Thursday, January 29, 2009

2nd Round!

Schedule came out officially today and we are headed to GREECE in March!!

We couldn't be more thrilled to be going back! It was almost three years ago that we went on our honeymoon to the islands. We'll actually only miss our anniversary by a couple of weeks.

We loved Greece so much and are looking forward to getting to see so much more of it in the 8 weeks that we are there.

We hope some of you take advantage of us being there and COME VISIT!!!

Hospitality & Politics

I really couldn’t be happier with our hotel. Last night they threw a private reception for the team and spouses to introduce us to the heads of all the staff. They served drinks as well as delicious little bites from the chef.

It was really nice being able to converse with locals and we all had a great time picking their brains for weekend ideas, shopping tips and Indian culture in general.

They were all so incredibly nice and when one told us of how incredibly important it is for Indians to have their guests feel welcome and comfortable I thought how similar it is to my Southern culture.

Then this same woman began to ask us about President Obama (God that feels awesome to type!!) and went on to tell us how happy India is to have him in office and how much they respect him. All of the women in our little group were chatting about the Obama cute the girls are, how loving Barrack and Michelle seems as parents. But, more so how they believe our new President will be such a great leader not only for the U.S. and for India but, for the world.

When it comes to politics I am quite the minority in not only my state of Georgia but the South as a region.

How nice it is to be so far away from home, to be in a land so different than my own and find myself no longer in the minority.


I left the hotel for the first time yesterday when I joined the team for lunch. I know it sounds awful that I have been in India for 3 full days and not stepped foot off the “compound” but I’m still a little nervous going out by myself into Delhi and Gurgoan doesn’t have too much in the way sightseeing or authentic shopping. It is mostly Western stores and their versions of malls so I’m not too interested.

We leave for Agra tomorrow early afternoon to see the Taj Mahal and then will spend Sunday shopping and sightseeing in Delhi. After I know what to expect I’m sure I’ll feel more confident to explore. I’m also hoping to pair up with the other spouse. Although, she speaks no English and I truly don’t know a word of Portuguese. Should be interesting if nothing else.

Back to lunch…

As I waited by the front entrance for the team to pick me up I could hear the traffic commotion coming from outside the walls. I’m a pretty nervous rider and have heard all the horror stories of Indian traffic…hoards of motorbikes, rickshaws, cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians and cows all converging together in intersections with seemingly no sense of traffic rules.

I was hoping this would be yet another aspect of India that was overblown but I can tell you with great certainty that if anything the stories I have read and heard were a bit sugarcoated. Total insanity is probably the best way to describe it. Luckily, I was in the back and just so happy to be seeing an India outside of my bubble of luxury that it didn’t scare me too much. Jules is going to take the video camera to work with her and film the 5 minute drive to give you guys an idea.

For lunch we were going to patronize a T.G.I. Fridays. Yep, that’s right….me, the girl who would usually rather starve than eat at a suburban chain restaurant traveled more than half way around the world to be served by a waiter wearing more “flair” than should be allowed by law.

Anyway, the menu was pretty norm for a Fridays (haven’t they changed their name to that now in the US?) but we decided salads probably weren’t a good idea.

In countries like India it is best to avoid salads because the veggies are washed in water and water is your digestive system’s worst enemy.

It was a few moments after we ordered that a team member pointed out the placemat...

From blog photos

Looks like we could have ordered the salads. I’m guessing those people are smiling and laughing because they don’t have a case of “Delhi Belly”.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

east and west collide

a sewing project kept me in the room for most of the day yesterday (btw- he is done and i think turned out pretty well) so i got exposed to a lot of indian commercials while watching CNN's indian sister station IBN.

maybe it is the jetlag, maybe it is the head cold i'm getting but i found the 6 or so commercials they play over and over both amusing and extremely interesting.

garnier is apparently a big brand for women's beauty products over here. not only can you get a moisturizer that will lighten your skin up to 2 shades fairer but you can also use their "fall fight" shampoo to keep your hair from falling out. not sure why "hair fall" is such an issue here but they promise 5 times less hair in your brush.

in another, an oily face teen attempted to put her nose clip on only to have it slide off onto the floor. no problem! just wash your face with clearasil and then you and your buddy can rock out at a concert with nose jewelry securely in place.

