Friday, July 16, 2010

Some Random Catching Up....

It seems like it's been ages since I found a minute to sit down  with all of my compiled notes for a new Blogspot post.  Since I wrote my last "Mystery Worshipper's Report" about St. Mary's church in Secunderabad, I heard back from my friend Rajan Chopra, who told me that St. Mary's is indeed the hub of that spiritual community...for all religions.  I knew is was a special place the moment I walked into the courtyard.  Thank you, Rajan, for confirming the accuracy of my current spiritual discernment!  Also - I sent a nice e-mail to the people at Ship of Fools.  I have not heard back from them about my application to become an "official" Mystery Worshipper.  Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but I have always thought that the people running that site were a bunch of Protestants.  Methinks that the sample of my writing that I sent to them had too-much of a Catholic slant to it.  I have a feeling that I may have been "deleted".  Hey, Pooks...what do you think?  I thought my pieces were pretty spot-on for what they wanted.  Oh, well...

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Last Sunday was Amy's birthday.  Happy Birthday, again, Sweetimus!!  We men know that it is never nice to discuss a woman's age... so I won't.  Let's just say that when we return home, she will be riding in the "Rusty Stirrup" division at the HITS Show in Thermal!  After Church (see my review of St. Mary's Church in an earlier blog posting) - we had an invitation from Cindy, a Deloitter from Phoenix, AZ who was here in Hyderabad on a "look-see" tour, to join her for brunch at the Westin Hotel.  We had heard through the ex-pat grapevine that, although there are several killer Sunday Brunches available in town (the Novotel and the Ista hotels being just two among many!) - the Westin stands alone.  I can now testify to that fact!!  My goodness...what a spread!!  I know I'm going to leave something out...but there was a salad bar, and Indian food bar (veg. and non-veg.), a bread bar, a fruit bar, an omelet station, a dim sum bar, prawns (cooked to order, like the dim sum!)...and a desert bar with an "apple crumble" and vanilla ice cream to die for...along with some sort of chocolate-peanut-butter mousse thing that tasted like a big Reese's Cup!  This is all amongst other delights I had no room to sample. I was coming off of a night of "stomach discomfort" (i.e., let's just say that I now know why they put "Imodium" in our "travel kit"!!) - so - when we ran into our new friends Christy (Orange County), Rasmus (Denmark) and Nanna (Iceland) - I told them that I was there to "eat lightly".  Rasmus said... "Oh, Scott - you *will* be tempted!"

And indeed I was.  It's amazing how, at brunches such as these, that if you put just a tiny portion of the things that you think you'd like to try on your plate...that you end up with a mountain of food!!  "Let's see...a little chicken biryani... oh, that vegetable biryani looks good.  Hmmmm.  Kung pao shrimp?  Fried rice?  Chicken Tikka Masala?  Oh, and I'll have some bacon and sausage and...."  Yeah.  You get the picture!

Indians REALLY seem to enjoy the "eating out" experience....they actually seem to enjoy all of life more...but that's for another blog post!  What happened at the Westin was the LONGEST I have ever spent at a meal in my life!!  Cindy and Amy were running a marathon...I did what most Americans do...I thought I was running a sprint!  I grazed - but I ended up "over grazing"!!  About an hour and a half after we began... were joined by another Indian Deloitter and his fiancee - - and the conversations just wandered from sports to food to culture to international relations to finance to marriage to the theater.... what an enjoyable time we had.  I think we sat down to eat at 1:30 P.M. - - and we got up to leave the Westin just shy of 5:00 P.M.  The food was indeed awesome...but - as so often happens here in's the people that make the experience!!

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Our yoga instructor, Neeraj, gave me some tips on "eating like an Indian".  Perfect timing after pigging-out at the Westin.  On the list he prepared for me was "sprouts".  I asked him "what kind of sprouts?"  He answered, "You don't know "sprouts"?"  Well, yeah, I know bean-sprouts and alfalfa sprouts and broccoli sprouts... but when he described what they were, I knew we were not talking the same language.

It turns out that "sprouts" are seeds....they look like peas and nuts and soybeans and millet-like "pellets" - - these you soak overnight in water until they "sprout"  -  and, in the morning, you put them in a bowl and eat them with a spoon.  The Q-mart had "pre-soaked" sprouts in a vacuum-sealed bag - - but Caretaker Krishna informed me that they were 300% more expensive than buying bulk "sprouts" (there is a long Indian name for each of the seeds...I'll just call 'em "sprouts"!) and soaking them yourself.  He says that he eats sprouts every morning.  Looking at Krishna and his approximately 0.005% body-fat - - I figured I had better start eating them, too!  And you know what??  I'll be doggoned!  Sprouts are alive and tasty (in a nutty/sweet kind of way!) and filling and give you great energy - - along with some dates, a few almonds, a cup of green tea, some lime-juice in warmish water and an orange or some watermelon!!

If anybody would have ever told me that I'd be living in India...eating "sprouts, dates and almonds" for breakfast...I would have laughed in their faces!!

Speaking of yoga...I now understand why the ladies (including my super sister-in-law, Paula) love yoga so much!  I now understand the addiction!  I can now see why I see women queuing up with their rolled-up "sticky mats" and leotards to get into Yoga House and Bikram Yoga back home in Pasadena!  It is really hard!!  It makes you work!!  It makes you sweat!!  And...after two weeks of doing it...I feel great!!!  I've lost 13 Kg. (28 pounds) since we arrived here.  Of course at first it was too darned hot to eat...and then there was my bout with "stomach problems" last Saturday....but - between taking off some poundage and learning asanas (poses) for stretching, strength and balance... I am feeling better than I have in years!!  Ommmm...shanti, shanti, shanti!!

