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Showing posts from May, 2011

Vizag Hill Stations Itinerary

For curious parties, or random people doing Google searches, here is our itinerary for the trip this weekend. (See previous post for more about the trip.)

On Friday morning we flew from Hyderabad to Vishakapatnam, also known as Vizag. A driver met us there and drove us to Tyda Jungle Bells, about two hours away up into the hills.

On Saturday we left Jungle Bells and went to the Borra Caves. Then the driver took us to the Ananthigiri Hill Resort, even though we insisted that our reservation was at the Araku Valley Hill Resort. Between Jungle Bells, Borra Caves, Ananthigiri, and Araku Valley, we were in the car for several hours.

When we arrived at Araku Valley we decided we wanted to leave on Sunday instead of Monday. We went to the Padmapuram Gardens late in the afternoon since it was near the hotel.

The drive from Araku Valley to the airport took about two and a half hours on Sunday morning. We stopped for some very good South Indian coffee. The flight home was a breeze and we are h…

We Knew When to Fold 'Em and When to Walk Away

Our vacation wasn't terrible. But we came home a day early. It wasn't what we expected and it wasn't relaxing. The good parts weren't making the lame and frustrating parts bearable enough and since Mike has Monday off from work we decided to come home while we could still salvage some of the long weekend.

Muffin had a blast. She was having so much fun that it was nearly impossible to get her to sleep at night. We saw monkeys right outside our cabin and at the camp restaurant. There were goats and cows along the road. A camp dog followed us around all day and hung out on our porch. There were bugs and dirt everywhere. It was paradise for our little adventure baby.

The Tyda Jungle Bells camp was a bust so it's just as well we only stayed there one night. The trekking they advertised was walking up the hill along a road and they insisted we needed a guide. The guide never showed up so we wandered around on our own until the humidity and bugs drove us back to our cabin…

No More Teachers, No More (School) Books

I've been taking online courses since January, and as of this week I'm finishing up for a few months. I just handed in my final weekly essay. I'll do my final exam either tonight or tomorrow morning. And then I will no longer spend all of Muffin's nap times doing required reading and I will no longer spend my weekends writing essays. We leave for a long weekend on Friday. I have a list of books to read for fun over the next few months. I want to concentrate on some writing. Maybe I'll finally get the sewing room up and running. Plus, on June 1, I start working again! I used to work in the editorial office of a medical journal, JACC, and they're hiring me for a six-month contract to work from home. I can't wait to be back to my old job, even if it's only for a few months.

The summer is drawing to an end here but since I'm ending my classes for a while, I feel like my summer vacation is just beginning. Spending a rainy season on the couch with a warm …


Every once in a while we hear what we assume to be a cat in heat yowling outside our bedroom window all night long. We don't know what to do about it other than roll over and try to fall back to sleep, annoyed, yet thankful that it's not waking up Muffin. Last night there was yet another cat. Mike and I were both tossing and turning for awhile trying to sleep. At one point it got so frequent and so loud that I thought our cat was yowling back, but she was curled up next to me in bed, also trying to sleep.

Around 4:30 in the morning, at least one tiny little voice joined the chorus of meows.

Great. She had kittens.

We had our share of feral kittens in Bujumbura and any time we tried to help it didn't end well.

Shortly after the sun came up the cats quieted down and we forgot about them. They are still quiet tonight.

I don't want Muffin running up to help every injured or lost animal she sees, because animals are unpredictable and they have diseases. But once she's a…

I Booked a Vacation

It may not seem like much, but this is a big deal for me. Mike's been on several work trips since we arrived last November, but Muffin and I have been in H'bad nonstop since Day One. Summer is almost over so we're running out of time to take a summer vacation. And for some reason it just seems physically and mentally difficult to book a trip within India, so I'm proud of my accomplishment.

We are going to a somewhat remote area that doesn't have online booking for hotels and has very little online information about hotels there in general. Every site that popped up had the exact same wording copy/pasted. Some sites call the region by its colonial name and some call it by its Indian name and it took me about a week to sort that out and realize everything I was looking at actually was in the same place. I contacted some travel agents for help and they all directed me to the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Their website offers friendly online b…

This Week

This week I also posted at Coffee Mommy.

Wearing Shorts

I've decided to ignore the social convention of covering my legs, at least while I'm running during the summer. It's not a religious thing here, aside from a few Muslim women who wear burqas. It's just a very conservative society and women should be covered from their shoulders to their knees -- or preferably ankles -- unless they want to be victims of staring or harassment by men.

Let me be clear, I feel perfectly safe. I would not be wearing shorts if I thought they put me in any danger whatsoever.

Here's the thing, though. People stare at me anyway. Men and women. Children laugh. I'm a hilarious freakshow. I'm white. I'm a woman (who's often not escorted by a man). I'm often running or walking for pleasure rather than transportation. And I often have a funny little baby with me, too. I've accepted the fact that I stand out. If I'm going to be stared at for all of these reasons anyway, I may as well be comfortable in shorts rather tha…

Adventures in Veggie Shopping

Much like going to the farmers' market in San Francisco or Dupont Circle to check out the fresh produce before heading out to the grocery store, here I have to go to a fruit stand and a vegetable stand to find the best produce before I take my chances on the grocery store produce aisle.

Finding the best "Western" produce is a competitive sport. I only just discovered the secret of the produce stand a few weeks ago. I usually send my driver out for groceries or make one stop at the grocery store and settle for what's there. But now that it's a little easier to shop with Muffin in tow, I love our weekly trek to Star Fruit and Tarkari Vegetables. The veggie ladies give Muffin carrots to play with. Star Fruit is a tiny, jam-packed shop and Muffin pokes and grabs at any fruit or customers within range. (And because people love babies so much here, they don't mind a little grabbing hand from the whitest baby they've ever seen.)

The best thing about Tarkari -- …