Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting Yellow Fever Vaccines...

When we first arrived in India, an ex-pat friend of ours told us something interesting that had happened to her.  She said that "after a while, you begin to realize that there is no way possible to explain to people who live in the U.S. just exactly what it's like living you just stop trying."  Truer words were never spoken.  Unless you've spent any time as an ex-pat living in really cannot come up with the words to describe what a day-to-day existence is like here.

Oh, there are pet-phrases and pat-answers you can give like "You need to have a lot of patience" - - or, "Things take forever to get completed...everything runs late..." or..."The traffic is just insane!!"  But unless you are here to experience it for really can't get a taste of what it's like!

One of the things we have attempted to do with this blog is to be as accurate (and hopefully, entertaining!) as we can about life here "At Home In Hyderabad"....and sometimes a tale just needs telling as soon as it happens so the memory is fresh in our minds.  Here is one such story.

Today, Amy Suzanne and I went into the city to get our vaccinations and certificates for yellow fever for our upcoming trip to Africa (Kenya and Tanzania).  Although we had been human-pin-cushions when we came to India..."yellow fever" vaccinations are not required or even recommended - the outbreaks of the disease seem to be limited to central and eastern Africa and now...South America as well.

It seems that there is only one government-approved vaccination clinic here in town...even the nicer, larger hospitals like Apollo tell you to go to them.  You find out online that yellow fever vaccinations are only given on Tuesdays and Fridays at this clinic.  Booking online is "available" - but neither Google Chrome or Internet Explorer liked the system very much, so I ended up composing an e-mail.  I must say that they were very quick to respond...asking us for the pertinent  information like our passport numbers and where/when we would be traveling.

We got an appointment for today, Friday 9 December 2011 - and our time was sort-of flexible - anywhere from 10:45 A.M. until 11:15 A.M.  Obviously everybody at the clinic is aware of the traffic problems in the area...especially in the more Muslim areas of town on a Friday morning (the Muslim "sabbath" for lack of a better term...I'm sure there's a more proper one!)

Now - one of the things that you really need to experience for yourself is the fact that - here in Hyderabad - and just about every city or town in India - there are street names...but no street SIGNS!!  There are addresses (called "plot numbers") - but nobody uses them and they are not displayed on buildings.  Instead - there are neighborhood names (like Ameerpet, Begumpet, Madhapur, Somaji Guda...) - today's appointment was south of the main landmark in town - the Hussain Sagar Lake (which many of the locals still call "Tank Bund" - so it helps to know both names!) - - in a neighborhood called Narayan Guda.

There are no real "stay right-turn left-go straight" directions used in telling somebody how to get to some place or another...they use "landmarks" here - like for us...we say we live "in Banjara Hills, near the Q-Mart".  Exact addresses are never given - because - as I said - they are not painted or listed on the buildings, so what would be the use?? would say that a certain place is "next to" or (my favorite because it has so many meanings) "adjacent to"...or "opposite" - what we in the U.S. would call "across from" - but again - "opposite" has a wide-ranging set of meanings - it could actually mean a block-or-so away in either direction...

Today's location had been given to us as: "In Narayan Guda, near YMCA, next to Madapati Hanumantha Rao Girls High School"  Actually - by most standards...that's a pretty good set of "directions" right there. Our regular caretaker/driver Radha Krishna has had the week off to enjoy a festival in his home village - - so we had our backup driver - our security man - Sangamesh - take us to the clinic.

Things could have gotten off the rails quickly, because we got to the place and - it was not to be found.  The contact number we were given in case we got lost just rang and rang and rang with no answer.  Sangamesh gets out of the car and asks a few people on the street if they knew the place...and they did, thank God!!

Now - pulling into the place...both my reaction and Amy Suzanne's were the same...although unspoken.  "What the hell is this place...?? I'm not even going in the door...much less let them give me a shot!!  A M*A*S*H unit would have looked more stable! An old dilapidated building with peeling paint an falling plaster.  The signage didn't exactly say what the place was...but when Sangamesh asked the guy standing in front, we got the full-on Indian head-bob which indicated we were at least close to being in the right place.

Below are some photos so you can see what we mean!!

Anyway - - thank God we ran into a man who spoke perfect English who took pity on "the big white couple" who must have looked like a couple of deers in the headlights.  It turns out that you go and pay your fees at one place (around the corner) - then come back with your receipt - and get in line for the vaccinations.  Thanks to this kind man, the process actually went very smoothly.  Once we paid, we got seen immediately.  Suzanne went first...and - after making double-sure that the syringes were new in the wrapper and that alcohol was being liberally used...she got her vaccination and I did likewise.  They processed our passports in almost no time at all...gave us our stamped and signed certificates (good for 10 years, thank God!)

Overall - it was a good experience that went smoothly...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Need a Brew Pub in Hyderabad...

I was lamenting with a dear old friend in Southern California about the lack of good beer and craft ales here in India.  I would cut off a pinkie-finger for a decent India Pale Ale!! ...strange anomaly ain't it?  No IPA in India!  I guess it really isn't that strange, because real IPA back in the day was shipped TO India from England...and it was an ale that was heavily hopped to make it last during the journey around Africa.  

Truly, though...the beer sitch here is pathetic... Kingfisher draft (lager) is drinkable - but the bottled stuff is poison.  There are a few other Kingfisher products (Kingfisher "Blue" isn't bad - - but I've only had it in Pune and Delhi.  Around there (especially at the golf course, we mostly drink Tuborg and Carlsberg....but there is also an Indian-made Budweiser and sometimes Heineken and Corona available (for a price)...but nothing with any real flavour.  

As for opening a brew-pub, although the idea sounds awesome, the truth is that bringing in grains, malted barley, hops, etc. is so closely monitored and taxed it's pretty much illegal.  As a matter of fact, the whole alcohol situation here is closely monitored (controlled) by the state government - in this case: Andhra Pradesh.  

Taxes on beer/wine/booze, especially imports, are excessive... We can now get Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Bombay (or is it Mumbai?) Sapphire, most Johnny Walker products - you gotta be willing to pay top rupee ...NO California/French/Euro wines (only Oz, S. Africa)... A brew pub would be huge here.  The best beer I've had since I've been here was draft Guinness in Bangkok and - - last trip to Pune for golf we found THIS:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Banjara Hillbillies Update - LIVE at Beyond Coffee

Performing live in front of a crowd is always fraught with challenges and difficulties.  Especially one filled with rambunctious kids screaming and running around.  Here, The Banjara Hillbillies, Hyderabad's ONLY Bluegrass Band, practices John Prine's "Paradise" - one of the new additions to our live set.  

The sound quality is not great, and the camera battery went dead in the middle of the second chorus, but I thought it captured all of the problems of performing live in just a short 1:28!!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hyderabad Golf Update....

I have really fallen down on the job, haven't I??  I think I'm something like four-months behind in my blog-posting!! I have our trip to the Maldives to write about...our trip to Bangkok with "Jay Laurila the Vanilla Gorilla"...and our last minute trip to Goa!!  We're also trying to book a trip to Singapore for Thanksgiving and we're almost booked with our African Safari to Kenya and Tanzania over Christmas and New Year.  It's not an excuse, but over the past several weeks, I've been trying to finish up with our Flintstone's Men's Club Match Play League before I leave for vacation... 

