Monday, August 31, 2009


No this is not an episode of Star Trek......but it was a bold move by six "Gora's", .......and their faithful Captain (Ramesh) on the bridge......who beamed us into the land of Old Delhi. was not all his doing.....he was just the transporter! was all my idea, concocted after a few glasses of wine this past Friday night at the Parent's Night Out function at the American Embassy School!

On the way to the function, Linda mentioned to me that she had met "Shasta" lunch who had told her how great "Karim's" is and how we have to lets back up for just a minute so that I can share something with you.

I have been trying to get Linda to go to "Karim's" no avail......but since she spoke to must be good.....this happens all the time......but not always on the subject of could be......anything really.....nothing is validated until she hears it from someone other than me!....But then again, it's one of the many special things I love about my sweety.....

So....Thanks to Shasta I was able to finally experience the delicacies of the Mughal Empire....which meant I had the pleasure of dragging Linda and two other couples....including Shasta and her husband and of course and Linda's dearest friend, who refers to herself as "Me", and her husband...."Me" is a very private I am respecting her by not using her real name......I think she should write under a "ghost name" Sam Clemens did! was my "bright" idea to get an early start....while it was still we could eat and get out by dusk....which would have been an awesome plan, but this rookie did not take into account that it is Ramadan.....the time of the year when Muslims across the world fast.....Karim's.....didn't open until sundown, when the fast is over and all Muslims get to eat.....

Now...about Karim's....all of the guys and Shasta, without a doubt would go back....the food was great.....better than I imagined it was going to be.....and we aren't the only people that have enjoyed the has been rated as one of the "Best Restaurants in Asia", by Time Magazine.....and we all know how credible they are! this case they were not bent so far "left".

The brief story is that the restaurant: In 1857 the last of the Mughal rulers (kings) was dethroned by the British....Haji KARIMuddin,the Royal Chef, fled the area briefly, but soon returned to Delhi in 1911, the year of the Delhi Durbar. For those of you unfamiliar to the term, Delhi Durbar, it is the celebration of the coronation of the King and Queen of the this case, King George V actually came to Delhi, for which people from all over traveled to Delhi to attend.....

The enterprising, KARIM, picked a strategic location (just across from the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest and largest mosque) to start a restaurant to serve food to the masses of people flocking to Delhi......he began by serving just two items, but in 1913, he expanded his menu and his place of business, and has been serving "Royal Food" to the common man ever since! Quite a history!!

When in Delhi.........I recommend Karim's as a DO NOT MISS....and take your camera...the sights are as amazing as the food, and you will definitely want to capture some memories......because if you are like "ME" may never go back! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sailing in Surat and My Retirement Job!

This past week I had a business trip to Surat for an internal meeting for our company. I stayed at the Gateway Hotel in Surat which is owned by our joint venture partners. It has recently undergone several phases of renovations and is truly beautiful.

The hotel is located on the bank of the Tapi River......and as the sun was rising that morning, I awoke....went to the window of my room and looked out my window to see a lonely sail boat making its way lazily up river.......

I enjoyed watching the sailboat navigate its way upstream.......knowing that at the end of my hectic day I too was going to be returning on a plane to see my family.....something that has been a very rare occurrence since they have returned to India. I think I have seen both Linda and Preston a total of 7 days since July 31st....the night they arrived from their visit to the US.

I returned Thursday night....worked Friday....... Saturday marked the first true "day off" I have had in the past 58 days....but I am not complaining in the least.....but I think when I retire I might take up a new career.

For those of you who know me well......I have a true passion and love for Ice is by far my Achilles Heel......I could eat Ice Cream all day.

So.......I could not resist taking the photograph of this very comfortable Ice Cream Wallah......

Now lets think about this for just a minute......this man makes a living selling Ice Cream......and today was very hot......a good day for sales you might think......and he is sleeping on the job...!

He was located near one of the busiest markets in Delhi.....with buyers who have disposable income......

I wouldn't imagine that he was up all night selling Ice Cream? I could be wrong, but....I don't think sales are so robust after the city slows why is he sleeping???? who would want to disturb him to ask to see if he has a "Almond Fudge Bar" or an "Orange Kulfi"?

