Shopping fun


We woke to greet day two strangely well rested and excited to see India in daylight. Similar to the US, there was a complimentary breakfast buffet at Ambiance Hotel. The offerings were a mix of comfortable and new. Cornflakes and milk, fresh papaya, pineapple juice and coffee along with idli (steamed rice cakes), sambar and chai tea. We gave it all a try and despite not being accustomed to the level of spice in our breakfast, we enjoyed it quite a bit.

Shortly after, we were picked up on foot by our friends and set off to hail a few autoricks to take us on a shopping excursion to find wedding clothes. We split up, Mark with Palak and me with Gautam and merged into traffic. Whoa.

Our first real feel for traffic - from the back of an autorick.

Our first real feel for traffic – from the back of an autorick.

We got a glimpse of the road rules the night before in Mumbai, but nothing could’ve prepared me for a Monday morning ride through the city. Cars, buses, autoricks and two-wheelers use up every available space, honking to lay claim to an opening in the chaos and alerting you to someone in your blindspot. Rarely does a scooter have only one rider, but almost always 2, almost always with no helmets. Cars marketed as seating 5 easily have 8 inside. Lane markers continue to be only a modest suggestion.

Two-wheelers are quite popular.

Two-wheelers are quite popular.

I got used to this experience by the end of the trip and was able to walk away from the experience with a great appreciation for how smooth it all works. There were no accidents or arguments. Consider it controlled chaos with an air of efficiency out of necessity.

We began with shopping for Mark. The store we entered was a few stories high. The sides of the entry floor were lined with bolts of fabric one might expect walking into JoAnn Fabrics here – full of options for shirts, suits and more. We went straight to the formalwear area a few floors up where we found walls of plastic-packaged kurtas and racks of stunning coats with beading and embroidery to rival the most gorgeous of wedding gowns. No photos were allowed inside which disappointed me greatly.

We went through many choices with Mark trying on things he liked and things he didn’t (but we did!). While he was considering his options, Gautam was having final fittings on his wedding wear. I was just wandering the racks finding the most beautiful and the most obnoxious and enjoying every minute.

The only challenge we encountered was in fitting Mark into the pajamas to go with his kurtas. Turns out his marching band calves were just too large to fit into the skinny openings. It took some time for them to find an option which would work but we met with success. He had chosen two kurtas to wear – one a copper color that reminded me a lot of the color our bridesmaids wore in our wedding, and one in a beautiful blue.

Beautiful beadwork and blue to match his eyes.

Beautiful beadwork and blue to match his eyes.

From there we landed on a floor below where the party wear was located and Mark was fitted for a new suit – a lovely grey set that he’d wear to the reception and will be able to wear to many occasions back here in the States.

Hours were spent in this store and while I was getting more excited to know it was nearly my turn to try things on, we decided a little food was in order.



I believe we were at Kalinga Restaurant – I remember seeing signs for K Lounge. Mark chose to eat outside on the patio which was covered. It was hard to resist being out in the lovely warmth of the mid-80* temps having left winter behind a few days before. Gautam did the ordering again – we had a number of appetizers which ended up turning into a feast.

Masala and tandoori drumsticks, a crispy flatbread covered in onions, tomatoes and more.

Masala and tandoori drumsticks, a crispy flatbread covered in onions, tomatoes and more.

We also had our first taste of Kingfisher beer, which was served with what we eventually learned was a common snack. I believe EVERY time we ordered a beer, these same two dishes showed up at the table along with it.

We saw these all along the way - snacks given nearly any time you order a beer.  Quite crunchy, a little spicy, strangely addicting.

We saw these all along the way – snacks given nearly any time you order a beer. Quite crunchy, a little spicy, strangely addicting.

Turns out Mark ordered a main dish as well – and I was thankful that I had not. We shared his fish and tried hard to finish up all the other dishes before heading back to our arduous task of finding wedding wear for me!

Fish, a salad of cabbage and another flatbread. Delicious.