the most confounding to me was the "hidden secret" cookie commercial. here a woman and man dressed like the cover of a grocery store romance novel have a cookie baking lesson that would make a porn star blush. i mean, i'm american, i know sex sells...but in a society where women don't show their legs or cleavage it seemed beyond over the top.

after seeing these over and over (and over and over) i couldn't help but wonder how difficult it is for women here. to straddle the fence of modesty and influence of the west seems an impossible task to me.

first impressions

I bid a bittersweet farewell to the midtown skyline as our plane taxied into the take-off line yesterday. Saying goodbye to our nearest and dearest was much harder than I had imagined. Fortunately, the heaviness I felt in my heart got easier and easier to ignore as the anticipation for what lay ahead grew stronger.

19 ½ hours proved to be as tiring as expected. The flight to Paris left much to be desired. I am always amazed at how dismal accommodations are with Delta. Domestic flights are usually short enough to overlook them but 8 hours in coach to Paris was pretty trying. The layover in Paris was nondescript saving the overly friendly woman with security who seemed to enjoy her pat-down duties just a bit too much for my liking.

The flight from Paris to New Delhi was far more pleasant. I find European Airlines to be so much more comfortable, have more amenities and by far more accommodating and pleasant staff. Air France was no exception and with a slight upgrade to the 2nd level of the 747 we found ourselves each with an entire row to ourselves to stretch out and get some much needed sleep.

As the plane started its dissent into Delhi I was overwhelmed with curiosity. Luckily, my expectations of the Delhi airport were well off-base. Although it is far from modern, I found it to be quite easy to navigate and fairly clean. Our line through customs was a bit long but ordinary and baggage claim was a breeze. Dare I think my lost baggage curse is over?

So far all the warnings of initial shocks; smells, crowds, waiting…India had yet to even make my heart skip a beat…the most discomfort we encountered was the heat and the humidity in the airport but even it was no worse than some in Mexico.

Our drivers were waiting just outside baggage claim and it was as we stepped into the night that I had my first case of “India shock”. I had read much about the pollution in Delhi but I could never have prepared myself physically for the shear thickness of the air. The smoke and dust were so overwhelming (even in the car with the air conditioning running) that I found it difficult to imagine that this air wouldn’t kill me, much less keep me alive for the next 7 weeks.

After a quick 15 minute ride from the airport (only once was I nervous and that was when all lane lines disappeared and it seemed a free-for-all was going to ensue) we arrived at The Trident.

In one word….breathtaking.

As we got out of the car we were greeted by numerous people and given business card after business card but in truth I found it difficult to pay attention. With each turn of the head my eyes were filled with grandeur…from the enormous reflective pool at the entrance (above photo) to the 30 foot glass doors that opened into the stark white lobby capped high above with an impressive gold dome…it was a welcome to this country I couldn’t have imagined.

Our room, is of course beautiful and each staff member we’ve encountered could not be more accommodating and pleasant. As I lie here in the sunny spring-like weather next to the enchanting pool listening to the sound of the flowing water of the infinity feature encircling above (even the air seems a bit lighter) I cannot imagine being more comfortable and relaxed... the two emotions I felt sure I would be running low on in this country.

They say India is a country full of the unexpected…with just 12 hours under my belt I have found this to be true in a most delightful way.

Some photos from the hotel...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


just 3 days to go before departure...the excitement is great, the anticipation is extreme and the anxiety...well, i'm keeping the anxiety in check.

the next 3 days are going to be busy and i know before i realize it we're going to be on the plane looking at each other wondering how we got there.

we're so glad we have gotten to see almost everyone to say goodbye and we've had a great time making our rounds. we don't want to miss any one person too much so be sure to keep in touch.

our mailing address has obviously changed. coke will forward our mail weekly so if you want to send us anything (they will send letters, books or cds) email me and i'll give you the po box address.

we will no longer have our cell phones (that means no more texting as well) so if you want to talk to us you'll need to use skype. if don't have skype already you should download it. it is free, easy to use and the best part is you can see when we're online so there is no fear of waking us up at 3am because you messed up the time difference. our skype address as of now is melissa&julie.

our email addresses will remain and we're both on facebook. although the Wife rarely checks it anymore.