Did you notice that some of his items fall under the title "Sinful Delights"??????Hmmmmmm Did you notice that ALL of his items are PURE VEGETARIAN?......darn....I was hoping for some "Smoked Breast of Chicken Flavored Ice Cream"!

And .....he represents the Award Winning....Fabulous Flavors collection which includes a winner from the "Great Indian Ice Cream Contest 2005"......who could resist?

This is my dream job....except I would be selling Ice Cream near a body of water that had fish in it......and I don't think I would be sleeping......maybe fishing......but not sleeping......unless the fish weren't biting!

Except someone who was being courteous and did not want to disturb his nap.......

Do you think he had sold out of all of his Ice Cream and decided to just take a nap????......before he pedaled back to the company he works for to refill his Ice Cream Cart.

But........if he makes a close to Ice is almost like what I imagine heaven to be like.....

Enjoy the photos.......I think I am going to quit writing and go and get me a nice big bowl of Vanilla.......

Faces of India

"It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces, there should be none alike." ~Thomas Browne, Religio Medici

I am sure that this thought has crossed your mind at least once in your "wondrous" it is that there are so many people, yet we all have a face that is unique.

Here are some of my favorite "Faces of India"! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rooftop Romance

I can confidently entitle this post "Rooftop Romance" because my wife knows that I love her....and that she is the only one for me.

And....yes......even though there is another woman....the context that I have chosen to utilize the word "romance" has nothing to do with........well the act of romancing this other woman.

One could easily say that India has "swept me off my feet"....all 200+ pounds (95KG) of me.......physically not an easy thing to accomplish......but mentally.....yeah.....I'm in love!

I love the fact that India......without warning......presents opportunities to find beauty in the simple and mundane......and a single photograph can capture the essence of what makes India so unique.

This new "hobby" of much like the hobby I left back in the the interest of saving time.....and words...give it some thought. Maybe that's why I am enjoying it so much.......

Don't worry.......I have not fallen off the reality wagon....while I do feel like I am a pretty good fisherman,I do not think that my photography is good......I take hundreds of shots (casts) and I rarely capture (catch) an image that moves me in a special way.

Now I am not suggesting that YOU need to necessarily see anything in my photography.......what I may is in the eye of the beholder.

So I present to you.....Rooftop Romance......a selection of my favorite photographs taken of a girl I saw on a rooftop from a I get older, my eyesight is getting I saw movement and color.....I zoomed in and started snapping.

No I'm not a "voyeur" was a moment....very brief.....that was presented to me and I captured some simple innocence....of a girl combing her hair on a rooftop.....oblivious that I was capturing my interpretation of the contrasts that make India a special place for me.

These photo's were taken outside of Jaipur in a village called Chomu. I was on the grounds of Chomu Palace, now a historic hotel, that I visited for a few short hours on a Sunday.

I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Whipped Cream, An (SMS) & Authentic 7 Layer Dip and Being "Dry" on one of the Wettest Days in Delhi!

Yesterday was my first Expat Birthday!

It may not seem like such a special event to those of you who may read this blog, but being an expat you cherish the simple things that happen to you; and living in India makes one grateful for all of those little things that you miss from back home, because everywhere you look there are those in need....

My day began with a cup of coffee before first "Birthday" present of the day was a cup of coffee fixed just the way my loving wife knows I like it......with some chocolate syrup mixed in and a topping of whipped cream. It has been almost 11straight months that I have not been able to enjoy a cup of coffee, topped with whipped cream!....A little thing......but it was very special to me!

Did you know that on average, there are 3.56 BILLION Text Messages (SMS) sent everyday in the United States alone...(a statistic from December 08 that I found on a website)......I received one (1) from my/our son Parker...."Hey dad just wanted to say happy birthday and i love you. have a good day at work"...It reached my Blackberry at 7:33:35am, while I was being driven to work by our temporary driver..(later than usual because of my special cup of coffee). 7:30am IST on August 21st, translates to 9:00pm on August 20th for Parker in Baton my thoughtful son even made sure that he timed the message perfectly with the time differential....too cool! My only hope is that he didn't type the message with one hand on the steering wheel.... his phone in the other while driving! Parker's text message (SMS) will remain special to me for the rest of my life. How could such a simple message, from the billions sent yesterday, have such a HUGE impact on me?......It made me think about how life has changed for me in the past 48 years.... and before my thoughts turn too deep......I'll continue with my day!