Fish, a salad of cabbage and another flatbread. Delicious.

Off to the store we went – another multi-floor establishment.

Fascinating sarees? Yes please.

Fascinating sarees? Yes please.

I tried on many beautiful (and fascinating I suppose) sarees – contemporary and traditional and some lehengas. Each time, I was presented with many fabrics and colors and then stood and let the professionals go to work wrapping me up well enough to decide. Given my love for patterns and many colors, it was surprising to me in the end that I chose a very simple but stunning saree as ‘the one.’

My wedding saree

My wedding saree

Finding clothes for the other wedding events turned out to take a great deal more time. I tried on so many things but just was not shaped like the general Indian population. In the end we found a few salwars – I think that’s what they’re called – with leggings that would do nicely after having tried on so many attempts. I think we were all exhausted when we were done.

In fact, I know we were. We went back to the hotel and agreed to get together in a few hours to maybe grab a late dinner. Turns out we all crashed for long naps and at nearly 9pm decided to skip dinner altogether. Gautam warned us before we arrived that our shopping day would be long and exhausting. And it was. But it was great fun and a wonderful way to spend our first full day in Pune.

Our first taste of India


Our flight arrived late at night which was mid-day to us, and our stomachs. Thankfully, Gautam and Palak knew just the place to stop for our first taste of Indian food.

On a side street between the Colaba Causeway and the Taj Mahal Hotel (two places I hope to see in the daylight next time!) is a very popular street food stand called Bademiya.


We stopped and watched the action for awhile, not realizing Gautam had ordered one of nearly everything on the top half of the menu. I can’t begin to remember all the names of the dishes we tried that night, only that there were amazing mutton and chicken kabobs along with the first of many flatbreads we would experience.

We arrived at midnight and went straight for food - an outdoor kabob stand.

Everything was hot – spicy hot – but enjoyable. There was a separate – and equally popular – vegetarian stand next to the outdoor kitchen where the kabobs were prepared. As we got farther into the trip, we gained a greater understanding of the separation of veg and non-veg foods and preparations than we were able to absorb that night. The closest I could explain from my US perspective would be a separation similar to Kosher vs. non-Kosher restaurants. We don’t really have anything like it here.

Sure, you can order a vegetarian entree. If you’re lucky you might get a menu with small carrot icons next to the meatless dishes. Or you might even enjoy a visit to the Green Owl where everything is vegetarian and even vegan. But I can’t think of a restaurant that keeps the preparation of veg and non-veg dishes as distinctly apart as it is done in India.


As it truly was a stand in an alley/street, there were only a few tables. We opted for in-car dining, which in the Fiat consisted of flipping up the back hatch and placing all our goodies on the divider which hides your valuables from those who might peek in the window. I wish I hadn’t been so concerned with not looking like a tourist and had snapped a pic of others enjoying their food on the hood of the car, with the hood propped up flat using an upside-down Coca-Cola bottle!

We spent at least an hour munching on the food and taking in the activity and sights of this bustling area – at 1am on a Monday morning. Then we hopped into the car and started on our drive from Mumbai to Pune.

We were using GPS to navigate while Gautam took us through the lefts and rights and on the “flyovers” – highway overpasses. No one stopped for red lights. Many streets were unmarked. A wrong turn took us into the slums, where after a few blocks of passing people still milling about at this late hour, cows and fires in the streets, the pavement ended – and so did our sense of adventure.

Before I left, a co-worker suggested the book ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts. This 900+ page novel is set in Mumbai right in the area where we stopped for our first taste of India. Considered a work of fiction, this story definitely takes place in the real-life setting of Mumbai – a portion in the slums and the neighborhood where our first taste of India took place. I enjoyed having read some of it before we arrived – it most certainly helped me stay cool when we got turned around in the dark. If you like interesting characters and can handle a little darkness and grit, you might like it too.

