Tag Archives: elephant

the Silver Temple in Amritsar………

Nope, that is not a mistake – there is certainly a Golden Temple in Amritsar, India (it is the highest of all Sikh temples and you can read more about it here) – but there is also a Silver Temple in Amritsar. It is a Hindu temple modeled after the Golden Temple – and it looks a lot like the Golden Temple except it is (much) smaller and the lines are (much) shorter. The temple is also known as the Sri Durgiana Temple.

The Silver Temple got its name from the beautiful silver doors that adorn the entrance ways.

I was told this guy is the founder of the temple and he welcomes you outside the gate. Actually he is facing the entrance, so it would be more accurate to say he bids you farewell.

This bell is all full of awesomeness. Many temples have bells. I have been told they serve two purposes – one, to let God (or the gods) know you are there and two, to scare the evils away. Either works for me.

This is one of the prayer books.

There are statues of gods everywhere – by some accounts, Hinduism hails over 1 million gods – this one is Ganesha. He is known as the “remover of obstacles”. He watches over you when you try anything new. He is a good friend to have!

This one is Lord Hanuman – the monkey god and is seemingly the most popular of the Hindu gods.

This guy protects you when you travel. (I cannot remember his name, so if you know it, please share it.) So, we visited with him for a minute and took a picture with him just to make sure we had evidence that he knew we were there.

You can see performances in honor of the Goddess Durga while you are there. Apparently it is quite an honor to be selected for the performance – I think someone forgot to this little one that. 😉

According to Wikipedia, Durga “manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.” Yep, it would be (very) good to have her on your side.

A lot of people in India like to have their picture taken and then they like to see the image on the camera screen. This guy asked me to take his picture. So I did, then I showed it to him. He was very, very excited. So, he asked our tour guide to ask me to mail it to him. Sure, that’s easy enough. He wrote down his number with a big honkin’ smile on his face.

Then he figured if it worked once, maybe he could ask again. You can imagine that once was charming, twice was amusing, but we were quickly approaching “enough already”. I took the second picture and showed it to him and then we wanted to get on our way. But he must have been concerned that we weren’t taking him seriously because he asked us to stop and he pulled out a piece of paper – he wanted us to know for sure that he was legit – so he showed us his medical release papers – from the mental hospital. Fantastic.

I have not mailed the pictures yet – and it isn’t because I misplaced his address – I know right where it is – it’s somewhere in my house. And when I find it I will mail it. 😉

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye…….

My dear friend from college put out a request on Facebook to see who might be interested in taking her daughter’s Flat Elizabeth on an adventure.

If you have never been entrusted with a Flat Stanley and do not have any idea what I am talking about, you should really consider what kind of friend you have been. For those of us who are trustworthy and creative and just spectacular in general, sometimes our friends will send us a Flat Stanley (or other cutout doll named after their child).  There is a children’s book about a boy named Stanley who gets smushed by a blackboard and accidentally sealed in an envelope and he ends up on a grand adventure. And some teachers think it is a great idea for kids in their class to create their own cutout doll and send him/her on his/her own grand adventure.

It is a really fun way for the kids to learn about the world.

Being so competitive willing to help another mother out, I raised my hand immediately. And, no I did not knock three other mothers down in the process – remember it was a virtual competition – I behaved myself quite nicely. After all, I am a civilized competitor – but I might have shouted “me, me, me” into the web-o-sphere once or twice. Maybe. And maybe not. But maybe.

In fact, lots of people offered (to no avail) to play tour guide to Flat Elizabeth. My friend is a delightful person and so it makes sense that a lot of friends would offer to help her. And I am not at all suggesting that they are losers in the Flat Elizabeth campaign – but you can see where she ended up. 😉

On a slow train to Ranthambore – the tiger preserve in India. Oh, yes, in case you have forgotten, India is where “I” live. Flat Elizabeth came to visit me! Yahoo! Not the other losers friends who offered to help out. I’m just sayin – I won, I won. tee hee.

She was a delightful travel companion. She didn’t each much and never had to stop for potty breaks. She didn’t even fight with her siblings – of course, that might have something to do with the fact that she does not have any siblings – but she did not fight once. And, yes, she is absolutely adorable. My friend friend’s daughter  is no slacker. She would never send a ragtag Flat Elizabeth to visit.

So Elizabeth went on a tiger safari and saw real tigers.

She went to an Indian classroom and found her initial on the board.

She saw forts and monkeys and learned a lot about the emperors of India.

She also rode a camel and an elephant.

She played in a band.