It's an interesting format.  Nine-hole, match-play, two matches if you play 18-holes.  We had eight Flintstones in the league, but two dropped out due to health reasons...and one other fellow stepped in to fill that final spot.  It's been a hard-fought set of matches - and - although I started slowly... I'm pretty sure that I secured first-place in my division when I won today!! The story of the victory I will relate in detail (below)...but it was a classic match-play war!! As of this morning, all my rounds are now complete...including a split with an Aussie named Gabriel (which didn't count because he had to withdraw!) and an injury withdrawal from an Indian guy named Suresh - he had an oblique-muscle strain on the second-shot of our match and went down like he was shot!! Another match that did not count!!

All of the matches I was in were hard-fought and close...any one of them could have gone either way. Especially with a fellow 16-handicapper named Satish (what a battle!!) and Sakaar - who I had to give one-shot-per-side (two days of nine-holes each - - only a few bad shots separated us! )...and truly a see-saw battle and probably the most enjoyable matches I have ever had in my life (a 35-foot birdie putt by him that I will never forget!!) Hopefully my 3-3-0 on the front and my 4-0-2 on the back will secure me enough points to make it into the next round. 

I leave for Pune (PRONOUNCED POO-NAH - not "POON") on Friday for an Indian golf safari where I will be playing Oxford, the Poona Club and Aamby Valley Golf Club.

As for today's round....

In this tale, I wish in NO WAY to denigrate my new friend Sakaar or his golf game...he is a gentleman and a good golfer who tested me to my limits on both of our nine-hole matches this week. Any hole or either match could have gone a different way. I missed some short putts (so what else is new??) and he had some bad bounces today...

Here is the brief tale of how our match ended today...I should have been three-up and none of this would have mattered...but the greens were sanded and plugged for aeration and a bit of a mess....that's no excuse...both of us made some stellar putts, as well as missed a few...

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - - AERATION ALERT!! If you're planning to play Boulder Hills in Gachibowli in the next week....they have plugged and sanded the greens and they are a disaster!! Anyway - - here's today's story:

#1 1-up #2 1-up (Sakaar stroked and I held him off!) #3 AS (great birdie-putt by Sakaar after a great tee-shot) #4 AS #5 1-down (Sakaar had an amazing sand-save and I missed an easy putt to square it) #6 AS (I played really well and made par!) NB - "AS" means "All Square" or "tied".

Now it starts. File this one under "Never Give Up"!! #7 (Par-5 - uphill) We both hit decent with my 3-hybrid and he hit driver....I hit first from the middle of the fairway. I hit the same club and pull it badly into the brush on the left. I put a provisional in play and cranked it even higher up the hill with a wicked yank! I drop another and finally split the fairway - - but unless I manage to find my original ball - - I'm laying SIX and he hasn't even taken his second shot!! He hits a rescue-club a little off the toe and ends up in the right rough, about 165 yards from the green. I go over and I FIND my first ball - - and I declare unplayable and take a drop. I decide to play it save and hit a five-iron back into the middle and leave myself about a shot I am laying three and he's inside of me laying two. I crush one that comes up short...leaving me about a 50-yard chip to the elevated green. 

Sakaar has no reason to lay-up - - he's got a stroke on me and he's easily in range of the green. He takes the rescue-club and....comes up a bit short. BUT!! He hits the rock in front of the green and the ball bounces forward and to the right - - probably in the bougainvillea behind the green. I leave my pitch-shot just a little short...but I'm now there in FIVE. We get to the green and search for his ball and never found it. He has to go back to the 165-yard spot and hit again. He does...and slices it a ships over a flat rock to the right of the green and lands in some thick nasty rough. Now we're both there in five...but - I'm on the front of the green and he's in the sh$t e. He hits a pretty good shot but leaves about an 18-footer to make 7. I choose to putt up the hill to a blue-flag and hit it well....left myself a 3' gimme which he graciously gave me. I'm down in 7. he missed his putt and took an 8 - and I won the hole with a double-bogey from out of the brush!! I am 1-up with two-to-play.

All I have to do is win the par-three #8 and I win!! We both hit good shots ...but I'm in the garden-spot...with a 15-footer up the hill for birdie, from just off the green. Sakaar is about 35-40-feet to the left of the flag (red flag - short and right) I come-on to the green and leave myself a deadly 18"-er for par... Sakaar takes a long time to line his putt up - - the greens are in terrible shape because they have been plugged and sanded over the last 2-days. He lets it rip and - - - the ball finds its' way through he sandbox and the freshly-drilled holes...and he drains it...right into the cup for birdie!! The match is all-square coming into the tough 9th and final hole! 

On #9 it's Sakaar's honors - and, walking up to the tee-box - I see that he has a five-iron in his hand for the lay-up. I know this is the smart-play and I grab my 5-iron as well. He hits a smooth lay-up to about 20-yards before the creek. I hit my 5-iron REALLY good...but it's towards the looked as if I took one hop and right into the hazard!! We pass his ball to check on mine...and - - miracles of miracles - we see it!! There it bounce took me to the other side of the creek by about 5-yards!!

We go back to his ball which has a good lie - - but it's a little tight....not much turf on the short-side of the creek/hazard. I don't know what club he chose....but it was obvious he was aiming left toward the 100-yard stake to take the water out of play and lay-up. He's been hitting the ball great all day, so there is no reason to suspect that he would do anything else. 

And he proceeds to chunk a fat-one about 40-feet and directly into the creek!!!!

Obviously not a happy-camper - he takes his drop on the tee-side of the creek (we still haven't gotten to my ball!!)....and whacks it about 30-feet ahead with another chunky-monkey!! He is laying 4 and I'm still laying one! I get to my ball and take the safe-route...I take an 8-iron and lay-up to about 90-yards. Laying-four, Sakaar grabs the rescue-club and gives it a mighty whack!! It comes up short of the green....hits a rock on the edge of the lake and bounces God-only-knows looked like it went into the bushes up by the clubhouse!! I hit a gap-wedge on...and - - when we can't find his ball...Sakaar graciously concedes the match... 1 and 0 for me!

I enjoyed my two nine-hole matches with Sakaar very, very much. Had he hit a decent second-shot on #9 things could have ended all-square just like the day before!

I will try to post at least the Maldives trip and link to our Facebook Photo Album.  Perhaps I'll get a chance to write about Bangkok, too.  We are still loving India....miss all of you in the U.S.

Much love!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Golf Update - and an APOLOGY !!

FIRST OF ALL...THE APOLOGY: I have been neglecting this blog...I have been relying on Facebook too much for my social-networking needs and I realize that many readers of this blog are not Facebook Friends.  If you are not... send me a request.  There is a link to my Facebook page on this blog!  I promise to catch up soon...Amy Suzanne goes to the U.S. for some Deloitte training in Dallas, so I'll have time on my hands later in the month...  Until then, here is a golf-update from Hyderabad:

It seems that my "Race to 100 Rounds in a Year" has hit a slight road-block....or at least a really big puddle in the road.

Hyderabad's yearly monsoon season ends traditionally on 1 October - - and we've had two days of pretty steady rains since turning the calendar page over.

I played in an interesting men's club tournament on Saturday (I play with the Flintstones Men's Golf Club at Boulder Hills in Gachibowli - we're called the Flintstones because our course looks just like a movie-set for "Bedrock Country Club" - see photo below) - - the format was "flags". You carried your "flag" (really just an 6x4 colored index-card with your name on it) as far as you could; you are given 75% of your handicap and those strokes are added to par-72 to give you the maximum strokes allotted until you have to "place your flag". I hit my limit just before the 17th green. I wasn't the first one out...there was on on the 15th, a couple on the 16th and one on the 17th tee-box. LOTS of people "went out" on the guy in my group got to the greenside-bunker on #18. Our 18th hole is a 622-yard par-5 monster with the third shot over water.