We made a quick U-turn, going back the way we came, and stopped to ask 3 men gathered at a cart on the corner for more reliable advice on finding the Mumbai-Pune highway. Once on our way, we made quick work of the long journey. After all, it was our first night in the same place as our friends who we had just flown half a world away to meet.

There was no landscape, only darkness, a rest stop and our conversation to keep us alert. And by the time we reached our hotel, our bodies didn’t care that it was 3pm at home, we were exhausted and slept well.

Wishing we were there


The trip is over. We’re home safe and sound. And we’ve managed to make it through the holidays and the start of 2013, complete with a snowstorm leading to a few extra days off of work and school. The last I wrote, we were back in Pune and getting ready to attend the wedding of our friends. Turns out the halfway point of our trip was also the point where I decided that I could blog about our fun long after I got home, extending my enjoyment by not having my head in a computer screen while we were there, and allowing a chance to remember and share now.

Since our internet access was never that great, I hope to start back at the beginning and work my way through the stories and photos of our vacation. I thought about randomly telling stories as I feel like it but I’m afraid I’ll miss too much that way.

The trip to India was a new experience for me. I’ve done a reasonable amount of flying but never on a plane this big. And NEVER for a 15 hour journey. We flew from Newark to Mumbai in a Boeing 777.

Boeing 777-200

Boeing 777-200

We boarded our flight in Newark and were instantly a bit worried because the flight was quite full and they had run out of room for larger carry-ons. We were careful travelers and had kept our most needed items in our carry-ons so we had to get out of line and divide our belongings once more keeping our most necessary things like medicines and money with us in the one bag we were allowed and had to send nearly all of Mark’s clothes underneath.

Once in our seats, with our stranger-neighbor in the aisle seat, we crammed the bag we could bring under the seat in front of us and tried to settle in. Needless to say, what was already going to be a long flight in a semi-upright position just got a bit more uncomfortable.

As the flight crew came through to offer beverage service, we decided a cocktail was in order. We were on our way! So Mark asks the attendant what kind of whiskey he has on board. He rattled off a few and Mark ultimately decides on Crown Royal and Ginger Ale, ordering one. I pipe up, “Make it 2!” and the attendant starts laughing, thinking I ordered Mark a 2nd one – that he was already driving me crazy.

I explain though my laughing that the 2nd drink is for me and we pay, handing the attendant our credit card. He asks if we’d like a receipt (Mark said yes) and he gets distracted by our name on the card – starts asking us the origin and such – then realizes he forgot to print the receipt. This bothered him so much that he ended up asking the woman serving from the other side of the cart for two more bottles of Crown Royal and two more ginger ales which he gave us for no charge.

Only two engines. Seats inside are 3-3-3 in the cheap seats.

Only two engines. Seats inside are 3-3-3 in the cheap seats.

Turns out after an exhausting day of travel from Madison to Chicago to Newark and now on our way to India, neither of us were all that interested in all these cocktails. After one each, we drifted off to dreamland, watched a movie, read some and managed to even get up and walk about.

About two hours before landing, the crew gets back to it in the cabin, serving breakfast and handing out paperwork needed for customs. As they’re passing out the cards, our attendant lingers with us a bit and asks us if this is the first time we’re traveling to India (yes), if this is our first time going through customs (yes) and of course what brings us to this part of the world (the wedding!). He puts us at ease and offers a few pointers about the crowds (mainly just a kind reminder to relax and we’ll be fine) and then gets a bit of a worried look about him. Turns out his concern was about the fact that there would likely be no alcohol served at the wedding (this was true). With a smile and a nod, he says to me, “I’ll be right back.”

Moments later he returns with two puke sacks and hands one to each of us. I’ve seen this move before. My grandparents were experts at this – performing the same moves with the parking attendants at then-County Stadium in Milwaukee. I knew what just happened. When I realized shortly after that Mark didn’t know what was going on, I asked him to look in his paper sack. Two ginger ales. He thinks, “How nice.” So I unwrapped my sack and showed him what I held inside – 8 more bottles of Crown Royal.