The only snafu that we hit was that security was tight at the Taj Mahal and they would not let dolls in. Yes, I know you would think the real threat would be guns, knives, or other expl*sives. But apparently, dolls are also on the no-go list. I tried as hard as I could to get them to change their minds. I explained it was for a school project – that Flat Elizabeth is really not a terr*rist and meant no harm to the Indian people. But it seems to have more to do with advertising – they do not want people taking pictures of the Taj with dolls and using them for advertisements. And, yes, I did my best to explain that in the west, we do not consider a piece of paper a doll. No offense intended to Flat Elizabeth – as I mentioned, she is the bestest Flat Elizabeth e.v.e.r –  but she hasn’t actually been offered a modeling career and her intentions were purely academic.

But we did not let that stop us. We found a picture of the Taj and took her picture in front of it and checked the Taj Mahal off our list.

She also had her picture taken with a member of the royal family.

Okay, now you are just being picky. He was a member of the royal family and he is sadly no longer with us – but once we stretched our imagination with the Taj Mahal, anything went. So, yes, that is a picture of her with a king. Truth be told, I think he was actually flirting with her. Don’t laugh – they have a lot in common you know – being made of paper is just one of the fine qualities they shared. Although I think she is from better stock than he is – or was.

She even wore a makeshift sari.

She also got all the diet coke she wanted. Shhhhh. Don’t tell my friend that part. But we loaded her up on caffeine.

Flat Elizabeth also got to stay in a palace. And enjoyed every second of the royal treatment.

And her bath at the end of the day was nothing short of divine.

Somewhere along the line, poor Flat Elizabeth lost an eye. I have sworn myself to secrecy on this one – mostly because I have no idea how it happened. But my dear friend understands that traveling in India can be dangerous. She has assured me that she knows of a very reputable eye surgeon in the U.S. who will keep it all on the down low.

Unfortunately I did not take a picture of her with only one eye because I did not want any evidence of the mishap should I be asked to testify later simply forgot. But I assure you, she was the cutest dang one-eyed “doll” e.v.e.r.

All the votes are in and it is o.f.f.i.c.i.a.l. – I am the best Flat Elizabeth hostess ever. Me, Me, Me.

My friend was so grateful that she sent this note…

Dear Queen of all things Flat Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for opening your heart and home to Flat Elizabeth. Your adventures with her far exceeded our highest expectations. You are just amazing. Our project will be so much better than anyone else’s. You are a rock star. It is as simple as that. We are hereby nominating you to the highest order of Flat Elizabethness and crown you supreme hostess and tour guide. It is with humble hearts and grateful friendship that we thank you for all that you have done for us. Even Mother Teresa herself could not have done such justice to this project.

Okay – what it really said was …

Dear A Reason 2 Write

Flat Elizabeth had a great time. Thanks.

Oh sure, the real version was more toned down than what I imagined it might be. But I know in my heart the Academy will be calling soon. Don’t doubt me. 😉

Guess who’s coming to dinner…………..

Sometimes it is so hard to put words to this Indian adventure. Yesterday was one of those days.

Flower’s birthday was last week and so, of course, she got chicken pox. We had to postpone the party and she was so sad because she had a really fun time planned for her friends. I joked that we had a whole week to make it better and make it unforgettable. Well, unforgettable it was. We hired a camel and an elephant and a guy to fill up 1,300 water balloons. Unforgettable indeed.

Just in case you are wondering – 1,300 water balloons last for about 2 and a half minutes in a full-on water balloon fight. But those knuckleheads didn’t miss a beat – they started a mud fight when the water balloons ran out. Yes, there are some parents who probably aren’t exactly happy, happy with me.


What made me smile the most was seeing our guard and our driver on the camel. Let’s just hope they don’t ask for hazardous duty pay.

Just another chapter in this crazy, crazy adventure.

Statues of Thailand………….


I am fast becoming a fan of the various statues around the world – so that means I get to share them with you. I will wait while you count your blessings. 😎

This guy greeted us at the airport. He did not exactly look happy to see us. But maybe he was just tired from standing there all night.

This was actually at a shop. It surprised me to see a statue of an American Indian in Thailand. I am guessing this shop owner is an exporter. I cannot imagine a big need for statues of American-styled cowboys and indians in Asia.

This guys were hanging out at the Tiger zoo. They seem really happy together. That’s a good thing – I think they will be there for a while.

There are a lot of statues in this position – it is an Asian greeting. In India, it’s “Namaste” – I am not sure what the actual greeting is in Thailand but the hands are the same. I want one of these for my American home.

This guy is either getting ready to swim or to pray – or to pray that he can swim. Either that or a plane is flying over his head. He looks a little odd to me – but he caught my attention.