i will continue to post photo slideshows on the blog. be sure to click on them to go to the actual slideshow and i'll do my best to be more detailed with the comments so you'll know what you're looking at.

if you have gmail there is also gmail chat. they even have video chat now if you have a webcam.

also, i have opened up the comments on the blog so feel free to let us know what you're thinking.

we're going to miss everyone while we are gone, but in this day and age there is no reason for us to feel too matter how far away we may be.

worth watching again...and again

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


what an incredible day is was in america. i have never before felt such pride in my country nor held so much hope for our future as a nation.

i pray for our new president and his family as they embark on this new journey. there is a long road ahead for us all but, for the first time in 8 years i truly believe there are brighter days ahead.

Friday, January 16, 2009

hotel life-week 1

with only being at the four seasons a week, i'm not quite sure it has sunk in that this is going to be my way of life for 2 years. at this point it still kind of seems like vacation.

i will say that filling out an inventory sheet to get the laundry done today was weird. sitting there counting and recounting socks and underwear is not something i expected to do but i guess i just didn't think about it. nor did i expect it to cost so much! need to wash a pair of undies? that will be $3 per pair!! i'm not one for math but a week's worth of clean drawers for both of us is going to cost $42, which is insane to me.

don't get me wrong, i'm not complaining, just observing. we're not paying for it or any of the other amenities that come along with hotel life. it is incredibly nice to come back to a spotless room each afternoon and find freddie the "be green" frog greeting you each evening on your turned down bed.

so far the life agrees with me which is why i'm extremely fearful that we are on our way to becoming very, very spoiled.


yesterday i went to the red cross to donate platelets. i will be rejected as a blood donor for a year when we return. depending on how long we're gone and what countries we visit i could possibly be rejected indefinitely.

i used to donate platelets each year on my birthday. but, as life got more hectic my donating definitely waned. i have to say i felt pretty guilty yesterday when i was quickly reminded how incredibly easy it is to give such an incredibly important thing back to my fellow man.

sadly only 5% of americans donate but every 3 seconds someone is in need of blood. a single donation of platelets can provide as many platelets as 5 whole blood donations. bone marrow transplant, cancer and leukemia patients whose immune systems are already compromised, benefit particularly from single donor platelet transfusions.

so many of our friends have offered up their help while we are away. i hope we don't have to call too many of these in, but, i think it would be really cool if some of you guys would donate while i'm away to make up for my lost donations.

it takes a couple of hours to donate platelets (you could donate whole blood in less than 20 minutes) but it isn't painful and you get to watch a movie. they actually have a decent little library. best of all you get all the grape juice and nutter butters you want afterward. i also think they were giving away tickets to the aquarium as well.

so be a friend not only to me but to some people whose lives truly depend on it.

learn more about it and go donate!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

expiration date

I went for my annual “lady checkup” today. These yearly appointments are never the most pleasant experience but hey, if you have a uterus you have to do it. Or at least you should.

I really like/respect/trust my doctor so it is hard for me to ignore what she was lecturing me on today…I got “the baby speech”.

In the 6 or so years I’ve been seeing her she has never before uttered the word “baby”. The closest we ever came was on my first visit when she asked me about birth control. Obviously, we didn’t get too far down that road.

But today the entire visit was asking me about whether the wife and I were thinking about children and how although she thought I still had years to decide, I did need to keep in mind my ever aging plumbing.

She is definitely not from the school of “you better do it before you’re 35 or your baby will have 3 heads” , she had her last child at 41, so the fact that she felt it was time to begin this dialogue with me really weirded me out. Even after knowing we were leaving for 2 years and that we aren’t in the market for any kids anytime soon, I could totally sense her sense of obligation to let me know that this needed to be on a burner, if only on one of the back ones.

If you know me, you know I am already hyper aware of my age. Turning 30 last year felt like a death sentence and maybe I brought it upon myself with all the negative thinking but I think we can all agree my health didn’t exactly help me feel like a spring chicken.

So here comes my doctor talking about my baby timeline and my eggs drying up. It also didn’t help that today is also exactly one month before I turn 31.

Maybe I’m even more sensitive to this because I’m about to leave the country for 2 years so I feel my deadline is going to be accelerated when we come back and can even start talking about a family. Not to mention about 98% of our friends are planning to start their families before we even return. Oh, the pressure!!

