Friday, August 22, 2008

Indian Burritos

Quick note, to whoever is listening: I'm in India, and
today I had some 'mutton keema' for lunch. Basically its
ground lamb prepared with a bit of spice of some kind. In
the US, I'm pretty sure we'd call this ... lamb chili.

By the way, I put mine in some roti (think really thin
tortilla) and had a lamb chili burrito. I think in India
they might call this a mutton keema kathi. But I could be

And even tho I liked it ... I'd still love a Chipotle
burrito right about now....


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Psalm 63

It appears that took the liberty of reverting my blog format to an old version. Not sure what that's about. For now I've updated the links at left. I may get a wild idea to switch blog hosts. I hear good things about Wordpress...

Speaking of the links to the left, if you haven't heard, my brother Kyle continues to excel in the Dynamo program. I'm very excited for him!

For now, I thought I might share a Psalm that helped get me through the 3 week trip to India in February. Not that India was so bad, its just that 3 weeks is a long time to be away from my family. So one Saturday in the middle of the trip, I woke up and had Psalm 63 imprinted on my brain. I didn't have it memorized ... I literally woke up thinking 'Psalm 63'. Weird, I know.

So I cracked it open. Before I post a few verses below, a couple of notes that might help you see the poignance of this scripture for me at that particular time. 1) We Americans have to drink bottled water in India, as our digestive systems aren't used to the local water. 2) While I certainly found foods I like in India, one of the things that seemed a constant reminder of my location was the absence of the familiar foods of home. I missed my wife's cooking, not to mention Chipotle, Pei Wei, etc etc.

With that preamble, here is Psalm 63:1-5, NIV:

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

That morning, reading this Psalm, I was pretty convicted. At that point, I had not 'earnestly sought' God in weeks. And here was God, pulling me into a Psalm that related to my spiritual position, and to an extent, my physical location.

I'm happy to say I've been more earnest in my seeking of God since that trip in February. I wish I could say that the seeking was simple or that I received clear answers to some complex questions on my heart. But I believe God is faithful, and I continue to trust Him. I am very thankful that God continues to pursue me, even in times when my soul feels dry.

And I'm thankful that God is as close to India as He is to Texas.


Friday, April 25, 2008

No Ordinary Child

S'been awhile. Namaste.

I've just put my kids to bed, and Celeste is at a meeting with coworkers. I was looking at Hebrews 11, and was interested by verse 23:
By faith Moses' parents hid him for 3 months after he was born, because they saw
he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. (Heb 11:23, NIV)

I got hung up in the middle there. They saw he was no ordinary child? What, did he glow in the dark? Did he never cry, as I've heard some parts of Christendom believe about Christ as a baby? Did Moses as a baby lift up his parents' 1940's pickup truck with his bare hands so they could change the tire? (Sorry, random Superman reference.)

How could they see that a newborn was 'no ordinary child'? I mean, every parent I know believes his/her child(ren) is (are) special, gifted, whatever. Myself included.

But perhaps that's what this means? Moses' parents saw something special in him -- as all parents do in their children -- and that perception, combined with their own courage, led them to action? I don't know. Maybe.

Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that we would see the great things you have in store for our children, and for all of yours. And may we act, courageously and wisely, to see their potential fulfilled. Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chennai Day-Trip

I know, I know, its been a week since I posted. But I have a
good excuse. Or an excuse, anyway. I've been working 12+
hour days all week!

Yesterday, though, was a very interesting day. The good
folks I work with here set up a guide to take a couple of us
Americans to several locations of interest here in the city.

First, we went to St. Thomas Mount. Now, I'll show my
ignorance here, but apparently Thomas the apostle is
believed to have come to India around 50 A.D., introduced
the locals to Christ, and was killed soon after.

On the hill where he was killed, a church has been erected.
Inside the church they have a stone that he was supposedly
carving when he was killed. The stone shows a carving of a

So we visited the church on St. Thomas Mount. In addition to
the church, there were also several great views of Chennai
up there. And there was a convenience store called 'Mount
Manna'. Not sure why I think that's so funny. But I do.

Next we drove around the city a bit. I took pictures of some
crowds and interesting buildings, but nothing to ... er ...
write home about. Hrm.

After that we stopped at the oldest Anglican church in
India, St. Mary's church. Built 300+ years ago, between the
beach and a military base. For one reason or the other, the
walls and ceiling are bomb-proof, like 5 feet thick.

They also had several books and logs, like a baptism
registry from 1817.

Next up we walked along the beach, the 2nd longest beach
in the world (behind Rio de Jeneiro).

