Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jai Telangana???

I like it when people are looking out for me.  I've been truly blessed here in this "Vale of Sorrow" to have so many wonderful friends, dear fraternity brothers and terrific in-laws.  I know that they really care, and that is comforting.  I'm not sure how I feel about them WORRYING about me!!  Anybody who follows world events knows that the political situation in Hyderabad is - - well, a bit "unsettled" right now.  What people need to understand is...politics here in the U.S. is a game of tiddlywinks compared to how things are settled in India.  "As it was in the now, and ever shall be."  The situation is simply that one group of people have been asking for a seperate state: "Telangana" - - which would be carved out of the very center of the current state of Andhra Pradesh, of which Hyderabad is in the dead center. 

Those who support a seperate Telangana state say that "the demand for a separate state of Telangana isn't new. Telanganites have very clearly expressed their opposition a decade before Andhra Pradesh was formed. They reasoned that in a united Andhra Pradesh they will not get justice. Even after five decades, this demand is continuing." 

Seperating out a Telangana state would be like Southern California and Northern California drawing a line at about Fresno and being divided into two states.  And, honestly, some of the issues here are identical with those we will find in Telangana and Andrha Pradesh. Sure, it's political...but, according to proponents, 45% of the AP state income comes from the Telangana region. However, they say, when it comes to utilization of funds, the share of Telangana is only 28%.  It is also about water rights and useage and proper use of the water from the region's two main rivers.  Much like NoCal and SoCal!  

Of course, where we Americans might paint some picket-signs, stage noisy protests, go to tea-parties and town-hall meetings to make ourselves heard...some in the Telangana movement have committed suicide by immolation...and one prominent politician went on a hunger strike.  In India, politics could be described as a "full-contact sport". 

The most recent unrest has been in the Old City...and it is true that there have been curfews in force in about ten different neighborhoods...including Hyderabad's largest outdoor market of Begum Bazar.  Things have calmed a bit.  My best friend in the world, Andy Murray, told me to buy a Kevlar vest.

Am I scared?  Is Amy?  Not really.  We really feel called to do this move.  We would not have gotten this far if we weren't.  Heck, there are areas not far from where we live now that I wouldn't go into after dark.  Hyderabad is a huge city of 4-million people...the majority of which are peaceful, law-abiding citizens.  

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and order will be restored. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Opposites attract....

They say that "opposites attract".  IMHO, that's actually one of the surest keys to a successful marriage.  Husband and wife should have different temperments, talents and convictions...and sometimes completely opposite personalities and interests...and that keeps thing fresh.

It's certainly been that way in my marriage to Amy Suzzanne.  We will be, God-willing, celebrating both our 12th and 13th wedding anniveraries on the other side of the globe.  I think we are approaching the cultural side of this adventure in completely different manners as well.  I think I'll be the one to pour myself into the local culture...I'll be the one to eat in wonderful new places for the first time (and probably the first one to get Delhi-Belly, but we pray that does not happen!), the virst one to "go native" and buy a "kurta" to wear around town.  I can't wait for the first few Sundays...I want to go to a Syro-Malabar Rite Mass and see what all the churches in town are like (I don't think there is a TAC parish in Hyderabad.  Amy...she'll do what she always does to relax...she'll be a regular every weekend at the Hyderabad Riding and Polo Club.  And, as always, I'll be her biggest fan!) 

I have to say that, now that we are actually preparing for the move and are down to just one car, one of the major differences between Amy Suzzanne and I is the way we approach "time".  I'm the kind of person that would rather be an hour early than one-minute late!! 

We were 30 minutes early for our vaccinations appointment last week.  She gave me a look when we discovered that the clinic was closed for lunch that could've melted steel.  Thank goodness there was a Wells Fargo branch around the corner so she could get one of her errands done!!

I got her to the airport on Friday afternoon an hour before her flight was due to take off.  That IS what the airlines recommend, isn't it?  An hour before the flight?  Amy is usually the type who runs to the jetway and is the very last person to board the plane - and still looks unfrazzled.  You know the type.  I generally stare daggers at people who do this.  If she misses the flight (and she rarely does, actually!) - - well, there's always another one coming.  She'll probably wait until the last minute to book that one as well.