There is lots of seafood in Thailand. This guy was hanging out in front of a restaurant at the night market.

Temples are everywhere. This was a mini temple at the night market. I guess you can pray for good deals or ask forgiveness for buying too much.

This guy said goodbye to us as we left the airport. He is all full of purple awesomeness.

The elephant in the room.

There is a Thai legend about a 5 headed dragon – this is a tribute to that famous battle. It was at the Bangkok airport.

He is protecting the streets in Bangkok.

Everyone is in on the folded hands. And, yes, I made my children stand around Ronald and fold their hands the same way so I could get a really cute picture. No, they were not happy about it. Yes, I realize that 5 million mothers before me have picked the same battle. Some have surely won and more have probably lost the good fight. It seems my children were afraid that someone they know might actually “see” them. Okay. At a rest stop in T.h.a.i.l.a.n.d. – we weren’t even “in town” – a 5-hour flight from Delhi and an entire day away from the U.S. I understand completely. Not.

These are not really statues – but tributes. They are all literally everywhere – all throughout the country. This is the king of Thailand and his lovely bride. I don’t even think Simon Cowell would want to see his face plastered this much and this big all over town. But the Thai people seem to really want to show their respect to him. I feel bad for his wife – I cannot imagine trying to find the perfect outfit for this photo.

Dragons are tres popular here!

This lady was also at a shop. Honestly, I think I found more statues at markets than actually on display.

I’ll get you my pretty.

And your little dog too.

17 years and counting (aka – the war of the roses)………..

This weekend, number one hubby and I “celebrated” our 17th wedding anniversary. Blink. When did that happen? Not really sure – but it’s been a good ride. I still like him a lot and he continues to put up with me. And ever since I started blogging he has officially recognized that I can be funny. We really make each other laugh and smile. We probably have at least another 17 years in us.

This is the song that makes me think of him – it’s I don’t want to miss a thing – by Aerosmith.

I say “celebrated” because number one hubby went to work, Bear had a track meet, we hosted two visiting athletes from Katmandu, Flower and Angel went with me to a craft fair – it was a little “un”anniversary like.

And if you know me at all, you’ll understand that I am not exactly all over hiring a babysitter in a foreign country to watch my kids so that hubby and I can pay way too much for a dinner out. Yeah, Laxmi made butter chicken for us and I am good with that.

There isn’t really much that either of us wanted, so gift giving pretty much went to the back burner, too. I am also good with that. I know the men are rolling their eyes here – but really – I don’t like gifts just for the sake of gifts. Hubby is generous anytime I want something – I don’t have to wait for anniversaries and birthdays. See how that works? It’s better that way.

Number One Hubby loves fresh flowers and he is especially fond of lillies. I did not want our day to go unnoticed so I got him these. They are from the flower stand in our neighborhood and they are really beautiful.

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And so began the parade of flowers and gifts. The war of the roses.

Number One Hubby’s office sent this cake. It came one day early, so I had to promise that we would cut it at midnight. We cut it and I am sure it was midnight (somewhere). It was delish.

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Then came this elephant pot from Number One Hubby’s assistant. It is tres cool. Number One Hubby had actually been looking at these – we love it! (Before you fall out of your chair, remember that the swastika here is an auspicious symbol – it has nothing to do with all that Nazi hate baloney. It is a lovely symbol here and it is often drawn out in fresh flowers. So, just to be clear, we are not joining the Third Reich – we are just being wished much love and happiness.)

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Then came these from our driver….

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and these from Ravi – the rock star who cleans our house….

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And then these from the travel group that coordinates number one hubby’s travel…..

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Deepak sent these……….

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Number One Hubby’s admin staff sent these – yep, we ran out of vases, glasses, and anything that could hold liquids, so these are in the blender.

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But before all of these arrived, hubby decided to surprise me. He ordered 17 vases and 17 dozen roses. Yep, you read that right. 17 of each. While, I was dropping off our visiting athletes and Bear for warmups at the track meet, Number One Hubby, the real Flower, and Angel worked their little florist fingers to the bone. They arranged 17 dozen roses all throughout the house.

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Some of the vases are lined with rice paper that creates this very artsy mosaic look. Hubby says the paper will eventually dissolve – but until then – fabulouso!

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These are just closeups of some of the other flowers – but I thought they were fun. So, you get to see them too.

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And yes, you are absolutely right, I am very lucky!