Then we went to Sant Thome Church, where the remains of
Thomas the apostle are (apparently) buried. (Pardon my
skepticism, I just haven't researched this at all.)

Finally we stopped at a Hindu temple not far from Sant Thome
Church. I didn't take pictures there, because I was low on
cash and they charged 25 Rs (something like $.60) to take
pix of their temple.

All in all, a good time. Talk to you later,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

India Part Deux

I wrote the following in a business class lounge at the DFW
airport, while waiting for my flight.

Celeste and the kids dropped me off at the airport shortly
past 2 on Sunday, and I've found my way through check-in and
security, and into a lounge available to people flying
Lufthansa Business Class. Trip number 2 to India.

It is not lost on me how blessed I am that I am traveling
for a big corporation. This lounge is quiet, and has a bar
full of chips and cookies and cokes and fruit juices and
bottled water.

On one side of the lounge is a huge window overlooking the
runways on the west side of DFW, and I've seen several
planes take off an land so far, the sun glinting off the
windshields and wings. Apparently the room is fairly
soundproof because I've barely heard any airplane engines.

All in all, if you gotta travel, this is a great way to go.

On the last trip I flew American to Frankfurt, and waited at
the gate. It seemed like any other flight I was waiting for.
This trip, however, as I sit here in a Lufthansa business
traveler lounge, I'm struck by the number of people here who
are blatantly European.

One teenage boy wears glasses with very block frames -- as a
matter of fact, I see several pairs of very rectangular
glasses framing eyes around the room. Several are wearing
shoes that look a little like boots -- pointed toes, and
slight, thick heels -- but they stop at the ankle, like
someone forgot to finish the tops. A couple of the ladies
nearby are probably in their 40's, but wearing shirts that
bare their midriff. And very little makeup.

I'm from Texas; a woman with no makeup is practically
screaming 'not from here'. Four of them makes me wonder if
they've somehow snuck me out of the state as I passed
through security.

Of course, when I pass through Frankfurt and get on the
flight to Chennai, I'll say goodbye to these European travel
companions, and say hello to a host of people from India.
Their style of dress is both more the same and more
different. Many of the men look like they could have stepped
out of an office near mine in Fort Worth -- khaki pants,
polo or button-down shirts, loafers or other typically-
American dress shoes.

Some of the women will also be wearing western-looking
clothes. However, many of the ladies will be wearing two
outfits that are only rarely seen in the west -- sarees
and salwar kameez. I'll see if I can get a picture of them,
or maybe find pictures on the internet.

Truly, these trips to India are exposing me to cultures that
I've never had much cause or opportunity to notice.

Talk to you soon,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Home Again ... For Now

Slept most of the India to Frankfurt flight (after all, it left at 2am India time). In Frankfurt, grabbed some kindereggs (candy eggs with toys inside) and (the original) gummy bears. For the kids, not for me. On the flight from Germany to DFW, I only slept for an hour or so.

Not sure I've written about this, but in India, all water is suspect unless its bottled water. If an American even brushes his teeth with tap water on his toothbrush, he'll very likely be sick. Or so the travel doctor told me. And since several of my colleagues have been sick already while in or returning from India, I take that pretty seriously. So no drinking tap water.

Now, honestly, that's not such a big deal ... except that it means you can't have ice in your drinks. None. Ever. I can imagine my older brother reading this and thinking, so what? But the problem is, if you order anything cold, it is typically delivered at just below room temperature. (Or 'luke cold', as my boss commented.)

So when I got on the American flight in Frankfurt, coming home, and ordered a Diet Coke ... it was heavenly. Ice in the glass. Cold can. Refreshing. Seriously.

And as a side note, I think I wrote about this already, but I've confirmed that I'm not a big fan of Indian food. I got some ribbing for a certain 'burning' experience I had at a restaurant over there, but that's ironic to me since I eat quite a bit of Tex-Mex over here. So its not really that I don't like the spice, I just am not a big fan of the flavor.

Anyway, I arrived home on Thursday afternoon, on schedule. Mostly stayed awake for the afternoon, playing with the kids. To bed that night just after 10pm, woke up at 5:55am DFW time. 8 hours, that's good, but I wished I could have gotten myself to sleep another 2 or 3. No dice though.

Friday grabbed a Chipotle burrito at lunch. OH MY. Oh yes.

I go back to Chennai this coming Friday (yes, 8 days after I returned from the previous trip). This next trip will last 3 weeks. The Indian folks I'm working with are really great, both kind and gracious. But I am not looking forward to this trip. I swear my kids grew in visible ways while I was gone for 2 weeks last time. This time I'll come back and they'll be driving or something. And my wife will be mumbling to herself, I'm afraid. Cursing the father of her children. Hopefully not, but we'll see.