I was on my way home from dropping her off so early at the Burbank Airport ... when Amy text-ed me: "You're killing me here!  I haven't been on time for two things in the same week in...forever!!"  Later, she said that she had never gotten on a Southwest flight and actually had a choice of seats...and she was all confused about where to sit.

I think the best thing to do is to let Amy be Amy...she functions a lot better on her timing than mine!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Typhoid Fever pills.....

I was supposed to take the first of my Typhoid Fever pills this morning. They have to be refrigerated, because they are supposedly the "live virus" kind. Isn't that kind of scary, honestly? Injesting a horse-sized capsule with a *live* Typhus virus living inside of it??

I must have had a mental block... It has to be taken on an empty stomach, and I remembered only after I had consumed half of my latte at Starbucks. Funny...I was sitting there, in my usual spot by the door...sipping my coffee, reading the paper...and I started to get a big lump in my throat and began to tear up. Not exactly "sadness", mind you...kind of a blend of happiness and being scared all at once. I sure am going to miss a lot of the "creature comforts" of home... I'm sure I'll find some new places to have coffee... but - it's a little sad just the same.

The Typhoid pills came with little stickers for the bathroom mirror...and a bright-orange rubber bracelet (like the yellow Lance Armstrong ones...) to remind you to take your pills. It's take one...skip a day, take another, skip a day...for four pills in the cycle... I guess I'll go get the stickers and wear the stupid bracelet...

My fraternity brother, Kelly Quiggle told me that when he went to China, he had to get all of the vaccinations...

What did he say on Facebook??

"The Typhoid vaccine literally made me the most sick I have ever been in my life. It felt like someone ripped out my internal organs, steam rolled them, and then threw them through a wood chipper.

Have fun!"

Nice, Kelly... I can't wait to start!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thank You, Deloitte!!!

I'm feeling particularly grateful this evening.

We've really just begun the process, and I'm beginning to see that the amount of planning and work that goes into an 8700-mile journey to the other side of the world can become a bit of a logistical Sudoku puzzle. Everything has to line up and add up just right for it to work! There are law firms handling passports and visas, Deloitte people (on both sides of the globe!) working on making our journey as smooth as possible. Any assistance we need...all we have to do is ask!!

But the most amazing thing? I guess it may not be truly "amazing" to those who work for Deloitte...a firm that is always listed among the Fortune Magazine "100 Best Companies to Work For". But from my outsider-looking-in point of view, the generosity of the company is simply phenomenal!!

Amy and I got all of our travel vaccinations for India today (see yesterday's blog) - and, honestly, it was not at all a horrible experience...Kudos to "The Healthy Traveler" clinic in Pasadena!! But, for the both of us, the final bill came to just under $2,000.00!!

TWO GRAND!!! Now I know why I've never travelled very much!! Well - - to be honest, they don't make you get shots to go to Scotland, Ireland or England!! But still... that's still a lot of money!! At least to me it is!! Heck, there were times in my life where $2,000.00 was a fortune. I bought my first car for $1,200.00!! seems that we are getting reimbursed for so much stuff. Everything we could think of is being covered by the firm. They are making this process so easy. I can't say enough about Deloitte.

But I can say, "thanks"!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shots...and lollipops (?)

Tomorrow Amy and I have our appointments to go in and get our pre-India series of vaccinations! I just know that I will end up feeling like a human pin-cushion!! She got hers in 2009, so she just needs two boosters. Me? I get to have shots for Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Malaria, Rabies, Tetanus (I already got this one!!) and Typhoid...Ugh! I got the H1N1 vaccine last week from my regular doctor, and it really wasn't that bad (although the tetanus one swelled a bit and hurt for two days!)

When I was a kid I hated shots in the worst way! My pediatrician's nurse had to round me up one time...I was probably 4 years old...and I was running through the waiting-room at his office in my underwear, screaming "HELP!!" and that they were trying to kill me...all because I had heard the word, "injection"!!