Our route - 8124 miles

Our route – 8124 miles

We tried to tip this kind man before stepping off the plane into the Mumbai airport but he wouldn’t take it. All he wanted from us was a promise that we’d have a great time, and that we most certainly did.
Throughout the trip, we enjoyed these gifts – first with the ginger ales he sent along, and later with Coca-Cola which was easy to find – each time toasting to our friendly flight attendant.

Much to our surprise, two bottles even buried themselves in our bags and made it all the way home. Turns out there’s plenty of other wonderful things to drink in India.

Back in Pune! It’s wedding time.


I know you all have been starved for photos. I think we finally have a connection strong enough to handle a few resized pics from the trip so far. I’ve been thinking that once I’m home, I’ll share small stories of fun things that happened along the way and slowly unveil the photos in order to stretch out this amazing journey as long as possible.

I hear we have snow on the ground. Not here! Still in the high 80s by day and quite warm and muggy even at night.

Yesterday we said good bye to Mr. Latheesh, our driver and the beautiful state of Kerala. Anyone who visits India really must spend time in the hill stations and the backwaters. The highs and lows are so rich in contrast.

But now we are back in Pune. It’s wedding time. Last night we met Gautam’s sister and the 5 of us went to a famous sweets shop in town. They bought so many treats for us to try that we never went out for dinner after.

Today the bride (and this crazy American tourist) are going for mehndi – henna tattoos. It will be a day of patience as it takes a long time to apply and then more time to wait as it dries. But I don’t care…memories will last a long time too.

We’re past the half-way point. We talked with the kids last night and all sounded well and happy. A week from now we’ll be home. But let’s not think about that right now.

Enjoy the photos!

One of the many waterfalls we saw along the way

One of the many waterfalls we saw along the way

A view of the top of the world - near the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu

A view of the top of the world – near the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu

Our welcome lunch on the houseboat - a traditional banana leaf meal - eaten with only your hands.

Our welcome lunch on the houseboat – a traditional banana leaf meal – eaten with only your hands.

More on this later - the Communist Party of India is strong - a flag outside a home.

More on this later – the Communist Party of India is strong – a flag outside a home.

A look down a "street in the neighborhood" in the backwaters near Kumarakrom

A look down a “street in the neighborhood” in the backwaters near Kumarakrom

A fast one from the boat


We have been on our houseboat since a little after noon today. We floated on the backwaters for about 5-1/2 hours, then parked just across from the water tower shown here and took a walk on the west side of the river to the center of the nearest bridge and back while our 3-man crew prepped our fresh-caught prawns and crab – Indian style – for dinner.

I clicked over 300 pics today, along with a few videos. Absolutely amazing place in the world right here.

Mountain Goats and Tea


Yesterday we were out sight-seeing for 12 hours. The day began with a visit to a national park including a 2 km walk up a mountainside where the attraction of the day for us, beyond the amazing beauty of the surroundings, were the Neel Thar – the mountain goat. We saw a few, one quite close up in fact.

But funnier to us was that WE were the main attraction for many of the locals. Many people either indirectly took our photo – making sure we were in the side view or background of the shot they were framing; they wanted us to intentionally photo bomb their picture. Or the bravest of visitors asked us to ‘take a pic.’ The first time it happened, I thought they were asking me to work the camera and get a photo of them as a couple.  No.  They were asking if one could be in a photo with us, and then they switched and the other snapped one with us.  I lost count the number of times this happened in the park – and throughout the rest of the day.

From there we visited a Tea Museum.  We were skeptical about this stop – seemed a tourist trap in a way.  But once inside we realized the error of our ways.  What we experienced was India’s version of a brewery tour.  Somehow, Mark caught the eye of a worker eager to get noticed by spending time with the Americans and we got a comprehensive ‘backstage’ tour. It was a most wonderful time.  The smell – oh the smell of the place.  So amazing. And better yet, the taste.  They process tea leaves into tea powder which seems to be the secret to making the masala tea that I may never tire of. We had a small sample there, then went to the gift shop to bring a few varieties home.

