Morning sounds

The many sounds of morning at IISc.

Every morning we awake (all too early) to the sounds of tropical birds. Hundreds of birds, in dozens of varieties, each singing to the sunrise.  At about 5am, the songs are dominated by a mixture of calls to prayer from several local mosques.  By 6am, more birds awake and they dominate the scene for another two hours.  Today I set out to record the birds from about 6:15-7:15am, the prime time, and I’m really pleased by the results. If you listen carefully, you can hear a faint din of distant traffic. 

A short excerpt (three and a half minutes).
Another excerpt (5 minutes).
The whole hour: you’ll hear the occasional passing scooter, a distant train, and even the flip-flop sandals of the newspaper man as he delivers the Sunday paper.
a Black Kite, which you can hear occasionally as a nasty screeching call

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Mysore and Christmas

A night in Mysore before a quiet family Christmas at home.

We spent a night in Mysore [location], before heading back to Bangalore on Christmas Eve. We had been to Mysore back in October, but wanted to visit again so my parents could see the palace and other sights. The palace is truly amazing, indeed, if they would only let me take photos inside I could share with you the carved ceilings, elaborate woodwork, and huge marble palace rooms.

The Dudley team (past, present, and future), at the Mysore Palace. Grandpa Jack, David, John, Andy.

We also visited the Mysore silk factory, which was fascinating, and deafening!  Vast rooms full of electric looms, clattering away, spinning and and then weaving gorgeous bolts of pure silk, or silk woven together with gold.  It hurt the ears, and yet most of the workers had little ear protection.   Again, no photographs allowed, so here is Pam shopping for silk at a nearby shop.

Pam looks at saris in Mysore.

We visited a gift shop, because this region is well-known for its inlaid wood furniture.  We spent many hours there, watching the woodworkers, choosing some pieces to send home, and examining the beautiful silk. As a gimmick, on our arrival the shopkeeper had one of the woodworkers instantly and freehand sawed a delicate carved initial for each of our kids. We bought a beautiful table made of inlaid wood: 

we bought this inlaid-wood table at a Mysore furniture workshop.

Christmas Day was quiet, spent in our apartment at home. The kids were thrilled to receive an iPod nano each.  Amazing how Santa read their minds!  Now, if we could just get them to put the dang things down and look outside the window….

See photos.


This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

More IISc wildlife

I finally got some good pictures of the black Kites.

I’m not sure whether the RSS feed highlights new photo albums, so here’s a quick entry to point out that I’ve added another small collection of IISc photos. Plenty of flowers, and I finally got some good pictures of the black Kites. [location]

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Why I love living on campus

We live in faculty apartments on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), in Bangalore.

When we visited Bangalore last August, the prime mission for our visit was to find a place to live.  Many expats live in some of the snazzy new apartment complexes or walled-in gated communities of villas. We live on campus at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and are so glad we had that option and made that choice.  [location]

Forest path in the center of IISc campus.
  • it’s like living in a park, with trees and wildlife everywhere
  • there is lots of wildlife (check out my photos, or this amazing Flickr album, by a grad student)
  • I walk to work (2 blocks!), skipping the numbing traffic of Bangalore most days
  • it’s quiet – because there’s no traffic and there are lots of trees
  • the air is cleaner – because there’s no traffic and there are lots of trees
  • it’s safer – because it’s a gated community with guards at all the gates
  • the power, telephone, and water are reliable, unlike other parts of the city (which suffers through 4hr power outages most days)
  • there are many on-campus services, including a restaurant and little independent shops: tailors, hairdressors, drycleaner, travel agents, copiers, bookstore, bike repair, vegetables, milk, bread, sundries
  • we have access to facilities like the gym and pool
  • my kids’ schoolbus stops at the gate on the edge of campus
  • my kids can safely play and bike in the streets
  • there are lots of kids in the neighborhood, and they all speak English; my kids have friends
  • they have free kids movies on some nights
  • the neighbors are all professors, and friendly.

It’s not perfect, to be sure – there is a surprising amount of trash around, and a clear lack of maintenance.  But this is so much nicer, on the whole.

This woman had a fascinating face and a stunning sari. I should have asked her to stop.

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Monkey bars – the sequel

Always bring a camera when doing laundry.

OK, sometimes it just happens. You write a blog entry one day, about the monkeys, and the very next day a dozen monkeys come by while you’re hanging laundry. They are actually Bonnet Macaques and are common in this part of India.  I used photos from our visit to Mysore, but I described anecdotes about them breaking into apartments here at IISc.  Today, I happened to be on the roof hanging laundry, and a band of monkeys strolled across the roof. My new personal rule– never hang laundry without your camera at hand – paid off handsomely.

A Bonnet Macaques seeking food on the rooftop of our apartment building at IISc.

This group, with at least a dozen monkeys, traveled through the trees and landed first on my neighbors’ roof.  They strolled across the connecting stairwell, around my laundry, and down into the narrow courtyard that separates us from another neighbor.  In that courtyard, they scrambled across the clotheslines (and clothes), explored the windows in hopes of finding one open, and entered a foyer in hopes of finding a door open.  In the foyer they found what appeared to be apple peels wrapped in newspaper.  These they nibbled as they climbed back up and headed on their way across the next roof.

