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  [DECEMBER 2, 2012] CHRIS AND I HAD A FUN TIME AT THE 2012 TUK TUK RALLY sponsored by the Canadian High Commission. The Rally was a kind of treasure hunt all over Delhi. 30 teams "competed' by zipping around Delhi in tuk tuks, it was a fun day.

[NOVEMBER 25, 2012] OCTOBER GAVE US TWO BACK TO BACK LONG WEEKENDS. FOR THE FIRST, WE HEADED TO SEE SOME WILD ASS in Gujarat (at the Wild Ass Sanctuary, not kidding) and the second took us to Chambal Reserve, near Agra.

We flew to Ahmedabad, traveling with Cristi, LIz, Chris and Therese. It's always a trip to visit cities that I have not previously heard of, but have over 5 million people. Inevtiably they have some nice surprises, and Ahmedabad was no exception. The main surprise was our hotel - the House of MG was a destination in itself. Ahmedabad and Gujarat (the state) are know for textiles, and hte house of MG was the former mansion of a former textile barron. It was one of the sweetest hotels we have ever stayed in, with tonss of character.We were upgraded to the princpal luxury sweet, which was almost as big as our apartment and sported huge mirrors all over the master bedroom, including a massive one right over the bed!

The restaurant on the roof of the hotel was a fun, shnitzy open air thali restaurant. Everyone (but me - I napped) visited Ghandi's principal Ashram. The first morning, we (except for Robyn - she slept! See how this works?) went on a walking tour of the old part of the city. It was an interesting tour. The main mosque was impressive and the old city had a lot of character. It is still diviided into neighborhoods called "pole's", which form independant communities, each with it's own civic structures including a meeting place and bulletin board to post important events. For some reason, the city also had lots of colorful birdhouses.

After a couple nights in Ahmedabad, we drove to Rannriders Ecolodge near the Little Rann of Kutch, a large area of salt flats that is home to "Wild Ass Sanctuary". As the name suggests, this sanctuary has a large population of wild donkeys. The particular beed of donkeys used to be wide spread across asia, but now survives only in the Little Rann of Kutch. Another wildlife highlight is a large concentraion of flamencoes. The ecoresort we stayed at was very cute. Our group had 4 charming mud huts that surrouned a small pond and lawn that was great for hanging out on.

A week later, we spent our Thanksgiving weekend at Chambal Reserve, about an hour outside of Agra. It was a very pleasant surprise! The Chambal Safari Hotel is a fun heritage property. It's a large property with lots of trees and wildlife. We were assigned a naturalist who took us on a couple walks and two longer safaris. We saw a couple jungle cats, lots of Blue Bull antelope and of course lots of birds. Our first safari was a boat safari on the River Chambal. It was unbelievably (for India) peaceful and untouched. We saw tons of crocodiles, cool birds (including the Indian Skimmer) and the very rare Ganges Dolphon (only 80 left in the world!). The ravines around the river are famous for bandits, and have only become safe in the last couple of decades.

Our second safari took us through lots of farmer fields to find the Black Buck Antelope, which were in surprising abundance. The black buck is a beautiful antelop, withe long straight horns.

The best part of this weekend, however, was just hanging out in the garden of the lodge, chatting with the Caputos and Rosenfields while keeping a very loose eye on the kids, who had a great time climbing trees, and investigating bugs and animals around the property. Each night there is a big campfire and fantastic stars. We intend to return soon!



Zoë also started a t-ball league, which has been fun in several ways, including that she has several friends on her team. She's a decent slugger!

She also lost her 2nd tooth, which she was very excited about. It took her several days before she was ready to part with it and give it to the tooth fairy.

We went with 4 families and Robyn's friend Nikkie (from Australia) to the Kuchesar Fort (http://www.kuchesarfort.com), a couple hours from Delhi. When it's hot, this place is one of my favorite quick escapes from Delhi, because it has a killer pool. The owners are very relaxed (since there are usually no other guests!), so they are very helpful. This year, they gave us a big tour of the place, explaining it's history. It was fun to spend part of weekend at the fort with friends, and the kids had a ball in the pool and running around the fort.