Lunch followed the tea museum then a long drive to see many beautiful places.  Lakes created by dams, Echo Point (which is exactly as it sounds, only with tarpulin covered vendors selling everything you can imagine – it reminded us of the Wisconsin Dells), and to a point so high up we were above the clouds.

Following this climb, we headed into town and both had an Ayurvedic Massage. All I’ll say is that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I’ll only need to do that once-in-a-lifetime. Covered in oil, with a substance resembling cinnamon dabbed on the top of my head, we had a nice dinner in a small place and finally came back to our resort a full 12 hours after we originally left.

They say the massage is supposed to improve circulation, help with sickness, moods and joint pain, among other amazing things.  What it brought US was laughter in a shared experience like no other. After two hot showers, and some Kingfisher beer chilled in the hotel freezer due to “ice service being over” (whatever THAT means), we spent a little time checking in on our world back home and headed to bed.  Off to Thekkady next – and more twisty-turny roads that make my stomach twisty-turny. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything right now.

My intended attempt


I wrote a post for the first time last night and our internet connection died before I could save it.  So consider that lesson #1 learned in writing from the road – compose in a text editor before going online to post.

The funny thing is that I only remember the title of my intended attempt – 3 planes, 2 cars, 1 bus and countless rickshaws. From the title I have a good idea of the theme… on the go.

We’ve been on the go since the minute we got here. No jet lag really though even Mark is having trouble sleeping in. Yesterday I was annoyed. Today, I couldn’t be more thankful. We are currently in South India in Munnar at a place called Bracknell Forest. The resort – and yes, I’ll call it that – is deep off the main road into the woods of this extraordinary land. Banana leaves are easily 6-8 feet in length. Spiders are as big as your big toe. And the bird song is a natural symphony. It is serene – nearly silent were it not for the birds. The sun was just rising over the mountain we are on and what we thought was a mountain ridge in the distance was actually cloud tops. And had my body not forced me awake moments before the outside world, I’m afraid I may have missed it all.

While I fear today will bring more carsickness, I am so very excited for our trip to the top of the tallest peak in search of the Neel Thar or mountain goats. But lets talk about that ugly word there – carsick. Ugh.

Our trip so far has had us in all those vehicles since departing early on the 1st. The bus I could handle.  Even the first 2 plane rides were OK.  The trip from Newark to Mumbai was long and uncomfortable – and reminded me of our first train trip from WI to TX together – when afterwards I said I’d never travel other than in a sleeper car.  Well, let me say that business class looked like a necessity rather than a luxury after that 15 hour stay.

The roads here vary from perfectly fine to piles of rubble and potholes.  Lane markers and signals are only mere suggestions.  A two-lane road will easily find you 3-4 abreast in one direction. And horns…OH THE HORNS… They are a necessary evil for sure. Everyone toots their horn to pass (directional signals anyone?), toots their horn when rounding a bend, toots their horn when a pedestrian or bike or motorcycle or autorick get too close.  If you have no horn, you yell or whoop. Crossing the street is taking your life into your own hands. Like a child, Palak never let me cross without taking my hand in hers first. Gautam told me to stick close and don’t look at the drivers – just walk.  Every step is a game of Frogger.

The autorick – a three-wheeled motorcycle with a backseat – the taxi of India – is everywhere. We spent the day Monday shopping for wedding attire entirely by autorick. And for good reason.  Besides parking being nearly non-existent, those autoricks can make a hole where one doesn’t exist and they’re cheap.

Then there was the 737 from the Pune Air Force base to Cochin – which was an experience. TSA could learn a bit about kindness in an environment of high security from the Indian people.  While the basics remained, our security checks were much more invasive but the manner in which they were carried out made them seem entirely fine. The plane was a Boeing 737-ER which looked funny on the same runways as the 3 different military planes we saw land while there.  Mark loved that part! Most noticable difference on board was the constant Indian dance music (think club music, nothing with heritage) that played throughout the duration of the flight.  Our SpiceJet was named ‘Paprika’.