More to come.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Notes from the Airport

Its 12:30am. I'm sitting in the Chennai airport. My flight
leaves at 1:50am. A few random notes.

The whole time we've been in Chennai our group has had the
same 3 drivers. The first driver was Abdul. If Mr. Miyogi
from the Karate Kid movie were an Indian guy, he'd be

Second, we had Karl Marx. Nice guy, actually. I'm as
surprised as you are. (Apparently Karl's dad was fascinated
by Marx, and decided to name his son after the guy. O...k.)
Karl is a very nice guy though.

And then there's Gopi. Or as I like to call him, Speed
Racer. Each day, whoever gets in Speed Racer's car is
pretty much guaranteed to reach the destination first. Its
not that Gopi drives recklessly -- honestly, all 3 drivers
are both very nice and very safe -- but Gopi seems to have
a way of anticipating where to be in the weaving mess of

In other news ... last night, in a fit of desperation, my
boss rejected the restaurant menu and described to the
waiter that she'd like some pasta, cooked with tomato,
garlic, onion, and lemon. And they made it. And it was
GOOD. So note to self: order off the menu once in a while.
You never know...

See you all soon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Thousand Words

Its late, but before I hang it up tonight, here are a few pictures I thought I'd share. First, here is a 3-wheeler (basically a motorized rickshaw):

Next up, here is a shot I took of a father and two children riding a cycle. I haven't managed to snap a shot of a family including a mom riding sidesaddle on the back while balancing an infant or toddler on her lap, but this gives you the idea.
And lastly, the following boulder is called 'Krishna's butter ball', and is located near the shore temple at Mamallapuram. It rests on a very sloped surface, and yet, despite the tsunami and another earthquake in the last number of years, the thing has apparently not budged.

I may post once more tomorrow evening before heading to the airport to return home -- it all depends on how long it takes me to pack. However, I have much more to tell, so at worst I can continue the Chennai tales from Texas -- for a week, after which I'll return to India for another couple of weeks.


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Apologies that this is only my second post. Turns out we work long days during the week, such that in the evenings I tend to drop into the sack. That's partly due to the fact that I have only slept a full night once this week. Weird, that.

The pic above is from last Sunday evening. I mentioned last time that we saw a performance? Well, those two ladies are dancing while balancing ... pottery I think ... on their heads. It really was fascinating.

The thing is, a lot of women here have developed a skill of balancing things on their heads, so as to carry them. I've seen large bags of trash, stacks of kindling or other wood, pots and bags and other things all balanced on womens' heads as they walk along the road. My boss commented that she actually saw two women who had stacked several layers of bricks on their heads!

Next up, traffic. My company rents from Avis on business trips, and in India that means you get a driver also. And its a good thing. Driving in India is like salmon swimming in a river. All the cars jockey for position, ignoring the lane stripes that are sometimes on the road, and working in and around and among one another on their way to their destinations.

Oh, but there is one other very notable vehicle on the road here: a motorized rickshaw, or '3 wheeler' as they call it. They're used as taxis, are open to the air on either side, and are about the size of a golf cart. The motor sounds like a go-cart engine (it probably is one). you probably can't look down a street and not see one. Even when we drove to the hotel from the airport in the middle of the night last weekend, they were out and everywhere.

However, while there are lots of small cars on the road here, and some mid-sizes, and of course the 3-wheelers I just mentioned, I'm pretty sure the motorcycles outnumber the rest. Its an affordable alternative for families who don't have a lot of money. They are perfectly suited for the kind of driving here, able to easily weave in and out and around to jockey for the best positions in traffic.

And besides, there's nothing like squeezing a family of four on a motorcycle. No, that's not a type-o. Over and over again, I've seen whole families on board a single motorcycle -- mom, dad, and a couple of kids all crammed on. The moms ride side-saddle, and sometimes with a baby or toddler on her lap -- pretty impressive (or perhaps scary) since many of the motorcycles don't have anything for the moms to hold onto.

It occurs to me that, between the pottery dancers and the motorcycles, there seems to be a lot of balancing going on over here.

That's probably good for tonight. Buckle up out there, kids. I'll write more again soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Trying this 'post via email' functionality on my blog. Hope it works.

Hello from Chennai, India.

It is Monday here, noon local time, which means its 12:30 am Sunday night in Texas.