Gandhi's Birthday was a 4 day weekend for us, so we headed to Jilling (jilling.net). This was my 4th time visiting. Robyn and I both love the place. This time, we brought a big group - 13 adults and 8 kids. Everyone was great company and , once again, the kids had a great time running around the outdoors. It's beautiful in Jilling, and we enjoyed doing a few walks. One of our walks was to a village where we had lunch with the family of the guy who was taking care of us in Jilling (Gaya.) This time, I also got to go on a couple big (1.5 hour) trail runs with Dave and Brent, which was totally awesome. Between the company, clean air and outdoor opportunities, it was pretty much a perfect weekend.


[MAY 6, 2012] OUR LAST WEEKEND TRIP OF THE SCHOOL YEAR WAS A PILLGRIMAGE TO SEE THE WORLDS OLDEST KNOWN ZERO IN GWALIOR, INDIA. We traveled with the Hamiltons and Weiss's. Several zero's are inscribed in a tablet just inside the tiny Chatarbhug Temple on the edge of the massive Gwalior Fort, which dominates the town. The zero was hard to find! It took awhile just to find the temple, then we had to find someone to unlock the door of the temple so we could see the tablet. Only in India would such a significant carving be lost amid so many other amazing buildings and carvings.

We were pleased with a quick 3 hour train ride on a comfortable train down to Gwalior. A short taxi ride dropped us at our hotel, the Usha Kiran Palace. The hotel was sweet, our favorite (so far) in India. It was built to house King George the Vth on this visit to India. The hotel was comfortable but had tons of character including fun rooms. Since it was very hot, we spent most of our time in the excellent swimming pool.

Another quick train ride put us back in Delhi. What a great overnight trip!


[APRIL 22, 2012] A WEEKEND IN BOMBAY MAKES A FUN GETAWAY FROM DELHI. It was my fifth trip to Bombay over the years, I really like Bombay. It has much more going on then Delhi including surprisingly hip bars and restaurants. We stayed in hotel down near India gate, around the corner from Cafe Leopold, one of my favorite cafe's in the world.

We visited Elephanta Island, which made for a nice day trip since walking around the city was pretty hot! An unexpected highlight of our trip was visiting a Bollywood movie shoot. The director is the husband of a teacher at our school. It was a lot of fun to watch!

Most of all we enjoyed the bars and restaurants, which had lots of friendly locals. Some of bars would not have been out of place anywhere in the world.



For mini-course this year, I took a group of 17 kids to raft the TONS river in the Indian Himalayas. We had an awesome group of kids and some excellent rafting. We got a little more excitement than we bargained for when one of our rafts got stuck on a raft in the middle of the river on the second day. The guides had to build use a rope bridge and harness to pull the kids through the rapid to safety on the side of river. Our lead guide said it was only the 2nd time he'd done that in 17 years. The 6 kids were standing in freezing water for about an hour, so I was worried about hypothermia, but both the guides and kids did great and everyone was excited about their adventure once the kids were safe.

In mid-February, I also took our Cross Country team to Dubai to compete in our league's Cross Country tournament. The kids almost all ran personal bests, so I was very proud of them. On our time off, we got to go on a few small trips around town, including the observation deck of the Burg Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

My college buddy Peter and his family visited in March. A perfect excuse to make my 3rd trip to Jilling, one of my favorite places in India. Jilling is a collection of 4 spread out "writers huts" on the side of a mountain in the foothills of the Himalayas. The huts are run by an eccentric family and are very charming. They are a 45 minute hike up a mountain from the closest road. The area is stunningly beautiful and peaceful. Peters two kids are just older and younger than Zoë, so the kids mixed very well and had great fun exploring Jilling. We had some great hikes along dramatic ridge lines and charming villages. When we weren't hiking, we dragged a couple cots outside and took naps, chatted and soaked up the sunshine and view of Nanda Devi - tallest mountain in India (25,000+ ft!).