Upon arrival, we had a 4+ hour drive to our resort. Our driver, who was keen to share his license and years of experience with us along the way, had the task of taking us high into the hill station to our home for 2 nights. These roads were the most extraordinary switchbacks and he took great pleasure in taking every turn as though he were in a road rally, tooting his horn all the way. Those who know me well may have begun to cringe, knowing the reason I drive everywhere is because I do not do well as a passenger. By the end of this journey, I did not feel well at all.  I relished every stop to enjoy the view of a waterfall for it meant my feet were on solid ground. I’m trying to decide whether to preemptively take dramamine today – but fear the drowsiness will be worse than the nausea. I’ll be taking my ginger candies and gum along for certain.

Today will be wonderful no matter the roads I’m sure. We’ll have some time on the ground, will take lots of pictures and at 6pm I’m scheduled for a 90-minute massage and steam bath – all for about $30 USD. How could I pass it up? Even Mark scheduled a head, neck and back treatment.

Photos will have to wait as our upload speeds are quite slow out here in the middle of nowhere, so close to the equator and our morning tea has arrived…

The Planned Itinerary


February 27th marked the first day of planning for specifics of the trip.  On this day, Palak – who was already Mark’s regular virtual pen pal – introduced me to her husband-to-be, Gautam over email. According to Google, 159 chats and emails have occurred since then between us determining where to visit and when and how.  While a few days toward the end of the trip remain unplanned and will be as much a surprise to you as they are to me, I thought I’d give you an idea of the intended itinerary.

Keep in mind – India is about 11.5 hours ahead of Madison. So as you read the dates, you can envision the happenings beginning as you head to bed the night before.  I have written similar descriptions for the kids to read each night before they go to sleep, in hopes it is at least a brief replacement for our usual tucking in.

Saturday, December 1 – We leave Madison via Van Galder bus to O’Hare.  We will depart around noon for Newark, NJ. We should leave Newark around 7pm CST – right about the time the Badgers take the field for the start of the Big Ten Championship game.

Sunday, December 2 – After our flight of just over 15 hours, if I have done the time calculation right, it will be about 10am on Sunday in Madison when we are due to arrive in Mumbai (9:40pm ). Our friends Palak & Gautam will meet us there and plan to show us a bit of Mumbai at night before we drive a few hours to Pune.  There will be time to sleep but not much!

Monday, December 3 – Today will be all about shopping.  We will be shopping for some local fashion to wear during our stay, along with some wedding appropriate attire.  I can’t wait to go sari shopping and see Mark try on turbans.

Tuesday, December 4 – We say good-bye to Pune and our friends and hop a plane to head south. We begin a 6 day/5 night ‘honeymoon package’ with a flight into Cochin and a drive to Munnar.  The latitude is similar to that of the northern coast of South America and the altitude is that of Denver, CO or higher depending on where you are. We’ll be staying at Bracknel Forest for 2 nights.

Wednesday, December 5 – We stay in Munnar, and hope to visit tea plantations and catch a glimpse of some mountain goats from the top of Rajamalai. The day is ours to explore the area.

Thursday, December 6 – Leaving Munnar, we head to Thekkady, checking out fields of coffee, tea, pepper and cardamom on the way.  We will stay at Jungle Park Resort which is located next to a nature preserve.  A comment on Trip Advisor recommends against leaving your windows open at night or you may have a monkey jumping on the bed.

Friday, December 7 – We board a houseboat today and travel from Kumarakom to Alleppey.  I have always wanted to take a cruise.  This is not how I envisioned the first one!

Saturday, December 8 – We disembark the boat at our final stop on the tour in Alleppey at the Kondai Lip Backwater Resort. We will be quite close to the Arabian Sea at this point and I believe the weather should be in the high 90s by day and mid 70s by night. I fully intend to indulge in some of the spa offerings here – a specialty of the region.

