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Two weekends before Thanksgiving, I organized a campout/cook out/movie night on the playground. I got two large sheets hung from a tree and projected Star Wars on to the sheets, which we watched from blankets. I was a hero to the many 5-12 year old boys on campus! We had a campfire and camped out for the night, which was tons of fun.

The weekend before Thanksgiving was the Delhi Half-Marathon. I've been training for the Bombay Full Marathon in January, so I was in better shape than I usually am for a half and ran a 1:41, which I think is a PR for me. It was beautiful day for a run and the race was reasonably well organized.

For Thanksgiving we headed to an estate called "Jilling", which is near Nandital in the foothills of the Himalayas. We traveled with our friends Eli and Susannah, and their two children. We did not expect much, but were very surprised and happy to find a clean air, amazing views, beautiful country and solitude. The cottages are run by a rather eccentric family (we read a magazine article saying the owner was a Mig 21 pilot who got court martialed for bringing his dog up in his fighter!). There were only 4 cottages, which are spread out from each other and all are a steep 2km walk from the closest road. The cottages were very cute and we loved hanging out on the deck while absorbing the view, sunshine and company.

FIres were lit for us each night in several of the rooms, which made the cottage comfy at night. During the day we hung out around the cottage and went for some short walks. A walk to the top of the hill put us top of a spectacular ridge with a thousand foot drop off - very beautiful! Eli and I did a three hour hike around the mountain that took us through some beautiful scenery.


[NOVEMBER 7, 2010] WHAT A FUN WEEK! CELEBRATING DIWALI, VISITING SULTANPUR AND SEEING THE PRESIDENT. A week ago, when I was leaving school, I saw some young men I know from the jhuggi (slum) across the street from school. In casual conversation, they told me that everyone was painting their houses for Diwali (a big Indian holiday). A couple of my friends there invited me to help paint. So, the next day Robyn, Zoë and I headed into the jhuggi and helped paint several houses - it was a lot of fun!

This weekend was Diwali itself. Robyn was in Dubai for a workshop, but when night fell Zoë, my friend Rebecca, and I headed over to visit a few homes. The jhuggi was beautiful - it was all freshly painted and lit up by candles. The custom is to light candles at the homes of your friends and family. We visited my friends Ram Milan and Abdul Rahim. Both families were amazingly hospitable. Zoë had fun lighting candles at each of the homes. Outside, and around us, were the loud explosions of firecrackers going off everywhere - a little unnerving really!

The next day Zoë and I headed to Sultanpur Bird Park with a few other friends. We stayed the night in a small hotel at the park. The birds were amazing. We also had fun staying up and playing guitar on our patio overlooking the park.

Today we were eager to get home as Robyn had returned from Dubai during the night. This afternoon we headed over to the embassy, which was having a meet and greet with President Obama. ( my youtube video here) Zoë was totally unimpressed and had to be bribed with candy to attend! The event was surprisingly fun. It was held on the lawn of the ambassador's house and only a few hundred employees of the embassy were present. We were just 20 feet from him. He stayed for about 20 minutes; after a short speech he shook a lot of hands.


[OCTOBER 20, 2010] THE 2010 DELHI COMMONWEALTH GAMES INDUCED A ONE WEEK MID-SEMESTER BREAK AT SCHOOL -- PERFECT FOR A QUICK TRIP TO DHARAMSALA AND AMRITSAR. Zoë was a champ on the overnight train and 3 hour car ride to get to Dharamsala. Robyn was not impressed with our $12 a night room, so we moved into the big leagues for the next few nights - $21 a night.

We stayed in the middle of the town and spent our four days in Dharamsala wandering to, from and around the neighboring villages. We visited the Dali Lama's temple in town and linked up with a friend's adopted Tibetan son who took us to the Tibetan Children's Village- where the community raises 3000 Tibetan children who have been sent there by their families in Tibet, often at great risk to themselves.

Another long car ride placed us in Amritsar, where we visited the Golden Temple and the Pakistani border. We had a great time at the Golden Temple. One of the fun things about Sikh temples is that they provide free meals to everyone, regardless of religion. At the Golden Temple, they provide 75,000 meals a day! The meals are cooked and cleaned by legions of volunteers. So, Robyn and Zoë jumped in with the women to spend an hour making chapatti's and I spent some time cleaning dishes. We thought this was funny because neither Robyn nor I were playing to our strengths! (cooking and cleaning!). Anyway's, we had a fun time!

We also took a trip to the border crossing with Pakistan (30km from Amritsar). There is a huge over the top show/ceremony every night when the border closes. A small amphitheater has been built on each side of the border for spectators. The military units recruit the tallest soldiers possible, who wear very dressy uniforms and parade back and forth while goose stepping and attempting to intimidate the other side.

  [SEPTEMBER 20, 2010] THE DENGUE PROBLEM HERE IN DELHI IS OFFICIALLY FREAKING ME OUT... One teacher our first year, 3 teachers last year, 12 teachers this year and the body count continues to rise. Peak of the season is a month away and locals are already having problems getting hospital beds. It's an epidemic of biblical proportions and there is little you can do to protect yourself. We layer ourselves in DEET before we step outside the door, wear long sleeves and don't linger outside. Our bathrooms, classrooms and playgrounds are sprayed with a scary chemical 3 times a week. A second case can cause internal hemorrhaging and death. A friend of ours has been having hallucinations and another said that for an entire month he kept thinking it couldn't get worse until it did the next day. Sores all over his body and sleepless nights that brought clarity to the common name for the disease -- "break bone fever"...
...I'm freakin...
  [APRIL 18, 2010] WITH THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR RAPIDLY APPROACHING, IT SEEMED THE RIGHT TIME TO TAKE A BOYS TRIP TO SOMEWHERE, BUT WHERE SHOULD THAT BE? Rishikesh seemed to be what we needed: close, at a bit of elevation and away from the big cities. So Gene, Troy, Chris, Kevin and I headed up on the early Saturday morning train. We skipped the camps on the river and headed to an air conditioned lodge.