Only one guy carried his "flag" all the way to the clubhouse. Which was a very good thing, because in our discussions about how to break ties...I casually mentioned that if there were two or more players who finished their round with their flags in-hand...I'd eat them all! Whew! This group would have held me to my word! I think they would have bought me beers to help wash them down!

So, I stand at 91 rounds...nine more rounds to be completed by the end of the month. I will try to get out Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. Monsoons permitting, that is!

Thursday, June 9, 2011's been a while...Egypt (and Beyond)

It's been a while since I have had time to write from At Home in Hyderabad...if the truth be told, we haven't actually been "at home" all that much!  It was busy, busy, busy there for awhile...Amy Suzanne had her Spring busy-season at Deloitte .... and I went to the States for my home-visit (see last blog entry).  I just had time to get myself un-jet-lagged - then we were off to Egypt, and a Nile Cruise - including an amazing side-trip Jordan, for a real out of India vacation experience of a lifetime... As always, we booked every iota of this amazing trip through our good friend Eve at Fugazi Travel - and once-again, five-star treatment all the way around!

We are so was almost like we had the entire country of Egypt to ourselves!!  Because of the 25 January Egyptian Revolution, things in the tourist trade are down well over 50%.  From what we could see, I'd say it was much worse....but - if anybody is planning to go, it is 100% perfectly safe and we never felt ill-at-ease at any time.  If you book with a reputable travel company like we did (see link to Fugazi Travel, above) - the Ministry of Tourism gives you an armed security guard to go everywhere with you....our guy was named Mohammad - and he had a fully automatic machine-gun under his coat at all - yeah...we felt like VIPs the whole time.

There were some instances where "we" were not every evening when we were in Cairo and Amy Suzanne needed her horse "fix" - - she made friends with a couple of brothers who owned a string of Arabian horses and went for sundown/moonlight rides around the Pyramids and the Sphinx - very special indeed, and the brothers took good care of their new American friend....I don't think they'd ever seen a tourist who could ride like Amy!!

I'll post links for our Facebook Photo Albums - at least the ones through our visit to Abu Simbel - below.  The photos and their captions tell a pretty good story of our trip, so I won't bore you with the details here.  Rest assured that we had a wonderful time and suggest that you go to Egypt this year before the crowds come will be glad that you did!!  By the way...the photograph above is an un-retouched, actual photo taken on our first day in Cairo...out the picture window from our room at the Mena House hotel - - the greatest view from a hotel room I have ever had.  It would simply take your breath lie! long as this blog is officially about Hyderabad and India...I think it bears noting that Amy and I and Beloved have been here for one full year (plus a few days!) now...and we still love it.  Of course, I could do without the gridlock traffic (which is due to pig-headishness and not any accident) and the May/Summertime weather (although this summer in Hyderabad was one of the mildest on was hot, but not so hot that it "would melt a brass doorknob")...

But some of the stuff that happens here is just so out of the ordinary, you just have to take in stride and make it a part of the experience.  I think there are some ex-pats who make the mistake of moving TO India and don't ever experience living IN India.  Hey, I enjoy the company of fellow ex-pats...and I certainly enjoy playing in Hyderabad's only Bluegrass Music Band (see the YouTube Channel for The Banjara Hillbillies Bluegrass Band ) - we will be playing at the World Music Day Festival at the Taj Deccan Hotel next Wednesday night, 15th of June.  But we live in a neighborhood with very few white faces, a tea-shack down the street and lots of friendly Indian neighbors of all stripes...politicians, doctors, servants, Hindu and Muslim alike.  I never thought it would happen, but I actually like cricket...and watch most of the games that are televised, as well as the Deloitte Tax Tournament....which is pretty good cricket, too! 

But there are still some very strange things that happen here....things that just make you shake your head and say "I don't think we're in Kansas any more, Dorothy!"

Take today for example: Coming back from Beyond Coffee, I saw some bizarre-looking Indian transvestites harassing people at the Jubilee Hills Checkpoint...I know they try to disrupt weddings and parties... and try to extort money or they will cause a ruckus...(I read about them in Sarah Macdonald's book, Holy Cow!  If you have never read it, I highly recommend it - - if you are planning to come to India, consider it REQUIRED READING, along with William Dalrymple's Nine Lives )  But what these colorful transgender wackos were up to today, I have no clue.  I will say that in the future...if they get too close to me, they will find a cricket bat up their wazoo!!

Anyway...on to the Egypt Photos:

Cairo, Egypt - Part One

Cairo Egypt - Part Deux (includes photos of us with Mohammad's machine gun!!)

Cairo - Part III

Luxor, Egypt 2011

Nile Cruise - Part ONE

Nile Cruise - Part Two

Abu Simbel

Thanks for reading our infrequent as the updates have been.  Next edition: Jordan and the Banjara Hillbillies public debut!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Catching up! The "Banjara Hillbillies" and Travel Updates...

So much has happened since I last updated our blog!  Team India beat Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals (on the night I left for my first-annual "home visit" to Southern California) and went on to beat Sri Lanka in thrilling style to capture the World Cup for the first time since 1983 by a score of 277-274! I actually wish I had been At Home in Hyderabad for that one!!  I heard it got pretty wild!

Then ... I spent a little over two-weeks visiting our home-base in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.  On my very-first day home...I picked up some new golf-clubs after spending an hour with the club-fitting guy at the TaylorMade Center at Roger Dunn in Santa Ana...and spent 8 of the next 16 days trying them out at a variety of courses in the area... Robinson Ranch, Goose Creek, Hidden Valley, Rustic Canyon, Hacienda C.C. - it was a virtual Tour de Golf!!

I had strategically planned a number of geographical gatherings to get together with in Thousand Oaks for the NCAA finals, another in Alhambra for a night of general "beer and fellowship", a night out at Bahooka Restaurant in Rosemead with the Tiki Crowd, a super-nice night out with friends for wine and dinner in Santa Clarita...  We had a reunion dinner for my old parish of St. Barnabas the Apostle... I had lunch with Fr. William Bower, I went to Mass at St. Mary of the Angels in Hollywood.  I went to two different L.A. Kings hockey games, an L.A. Angels game and a Dodgers game at Chavez Ravine.  My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Mark put me up in their extra bedroom in La Habra and put up with my late-night comings-and-goings (which was awesome (thanks so much, guys!).  And - the visit closed with a super-dinner with great friends at the "Cat and the Custard Cup"!

Basically - with all of the golf and partying - I burned the candle at both-ends so bad that the flames met in the middle and I was a total burn-out!!  I got sick in the middle of the trip and actually didn't shake it until I had been home for a couple of weeks!  I don't think I will make the same mistake of "over-booking" my calendar...I needed a "vacation-from-my-vacation.

Getting home meant getting back to work on the music.  "Music?" you ask?  Yes...due to some word-of-mouth and a world-class venue (the Beyond Coffee shop in Jubilee Hills) - a few other ex-pat fellows and I have formed a Bluegrass band!!  It started just as a "pickin' session" on Thursday nights...just a couple of guys who love the music and have fun playing.  We expanded our repertoire to include some Celtic songs for St. Patrick's Day....and now (Hyderabad is a big city but really feels like a small-town the way news and info spread through our ex-pat community!) - we will be playing at "World Music Day" some date around the 21st of June (with bands and musical acts from all over the world) - and then...the U.S. Embassy has asked us to play at their annual 4th of July party!!