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Suzanne went riding out at the Hyderabad Riding and Polo Club again last night after she got off at work.  Our new friends Christy and Rasmus and Nanna - when we saw them at the Westin - had invited us to go to the "cinema" this week - so - I took them up on their offer.  The mall where the INOX theater is is very nice.  It also happens to be the mall that houses the Hard Rock Cafe - Hyderabad.  It's called the GVK One Mall.  Now that I've actually been inside, it is my opinion that it is the nicest mall in town, by far...and there are some good ones!!

Rasmus got us tickets on-line.  The good seats (see below) are "reserved".  We went to see "Knight and Day".  It cost (are you ready, fellow Americans??) Rs. 250.00 (about $5.00) for a big comfy chair that reclines ALL the way back... and - in addition - they have waiters that bring you your popcorn and sodas. The movie was just O.K. - the theater was beautiful - but the recliners were awezzzzzome... This may become a regular thing....

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Krishna does our shopping now.  He gets my fresh fruit, nuts and "sprouts" from a little stand around the corner from the house.  Oranges, apples, limes, lemons, the best watermelon you ever tasted...they grow them quite a bit smaller here!  "Wal-Mart" - it's not!!  I would imagine that for most Americans, the place would be a little "off-putting" - but this is where the locals do their shopping.  The produce is so much better and fresher than at the Hyper-City store or even the venerable Q-Mart!

On the way home from Deloitte in the morning, I have driver Radha Krishna learning about the wonders of Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers Band,  I think he is beginning to truly appreciate the wonders of Duane Allman's guitar solo with Dickie Betts on "Whipping Post" from "Live from the Fillmore East"!  Of course, Snatam Kaur is still our favorite!! Krishna and I often drive down the road singing "Ong, namo - - guru dev....namo!"

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Beloved the Lhasa Apso was scratching her ears for the past day or we finally went to the local Banjara Hills veterinarian's office.  Now, we have heard that this is THE vet to go to in our area. And she is super!! It's a great clinic, too....but please understand ...  everything here is to be judged on Indian standards.

There is an outdoor waiting area, in the shade, but - that's about it!  Every dog in Banjara/Jubilee Hills seemed to be there!!  It's nothing like a vet hospital at home.  There are no private rooms inside - just three stainless-steel tables, with all procedures being done in one medium-sized room.  The first time (Wednesday) it was about a 1.0 hour wait. Great staff of professionals there....but - DO NOT try to picture a standard American vet's office. Think of it more like a "M.A.S.H." unit for pets. I was there, I swear, with every Yellow Labrador and Golden Retreiver in Banjara Hills ... quite a number were wearing the "cone of Shame" - many of the dogs had a variety of ear problems, it seems that they were all big dogs, including a beautiful Pointer and 2-3 German Shepherds (except on pug and a golden lab puppy that was too cute!!)...and - one at a time, we all got to see the doc (Dr. Lakshmi S. Ramana).  Including the darlingest little Pug you ever saw!!

Words of wisdom:  Life is good until you have to get your ears flushed!! Poor Bee!! Dr. Lakshmi said she's doing assembly-line ear-flushings because of the heat and humidity...floppy ears make for a petri-dish atmosphere. No ear-mites, we are pretty sure...the assistant cleaned a lot of dark goo out of her ears...and got a shot and some pills. Did a stool sample, very thorough. But again, picture a scene from MASH rather than your local So. Cal. vet hospital.  All of that treatment, including prescriptions (2) and a follow-up visit - for around fifteen dollars!!!!

To take home, we got more ear solution and some drops (and Amy bought us some sterile cotton balls!)  Unfortunately, Bee had to go back on Friday for another flushing/cleaning. From now on, now that I have the tools...I can keep her ears spic-n'-span!

Although she was not happy at the time, Beloved is actually really glad we got it done - she's wagging and dancing around...she got her little anal-glands squished, too... all necessary stuff!

Our Driver Krishna took us both days, and stayed with us the whole time. After I said that holding Beloved through both ear-flushing procedures... and had gotten schmutz all over my shirt ... that it was "hard work"...  Krishna said "Yes, sir...but good work!"

Later the first day, after we brought our Princess home, Krishna came upstairs to our room to see/ask "How is Bee?" Krishna is like having a Man Friday...and he actually carried The Bee into the exam room today. She actually likes him!  And he loves The Bee.  Amy and I love Krishna, too.  He's truly a remarkable man!

Beloved is in really good hands, 8,700-miles from home!

Here is Dr. Lakshmi's website: Animal Care Clinic

P.S.  I've decided to forgo trying the find the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral of St. Gregorios for another week.  Tomorrow (Sunday) I will be going back to St. Mary's in Secunderabad.  It's definitely a sacred place!


  1. Nope, I've seen Catholic reviews on there in the past. I think it took a long time for me to get accepted, and when I was and lost the info, I think I never got any more info back from them so... I just think they aren't on top of things.

    Plus, I forgot to leave my "mystery worshipper" thing when I was at Ely Cathedral and actually wanted to write that up... I was made of fail, too! (It's kind of awkward putting that in the plate. It feels like everybody will turn and stare and notice you put something in that wasn't money. But I just forgot to take it with me that morning, oh well.)

  2. PS Tell me what kind of sprouts to get that I can find here. We have a large Asian community and I'm sure they're here, if I knew what to ask for. Sounds wonderful!

  3. Yeah...I figured they might have lost me in the shuffle. I'll ask for more detail about the sprouts (BTW...funny reminder time - Monty Python - - a game show spoof...."Come up with a derogatory term for..." The category to answer: "A derogatory term for....the Belgians" The winner: "The Sprouts!"

  4. I'd like more detail on the sprouts, too! And, thank you for posting the detail on the a large person, I've been leery, but I really do want to try both for flexibility and for stress reduction. Helping with weight loss would simply be an added plus!