I’m not even sure where I’m going with all this…maybe because I’m not sure I even ever want to physically be preggers or if we truly want kids in our future.

I guess the one thing I do know is that I’m grateful for the next two years of not thinking about it and just really enjoying the time the Wife and I have together, just the two of us…

at least for now….

Sunday, January 11, 2009

moving out, not necessarily up

we move into the 4 seasons today. i can almost hear the moans and groans, yeah, i know...what a tough life!

we want to thank all of our friends who put us up and put up with us over the past month.

hp, rach & heids, and our atlanta home base, pablo. seriously, thank you for letting us invade your space, dirty up your towels, blanket your guestrooms with clothes and suitcases, or in hp's case take over your actual bedroom, pollute your air with gert's constant burglar alarms but most importantly for your love and hospitality. we're so grateful to have not just as friends but as family.

also, a big thanks to all those friends who offered up their homes/beds/couches/futons/air mattresses to us should we have needed them. it truly humbled us to realize how many wonderful and generous people we have in our life here in atlanta.

Friday, January 9, 2009


be sure to check out our culinary adventure blog to see what we're eating while traveling the world...the Wife has made her blogging debut with some pics from our "hopping" good dinner with K&M at zaya. link is on the sidebar...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

toe gate

went back to the doctor yesterday to get my ct results. the ortho said that although i did have some impacting of the bone, at this point he didn't think we needed to do surgery! such good news considering we are leaving in less than 3 weeks. he can't guarantee i won't have issues in the future but if it can just hold out for a couple of years i'll be happy.

so i'm using the bone stimulator and hopefully will be out of the boot (oh yeah, it's back) just in time for our flight to india.

we're starting to get really excited about the trip again now that we know we are definitely going (keep your fingers crossed that india/pakistan relations hold up) and that my toe should be healed. even though my ortho told me yesterday it would be stiff and achy for up to a year...seriously?

has anyone else experienced pain from a broken toe for a year??? seems a bit extreme to me, but, if last year taught me anything it is that seemingly minor injuries can really impact your life.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


i have come to what i knew would be the hardest part of leaving...saying goodbye to gert. we've been dragging her around from house to house for a few weeks now and i've had to face the fact that she needs some stability.

so, tomorrow morning when we leave for atlanta my baby is staying behind. my heart is breaking in two and i have burst into tears probably three dozen times this weekend...but, i know it's what is better for her.

i've had her since she was 12 weeks old and leaving her behind feels like more than i can handle...i just need to remember that she is going to be very loved, well taken care of and is going to be so happy to be back with maggie.

i used to think this little monkey was so lucky i came to the pound that day but i know i'm really the lucky one to have her in my life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

a few spriggles short

for anyone who's ever kept or had gert as a guest in your home you know she has a real issue with her travel bag. even though this bag never contains more than a bag of food, maybe a couple of treats and a toy or two she will protect it as if it contains gold bars.

her cousin jack didn't really seem to care about her warning and instead decided to put one of his teeth through her little head :(

it is just a small puncture wound but she did have to have her head if she needed help looking weird...

it looks like a little yarmulke, too bad she missed out on Hanukkah

new year

well, another year has passed and i have to say i'm glad to see 2008 in my rear view mirror. my 30th year was a difficult one with the delay in our departure, the issues with my foot and the stress of getting everything ready to leave for 2 years.

we began our new year with some wonderful friends, a delicious meal and a lot of champagne. a great start to what i know is going to be an amazing year.

of course i'm still dealing with some foot issues. i not only broke my big toe but the break goes all the way down to the joint. meaning my bone could have shifted and may need to get a pin put init so i don't develop arthritis. although "arthritis of the big toe" doesn't sound that serious, it is apparently really painful and can make walking very difficult.

after 9+ months of limping around in pain i know how important it is that i am proactive in the health of my, if my ct results show a bone shift on monday i guess i'll have to have the surgery. my orthopedic surgeon said he'd have me ready to leave by the 24th. he's one of the best in the nation so i'm worried, but not in in a total panic.

either way i refuse to let this minor setback get me down. this is going to be a year full of unimaginable possibilities and i can't wait to explore every single one of them.