When we are all together (something that has not actually happened yet!!) the line-up includes myself on guitar and spoons and some lead and background-vocals, "Dan the Banjo Man" who works for the U.S. Consulate, along with another great guitar-player and vocalist, Elvin.  The Banjara Hillbillies (that's the name we came up with for the band....some of us live in Banjara Hills!) line-up is complete with Patrick on mandolin and backing vocals.  If I do say so myself...I think we are beginning to sound pretty good...

See for yourself and tell us what you think - check out our Banjara Hillbillies YouTube Channel to see videos of some of our weekly practice-and-pickin'-sessions.  If you are in Hyderabad, be sure to stop by Beyond Coffee on Thursday nights from 7:00 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. - and Sunday afternoons from around 2:00 P.M. onwards...and hear us perform live!  There will be more updates coming about our upcoming gigs!!  It's all for fun and it's pretty exciting to watch it all come together so nicely!

Amy Suzanne and I were planning to take an "after-busy-season" vacation to South Africa...but - we really couldn't get a trip of that magnitude on the calendar in so short a time.  Then, we thought briefly about Thailand or Cambodia....but - those places look like they'd be even hotter than Hyderabad right now (we've been as warm as 44-degrees C. this last week - that's almost 112 F.!!) ...

So...we have decided to go to EGYPT!!  The recent troubles there have subsided and the discounts really cannot be passed up!!  We leave in just two-days (on Thursday the 12th of May) and we will be returning (hopefully with a few hundred photos for our Facebook page!)  We will try to check-in from our tour - - actually Egypt and Jordan - and provide updates...

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers....we have a friend house-sitting and watching Beloved the Lhasa Apso while we are away!  Check back often for updates!!  God bless!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jaipur Once Again...(Elephant Polo Photos, too!)

It's a good thing we like Jaipur so much.  The first annual R-10 Deloitte PPD (Partner Principal Director) Retreat was scheduled to be there and we were definitely going to be there as well  !!  Not only was this a chance to return to this wonderful city...but Suzanne has been wanting to go to the Silver Spurs Equestrian Stables since before we even fully decided that we were coming to live in India!!

This time we would fly direct and non-stop to Jaipur...and not have to endure the torture of an 8-hour drive from New Delhi.  The flight was pleasant enough (more on the return flight later in this post!) - both taking off and arriving right on time.  We decided to go a full day early and spend two extra days after the actual retreat for some horse - this was as much a "mini-vacation" as it was a business trip.

The Deloitte Retreat was to be at the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel of the Taj group of hotels, so - you have to know that it has to be a special place...  We arrived at the hotel and just sort of unwound a bit...saw the bar and partook of its wares.  The pool was too far away to go to, but it was very pretty.  The grounds of the hotel were had a walking/running track, lots of open spaces...a giant, life-sized chess board (that was set up wrongways...I had to explain this to the manager!!) and - - a huge grass field for...of all things:  ELEPHANT POLO!!!

That's right... on the morning of the first day of the retreat...there was a group of tourists taking one of those fancy five-star trains around the Golden Triangle...and one of their events was to play elephant polo on the spacious grounds of the Jai Mahal Palace!!  We got to go down and "inside the ropes" (it helped to look like the Euro-tourists...we never got asked for our tickets!!) and pet the elephants and a big old camel named "Raju"...  Amy Francis was thrilled, to say the least.  She wanted to actually get on one of the elephants and play some polo - but - I think that's where the tour-guides from the train company drew the line!!  THAT was to be for paying customers only.

Pay we did, actually....we bought a ton of "Jaipur Polo Club" gear...while we were shopping at the makeshift souvenir stand set up by the polo of the Deloitte partners from Hyderabad - Wally W. (he affectionately calls me "Stuart" because of a misprint in a local Hyderabad magazine a few months back!) cracked me up.... his wife was trying on a "Jaipur Elephant Polo" fleece vest and I said it looked "cute" on her...

Wally said to me: "Gee, 'Stuart'....we don't need any help spending my money here!!" 

The polo was fun to watch...albeit really SLOW as you can imagine...elephants don't exactly "gallop" to the ball! 

After polo...the Partner/Director Retreat started so I lost my wife for a few hours.  I had made an appointment in advance via e-mail (what a small world this has become....Jesus never got more than 100 miles from his home-town!!) to meet with the fellow who sold us our rugs last time we were in - he sent a car around to get me and I got to indulge in some serious shopping. 

Here are photos of Day One (and part of Day Two) in Jaipur (including the Elephants!!) on our Facebook Photo Album Page

The evening came and we were treated to a festival-style dinner with Rajasthani dancing girls with pots of fire on their heads, brightly-painted elephants (see photo of ASB and one of them at the top of this page!) and decorated camels...a great spread of Indian foodstuffs and an open bar...what's not to love about that!!  The feast was at the Rambagh Palace Hotel....truly a hotel beyond anything I have ever seen before.  We were so taken by the place that we got a tour...and - - when we inquired about pricing for the next two nights...we decided against staying there...we'd have to take a second-mortgage out on our house!!  What a palace, though!!  I also need to mention that it was COLD....really, really cold!!  1-degree C. (about 34-degrees F.) - - the first time I have been cold since we arrived in India!!

The next day found Amy Suzanne back in retreat meetings and I killed time around Jaipur...

That night was another dinner...this one was truly strange...

A long long long bus-ride was taken to a place I'd have to say was like a Disneyland version of a Rajasthani "village" was called the Chokhi Dhani Resort - and - was interesting, to say the least.  Dinner was served "ethnic style" sitting on the floor and eating God-only-knows what.  Had this been our first week in India...I would not have touched anything on my plate...but - I've gotten to be pretty adventurous...even Amy ate most of hers...

Maybe I'm not supposed to say anything....but, evidently some of the other partners did not think it was all that hot because some took cabs out of there almost as soon as we arrived... and the hotel restaurant was packed when we finally got back to our rooms!

The best way to describe what it was like is to show our photos from our Facebook album: Jaipur Part Two

As you can see from those photos....the next day was spent out at the Silver Spurs Equestrian Stables where Amy was able to get her show-jumping on.  She had such a great day...and I had a great time watching her!!  The place will have a bed and breakfast soon (if they don't already!) and we will certainly be back!!

The next day she rode again and we got to bed early so we could make the 06:30 A.M. flight back to Hyderabad.  Needless to say...I'm the one who like to get to the airport early and Amy has learned that it's better to give-in and go along with me.  Unfortunately...this day there was a ton of ground-fog and the flights were all delayed up to three hours!!!  Amy was not well-pleased...but she found a way to make herself comfortable and got some much needed Zzzzzzz's.  See photo below:

Anyway....we made it back to Hyderabad and all was well...another amazing trip to Jaipur...we will be back, that is for certain!!!

Next up....Falaknuma Palace and our new Bluegrass Band..."The Banjara Hillbillies"!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bangalore...a quick trip...too quick!!

I made myself a promise....I was going to catch up on my blogging and get the last post done before I leave for my first official "home visit" to the U.S. in just three short days.  There were two other trips we took as 2010 was coming to a close and 2011 was beginning.  First was a business-related trip for Deloitte recruiting to Bangalore (now called "Bengaluru", but I don't know anybody that calls it that...).  It was a Sunday morning...we had a flight at around 8:30 A.M.  Amy Suzanne was coming down with the flu of some kind (terrible chest cold and fever) and really wanted to cancel or at least postpone the trip.  I talked her into flying and convinced her that getting into a nice big fluffed-up hotel bed for a full day of uninterrupted sleeping is just what the doctor would order...