An email from my brother that morning was also a highlight of my day! I have to share this line from his email..."Mama told us about the cocktail party that Linda is giving for you. That sounds so classy and like so much fun. We'll be there in spirit" third birthday present was the confession my lovely wife had to make to my brother. Her return email stated that while she "did organize the cocktail party" it was not necessarily in my was the monthly "Cocktails for a Cause" get together of the members of the American Women's Association (AWA)in Delhi. More about the party a little later on, but I had a nice chuckle reading Linda's email explaining the "real truth" about my "classy party".

I received VERY.....VERY.....WARM Birthday Wishes from my colleagues at work.....they were so thoughtful I wound up with not one, but TWO Birthday Cakes.....and everyone sang and made me feel so very special. There were also some Indian yummies to go along with the cake.... Sonya and Ranjeeta had also arranged some long distance Birthday Wishes, on Skype, from the staff at the hotels we are managing in Jaipur and Vizag......the attention I was receiving from everyone made the long day of meetings much more enjoyable!

Just before finishing the day and leaving work for home, a huge rainstorm hit was certainly the worse storm we have witnessed since being in India.....I let Linda know I was on the way home and she quickly called me and let me know that she and Preston... were in the middle of cleaning up from the storm. The water came in such a downpour that the balconies we have on the north side of the house filled with water and it found its way inside from beneath the doors.....and not just a inch of rain water flooded our bedroom, kitchen and living rooms.....soaked the the time I arrived, the work was all done (Preston helped out tremendously and used the squeegee to remove the water. The floor, however, was still scattered with towels used to contain the water and keep it from spreading to other rooms. WET WET WET!!!!!

Then it was time for Linda and I to make our way to the house that "MY" Cocktail Party was taking place.....I was one of only three men at the party, which dwindled to two after the husband of the host retreated to his room to sleep......he woke up that morning in Bangkok.....and was exhausted.....but it was nice seeing the mutual friends that I have made through Linda's social connections.....The other "guy" at the party is my new friend Aaron; he works for the FAA and is attached to the US Embassy......I really had a wonderful time meeting him and talking about our experiences in India thus far. It is always interesting to get another EXPATS perspective on things and see how differently life is here for others....there are so many who simply do not enjoy their experience in India. When I hear such makes me feel so fortunate for my family and I....and it was another simple thing that happened yesterday to make my birthday special.

AWA cocktail parties have yielded some special treats in the past...this one was no different .....allow me to elaborate......Most of the time, these parties feature some of the "creature comforts" of home.....wines from California, cheddar cheese like we get back in the States, 7-Up Cake......more wine from California.....real tortilla chips and Authentic 7 Layer dip to go with them...this may sound like such a trivial thing to most of you, but it was one of the little things I enjoyed on my first expat birthday....I was so busy at work that I did not have, after devouring a good portion, I had to tear myself away from it before I embarrassed my wife... So I started to mingle!

While in a conversation with Aaron (my new friend) and Ellen (a mutual friend of Linda and I) the conversation moved from fishing to photography to blogs.....very quickly! I had just finished explaining how much I had missed fishing and took up photography as a hobby.....just an amateur that gets a lucky photo sometimes......I started describing a recent picture that I had taken while in Jaipur, I felt was quite interesting and captured an certain essence of India. Ellen asked if I was going to share it or was she going to have to wait to see it in my blog......and then it began.......the blog conversation!