I took over 200 photos, but selected a few good ones.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Monkey bars

We share the IISc campus with a large troup of monkeys.

When we moved into our apartment on campus, I noticed that there were bars on all the windows, even though we live on the second floor.  Indeed, there are bars on all the windows of the academic buildings, too.  People warned me about theft, and I assumed the bars were to keep out thieves.

The monkeys of Chamundi Hill attempt to raid a kitchen in Mysore.
The monkeys of Chamundi Hill attempt to raid a kitchen in Mysore; if you click and look closely, you can also see a huge spider that happened to be between me and the scene of the crime.

I was half right.  The bars are there to keep out thieving primates, but not specifically humans.  These pictures are from off-campus, but there is a band of monkeys that lives on campus and we have had one hanging on the bars of our dining-room window, eyeing the bananas on the table. Our neighbors tell stories of monkeys strolling into the house, opening the fridge, and walking off with whatever tastes good.  We often see them poking through the outdoor trash bins (there are no covered dumpsters here).

When I stopped to take these pictures, on Chamundi Hill in Mysore, Pam and the kids continued walking. Pam was carrying a small bunch of bananas we had brought for our snack during the outing.  Zip! they were gone from her hand, before she had even noticed the monkeys.  The following photo shows the monkey stuffing its cheeks with our bananas. 

This monkey grabbed the bananas right out of Pam’s hand, while she was walking to Chamundi temple in Mysore. His mouth is stuffed with banana.

I’m told these monkeys are Bonnet Macaques

Bonnet macaque, Mysore.

Update: the next day, a dozen monkeys lumbered by while I was out hanging laundry on the roof.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Diwali

Diwali is one of the most beloved festivals in India.

The neighbors just fired a cannon.  Or, at least, that’s what it sounds like.  I nearly jumped out of my chair. Boom! there goes another one.

It is Diwali, or more traditionally, “Deepavali”. “While [it] is popularly known as the ‘festival of lights’, a more appropriate significance is ‘the new year of luck and wealth’.” “The festival marks the victory of good over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness.” [Wikipedia]  It marks the end of the harvest season, and for many businesses, the start of a new fiscal year. Read on!

Continue reading “Diwali”

A haircut

A haircut and an experience.

I had my last haircut just before we left NH, and it was getting desperately shaggy.   Fortunately, IISc has many services available on campus.  Most or all are independent vendors, who set up shop in rented nooks here and there.  Travel agents, banks, tailors, beauty salons, photocopies, vegies, milk, bread, you name it. So, I tried the men’s salon at the little marketplace near our apartment.  I was nervous that either a) it would be unsanitary or b) they would not understand my request and I’d get a bad haircut.

Arish, who appears to be the owner, speaks good English, though his partner (who cut my hair) does not.  Arish translated and explained what I wanted.  The other man snipped away with what seemed to be 100-year-old scissors, while Arish chatted and worked on another customer.  He asked where I was from, how long I was staying, how old I am, and why I have a scar on the back of my neck.  In general, I find Indians to be much more willing to ask such questions than Americans, who avoid such “personal” questions.

Anyway, the result was a very good haircut.  When that was done, he pulled out his straight razor – those things always make me nervous – and shaved the back of my neck.  Finally, he dusted me off with a gentle brush and talcum powder.  The price? 20 rupees! (40 cents, at today’s rate.)  On the other hand, they used the same dirty scissors and comb as for the previous guy, so as a precaution I washed my hair when I got back home.

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Diwali at CIS

School performance day.

Mara and the 4th grade
Mara and her classmates performing during Diwali festival at CIS.

Our kids go to the Canadian International School in Bangalore [location], and the whole school put on a show on the Friday before Diwali weekend.  Mara and the 4th grade, Andy and the 2nd grade, John and the 6th grade. 

Andy and the 2nd grade
Andy and his classmates finish their performance of “Rama and Sita” for Diwali, at CIS.
John and the 6th grade
John and his classmates performing during Diwali festival at CIS.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Wonder la

We attended a birthday party for Andy’s second-grade classmate at Wonder la, a nearby amusement park.

Andy was invited to a birthday party for one of his second-grade classmates. The party was held at Wonder la, a new amusement park 23km outside Bangalore [location].  The kids had a great time, because park admission gave them access to all the rides.  Pizza, rides, and then cake and presents, on a hot sunny day…  what could be better? See photos.

At the ‘Wonder la’ amusement park, outside Bangalore.

Once you go through the gate, you feel as if you’re in a spotless amusement park that might be anywhere in the west – although with women in saris swimming in the water park, it’s still India.  Teenage Indian boys seemed to enjoy all the rides, even those intended for young kids, highlighting the novelty of such a park.

At one point, the park lost power – such is the infrastructure – and although the power resumed a minute later, we watched as some workers had to push one of the rides up a hill to get it started again.

Andy’s CIS classmates are very international.  The birthday boy is the son of a Finnish father and Portuguese mother, though he was born in Sweden and now lives in India.  Andy’s best friend is from Japan; his father works at Kowasaki.  Others were from all over Europe, and even from the US.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.