She slept a little on the plane...she really felt crappy...but the show must go on...  we had booked on-line what looked like a great hotel that was really close to the Deloitte campus in Bangalore.  We didn't know how nice it was until we arrived. may be the nicest hotel we have stayed in ANYwhere.  It's in the same hotel family as the Kempinsky Falkenstein in Frankfurt where we stayed on our way over last May.  The Bangalore version is called the Leela Palace - and a palace it was.

The bed in our room could not have been more like my "doctor's prescription" if I had designed it myself.  Amy was in it before the staff brought our bags up to the room...and there she stayed for most of the next 12 hours.  It was a big poofy bed with all white sheets, pillow-cases and comforter.  They even had a "pillow menu" so you could choose your own goose-down firmness.  Laying there in that bed, it looked as if the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man had halfway eaten my wife!!

While she slept, I checked out the excellent pub called "The Library" (and Bangalore is civilized...they had Jameson Irish Whiskey for Irish coffees!!) - a super buffet (the one that they have on Sunday is legendary - and this particular day, it was really crowded...but I did not partake...too much food!)  The whole place was huge...and even the lifts (elevators) were cool.  We had a nice room with a cool view of the front of the hotel.  It truly was at least one of the top five hotels I've ever stayed at!!

Suzanne finally felt like getting up and we had dinner and drinks...  Even sleeping all day, she still got into bed early for her big days of interviews....

We got up and I spent the day sightseeing...and she spent hers at the Deloitte office interviewing candidates.  My day included a wonderful visit to the beautiful temple called the Sri Radha Krishna-chandra Mandir (it's ISKCON's local masterpiece...if you don't know the acronym "ISKCON" - it's the Hare Krishnas...)  Overall, it was one of the most beautiful Krishna temple I have ever was HUGE!!  Much, much larger than the tiny one here in Hyderabad... or, the one I know best, the Los Angeles temple in Culver City on Watseka Avenue.  I bought a calendar and a few odds and a private puja (it came with my entry-ticket...and everybody was interested in the fact that I had actually seen their founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada one day back in the early 1970's at the L.A. temple.  Prabhupada had evidently personally help to install and dedicate the Radha and Krishna Deities (see photo, upper left) in the Bangalore temple...and they have another even bigger temple on their "drawing-board" and it will be even more magnificent!!

After spending a good three-hours at the temple, our driver took me over to the local golf and country club so I could see what that was all about.  It was in the city and surrounded by those really tall mesh fences that you see around mid-city driving-ranges in Southern California...I really wished that I had brought my clubs because the first hole was a really short par-4 that I really wanted to play.  Even though it was a private club, staying at the Leela Palace got your day-privileges with I could have rented clubs, but it was almost mid-afternoon and time to pick up Amy at the office.

We had a great dinner and she was feeling much better!  My prescription for sleep really did the trick.  We made it to the airport the next morning on time and made our way home to Hyderabad in time for her to spend most of Tuesday at the office catching up.

Overall, Bangalore is one of the prettiest cities we have been to.  It looks very well laid-out, was full of big trees and lovely parks.  Many of the government buildings were built by the British (Bangalore is the capital of the India state of Karnataka and is a pretty busy place...) - as were the many parks.  It's a very green city with open spaces preserved for green ways and parks.  People always talk about the horrible traffic in Bangalore...but we didn't find it all that bad... not any worse than Hyderabad, and certainly nowhere close to being as congested as the streets of Mumbai or New Delhi!

I think I could live there...

Next up: Our second trip to Jaipur!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The trip home: Kudos to Kingfisher Airlines!!

We had a nice breakfast and did some other light sightseeing.  Suzanne did some shopping (didn't buy anything, to her great credit...she couldn't get the guy to move his price on some very expensive Pashmina scarves...and - for some reason - the wool scarves in this one shop caused me the allergy-attack from hell!!  Thank God we had our bags packed for the flight home, so my eye-drops were just a dig-through the suitcase to get at.  Our guide was pretty tired I think...we asked him to take us to a nice restaurant so we could have a bit of lunch before heading out to the airport for out flight to Delhi and then on to our "Home in Hyderabad".

I must say that she has come a long way since we arrived in India...but - on this vacation...Amy Suzanne was not exactly "Miss Adventurous" when it cam to dining out.  We pretty much ate at our hotel wherever we stayed... and this restaurant was a little should I say..."ethnic" than we had expected.  Our guide dropped us off and we walked inside.  Amy wasn't near "panic stage" - but I could see by the look in her eyes that she was NOT comfortable in this restaurant at all (I will spare the owners of the place and not mention it by name!!)

We were seated and it took her about 15-seconds to say, in no uncertain terms: "I am NOT eating here!!"  I thought we were going to bowl-over our guide as we bolted from the door of the place... as he was still standing right outside!  We told him to please find our driver and have him take us back to the Ista so we could have a proper last meal.  I must say, I truly didn't mind the looks of the place at all...and - I think if this had happened now, Amy would have ordered her food and loved it...I've seen her eat in much more questionable circumstances since then!!

So....we went back to the hotel and ate...and drank...and drank a little more...preparing for the trip home.  I was prepared for the small plane this time...and had fortified myself with several doubles of Jameson Irish Whiskey. 

We arrived at the airport.  The best way for me to tell the tale of what happened next would be to re-print the letter that I sent to the Chairman of Kingfisher Airlines  I cannot give them high-enough praise!!

30 November 2010

To: Dr. Vijay Mallya, Chairman and CEO
Kingfisher Airlines, Ltd.

Dear Dr. Mallya:

On the short video we saw on our flight from Delhi to Hyderabad last evening, you told us that you wanted feedback from your customers. Here is some feedback, and I do hope that you take the time to read it.

Yes, we are real customers. Yes, we flew with Kingfisher Airlines last night. It was our first experience with your airline.

Here are are particulars (as far as I remember them):

Names: Fr. Scott E. Kingsbury and my wife, Amy S. Brubaker

We are not "King Club" members, but we will be!!

We currently live in Hyderabad (Banjara Hills). We are living in India on a 2-3 year assignment for my wife's firm, Deloitte. We are both expatriate Americans from California, U.S.A.

Our only land-line number is a U.S. line 626-789-6288
My mobile number: 789-300-3111
Amy's mobile number: 800-812-1114

My e-mail address is or scott.e.kingsbury@gmail .com

I write a blog entitled: "At Home in Hyderabad" -

The flight numbers in question from yesterday's adventure: Flight number IT 4310 from Amritsar to Delhi...connecting to flight number IT 804 (I believe that was the number) in Hyderabad. I think on the first flight to Delhi, we were in seats 5 A and C. On the flight to HYD, we were in Business Class, seat numbers 2 A and C.

I will try to keep this short and to the point - but I do hope that you read all if this report. In general, this report is about the OUTSTANDING service that we received from Kingfisher yesterday. As expatriates overseas, as you can imagine, both my wife and I fly a lot. You probably cannot name a domestic U.S. carrier (and most international ones as well!) that one or both of us has not flown at one time or another...

As I mentioned, yesterday was our first experience with Kingfisher...and I can guarantee you it will not be our last. While each-and-every Kingfisher employee that we dealt with was professional and simply wonderful, there is one particular young man who stands-out in our minds, and is the reason for our writing this e-mail! I will do this in list-form so I do not forget the incredible way that this professional exhibited poise and hospitality to us and all of the Kingfisher guests on our flight...professionalism, it would seem at first-glance, to be far beyond his years! I am usually not one to write an "attaboy" letter...but never has one been more deserved!

