New Delhi, Weather from Weather Underground

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our own little fantasy island...or Paradise Village

I may be showing my age but I remember Saturday nights watching Fantasy Island....didn't it come on just after the Love Boat? Who didn't love the part where Mr Roarke and his side kick Tattoo would say, "Welcome to Fantasy Island."
I felt like I was reliving my Fantasy Island watching days when, in March of this year, we visited Paradise Village. Our own Mr Roarke and Tattoo....well actually the resorts' owners Nanni and Federica.....met us with welcoming drink in hand as the boat docked said, "Welcome to Paradise Village and our family." 
It wasn't the easiest trip getting from Delhi to Paradise (Delhi-Kuala Lumpur, taxi from int'l to domestic airport, 9 hour layover, Kuala Lumpur to Pagang, 2+ hour twisting van ride across West Sumatra, 15 minute speed boat) Once we were on the boat our bodies started to work out the stress and kinks from life and the long travel time. Then, as we sped across some of the bluest waters I have ever seen, I started to smile.  
We pulled up to floating villas in front of jungle covered mountains. 
The beauty is very difficult to put in words....breathtaking, amazing, awe inspiring. 
Our bodies started to unwind and relax before we even disembarked onto the dock.

The staff at Paradise Village is friendly and welcoming while being a calming presence and very unobtrusive during the stay. The adorable young men who work as cooks, cleaners, fishermen go about their day full of smiles. The Paradise family is complete with Marco, the dive master, and Dominique, the hotel manager. Each and every one of them made our stay exactly what we expected. 
The bungalows are just steps away from the beach and calm waters of the lagoon. 
We slept each night cocooned in mosquito netting, listening to the waves lap upon the shore, lit by the moon peeking in through the windows.
We dined at communal meals of fresh fruit and veggies, fish that had been caught and delivered in small junk-type boats that morning, and amazing desserts. 
The families became one as the children bonded and started running around as a group. 
We sat on the porch listening to the surf and watching the kids romp in the water that was a calm as a swimming pool. We read, played games, told stories, and focused on a purely family holiday. Even if it weren't named Paradise Village, I would still say it was pure perfection.
We swam and snorkeled each day then slept like rocks each night.
We watched sunsets and sunrises. 
 We collected shells and took long walks.
We fished with the island boys.  
 We read books after dinner.
We lived in the moment and didn't think about work, school, house keeping, staff, dust, Delhi, or what was to come next. We left satisfied and relaxed and wishing for a just a few more days in Paradise. 
Isn't that the best way to leave....always wishing for a little more?? 
So, welcome to our own little fantasy island!
If you are interested visit the website for more information and photos
or email them for more information at

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Independence Day!!

Happy Independence Day to India!!
15 August is the annual celebration commemorating India's independence from British rule and its birth as a sovereign nation in 1947. The day is celebrated with flag raising, singing of the national anthem, family gatherings, and kite flying. The flying of kites is meant to celebrate the spirit of freedom. Kite celebrations and competitions are held throughout India. 
 Our compound had its own flag raising ceremony with many of the children singing the national anthem.
The National flag of India
is a tri-colored flag of 
Saffron standing for courage, sacrifice, and patriotism
White for peace and honesty
Green for hope, joy, fertility, and prosperity.
The blue wheel in the center is a symbol of vigilance, truth, and justice. 
The wheel has 24 spokes and is known as the Ashoka Chakra or the Wheel of Law representing continuing progress of the nation and the importance of justice in life.
(The above information was borrowed from Intellitots)
The littlest one with what she now refers to as her flag.
The girls were thrilled to get involved in the spirit of independence day and fly some kites. Thankfully, a couple of the locals were able to assist with the correct tying of a kite. Maybe this is why we were never able to get one in the air on previous attempts.

