, this time deciding to glance into the kitchen. The closer I got to the soup, the louder the hissing got...I realized it was the soup. I quickly unlatched the lid and a subsequent "BANG!" was heard. My soup had been effectively pressurized.

This all came after Neil and I spent some time on our rooftop enjoying the stars and thinking thoughts that only come when one is under the stars. The kind of thoughts you don't have time to think about during the rest of the busy day. Ironically, one of those thoughts for me tonight was, "What happens if I burn the house down while cooking? We have no insurance here....hmm, I hope that doesn't happen."

Thankfully, I was spared tonight.


What is it?

We will give a year's subscription to our blog + a postcard to the person who can first correctly guess what this useful item is.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is that motor oil?

So much of our transition to India has gone extremely well. Our flights were good, we got all of our luggage, we had great friends who showed us around town, we found a place to live very quickly... it couldn't have been better.

So I guess it was only fair that we had something go wrong - terribly, stickily wrong.

On Neil's birthday in the afternoon, we were getting ready to lay down for a nap when Courtney noticed a strange dark liquid by the side of one of our suitcases. In our brilliant packing, we had one suitcase that we had packed with stuff that we wouldn't need until we moved into our permanent place. Decorations, books, pictures, etc. So, once we saw it come off the baggage claim, we didn't even bother to look in it.

Then, Courtney said, "What is that?" We were both perplexed at first and then the horrible truth started to come into focus. One of the items we packed away was a jar of molasses which is unavailable in India, but useful for all sorts of things. It was the one thing too that we did not put into a plastic bag, thinking it would be safe. It was not. There was molasses everywhere and on everything in the suitcase. All of the few items we had decided to take with us to remind us of home had this dark sugary syrup all over them. Sad and gross.

Gratefully, we were able to wash off most of the items in the bathroom as the molasses comes off pretty easily. But there were some casualties including some decorative pictures, Courtney's business class notebook, and some books that will probably always have that nasty brown look to them. We tried to save the suitcase itself, but it too was beyond saving, and will enter the world of the Indian recycling program known as "throwing it away".

So, a sad story, but we've come through it. And after many showers, we can laugh about it, at least a little bit.

Guest House

We moved into our new guest house yesterday. It is amazing to be again on our own after more than a month of living with other people. While it is not our permanent housing here in Chennai, it will provide a great place for us to call home for now. There are a lot of good places within walking distance and the area is really nice. Here is a tour of our new place.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday has usually been the mark of a significant change in our lives. In 2007, we moved into our very first apartment in Lincoln. In 2008, we moved into a new place and began our lives in Sellersburg, IN. In 2009, we kicked off a support-raising tour after deciding to move to India. Now, in 2010, we are just barely a week into our new lives here in Chennai.

One of the best parts about having a birthday on the other side of the world is that it lasts so long. I got birthday wishes from the time I got up on the 7th until around noon on the 8th. Here in Chennai, we celebrated with Karyn and Ben by going to the Fruit Shop on Greams Road. This was an excellent decision, as I usually can't get enough fruit. They had about 40 different kinds of fruit juices and smoothies and fruit salads. It was incredibly delicious. Afterwards we went to a store that carries a lot of import items from the States, where we were able to find the one item that airport security would not let us take to India on our carryon...cherry pie filling.

We had an amazing lunch at our new favorite vegetarian cafe and then came back to the Fry's flat. In a later post, we'll share what we did in the afternoon...it is a story that deserves it's own space.

Karyn made some fajitas for dinner (Mexican food is very rare around here) and then we had a chocolate cherry cake made by my lovely wife who brought over most of the ingredients as a surprise.

It was a great birthday! Thanks to Courtney, the Frys, and to all of you who sent your greetings to me. Here are some pictures.

Birthday Boy

Today, one of the biggest blessings in my life turns 25.

Happy Birthday, love.

I like him so much. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Days...

Well, we've been in India for 3 days now. It's still so hard to believe! We're staying with Jason & Karyn while we wait to move into our temporary apartment (which we found today! Pictures to come when we move in on Friday). Jason & Karyn have been incredible tour guides and gracious hosts. We have crammed a TON into our first days, so I'll just give a snapshot below..

We've eaten a lot of wonderful food. Our first meal enjoyed at the only logical choice: an Indian restaurant! Our sampling is found below. We've also enjoyed homemade Minestrone compliments of Karyn, yummy pasta @ an Italian restaurant in town, & lots more Indian food. oh, and Neil & I ate our first veggieburger today.....and it was good! We couldn't believe it either. Plus, it only cost $3 for our whole meal. Even better. :)

We also enjoyed a beautiful dance performance at a local theatre. We moved to Chennai at the start of "Music Season" in the city, which hopefully means a lot more free concerts like the one below...

as you can see, the costumes were absolutely stunning.

We couldn't publish this post without a nod to our entertainment when we aren't out on the town: Ben. Jason & Karyn's little boy is a pretty funny kid and as you can see, seriously cute.

We've also ridden our fair share of auto rickshaws. Which, by the way, might be my favorite part of the city so far. The driving is absolutely crazy. And by crazy, I mean awesome. The video below doesn't do it justice, but it will suffice for now.

that's all for tonight. There's lots more, but my body is tired and needs to be put to bed.


Saturday, January 2, 2010


We're up earlier than anticipated this morning. A Hindu temple about 200 yards from where we are staying likes to play Tamil pop music from 5:30-7 to entertain the slum dwellers living nearby. We're not in Kansas anymore!

Our travel to & first day in Chennai were awesome. All of our flights were on time, the plane food was surprisingly good and we even got upgraded so Neil got to enjoy some serious leg room on our flight from Frankfurt (I could almost stretch my legs totally out!). AND, there was no line in customs! We just walked right through and had no trouble at all. I'll tell you, it was the strangest feeling in the world to be hovering over the city prior to landing, seeing all of the city lights and realizing that this foreign world was now my home. Amazing..Overwhelming..so many things.

We'll post soon with pictures of our first day!

love you all & thanks for the prayers.