His name: Mr. Gurpreet Singh, a member of your Kingfisher Staff based in Amritsar. Our story:

1) We arrived at the Amritsar airport early...our flight was due to depart at 6:20 P.M. We had three bags to check - with a transfer from our Delhi flight to our home in Hyderabad.

2) A nice gentleman at the counter began to check us in...but he seemed to be having some computer problem with the continuing flight. Mr. Gurpreet Singh stepped in and took over....

3) He greeted us warmly and apologized for the delay....he, too, was having a bit of computer difficulty, but took our e-tickets and my passport, and kindly directed us to have a seat so we didn't have to stand at the counter.

4) We did as directed, and - it probably took more time that we had expected...but while we were waiting, every five-minutes or so, Mr. Singh sent over another member of the staff to give us updates.

5) When the problems were resolved, Mr. Singh personally left the counter and delivered our boarding-passes, not only for Amritsar to Delhi...but our connection from Delhi to Hyderabad as well. In addition, he handed us our baggage tickets, again apologized on behalf of Kingfisher - and wished us a happy journey.

6) As sometimes happens with all airlines, there was a delay in the flight. For whatever reason, our flight to Delhi was going to be late arriving and departing. So - we all sat and waited.

7) Again, here comes Gurpreet Singh to the rescue. Leaving his post at the check-in counter, with his handheld radio in hand, he proceeded to walk about the gate-area, and personally gave each and every guest an update on the status of our delayed flight. According to him, the new time was going to be around 8:00 P.M. This new departure-time was a concern to us, because it seemed by what he was telling us, that we might miss our connection in Delhi to our home in Hyderabad.

8) Over the next 20-30 minutes, Mr. Singh stayed in the boarding-gate vicinity and visited with my wife and I at least three times while we were sitting at the departure-gate, giving us updates and explaining how a "plane-to-plane" transfer of us and our baggage would work when we arrived in Delhi. He assured us that Kingfisher would make it happen!! Of course, my wife and I looked at each other in amazement. Quite frankly, one NEVER sees this kind of customer care and service in the U.S.

9) When our delayed plane arrived on the ground in Amritsar...who grabs the microphone to make the announcement that we would be boarding and departing soon? None-other-than Mr. Gurpreet Singh!!

10) We take the short bus-ride to the tarmac where our plane was waiting. The flight was delayed almost two-hours, but because of Mr. Singh's confidence, we were not worried about anything. As we approach the ramp to enter the plane....who is it at the bottom of the stairs, collecting our boarding passes? Mr. Gurpreet Singh!

11) I jokingly asked him "if he was going to jump into the cockpit and fly the plane as well...??" He laughed and said that he wanted to go had been a long day for him as well...and his mother was waiting for him. I can tell you, Dr. Mallya, that Gurpreet's mother is very lucky to have a son like him....and you are blessed to have such a caring and talented member of your Kingfisher Team!

12) But the story does not end there! As promised by Mr. Singh, not only was there a Kingfisher representative waiting for us on the tarmac in Delhi, but - the ground-team personally grabbed all three of our checked bags, - placed them (and us!!) onto a private Kingfisher bus...and took us directly to the jetway. We were escorted to our seats by the wonderful crew on-board Flight IT 804 (your Business Class is outstanding, too, by the way!)...and we just smiled at each other in amazement!! Again, this could NEVER happen on any airline in the U.S.!!

13) After one of the most comfortable and relaxing flights I've ever been on....we arrived in Hyderabad at the exact time Mr. Singh told us we would...and, all-in-all - we were only about 30-minutes later that we were scheduled to be!!

Dr. Mallya, our experience with your airline was on the very last day of our Northern India vacation. I need to tell you that, on our trip, we saw New Delhi, rode an elephant in Jaipur, saw the Taj Mahal for the first time, visited the Golden Temple...and stayed in five-star hotels the entire 8-days we were on the road.

But the thing that I will remember most? The special way that we were treated by Mr. Gurpreet Singh and all of the staff at Kingfisher Airlines. We are loyal customers now, for life.

Any chance you will be flying to Los Angeles, California by 2013??

Many, many thanks.

Most sincerely,

Scott Kingsbury and Amy Brubaker

His answer back follows:

Rev. Scott E. Kingsbury,

Thank you for your gracious message of 30 November to me.

I truly appreciate your taking the time and effort to share details pertaining to your experience at Amritsar Airport prior to your travel on flight IT4310 to Delhi for your onward connecting flight IT804 to Hyderabad. I also note that this was your first flight with Kingfisher Airlines; in this context, I am pleased to know that you and your wife enjoyed the high standard of service and hospitality extended to you by staff at Amritsar Airport.

It was also kind of you to single out for mention the exemplary service and commitment of our staff, Mr. Gurpreet Singh at Amritsar Airport. It is indeed heartening to learn of the manner in which he ensured that you had a seamless and comfortable travel experience at Amritsar Airport, as well as on arrival at Delhi Airport when you had to take your connecting flight to Hyderabad. I am delighted to share your kind words of appreciation with Gurpreet and his team at Amritsar Airport.

I strongly believe that every interaction with a guest is a "Moment of Truth" which provides us an opportunity to deliver an exemplary level of service. This philosophy forms an important part of the daily work ethic of staff at all levels. Once again, thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me.

I value your patronage and look forward to the pleasure of welcoming you and your wife on Kingfisher Airlines again.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Vijay Mallya
Member of Parliament
Chairman and Managing Director
A UB Group Company ends our Golden Triangle Vacation story.  It was a wonderful trip from beginning to and...and = we had experiences that wee will remember forever.

Next up:  Our Trip to Bangalor and our Return to Jaipur!!

The Most Horrible Woman on the Planet!

Both Amy Suzanne and I were looking forward to the famous "flag lowering and gate closing ceremony" at the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan.  Ever since I had seen this video on YouTube about this wild ceremony (that occurs each and every day at sundown!!) - I could not wait to go!!  I hadn't realized when we first began to talk about making a journey to Amritsar, that the famous border-crossing was just a short drive away from where we were staying!!  How exciting!!  Even more exciting was the fact that our guide told us to bring our passports because a foreign passport got you seats in the very best part of the bleacher-style seating!!

We arrived amongst a literal crush of people!  The security (as you can imagine!) was extra-super-special-tight and everybody had to go through a metal-detector (not a big deal...we have to go through a metal-detector to go to Q-Mart in Banjara Hills and virtually any mall in Hyderabad!).  But in addition, each person had to get a pat-down search before they would let you in.  It was a bit of a madhouse...a couple of Indian soldiers on horse-back did some basic crowd-control when things got a little tight. This included threatening, but never quite hitting people, with long sticks.

They separated men from women going in for the metal-detector and pat-down...our guide stayed with me until the end...and then waved good-bye as I went in...  It was a little disconcerting being separated from Amy in that crush of people...but we had picked a place to meet and I found her straight-away.  When we got all sorted-out...she pointed at this lady...a fierce-looking older German woman (see photo of her at the top of this post) with a menacing scowl.  Amy said... "That woman right there is just horrible...she was pushing in line and I told her to stop it...and she yelled at me... f---ing b----!!"

I chuckled because Amy is generally a real dove when it comes to confrontation!  Anyway...on to the bleachers for the ceremony!!

As I said...our foreign passports got us great seats....and we were comfortably seated with a nice PIO (Person of Indian Origin) - a sweet girl with a heavy Australian accent....and began to do some serious people-watching....  The Indian side is much more crowded - and much louder...there was chanting ("Jai, Jai, Hindustan!!") and was very much like a college football game-day atmosphere!