 Almost up in the air
Now this is how it is done.....Happy Independence Day India!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Magic Suitcase

This suitcase always seemed to hold a little magic for me. It had belonged to my Great Aunt Gwen, for whom I am named. My Grandmother always kept it up in the closet out of reach of small hands that may damage or dirty the contents. It came out rarely and only when really needed.....during a long winter vacation when cabin fever started to set in, an extended period of bed rest due to illness, or times when cheering up was much needed. She would explain to me that the suitcase had been her sister's and the contents it now held had been my mother's. There were rules of handling and gently playing with what was inside. 
I was not to open the latches by myself because she was afraid my little fingers would be hurt. Also, I don't think she really wanted me to know how to maneuver the "old-fashioned" clasps. It helped keep a little of the mystery.
 After listening to the rules and watching her snap open the closures, ta-da......the contents were revealed. Doll furniture that had belonged to my mother. There is something to be said about keeping some items for few and far between moments. Because when the lid opened, it always seemed like a magical moment to me. 
 Beds and dressers, fireplaces, kitchen sinks, bathtubs, a toilet, lamps, bookshelves, even a grandfather clock. At one point in time there had been a doll house and dolls that would be brought out also. Now, all that is left is some of the furniture and oh-so-amazing accessories such as milk pitchers, fire irons, and a hand mirror. I hadn't seen this suitcase in ages and didn't even know if it was still around. So, you can imagine my 
delight one day this summer (when my girls were about to kill each other and driving me crazy) when my mother came down from her attic with the magic suitcase. She put down a quilt  and made them sit patiently while we explained the history and slowly, I'm sure painstakingly slow for the girls, opened the latches. They were sitting on their knees, bouncing and clapping even though they had no idea if toys, a snake, or a bomb were going to come out. If only I could have captured their faces when it was opened. To say they were delighted would be an understatement! The joy was immense. The older daughter took careful time to take out each piece, examine it, ask questions, and lay it to the side. She split the furniture up between she and her younger sister for a marathon playing session. 
 The original dolls have long since fallen apart and moved on to "a better place" (not sure what that would be for dolls but it sounds nice). Amazingly enough, Polly Pockets, and Disney Princess dolls fit the furniture. Don't Jasmine and Naveen look cozy hanging out with Polly and her friend? 
 I can't explain the warmth it brought to my heart to see the girls playing with these items which had once brought me (and I'm sure my mother before me) many hours of fun and entertainment. I watched them play very carefully and then place the pieces back in the magic suitcase. I listened to them asking my mother exactly how old each piece is and was glad to answer, yes, when they asked if they would be able to play with them the next time we are at Gramcracker's house. (Gramcracker is what they call my mother.....that is a whole different post) 

Sometimes, I worry about living on the other side of the world. I worry about our children having roots and a connection to family. Then a moment like this comes along. It makes me realize that roots and connections are made and held in so many different ways. Our children have roots and an incredible connection to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They bond with them the instant we are all in a room together, they have stories of times with family, and now they have the magic suitcase too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Home Visit - Texas Leg

It was hard to believe that another year had passed and we were on the way for a "home visit." I tried to find a definition of home visit as we use it in the expat world. None found....for us a home visit is simply a trip to the United States. We don't actually own a home right now so our home visit is different each year. Thankfully, we have very welcoming family who never complains when we show up on their doorstep with six or seven bags, jet lagged and weary. This year we started our visit in Dallas. The girls were more than thrilled to find an American Girl store just minutes away from their Aunt and Uncle. Daughter #1 had been saving rupees (exchanged for dollars) for a year and took her time perusing the pink coated shelves and racks of the store until she found just the perfect purchase. I thought this would be the highlight of the trip for both girls.

It made me so happy to have both girls say that the highlights of their trip were cooking with Aunt Katie, playing marathon Monopoly games with (and winning over) Uncle David and Daddy, and getting to know their cousin Evangeline.
 The week went quickly....
trips to the zoo,
blueberry picking,
music concerts at the botanical gardens,
game playing,
just hanging out with family.