I told Ellen that I would be more than happy to share the picture with her.....and she even gave me a compliment about some of my photographs....... her compliment to me, was returned with a compliment to her, about her blog.........Aaron then asked about the content of our blogs and I commented that Ellen's blog was very popular and compared her blog's popularity to the column written by the fictitious author of "Sex in the City"....a former TV show that some of you can relate to......Ellen of course denied it in a very humble way, however, not before mentioning that she was just about to reach over 50,000 visits to her blog site.....that's huge.....I pulled Linda by the arm and broke her away from the conversation she was having,(she is a reader/follower of Ellen's blog of the masses)...."baby, did you hear that, Ellen has almost 50,000 visits to her blog?".....and then I made the mistake.....and mentioned, (pitifully I may add), "I recently just exceeded 1,100 visits to my blog"......and then Ellen let me have it right between the eyes!

"You are just too DRY"......DRY.....and then Linda, my wife of all people.....the one who my family believed is so wonderful for arranging my "classy cocktail party" .....looks at me with that "look"....the look that one typically makes when they want to console you but are agreeing with the other person's comment......I was crushed.....and I decided that it was time to make my way to the bar and fill my glass with some "grape juice" to console myself. "DRY"......I couldn't believe

There is no doubt that Ellen is a very accomplished "blogger"....she writes very well and has a huge a matter of fact her blog was recently awarded one of the Top Ten Expatriate Blogs in the World.....quite impressive. Not that she needs it, but it will be a cold day in hell for me to ever mention the name of her blog......she needs no more followers, and if you happen to be reading mine, I want to keep you....I'm afraid that you may join Linda who finds Ellen much more may be an act of desperation.....but I don't care.

In the end, I couldn't stay mad at her for very long, because I learned that she was the "expat" in the group responsible for making/bringing the 7 Layer Dip I was enjoying see even though she crushed my ego....she was also inadvertently responsible for making my birthday special.

My birthday ended with Linda making me two grilled cheese sandwiches with some of the American Cheese Slices she brought back in her suitcase....I enjoyed them while Preston and I were watching "Seabiscuit" on TV. I woke up at 3:00am to find him fast asleep on the couch...turned out the TV and sent him to bed.......

My mouth was "DRY" before joining Linda I took a mouthful of water from a handy bottle in the bathroom......held it before swallowing........and thought once more before going to bed..... of my very DRY blog.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Amritsar - Bonus Visit to the Golden Temple

Barefooting!!!!!Temple Guard with a SpearAmit and I (his first visit also)Bathing in the "Pool of the Nectar of Immortality"The Temple and some visitors at Sundown

For those of you who have followed my blog for some time, you may recall my entry on a previous visit to Amritsar and how I had the chance to eat some of the best fish I had ever had in my life.

Like that visit, my second visit to Amritsar was on business to visit another hotel site that we have recently signed a management contract with. Both visits were one day excursions, but time allowed on this trip for a visit to the Golden Temple.

The city of Amritsar took its name from the lake that surrounds the Golden Temple......Amritsar translates to "The Pool of the Nectar of Immortality".

For those of you who are not familiar with the Golden Temple, I will provide you with a very brief background.

The Golden Temple is culturally the most significant place of worship of the Sikhs and one of the oldest Sikh gurdwaras.Originally built during 1574 AD, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest.During the leadership of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1581-1606), the full-fledged Temple was built. The cornerstone was laid in 1588 and the temple as it is today was completed in 1604.

Anyone who wants to enter the Darbar Sahib may do so, irrespective of religion, colour, creed or sex. The only restrictions are that the person must not drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke cigarettes or use other non prescription drugs while in the shrine. Visitors are, as well, expected to dress appropriately and everyone must cover their heads as a sign of respect, remove their shoes and socks and enter the temple barefooted. Visitors must wash their feet in the small pool of water as they enter the Darbar Sahib premises. Head scarves are provided.

Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Darbar Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly during special occasions such as birthdays, marriage, birth of children, etc.

Between June 3 and June 6, 1984, the Indian Army under the instruction of Indira Gandhi brought troops into the Darbar Sahib to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He and some followers had taken refuge in the Darbar Sahib, and resisted the police who sought to arrest him for suspected acts of terrorism. Many Sikhs regarded the attack as a desecration of their holiest shrine. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her bodyguards, both Sikhs, the following October.