Even now, fifty years later, I can remember telling Aims...."I am willing to uproot my life, leave my hometown, sell our house and move 8,700-miles to the other side of the globe for you, Sweetie...but - DO I HAVE TO GET ALL THOSE SHOTS??"

Maybe I'll get a lollipop this time!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Craigslist car adventures....

The truth be told? Nobody will EVER accuse me of being kind to my cars.

Even though my dad was a motorcycle and sports-car nut, as a kid and later as a teen-ager, I never got the "car bug". My other friends were always tinkering and tuning-up and fixing-up their cars...for me - a car was something necessary to get around Southern California in - - I never worried about door-dings or spilled french fries.

For me, a car is a just a tool...and, frankly, MY tools have only received the most basic of "care" know..."gas and oil" Oh. And of course the occasional peek under the hood to make sure that nothing had caught on fire. I've only bought one car NEW...I geneally am willing to inherit somebody else's problems for a discounted purchase-price.

I was "between cars" (after I drove Amy's mom's car, literally into the ground!!) a couple of years ago, when our Diocesan Bishop sold me his 1991 BMW 318is sports coupe. It was actually a cute little car, black, with a few mechanical problems (it always leaked oil!) - and from day-one, I began my period of wearing this poor car down to its last thread!

One thing at a time began to break...first was the front spoiler that I smashed off parking too close to a cement lot divider. The thing finally dropped off on the freeway one day and got smashed to 1,000 pieces by an 18-wheeler. Then, a short time later, the passenger door broke a hinge, but since I was in the car all by my lonesome 99% of the time, I just kept the door closed and locked. The parking brake handle wasn't right from the button, you had to put your right pinky-finger up inside the hole and pull up with your left hand to get it to release. I drove it off the curb at the bank one day, and the car developed a noticeable pull to the right and - at speed, a bit of a "shimmy". When the air-conditioning is on, the car won't idle correctly and the motor labors. When it's really HOT and you need the A/C - - it stops blowing cold air and the engine begins to overheat. The muffler makes quite a racket (so I found out - I never noticed, to be honrst!), and the glove compartment door latch had broken off - I carried a screwdriver with me to get it open. The trunk leaks like a sieve in the rain, and, earlier today, I had to take a plastic tumbler outside to bail-out the well where the jack and lug wrench are stored. I had a local mechanic named "Vinny" (no lie!) replace the brake pads last year...but the "brake lining" light remained on all of the time. Vinny said it was a "bad sensor" and he didn't know how to make the light go out.

Amy and I had struck a deal...she said "do all you can to make the BMW last until we leave for India." The more I drove it, the more I knew that I was probably NOT going to make it!! I must admit that there were some long drives out to Inland Empire golf courses that were a wee bit dodgy, at best!!

Yesterday, we filally decided to sell the car - and be done with it... and we agreed to get whatever we could for it...and put the money toward me renting a car when I need it. I need to rent a car to go to Hollister to celebrate Mass on Easter - I got right on it.

From early morning on, I called a bunch of the "WE WILL BUY YOUR CAR, RUNNING OR NOT!! DAMAGE? O.K.! BEST PRICES PAID!!" 800-numbers I got on-line. The best offer I got was $200.00, they pay for towing. I guess there's not that great of a market for 20-year-old junkers. What a waste of time those guys were!! I said to myself..."$200.00 won't rent a car for very long...I think I'll see what I can get for it on "Craigslist".

So - - I took her to the car wash (amazingly, she cleans-up pretty well!), got her home, and parked her right in the Southern California sunshine, and took four nice photos (she looked pretty good in pictures - you know - kind of like on-line dating pics!!)...and then I listed the BMW on the L.A./SGV Craigslist page.

The ad said "$400.00 OBO...and I honestly said it had a laundy-list of all of the problems one would expect a 19-year-old car to have" - that she leaked oil...take it AS IS..."make me an offer".