The striking thing is on the other side of the border-gate....on the Pakistani side.  I saw one section with very brightly-colored clothing and the other bleachers were filled with people in fairly drab colored clothes.  It didn't take me long to figure out that it was because the men were not allowed to sit with the women in an Islamic Republic like Pakistan.  Chalk up one victory for freedom for the India side!!

The Pakistanis would shout something and the Indian side would chant back louder...this went on for some time.  Suzanne didn't know what to  - she did the only chant she knows...the chant for her Deloitte PSW cricket team...the "Stunnerz".  Here is a cute video of that that I posted on YouTube:

Amy chanting "Stunnerz....Stunnerz...."

Then the actual ceremony's sort of like war without actually being war...the two sides are dressed in colorful uniforms and hats...and they march around like something right out of Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks"

It's part peacockery and part cockfight warm-up....I have another short video that I took as the festivities began:

Our Visit to the Wagah Border Ceremony

Here is also a link to our Facebook Photo Album:

The Last of Our Vacation Photos (Volume Four)

The whole thing probably took only 20-minutes beginning-to-end.... but it was really worthwhile...I am so glad we went.  The people were all dismissed and an orderly (sort-of) parade headed for the exits.  Here is where things got a little off track.

Now...dear friends and readers of "At Home in Hyderabad" ...please know that I am not particularly proud of what happened next...but - this blog has always been about here's the unvarnished truth...

Amy and I were walking down the bleachers toward the road below us.  We stopped briefly to check out the scene and decided that it was best to go to the right (toward the parking areas)  - - a much better plan than going the way the police were suggesting...back behind the bleachers the way we came in.  As we were nearing the bottom of the stands...perhaps two steps up...Amy grabbed the hand rail and - - a women runs directly into her arm.....Aims turns around to protest...and sees who it is. guessed it.  "The Most Horrible Woman on the Planet" - - that beastly German broad was directly behind Amy Suzanne!!

What happened next actually shocked me!!  This horrible excuse for a human being PUSHED Amy from behind...HARD...and she stumbled a bit and landed on both feet on the street below.  Then something snapped!!

In a blind rage after seeing my wife get pushed from behind...I grabbed the woman by the throat really hard...and pressed both of my thumbs into her scrawny neck and Adam's apple.... I screamed at her in the most gruff-sounding and severe way I could muster:

"If you ever lay hands on my wife again you bitch, I will f---ing kill you!!!

Her squinty eyes bugged-out behind her sunglasses like a stepped-on toad - - and she looked genuinely scared.  She should have been!!  I have never been that pissed-off in my life!!  I let go of her neck with a strong push and she began to walk away briskly...

Her husband saw what was happening and came up and said something to me in German.  He was a fat beer-soaked little geek of a I yelled right in his face... "And f--- you, too!!"  He asked the rhetorical "F--- me?"... but then he saw my wrath as well...and decided it was best to skedaddle.  Two young Indian fellows saw the incident and one says to me in perfect English... " better cool it...." and motioned for me to notice three very armed soldier/police-types who looked as if they would just love to throw some crazed American into their jail!

During the walk out to our waiting guide and our car...Amy was holding me back because my dander was still up and I was still ready to kill that horrible lady.  I finally calmed down with the help of some gentle words of thanks from my wife...and we never saw those miserable German pantloads again...

And that, my friends, is the story of "The Most Horrible Woman on the Planet"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blog Extra! The Great Boulder Hills Seven-iron Experiment

I was talking with my friend (and fellow "Flintstone", Bill Sullivan just the other day about how best to play our golf course.  By the way, the "Flintstones" are a local group of guys from all over the world who live in Hyderabad and play golf together at the Boulder Hills Country Club where we are all members.  Bill was saying that he'd like to go out to play Boulder Hills with "nothing but a seven-iron and "below" - - just to prove to himself that the game is not about power, but more about control of the golf shot and keeping the ball in play.

It sounds obvious...hit the ball down the middle and keep it in play and you will score better.  Well, today, I decided to put this challenge to the test.  And I found the results to be very interesting and quite telling...I learned a lot and had a ton of fun pulling it off.  Now, for those of you who play golf in the U.S. (or virtually anywhere else in the world, for that matter) - "DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" - I was literally the only golfer on the course all day long and played two-balls per hole at one time.  My fellow Boulderians...please don't tell the management that I did this on the day before the Audi tournament...and please note that I fixed each and every divot and ball-mark!

Here is the hole-by-hole account of the round(s) - I played one game "regular" - using all the clubs I would regularly hit - and the second game I never used anything over a 7-iron:

Front Nine:

Hole #1 376-yards - Par 4 

Regular game: Hit a perfect 3-wood right down the middle, left myself 160-yards up-hill to a middle flag.  Hit a duff rescue-club about 70-yards, hit a PW deep over the flag, two-putts.  Typical opening hole for me. Score - 5

7-iron game: Hit 150 down the right side, hit a second 7-iron perfectly, hit a wedge to the right edge of the green, putt from off the green Score - 5

Hole #2 400-yards - Par 4 (#1 handicap monster with a lake)

Regular game: Did what I always seem to do...put one into the lake on the right on the fly.  Took a drop, hit a 6-iron to the flat area before the green, chipped on, two-putt.  Score - 6  One lost ball

7-iron game: 150 yards straight.  another 7-iron 150 yards straight, PW to the green, two putts.  Score - 5

Hole #3 127-yards - downhill Par 3

Regular game: No difference here between the two games.  Hit PW a little long.  Two-putts for par.  Score - 3

7-iron game: PW to the right side of the green - white flag.  Two putts for par.  Score - 3

Hole #4 395-yards - Par 4

Regular game: Kept the driver in the bag, (playing it "safe") hit a slicing 3-wood onto the rocky hillside, took an unplayable drop Hit a 5-iron into the gaping green side bunker on the right, came out nicely, two putts for double-bogey.  Score - 6

7-iron game: Perfect 7-iron off the tee - second shot a safe 8-iron short of the green.  Sand-wedge to within 10-feet.  Drained the putt for PAR!  Score - 4

Hole #5 518-yards - Par 5

Regular game:  Like to hit driver here to gain distance...didn't work.  Hit a line drive towards the rock on the left...had to punch out (hit a good shot!) - hit an 8-iron down the right side to the garden-spot in front of the tree with room to the left -  PW went a little long - chipped on and two putts for a double-bogey.  Score - 7

7-iron game: Perfect 7-iron from the tee...another put me down by the lake in two...pinched a little by the lake on the left and the rocks on the right...hit an 8-iron down the right to a garden-spot to the right of the tree...SW on the green short of the flag - two putts and made bogey.  Score - 6


Hole #6 369-yards - Par 4 (The Temple Hole)  Not much difference here...I usually play it safe to end up short of the creek...the only difference was I usually hit 6-iron off the tee and play it like a Par 5.