I felt honored to have the opportunity to visit the Golden Temple and learn the history from the owner of the hotel that we will be managing there. I was able to take some fantastic photographs of the site as well during my visit......5 of which I am able to share. A visit to the Golden Temple is a must for all who visit India from abroad. Enjoy

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Invitation Accepted - Ramesh's Cousin's Wedding

The Groom's ProcessionThe Bride and GroomAt the Table with my Drinking BuddiesRamesh and his Extended FamilyRamesh,his Mother, Aunt and Little Cousin

Linda and the boys left for the US on June 29th......and the next day I had the honor to attend Ramesh's cousin's wedding.

Admittedly, Ramesh stated that he is not close to his cousin, although the two of them live in Delhi.....yet, it was a huge affair in the family.

Huge enough for Ramesh's mother and his Aunt and two of his Uncles to travel 12 hours by bus to reach Delhi and spend 5 days attending all of the festivities.

It was an honor to meet Ramesh's mother.....and although she does not speak any English, I hope that my voice and my body language conveyed to her how much Ramesh means to our family.

Each wedding we attend is a little bit different.....this one was an outside wedding, the evening was very warm, the fireworks very loud..the drums were beating....the band was playing......and this time I actually had the opportunity to walk in the wedding procession while I watched the groom riding comfortably in his carriage towards the place where the wedding would take place.

I guess when loneliness sets in (Linda and the boys had been gone nearly 24 hours) it is best to surround yourself with people. So I accepted the invitation and I am so very glad that I did.

The wedding was lively.....I was encouraged to dance, but I have not yet taken "Bollywood" dancing lessons and I pleaded with Ramesh to protect me from those who were trying to pull me to the floor......Ramesh performed in a stellar fashion....(Driver/Bodyguard)......and it goes without saying that despite my easy adjustment to India, at a
height of 6'3", it is hard to "blend in".

The hospitality is always wonderful, the people were extremely friendly and accommodating......and i must have been asked over 100 times to have something to eat or drink, or to even sit down.

Finally, two of Ramesh's Uncle's demanded that I sit down at their table to have a "drink".....I hadn't realized that the canvas bad that resembled a small piece of luggage was where they had been inconspicuously hiding the "hooch".

So this is how it came that I had my first "drink" at an Indian Wedding.......I am not sure what it was.....but it was mixed with a cola style beverage......and of course it was I took my time sipping, and when finished, being the "good sport" that I am, I agreed to have another.

I guess that helped me to be a bit more relaxed, so when I was invited to take pictures on the stage with the Bride and Groom and wish them well, I didn't hesitate......and all was fine until I stepped off the back edge of the stage.......this had nothing to do with the adult beverage I was served from a canvas bag I assure you. It had to be either the blinding lights from the flash of the camera, or faulty construction of the stage.

I made it off the stage "gracefully", waving to everyone with the assurance that "I really did belong here" and wondering what they might be muttering to each other in Hindi about me.

After two bowls of Ice Cream.....and some photographs of Ramesh and his extended family, the 11:00pm hour had struck and it was time for me to say my goodbye's.

Ramesh has a wonderful family, and I know that he was happy to see happy and honored as I was to have had the opportunity to meet them.

The Kitchen Puja

The Chef Preparing the OfferingPlacing Garland on the God'sLighting the First Flame in the KitchenJitender and Ashish taking part in the CeremonyGifts and Offerings
Life is a learning experience......and while I was not surprised, the opening of the Kitchen at the hotel required a Puja.

This time the Puja was not performed by a pandit or priest, but by our Chef.

The Kitchen Puja is an all important event and can only take place before anything is ever cooked in the kitchen......really before the first flame is lit in the kitchen.

Like other Puja's, offerings of food were made to the God's as well as offerings of money. Incense was lit and the first flame in the kitchen was started on the offering plate.

I received another red string tied around my wrist.....and I still have the strings on my wrist that were with me since before 26/11, the Mumbai attack. I will not remove them....they will have to naturally remove themselves.

All of the kitchen equipment received a similar string tied to it and as you walk through the kitchen still today, there are remembrances of the Puja.

The blessing of the Kitchen has certainly done many ways.

One of the bonuses of opening a new hotel is getting the opportunity to participate in all of the "Food Trials"......and the Chef and his entire team in Jaipur are EXCELLENT!!!!!