A few days of guitar, bird watching from our porch, a hike and a bit of rafting was just what the doctor ordered!

  [APRIL 10, 2010] A BIG WILDERNESS AREA ON THE EDGE OF DELHI WITH FIVE LAKES THAT ARE SO CLEAN YOU CAN SWIM? IMPOSSIBLE! BUT TRUE! With temperatures recently hovering around 110 degrees, we had to meet at 5am to head out to the Kant Enclave area, where we left our cars and headed into a surprisingly large wilderness area. We ran on the main trail through the middle to the other side and back, taking us past five clean lakes while running 21kms! On the way back we stopped at one of the lakes and had a swim, it was hard to believe we were in Delhi. No trash, no pollution and only a few people on the fringes of the area. In the future I'll definitely be spending more time there!
  [APRIL 3, 2010] ROBYN HAD SIX DAYS OF LITERACY WORKSHOPS IN BANGKOK FOR SPRING BREAK, SO ZOë AND I WENT WITH HER. We saved money by eschewing the fancy conference hotel and staying around the corner in $30 a night jobber. I attended a simultaneous conference that coincided with the first few days of Robyn's training. Since I was taking care of Zoë (and childcare wasn't as convenient as we'd hoped), I wasn't able to make as many sessions as I'd wanted, but I made a few, including a very thought provoking keynote by Alan November on 21st Century Learning.

Since Robyn was in session most of the week, Zoë and I got tons of quality time together. We snuck into the pool at the conference hotel (the Sheraton) each day and rode the fancy Sheraton boat each day to the Skytrain, which whisked us above Bangkok's famous traffic jams to Starbucks coffee shops, glitzy malls and Ocean World.

We had fun eating thai street food and getting a family massage. Zoë got her nails painted and had a ball being fussed over for an hour - she didn't shut up! Our favorite restaurant was "The Deck", which was on the river and had great views of the Indian inspired Wat (temple) Arun.



My magazine subscriptions say it all; they have gotten a bit out of control: Zymurgy, Brew Your Own, Runners World, Acoustic Guitar, Organic Gardening , Cooking Illustrated, the Atlantic, Harpers and the Economist.

I've brewed more in the last year than in a long time and some of the results have been pretty good! It's always been challenging to get ingredients overseas, but last year we found a local supplier of liquid malt extract, which is the most difficult (and heavy!) ingredient to get, so that's been hugely helpful!

Guitar started as an idea at a party Christmas, 2008. Since then a group of friends has been meeting most Mondays in our apartment to learn guitar from my friend Gene, who has generously donated his time to hone his patience by trying to help us! It's been lots of fun!

Gene also helped us to start gardening, which has been lots of fun! I've been trying to see how much produce we can grow on the oasis of our balcony. So far, we've produced lots of tomatoes, basil, spinach and a variety of lettuces. Before it got very cold, we were just about producing all our own salad ingredients. Now that it's warming up again, the garden is picking up once again. I just ordered some great balcony furniture, so we're looking forward to spending even more time on the balcony when it arrives.

Running "barefoot" is an exaggeration, I've bought three pairs of "minimalist" running shoes. Each attempts to reproduce the experience of running barefoot by offering no support or help at all, beyond a millimeter or two protective layer on the bottom. The most eye-catching are my Vibram Five-Fingers, which fit each toe like a sock. Barefoot running it a bit of a fad at the moment, mostly fueled by the popular running book "Born to Run", which makes a bit of an indirect case for running as natural as possible. I'm not sure it's beneficial or that I'll even stick with it in the long run, but I've been enjoying it so far. I recently ran the Mumbai Half-Marathon in my five-fingers, and that worked well.

The last meat I ate was half-pound burger topped with a bratwurst and bacon at a brew pub in Madison on the last day of our summer vacation - what a way to go out! :) I originally stopped because it seemed like an easy and concrete way to reduce my carbon footprint. I have read that you can reduce your footprint by as much as 30%! That probably doesn't apply to everyone, but it probably does to me since I generally eat so much meat. Since then, however, I've also been been appalled by everything I've read about industrial food (particularly meat) in books such as the "The Omnivore's Dilemma", "Food, Inc" and "In Defense of Food" (all recommended).


[JANUARY 15, 2010] WE DIDN'T EXPECT TO SEE A TIGER, BUT WERE THRILLED WHEN WE DID. We had a three day weekend for President's Day, so we took the overnight train to India's oldest National Park, Corbett National Park. The train was perfectly timed such that we slept on the train overnight and woke up at the station near Corbett. We loved our accommodation at Camp Forktail, which was a charming camp consisting of 8 tasteful cabins and some very knowledgeable and friendly owners and staff. NIghts at the camp were particularly fun, as the stars were amazing and everyone socialized around a campfire.

Our second day we woke up early to do a full day safari in the park. After a few hours of tracking tigers, we were rewarded when a beautiful tiger walked right by our jeep and up the road. We followed him at a distance for about 20 minutes. In addition to the tiger, we had fun spotting and watching the more common animals, such as deer, monkey and Hornbills.