Odd (wo)man out……

I have debated with myself whether or not to honestly share my experiences today. Partly because today was the first day that India has totally overwhelmed me and partly because I do not want to insult my Indian readers. But, it was my day and my experience and my blog, after all. I want to capture the feelings I had – so here goes – no insults intended.

Hubby had to work today. Please remember our flat is little (compared to the living space we are used to). I have 3 children who love to watch t.v. but eventually they actually do get bored by electronics. It is spring break – no school. There is a lot to see in Delhi that we have not yet seen. I needed some blog material.

I also need to remember to be careful what I ask for.

I gave the kids 3 options – the craft museum, the Red Fort, or the zoo. It was unanimous. The zoo.

Our regular driver was not working today – so we had Zaffar. He is a nice man with limited English skills. I asked to go to the zoo. He said, yes ma’am. I showed him the map that had our neighborhood and the zoo on it. Both of them were circled. We want to go from here to there. Yes. Ma’am.

Then he pulls into a gas station. That is fine. Really. I would rather him ask than just drive us around all day. But I can tell he still really is not sure. He asked me for the address. Well, the book does not list the address. There is a map, remember. But not the physical address. So, I called hubby’s assistant. She is so helpful to us. Really, I am very lucky. She explained where we wanted to go.

Ohhhhhh, the zoo? Zarraf just happens to know exactly where that is. Hmmmm. She got back on the phone with me and explained that in India they call it “the zoo”. So he did not know what I meant. Funny thing – in America we call it the “zoo” also. It must be my accent.

Anyzoo, we got there without too much trouble and I took a look around. This is what I saw.

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This picture is not worth a thousand words – because it really does not give the sense of how many people were milling about. There were hundreds of people. There were 3 lines – cubbies to store your bags, tickets, and security.

I saw women in the security line with purses, so we went straight for tickets. I was not sure if you were allowed bags or if the cubbies were just for convenience. I guessed convenience. That line was (ridiculously) long. So we moved on to tickets. There were only men in the ticket line. In the ticket line we get.

Men cut in front of us in line. They cut in line behind us too. I am not a big fan of people cutting in front of me in line. But I quickly decided to let. it. go. The line was crowded. I was (ever so slightly) outnumbered by men. I was manless (for the day). I don’t do the damsel in distress well, but I also do not invite trouble.

The man behind me explained that my children could wait out of the line for me. You know, over there. My kids looked at me and then they looked at him with their best “good luck with that dude” look. Our mom isn’t going to have us wait away from her. Even if it is over there. You’ll just have to deal for a few more minutes.

He was actually very helpful and explained where to get in. But he does not know me. The kids stayed in line with me. They were happy to do that.

So here is the sign that explains ticket prices. Once again we are paying a skin tax. Fine – it’s a whole dollar. We’ll (happily) pay it.

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My dad might laugh that I should have gotten in free – but alas, I am too smart for free admission. (Yes, I miss my dad terribly.) I think it is very nice that India gives its citizens a break on admission prices. America could never do this – it would be a paperwork nightmare. Americans are far too diverse to be able to tell who is from where just by looking. Too bad – I love a discount.

On to security.

Bear was (more than) a little concerned that he might have to go in a separate line. The lines were very long and frankly, I was a little concerned too. Many of our sightseeing adventures have had our family in separate lines – men on one side, women on the other. It is just a matter of logistics – women checking women, men checking men. But I was not going to put Bear in a very long line by himself. Whew. I did not have to.

One of the guards asked if we had any food. I said no.

Well it turns out I did have granola bars. The second security guard spotted them and asked me to take them out. Absolutely no food allowed in the zoo. Even if you promise not to eat it. Water bottles seem to be okay. I think. We did not bring water bottles – so don’t quote me on that. But I highly recommend water bottles. There are several watering holes with free water – but if you are not used to the local water – well, let’s just say there are better souvenirs than montazuma’s revenge.

Oh yes, back to the snacks. Enter language barriers and cultural differences.

We are now holding up the line. This does not make the 100 plus people behind us fans of Americans.

The guard tried to get me to open the granola bars so my children can eat them really fast. Or, I can take them back over to the line of 200 plus people and put them in a cubbie for one rupee. Yes, that is two cents. Well here is my two cents worth. This is where Americans should be embarrassed because we can be (very) wasteful. But seriously, it is just not worth the hassle. My kids don’t happen to be hungry right now. I don’t want to get in the super long line, just to get back in this super long line – just so I don’t have to lose 4 granola bars.

Please just take the granola bars to your family and enjoy them. I will buy more. Can we please just be done here?

Apparently not. Please ma’am, open them and eat them now. Sigh. No thank you. You keep them. Do with them what you will. But ma’am, I might have to throw them away. Yeah, I am good with that. Can we go in now?