I no-sooner clicked "O.K." than my e-mail box began to fill up!! "Are you kidding me???" I got 25 e-mails in ten minutes!!! I called the first guy and he said he wanted it for $400.00 and he could come right over. I said O.K. and e-mailed all of the other potential buyers and said "sorry, it was sold - better luck next time. I'll e-mall you if the guy doesn't show up" This set off a firestorm of e-mails - "How much is he paying...I'll give you $500.00 right now I have the cash!" sounded pretty enticing, but - - a deal is a deal.

I pulled the ad off of Craigslist exactly 20-minutes after I placed it...I couldn't keep up with the response!

The buyer calls me from the freeway about an hour after I placed the ad. He announced that "I'm getting off the freeway now..." - and I talked him in, turn-by-turn, down Lake to Oak Knoll to Huntington Garden. He calls me and says "O.K., we're here!"

A nice-looking kid, and his friend, are waiting outside for me looking at the car, still parked on the street in the sun. I tell them it's an "as is" sale...and then (gasp!!) I asked if they wanted to take it around the block. I gave the kid the key.

The buyer motioned to his friend to get in the passenger side. I said to myself, "Uh, oh!" I stopped him and said, "Uhhhh...the door sticks - I'll have to close it for you." I slammed it HARD (that's what it takes!) and the glove-box door comes flying open and dumps the owners manual onto the floorboard!!!

Now, wouldn't you know it...even though I had purposefully left the parking brake disengaged, now the poor driver couldn't figure out how to get the parking brake, I gave him the "combo" - - "O.K., now, take your left pinky-finger and put it in the reach over with your other hand and pull up. Yeah. There you go!" Heck, I've been doing it like that for two years...seemed reasonable to me...but the boys were...uh...let's say they were *not* impressed!

I think I may have forgotten to mention that the gear-shift knob was loose...he got it into first gear with a hearty grind...and took off with a peel of rubber.

My neighbors were standing across the street watching all of this...they asked me "Do you think you'll ever see them again?" I looked at the Honda Prelude they drove up in and said with a laugh: "I hope not...this is a much better car right here!!"

The neighbors and I talked about our house being up for sale and our move to India - just killing time....and about five minutes later, here come the boys, pulling up to the curb. They got out, and left the engine running.

The friend jumped into the drivers side (after unsucsessfully trying to close the passenger-side door...he din't know my patented "lift, tug and slam" methodology...and he gunned the engine. Ugh! "Now what?" This horrible racket came from the exhaust-pipe area. "I think the muffler is broken", the buyer kid said. I looked under there as the friend rev'ed the motor...and sure enough, the noise was deafening and there was a big rusty hole in the muffler.

"I never noticed that!" I said, truthfully. I guess I should have mentioned that Amy swears I'm going deaf!!

The friend turned off the engine and asked..."Hey, can you take a little off for the muffler, he's gotta get that fixed, ya know!"

I said..."O.K. - I'll take $50.00 off - - but that's it...take it or leave it!"

I drive such a hard bargain!

We came in the house, and of course, Beloved the Lhasa Apso is going balistic...and we sat down and filled out the paperwork. I signed the pink slip and they grabbed it, shook my hand and took off. I watched through our dining-room window with my fingers crossed and prayed that they would get home safely

As soon as I heard the sound of the rusty muffler die off in the distance...I quickly ran to my downstairs computer and filled-out the online "Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability" DMV form ... and I clicked "send" just as fast as I could!

They haven't come back and it's been over an hour.

Thanks be to God!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Here's Beloved, the Lhasa Apso - she makes every day worth living!

Update....48 days and counting!!'s really happening. Aims signs the offer on Monday and it's now 48-days until we leave for our "look-see" recon mission to Hyderabad. We're going to have to have somebody house-sit for Beloved (she's not going for "Round One") while we're gone. This will be the trip where we look at houses and get the lay o' the land...I will also lay the groundwork for getting a work visa so I can apply for some sort of "day job" while we're there. You didn't think I was going to play golf and cricket every day, did you??

This will be the blog we use to update our lives for all of our dear friends who remain state-side. Bookmark it now. I'll be in charge of documenting our lives in India...I'll keep up as best I can with photos and videos - I will know a lot more about Internet connections, etc. in India after the recon trip.