Monday, May 24, 2010

Let's Talk About Elephants

We saw some elephants on the first part of the trip. They were far in the distance, but on the return over on the other side of the lake we saw more. As we were going back two elephants broke out of the forest and headed for the water.
This time we were close enough to get a good picture. And.....
Soon many more of the group joined them. Someone on the boat called out, "There's a baby," and the guide said it was about two months old.Posted by Picasa

The first Safrai Excursion Was Right Away

We got orientation of the compound while we drank from our coconuts because we just had time to change clothes and head for the water. We were driven to our bungalows, but that was the last ride back to the center. Our rooms were almost the furthest away, nice and quiet and a chance to exercise before and after dinner. The whole row of bungalows fronted on the lake but not too close. We saw no mosquitoes. Yeah!

On the way to the safari we were out in the middle of no where and our driver was in contact with another driver. We caught on to this so were not surprised when all of a sudden a big white car was just barely visible ahead and our driver quickly pulled off the road. The white car was nose to nose with us in seconds. Our mission president and wife and daughter and her husband were on their way back from the safari. The other senior couple in our car were good friends from Alaska but had moved three years ago and it was a treat for them to see younger family members.

We stood at the side of the road for over twenty minutes visiting about their safari. They had just seen a leopard that morning. We were excited for them and for us. As we were loading up to leave there was talk about all the frogs they had seen at the lake. So the picture above is not a bunch of locus as it seems at first glance but a bunch of frogs under the boat.

Someone in our group of missionaries , the seniors from Sri Lanka had taken this trip a few weeks earlier and emailed general tips and info. They liked the boat for a change, quieter and smoother than the bouncing jeep. We had signed up for this outing for the afternoon of our arrival and a jeep at six the next morning.

After the jeep trip we quickly signed up for a third and we asked for the jeep trip. Yes, it was bouncy and at times very fast as we raced to a new spot where a leopard had just been sighted, but the jeep felt more hands on.Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's a Condo To The Sky

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Some Of The Babies Are Pretty Big

All of them are well protected by the mothers.
Babies everywhere and lots of "twins". Up close to the trees you discover nests on branch after branch. When you are back and looking across the lake you notice how extensive the area really is. (See next post.) Posted by Picasa

Big Birds

It's a unique experience to be able to get up this close to wild creatures. These birds come from all over and the guards at the refuge seems to know where.....
Each one comes from and the birds seem to know that they are safe here.
As we get closer and closer they may flap their wings a bit, but they all hold steady and hug the trees.
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It's Not Just For The Birds?

When we climbed in the boat at the dock they made a big deal about where we sat in order to keep the boat perfectly balanced. As we paddled out we began to understand the caution when we learned that this area was not just a bird refuge but that the lake we were exploring held seventy crocodile. We saw six.
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Have you ever woke with a full day of appointments but, it didn't matter because the waking moment was so pleasant you know the memory will ride through the day with you. The two of us woke with almost more than we could do. It was no surprise that the cyclone was over, we trusted the news report but what we felt was a surprise. (We slept with lots of windows open to protect against acid that we used to clean mineral build up on bathroom tile, good old Chennai water. We had been told that nothing would take it off but acid worked. This stuff is so powerful it cleaned the tiles NEXT to the tile I wiped down.) With the bedroom window open the first thing that I noticed was a cool breeze across my face. Then a gentle wind brought the smell of the ocean. Cool air and ocean breezes, both firsts for us since coming to Indian. Today was the day I planned to write about the bird refuge we saw on the way to the safari. Now as I stretched awake I was visited by our own neighborhood birds. The green parrots hung upside down from the phone wire and looked in the window. Simple pleasures but I will remember this morning forever.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Go On A Safari

This safari was only three days long but it was packed with activity both during and also coming and going. Lest anyone thinks we were sleeping on the ground in tents watching out for creeping things, we will start with our arrival. All our suitcases were loaded off and taken to our rooms. We were hauled from the entrance to the pool for orientation. Just that short ride in golf carts was so hot that we were all grateful for the cool coconut drinks offered. Both the men were not fond of this fresh drink but the women finished off every drop.
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Storm clouds are fun but we only got the thick, low ceiling gray sky so maybe people were right and the weather patterns were changing . Everyone was saying it was a monsoon. We got so many opinions that we decided to check the Internet. No Monsoon, we were getting the first edge of a cyclone. Her name is Laila. It has rained hard all day and is moving fast. So it maybe north by tomorrow or at least soon.