The food has been superb......breakfast, lunch and dinner.....always something new to try...and I can honestly say that I have not had one bad meal at the restaurant.

Here are some pictures of the Puja.....and there are many more of these to come!

Bon Apetit!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to Jaipur - The place where everything is happening! No pain, no gain!

Dear All,

Opening a hotel is one of the most challenging and demanding assignments that one can participate in.......throughout my career I have stressed to countless associates I have had the pleasure of working with, that "It's all in the details".

Nothing could be more true in an Opening Situation.

As challenging and demanding it is on the support staff, it is equally as tough for the staff who have left the comfort and security of their job, and have joined you for an adventure of their own.It is also one of the most rewarding accomplishments for them as well......being on the "Opening Team" of a new organization is a special time......people are close, enthusiasm is high, and planning, brainstorming, coaching and learning is taking place in every corner of the hotel.

The foundation of any well run organization is the training that takes place......this is where all of the "magic" begins. This is where the tiny seeds of knowledge are planted.....and day after day you begin to see the heart and soul....the CULTURE of the hotel come to life......

People from various backgrounds and different levels of experience all join together for one common carry out the mission, vision and the brand promise to the customer.

Meet the members of the graduating class of our first hotel.....their trainer Sigit, who was the deliverer of the message......see the enthusiasm on each of their faces......what you will not see is the countless hours they have spent multi-tasking, and working very long hours.....days on end.....some without a day off. They have the passion for what they do and they are eager to serve.

For those of you following this blog, rest assured that you have a wonderful place to stay in Jaipur.....and that there is a group of people that have one common goal in provide you with an Honest,Uncomplicated and Comfortable stay at their hotel.

We welcome all of you to Jaipur.......come for a visit and be inspired by what the city has to offer, and we will take care of the rest.


What has been going on?

Meet Panne SinghJitender Sohal(GM) and Panne
To all of you who have faithfully been following our India Adventure, I apologize for not making regular entries.

There has been very good reason for my lack of keeping everyone up to date, as I had faithfully attempted to do, however, in the world of the Blogosphere, there is simply no have to make regular entries or people simply lose interest. I hope that I haven't lost many of you.

It all started to go downhill for me in mid June......Parker's was still here on his visit and during a family/work trip to Jaipur, I took ill.

As it turned out, the result of a mosquito bite from a trip to Vizag resulted in our family's first case of Dengue Fever.

For obvious reasons, I was not feeling well, I didn't write, and if I would have, I could not have kept you in touch with the real truth, as I did not want to worry anyone back home....especially my mother, whom I hadn't yet told that I was not going to be able to make the trip back to the US to see her, due to the opening of our first hotel.

Oh yes, the opening of our hotel in Jaipur is going as well as can be expected......which has had me totally consumed for the entire month of July. That is quite simply the other reason I have not been making regular entries to the blog.

One might think that my priorities are all screwed before family, work before blogging,!

But honestly, I am having one of the most rewarding experiences in my entire career.....the work may be consuming my life, but I am enjoying every single minute of the experience.

So.....Dengue Fever, I encourage all of you to read about it.....there is no vaccine, no medicine, no get it, you live with took about an entire month before all of the symptoms were gone......the fever only lasted about a week.....but it was bad......Preston took a picture of the bed after I woke up once, and I may post it one is kind of gross, I had lost so much fluid by simply sweating it out that there was a clear outline of my body in the bed.

Then the OPENING.....we are still in the process of working through the construction challenges that are present everyday.....I spend most of my week in has been that way for over a month.

I am back in Delhi, tonight, writing this blog entry and will be returning on I thought I would take the time to create a quick entry.

Please bear with me through this hectic time and period of inconsistent posts. I am here....I am alive.....and I will be back in full force sooner than you know it.

Oh, if you have a guess as to the name of the hotel, based upon the pictures, please post your guess!

In the pictures.......Panne Singh- he is the Doorman with the wonderful another picture with Panne, Jitender Sohal, General Manager of the Hotel......a picture of the sign installers.....and a picture of the Logo on the sign the night of the installation.

All the best,