Sunday, December 9 – After breakfast, we say goodbye to South India and the state of Kerala and head back to Pune.

Monday, December 10 – Wednesday, December 12 – We will spend time with the bride, the groom, their families and guests with everyone staying at the Kapila Resort in Pune.  These days will be full of traditions including mehndi (henna tattoos), a haldi (ceremony featuring the rubbing of tumeric on the couple), and a sangeet (an evening of traditional song and dance) before the wedding vows and reception.  I’ll get to wear the saris I purchased our first day here and will get to see Mark in that turban as we celebrate his 37th birthday and Palak & Gautam’s wedding day on the auspicious date of 12-12-12.

Thursday, December 13 – Friday, December 14 – Still to be determined.  There are a few ideas still floating out there but Gautam has challenged me to try to go with the flow and see what we feel like doing rather than have every moment planned ahead.  I continue to be apprehensive – I am too much of a planner.  But for now, I can say I have no idea what the rest of our days in India will bring.

Saturday, December 15 – We actually have the entire day to enjoy as we don’t depart Mumbai until 11:40pm. Gautam mentioned a wine festival but I’m not so sure wine tasting before a 3 hour drive and 16 hour flight would be a good idea.

Sunday, December 16 – Unlike the trip to India, the trip home appears to happen in the blink of an eye as we arrive in Newark before sunrise on the 16th, chasing the sun all the way back to our family and friends in the land of beer and cheese. If all goes as planned, we hope to be on our doorstep in time to catch the end of the Packer game.

So that’s it! I will update when possible without letting technology dictate our days however it’s a big unknown as to what our connectivity will be like. Have you been to India? Is there something we should see? (Don’t say the Taj Mahal… there simply isn’t enough time so we’re saving it for a future visit!) Have you heard or seen something you want me to be sure to snap a photo of?  I can’t make any promises but I sure will try.

Until I write again from on Indian soil…

No time left to plan


Today was the last full day that I could spend ‘worrying’ about the trip. We were supposed to video chat with our friends but technical difficulties prevailed and we just typed at one another for an hour or so. It was all talk of money and phones and confirming itineraries. I feel like even though there is no time left to plan, it’s OK.

I called all the credit card companies today and alerted them to our travel plans. I double-checked our medicine kit to see if we have forgotten anything. I went grocery shopping and picked up a few things to have around for the grandparents to make for meals while we are gone. Copies were made of passports, visas, insurance documents and more. And when done, I took photos on my iPad as well so we have access electronically should we need it.

I stopped at the mall for a book for Mark (and grabbed a 15-minute massage while I was there). He’s decided to read ‘The Mongoliad’ by Neil Stephenson et al. I am about 150 pages into ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts. When a co-worker heard I was heading to India, she insisted I read it. I am enjoying it quite a bit and am thankful to have a lot of reading time ahead given it is 900+ pages.I am also thankful that I stopped being cheap and decided to get the Kindle version.  I can’t say I’ll be sad to return that monster to the library tomorrow! I also have a number of back issues of ‘People’ and ‘Fast Company’ on my iPad just in case lighter reading is in order.

I finished the planning day by taking inventory of our wedding gifts. They are all here and ready to go however unwrapped in order to not draw attention of Customs personnel. After the wedding I can tell you what we decided to give. It wasn’t easy – but I think they’ll like them.

All that is left is to head to bed early and try to get healthy. I am bothered by an on-again-off-again cough for the second day now which has me a bit more irritated than worried at this point. But coughing is tiring. And planning is more tiring.

Only five days of work stand between me and Mumbai.

A week to go


Had many not asked, I wouldn’t have started this. Instead, it seems there’s a bit of interest out there among friends and family in following along on our journey to India.

I have no idea what our access to internet will be on our 16 day vacation. So with a week to go, I will take a bit of time to share with you our plans and maybe a bit about how this trip came to be. Follow along if you wish!