Regular game: Hit a great 6-iron short of the creek, hit a 5-iron just short-right before the bunker, chip was deep onto the green.  Nice putt - tap-in for bogey.  Score - 5

7-iron game:  I may hit 7-iron off the tee from now on...actually ended up in a better place than I did with the 6-iron.  Nice flat lie short of the creek, hit a smooth 8-iron into the middle of the fairway, left 100-yards even.  SW to the right of the flag - two putts for a nice bogey.  Score - 5

Hole #7 495-yards uphill - Par 5

Regular game: Hit a great 3-wood down the left side, hit another great 3-wood to the 100-yard marker on the right, stuck a PW hole-high, two putts for par.  Score - 5

7-iron game: Perfect 160-yard 7-iron, then another, then another...three very good shots!!  Left an easy SW to the green...left about a 10' putt - which I drained for par!!  Score - 5


Hole #8 173-yards downhill - Par 3

Regular game: I like to hit 5-iron to a back-flag and a 6-iron to the middle.  Chose 6-iron and hit it too well....back left - just off the green.  Putted it very close.  Made the putt for par!  Score - 3

7-iron game: Problematic.  No place to lay-up really because of the lake short-left.  I don't think 7-iron is enough club.  Over-swung and put it over into the rocks on the right.  Hit a second ball on, but short-right.  Two-putts for double bogey.  First lost-ball with the 7-iron game.  Score - 5

Hole #9 382-yards - Par 4 (second shot over water)

Regular game: Need driver here....hit it perfect...right down the middle but too short to go for the green in two.  Hit a 9-iron to about 65-yards short.  Hit a SW really deep.  Lucky I didn't 3-putt.  Great putt...tap-in for a nice bogey.  Score - 5

7-iron game:  Not sure 7-iron is the right club...could go into the creek.  Hit an 8-iron perfectly.  Nice-lie -  short of the creek - took out the trusty 7-iron and bladed it directly into the creek!!!  Took a drop, hit an 8-iron onto a small hill on the left, hit a great PW out of the rough - two-putts for a TRIPLE bogey 7.


Regular game: 45 (on handicap)
7-iron game: 45 (on handicap)

7-iron game is 1-up after nine in match-play

Back Nine:

Hole #10 378-yards - Par 4

Regular game:  I have not been hitting driver here lately.  There is a stand of trees down the right and there is a rocky wasteland to the left.  I took the 3-wood out of the bag to "play it safe" and hit a line-drive into a patch of rough and a bush and a rock.  Unplayable.  Took a drop and hit an 8-iron just short of the green.  Hit a SW spot-on and luckily I made the putt for a scrambling bogey.  Score - 5

7-iron game:  Put a nice 7-iron down the right side and safe...hit another nice 7-iron short of the green to the right.  Hit a nice wedge from almost the identical spot my "regular" ball was, but not as close.  Two-putted for bogey.  Score - 5

Hole #11 183-yards - Par 3 (downhill)

Regular game:  I know the perfect club for this shot.  The Gold tees were playing at the Blue Tee markers...and I almost had a hole-in-one from this spot last June.  It's a smooth 6-iron.  I hit it a little too-well and was long and left of the flag with about a 30' downhill putt.  Put it about 5' away - missed it and three-putted for a bogey.  Score - 4

7-iron game:  Hit the 7-iron high...too high.  Fell short of the green.  Chipped straight over the hole long.  Two-putted coming back down the could have been worse.  Score - 4

Hole #12 396-yards - Par 4 (#2 handicap hole on the course.)

Regular game:  Took out the 3-wood and pulled one dead-left and O.B. into the brush.  Re-teed and pulled another one dead-left and O.B. into the brush.  I decided not to lose a third brand new ball and picked up and just played the 7-iron shots.  Score - 7x

7-iron game:  7-iron right of center.  Another 7-iron to the perfect spot - 110-yards from the pin.  Hit a PW that I wanted to bounce onto the narrow green and it got caught-up in the long Bermuda grass that fronts the putting surface.  Putted through the long grass (afraid of the dreaded "flyer") - and it worked.  One-putt for a nice bogey.  Score - 5


Hole #13 324-yards - Par 4 dogleg left - tricky hole

Regular game:  Hit one of  the best 3-woods I ever hit on this hole...gave myself a good look at the green...but couldn't really see the flag.  110-yards out...chose a 9-iron and pulled it badly - up into the rocky hillside to the left of the green...bounced out and onto the left fringe.  Putted off the fringe and left a tap-in for a nice par.  Score - 4

7-iron game:  Not so good this time.  Hit a good 7-iron off the tee...put a nice soft wedge over to the garden-spot at about 75-yards.  Sliced a PW into the brush.  Lost ball.  Went back and hit a better wedge...two putts for a triple-bogey.  Score - 7

Hole #14 539-yards - Par 5

Regular game:  Need the driver here.  Hit it pretty good but I was too far right and ended up behind a tree,  Misjudged the club and hit a 7-iron trying to clear the tree...caught a big branch and it bounced straight down into the leaves and rough.  Punched out by the big tree in the center of the fairway - hitting four with a long way to get home.  Hit a good 3-wood to about 70 yards.  One in five and two-putted.  Lousy double-bogey.  Score - 7

7-iron game:  Here the "7-iron game" gets interesting.  I know for a fact that there is no way to cross the creek with a seven - even a well-struck one.  I chose a nine-iron to push the limits of the grass on the near side of the creek...and - that is not an easy shot.  I hit it perfectly.  Then I hit a 7-iron and another 7-iron and was in the middle of the fairway in three.  I hit another 9-iron just short...chipped on and made two putts for a double.  That's a long hole with nothing to hit over a 7-iron!!  Score - 7

Hole #15 434-yards Par 4

Regular game:  Chose the 5-wood to get out and into the middle.  Hit it a mile-high and only about 140 yards long.  Needed to lay up to the lay-up place, hit a third shot on the blade and barely across the creek - chipped on and made a two-putt double.  Score - 6

7-iron game:  Hit the 7-iron off the tee further than the 5-wood.  Still not enough to challenge the creek...laid up.  Hit the CPR rescue-club perfectly - jut off the green to the right, hole-high in three.  Putted on and made the 2-footer for a winning bogey.  Score - 5


Hole #16 197-yards Par 3

Regular game:  Distinct advantage for the regular game here.  Hit the CPR just short of the front edge of the green.  LONG uphill putt - left it about 4' short.  Rimmed the putt...went in and came out.  Took a bogey I didn't deserve!  Score - 4

7-iron game:  Hit a nice high draw - landed 5' from the cart path on the left.  Hit a beautiful PW on to the middle and two-putted for a tie.  Score - 4

Match is DORMIE!!!  Regular Game is 2-down with 2-to-play!!

Hole #17 387-yards  Par 4

Regular game:  Hit driver...and hit a good one.  155-yards left from the left side of the fairway.  Wind was blowing so I chose a 3/4 5-iron.  Big mistake.  Hooked it into the left trap!  Duffed one in the trap for three...skulled one over the green in four, chipped-on and two-putted for a match-losing triple-bogey.  Nice.  Score - 7

7-iron game: 7-iron, 7-iron, PW, two putts for a bogey.  This 7-iron game was working!!  Score - 5


Hole #18 622-yards Par 5 into the wind.

Regular game:  Actually played this hole pretty well.  Hit a great drive...a perfect 3-wood and left me 225 to the green over water.  Not a chance with the wind.  Lay-up shot to 110 yards.  Stiffed a nice 9-iron to within 8-feet when the wind held it up.  Made two-putts for a 6 and that is a good score on this hole!!  Score - 6

7-iron game:  Hit a PW to a side-hill lie next to the ladies tee.  Hit three more great 7-irons (laying 4) to almost the exact same place the "regular ball" was in three.  Hit the same 9-iron a little right of the white flag and made two-putts for a respectable 7.  Score - 7


Regular game: 50 (terrible)

7-iron game: 49 (just slightly less terrible)


Total stroke-play:

Regular game:  45 - 50 = 95

7-iron game:  45 - 49 = 94

So, boys and girls...what did we learn??  First off...I suck at this game...even though I love it so much!!  Secondly...something I knew all along but refused to believe...straight and in-play is much better than O.B. and in the weeds!!