Monday, May 28, 2012

In Texas now

Happy Memorial Day and a big thanks to all of those who are serving and have served in our armed forces. I'm in Texas now, only 13 more days until I head off to India. I'm here visiting my sister in law and her family for two weeks.

I made it to Georgetown last night, Brian picked me up last night at the airport in Kileen and brought me back to the house through the back roads. Mason is out at a lake house with his girlfriend, the other kids were asleep when I got home and Brian and Suzanne and I stayed up until 1am just talking and talking and talking.

I woke up at 7am this morning and heard Carson playing, then I fell asleep again. Woke up at 10 am (I was tire from a 22 hour day yesterday)and thought to myself as I was laying in bed how well how considerate these kids are to be quiet and let me sleep in. Then it dawned on me it was sunday, everyone is at church. There's a note down here in the kitchen saying they'll be back at noon.

I just found the coffee, only two left. Guess I'll finish it up and we'll have to go buy some more. Oh, on the little American Eagle flight (tiny tiny plane) they only have coach. They have a policy that for first class passengers they get free booze and snacks (first class from a connecting flight). So I was the first to board and I asked "so do first class passengers still get a free drink?" and she said yes. The flight from take off to landing was just under 30 minutes. Right after take off the flight cute young attendant came right to me first and asked what I wanted to drink, I said a beer, she said no, it's better that I have a mixed drink, so I said okay, I'll have a rum and oj. And she also gave me some cheese and crackers. Then She pulled out the beverage cart and started beverage service. Only for a few minutes, as we had to get ready to land. So I think a quarter of the plane got service. After clean up she came up to me and handed me another rum and oj and said 'thank you for flying with us', I felt like I was being pampered really well for a first class passenger, more so than if I was actually sitting in a first class cabin on another plane. Of course the few passengers around me kept staring and probably wondered why I was getting this sort of treatment. I finished my second drink just as the wheels touched the runway. Today was an unusual day for me, from check in to landing at Kileen the ground staff and cabin crew were top notch, never had I had experience like this from start to finish in one day.

I'm sitting here sipping away at my coffee looking out the large windows. Suzanne and Brian have quite a few acres just outside Georgetown Texas, there's a beautiful all white horse grazing a few yards from the house, a light brown one not too far behind him. The cows are laying down, an indication in Texas that the fish aren't biting today. Huge oak trees surround the house, only one neighbor is visible. A pretty nice spread indeed.

I'm looking around the house and it's obvious that I'm in Texas. Cowboy boots of all sizes are lined up by the door, cowboy hats of equal proportions on the rack above. One can only smile and laugh a little looking at boots that are maybe only six inches long. I'm staying in Mason's room and the western shirts visible from the doorless closet remind me of days gone by when I too wore similar shirts and boots, styles haven't changed in decades.

The horse has now been replaced by the two family dogs who are now sitting at the window staring at me, probably wondering what this stranger is doing in the house on a Sunday morning when everyone else is gone. I guess I'll take my coffee mug (decorated in big Texas lone stars) and go sit on the suspended bench out on the patio, and enjoy the peace and quiet that will only last for another hour until the kids get home.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Heading to Texas

I'm all packed and ready to go to India but I'm going to make one more stop. I'm headed to Texas to visit my sister in law and her family. Suzanne lives just outside Georgetown with her husband Brian and four kids Mason, Carson, Tucker and Emma. Suzanne's parents live only a few miles away. I'm leaving tomorrow and will be in Georgetown for two weeks, then I'll take a train up to Dallas and see some other friends for a weekend and then off to India!

Last November when I went to India I wasn't sure what I would need and in the end I had packed a lot of stuff that I didn't need or could have found in India. This packing job reflects what I learned on last trip. No need to pack lots of clothes, they are easy to find anywhere and can be had for less money than if I were to buy them here. I packed just basic toiletries as name brand replacements again can be found anywhere in India. What I did take more of this trip is outlet converters, six actually. That way if I accidentally leave one behind I'll have another. Spare screen and blade set for my electric razor, and close to a dozen quilts that my mom made as gifts for some relatives. I also packed enough prescription meds to get me by though I know if I run out they're cheap enough to buy in India.

One thing that I have never done before in all my years of traveling is to purchase trip insurance, or medical insurance. After my unexpected medical emergency last November that landed me in a hospital for five days in New Delhi I decided that maybe I should have some insurance for this trip. My mother had purchased a plan when she came out to India to travel with me and it covered me as well, and it paid for my hospital stay without any hesitation. So I'm using the same company for this trip. It's not cheap but I figured anything can happen in six months, and I better be prepared.

I have my laptop computer and my android tablet, my new camera and of course my unlocked cell phone. The cell phone is great because it allows me to stay in contact inexpensively, and with it's onboard GPS and maps I'll know where I am and how to get to where I want to go. It's also great to watch when I'm taking a taxi in an unfamiliar city,  I can easily see if I'm being take for a 'ride' or not.

I have lots of little luggage locks too all set to the same combination, this way when I'm staying in hotels I can lock up every little compartment on my duffel bag and backpack. Combo locks work better for me, Loosing little keys would have been inevitable, and how would I survive without my tablet.

I'm basically taking my backpack and two large rolling duffel bags. My new duffel bag has my clothes, toiletries and a couple of quilts. The second bag is full of quilts and as it's an old bag on it's last leg I'll leave it behind in India, returning with only one bag.

So now I'm all packed and ready to go. My brother will take me to the airport early in the morning on his way to work, so early in fact that I'll have to sit around and wait for six hours for my flight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get on an earlier fight, we'll see.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My new bag

I've been traveling with a rolling 'drop bottom' duffel bag for the past eight years, this last one for three years. On a trip January when I claimed my bag at baggage claim I was disappointed to see two large tears near the handles. It seems that after being loaded and unloaded from about 80 different flights the bag finally wore out.

I like the rolling drop bottom duffel bags but they are increasingly hard to find in retail stores. And a bag is just one of those things that I want to put my hands on and inspect before I buy it so it took a lot of courage for me to buy one from the internet. I ended up getting one from Amazon as they have a great return policy and was relieved when it arrived as it met all my personal needs. I can't say I like the color much, and I hate having a brand new looking travel bag but I suspect it won't look too new by the time I get to New Delhi.

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's official, I'm going back to India

This is my first post on my new blog. For those that haven't see the blog on my previous trip you can see it at

Yesterday I bought my plane ticket to now it's confirmed, I'm headed back to India. I'll be leaving Dallas to Chicago and then on to Abu Dhabi and finally Delhi. I was fortunate enough to have enough American Airline miles to get a business class ticket on Etihad Airlines, total taxes came to $5. Can't beat that.  The longest leg will be Chicago to Abu Dhabi as it's a 13.5 hour flight.

While I was hoping to leave sooner I was limited on dates (for a free mileage ticket). My choice was May 22 which I thought was too soon or June 11, which is what I chose.
I'll update more in a few days. Right now I have a lot to do before my travel date.