Now Angel decided to bring a purse with her also. They did not look inside her purse. But she heard the rule. No food. So, bless her heart, she pulls out a granola bar and gives it to the guard.  Yes, I am proud of her for being honest. But seriously, where are the animals – can we just go now? Do we have to be the main attraction? Then she remembered she actually had two granola bars. You’re killing me sweetie – enough already. Are you sure there isn’t a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe that you want to turn in?

We finally get in the gate. The zoo is lovely – lots of space – plenty of room for all the people who are there. It does not feel as smooshed inside.

Bear gets out the map. Now, this is interesting. Normally the hubby is in charge of navigation. But here is a chance for Bear to direct traffic. I have failed him in all things Boy Scout, so bring it Bear. Get us where we want to go.

He did a great job.

We saw the giraffes and the sloth bear.

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He did a great job, that is, until he took us behind the exhibit for the sloth bear. It was a path. But it was an empty path. No one else was on it. I did say that I was concerned that no one else was there. Well, except for the two men walking out of the woods. (Yeah. That’s what I thought too. Maybe we should not be here.)

So, I am balancing encouraging Bear to navigate our way through the zoo with the fact that my scare-dar is flashing “danger, will roger, danger”. I decided to let him guide us.

Until…

Until the two men approached another man and started to harass him. I told the kids we needed to turn around and go. NOW.

I realized that we were in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. The two men started to slap the other man. There was a woman standing by with her hands cupped over her mouth.

We exited stage left. Immediately.

Angel said, I don’t think I want to go back there.

Don’t worry, Angel. You won’t be. going. back. there.

So I let Bear keep the map. And I fought every instinct I had to just go home. But I don’t want my kids to be afraid of being in India. There is safety in numbers. We’ll just stay with the crowds.

We continued on to see more animals. Lots and lots of people were watching us. I felt it more today than I ever have.

We saw this rhino trying to get out of the enclosure. I could honestly feel his pain.

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We also saw three white tigers. (Yes, you can still count – there are only two in the picture.)

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And if you know how to use your camera, you can get a great picture of the leopards.

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If you don’t know how to use your camera so well, you might get a great picture of the fence, with some cool (very blurry) leopards in the background. Isn’t this the coolest fence you have ever seen?

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Along the way, many people asked to take pictures of my girls. This is not a new thing. It happens at every tourist spot we go to. Usually they walk away disappointed when I say no. But they seem to understand.

Well today was different. A lot of people clicked pictures with cell phones. There was even one woman who seemed to follow us. It was bizarre. She would bump in to me and laugh. I did not join her in laughing. It got old quick.

Bear was still navigating and we were looking for the hippos. Bear looked at the map and looked at the path. It seemed somewhat empty. He said maybe we can see the hippos next time. Lesson learned.

We head on to see the elephants. They are amazing.

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I did not know this….

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As Flower and Angel are looking at the elephants, Bear notices that a man on the bench is taking a picture with his cell phone of my girls. Bear takes his map and blocks the phone. Honestly, I cannot believe he did it. Two things – one, great job Bear – this is exactly why I wanted any girls I had to have a big brother. Two – holy sh*t,  Bear. Be careful here.

Bear and I had a chat about how extremely proud I was that he was observant and protective of his sisters. And how he is to never. do. that. again. Unless they are in danger,we’ll let some things go.

We all agreed it was time to go home. This is what everyone said as we were leaving.

Bear: I guess we won’t come back here.
(I told him we would – at 9am when the zoo opens and it is less crowded and when Dad can come with us.)

Flower: I like the zoo in the U.S. better because you can drink the water there and nobody stares at us.
(Next time we will bring water bottles and when we are home in the U.S. we will visit the zoo. Maybe we’ll wear crazy clothes so we get stared at there too. Maybe not. We’ll just have to see.)

Angel: I like the zoo in the U.S. better. When can we go home.
(Sweetie, we are home – at least for now.)

So all in all, it turned out to be a good day. Bear got a chance to be in charge. I remembered that instincts kick arse. We got to see some cool animals.

But it was also overwhelming. Frankly, it was very overwhelming. I have not really felt that since I have been here. I was disappointed but it was a reality check that we are not in the U.S. and we have to remember that.

Our New Furry Friends…….

When we first learned we were moving to India, people kept saying “don’t cows roam the streets there?” It sounded interesting. So, I would say, “we’ll see.”

Well, the answer is a big fat yes. Cows and goats and pigs and dogs. You name it.

Here our some of our new furry friends.