When it rains it often gets hotter and after it rains the temperatures really go up. Staying home today worked as we only had one thing scheduled so we shifted it to Friday. The only thing that did not work was the clean up from the building that has been going on all day. For days they have been pounding on the walls reaming out cracks and filling them again and painting. Today was quiet but the electricity has been going out for several hours a day this week. Right after they came to check it we noticed a lot of gasoline smell coming in the windows from the street. A little later we discovered it wasn't from the street but that it had started when the front door was opened. The fumes were the most intensive by that door. Peeking out the glass peep viewer I saw a work man rubbing everything with a rag. Then I knew. No painter in India ever puts down a drop cloth before painting. The drips go right and left and down. The men were cleaning the thousands of drops of white paint with gasoline. No wonder Indian people have a short life span.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


When one of us was very young he wrote a poem about rain in the spring time. The look on his face is just how we feel today. It was very gray late afternoon yesterday and light rain came in the evening. This morning we woke to a third of the office floor covered in water and even a long puddle in the bedroom. See the next post for our feelings.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

More About Shopping

We have watched this mall being built from the ground up. And yes, it was all done with ladies carrying cement on their heads, one load, one step at a time. There is a another huge mall here in Chennai and it has a large circular opening with shops all around. The opening is several stories high and though it could have had a beautiful, dramatic design, it doesn't. Also there are three phases to this mall and we were warned when we first came to Indian to keep track of ourselves while shopping there or we could get lost, or at least never get back to our car. All of the advice we got could have been true. Luckily we followed it, and we always went in the same door and up the same stairs and usually did not need to stop at more than one or two stores.

This mall has spokes of narrow halls lined with small shops leading to these central, huge openings. The small shop owners hang their wares in front of their shops so it makes the halls even narrower. Now for the last little touch. There was improper planning for electricity and there are big AC problems. There is NO AC in the halls and the shops loose power often and the one big store where I can find household items runs their AC at about 80 degrees which works sometimes unless there gets to be a big crowd.

Now in describing this new mall called the Sky Walk, you will see that everything is just the opposite from the old one. That is once this new mall was opened it merited a gold star. The grand opening was advertised for the 1st of February and they are only at about 90 percent just coming to the middle of May.

The whole mall is small shops around one big opening. (No long dark halls.) It is huge, light, airy and the first thing you notice as you come in the door is that the AC is working perfectly. On the ground floor and down a few stairs is a big grocery with lots more that the young missionaries say reminds them of WalMart. The main room is four stories of great designer shops and could be exciting BUT, remember everything is imported and so you pay the price. There were a lot of people there but it seemed that most stores were empty. An Asian looking man restrained himself when I stopped to eye a big bag in the front window of the Colors of Benetton. He wanted to come out and invite me in but that only happens on the street not the Mall. I hope a bunch of rich Indians come in soon so this beautiful mall will not go under.

For now the "shoppers" were traveling up the hanging escalators and hardly stopping until they got to the top to buy movie tickets. There is a big food court at the top too but that day we weren't hungry and in the future I will have to think about trying it. When this mall did not open on time there was an extensive article in The Hindu newspaper about the sky walk on the top floor being dangerous. So why were people walking across a bridge from the movie to the food court. It looked like a sky walk to me!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

It'sThe People

Where else can you find your own jewelry consultant. She is an expert on silver.
Or get the best tips on all the sales.
You will never find dusty antiques in the basement of the Leela Hotel. I have never been one to seek out too many old things, but in India there is the chance to perhaps find Aladdin's lamp.

This Does Not Look Like Shopping

We love the Leela Hotel in Bangalore. It has a welcoming and comfortable area right between the entrance and the garden where you can relax when you don't feel like shopping. This hotel is spacious with forty foot ceilings, and massive pillars. It is grand, elegant and very expensive. We don't even eat there. Coming nearer the end of our mission it was time to do a little shopping for family. We went to the Leela because.....
It has ambiance, a lovely quiet garden that ALMOST blocks the traffic noise of the street and it has a mall.
You can even bargain in this mall. Bargaining is not my thing and this may have been my first experience, I don't remember. However, I may try it again. I found an item at less than half the price of the one in the grimy mall in Chennai. There is some magic about ambiance.
Then why would I head for this street next if I can get beauty and price at the Leela Hotel? (See next post for the answer)Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Beginning At The End

Stepping to the foyer, I grabbed a few pictures of the welcome that greeted members as they arrived at this first district conference in Chennai.

Just like a celebrity we had entered the ballroom up the back stairs as early that morning lots of security guards accompanied us. It wasn't us that needed protecting but we carried the music for the event, and you never know when there might be a bomb in the keyboard.
So as a great event comes to a close even those who could not attend got their picture taken.Posted by Picasa