The flights were very long, but considering we flew Business Class, I have no right to complain. The first leg on American to Frankfurt was an absolute dream, to be honest. Each seat reclined to a setting called 'flat at an angle', which just means the seat is completely flat but not level with the ground. Good enough for me, I slept for a few hours. Also watched a couple of movies On-Demand on my own personal screen, built into the seat-back in front of mine. Ate American food for the last time for 2 weeks. They gave my order of dinner to someone else, so I picked something else, and I was rewarded with a second helping of ice cream later in the flight. Like I say, no complaints there.

The second leg was from Frankfurt to Chennai via Lufthansa. The crew on the plane were very nice, but the food was sending strong signals that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. They also had on-demand movies, but only some of them were American or even in English. I think I slept 3 or 4 hours on that flight, and read a book part of the time.

We arrived in India late Saturday night, after a solid 24 hours in transit since I left DFW. Got to the hotel at 1:30am or so Sunday morning, and then slept till noon. There are 7 of us here from the US, 3 from Texas, 4 from DC. We killed time Sunday afternoon, watched ManU play Newcastle. (ManU stomped them.)

Then around 4pm we met up with several folks from India and went to see a ... well, a little show I guess. The show was in celebration of a national holiday relating to the harvest of rice. First, a group of people played a (rather lenghty) song with drums and cymbals. Next another group played, this time adding a couple of instruments (similar to clarinets), and while they played, two ladies did a dance while balancing a very tall piece of decorated pottery on their heads. This was actually quite impressive. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have balanced the pottery on my head if I were sitting still in a chair, and these ladies were happily jumping and jiving. Fascinating, Captain.

The show was in a sort of rural area outside of Chennai. Read: mosquito fest. Made me glad for my deet, and my anti-malarials. (Side note: say anti-malarials 3 times, really fast. It's funny. Well, it is at 3:55am. When you're jetlagged.)

After the show we all went to dinner at a hotel near ours. We were able to sample a lot of different dishes, curry chicken and lamb, pepper chicken, some kind of hushpuppy-like ball made from lentils I think, another lentil concoction with the consistency of mashed potatoes but big-time spicy, naan (bread), etc etc. Naan is good, btw; think deep-dish tortilla. At the end of the evening, someone ordered desserts for us to try, and one was ice cream ... but it had some sort of spice in it, so it tasted like ice cream with sage in it or something. God bless Blue Bell.

Anyway, got back to the hotel at 10:30 or so last night and crashed into bed. Woke up this morning at 3:55am, not sure why. Never really got back to sleep. Met the others for breakfast at 7:30am, and meetings started around 8:30 or 9.

I won't keep up this play-by-play thing -- the next couple of days will be meetings here in the hotel. So I'll plan to write tomorrow about general items of interest. Traffic. Motorcycles. Cows. Overturned buses. You know, stuff like that.

I miss my wife and kids. A lot. If you see them, hug them for me.

God bless, Brian

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Road to Chennai

So tomorrow I leave for Chennai, India (formerly called Madras, for you geographers out there). Chennai is on the southeastern coast of India, on the Bay of Bengal. According to Wikipedia, Chennai is a city of 4.34 million people squeezed into 70 square miles -- that is, the population density is about 14 times what we have here in the DFW metroplex.

I won't bore you with other stats and figures (for now at least). But suffice it to say I expect this to be a wholly different experience than what I found on my single trips to Australia and the UK.

I'll take an American flight to Frankfurt, Germany, and Lufthansa from there to Chennai, about 22 or 24 hours from here to there, including a 3 hour layover in Frankfurt. I'm told that the American flight will be somewhat more enjoyable than the Lufthansa flight, if only for the familiar food, so I'm thinking I'll mainly sleep on the second leg. So why not stay up a bit tonight and post a blog entry, right?

The trip will last a couple weeks, then I'll return home. After hearing the discussion on a conference call today, it sounds like I may not be home long before I go back. Not sure how long the second trip will be. Could potentially be longer than this one. As much as I enjoy an adventure, though ... I think 2 weeks is the longest I'd want to be there in a single stint.

After all, my wife has no interest in being a single mom (even temporarily). And my kids seem to be changing very fast now -- for the first time ever, Piper read books TO ME tonight (rather than the other way around). Granted, the books are easy readers with a handful of pages, and all the words are 3 letters or fewer, but it's still very, very exciting! And Christian is really developing a fun personality of his own. I hate to miss any of this.

Of course, my preferences don't determine how long or how many trips I'll take. There is work to be done, and someone has to go do it. And it's something new and different, which is the very kind of thing I've been wishing for and praying about for some time now. I just wish it were a little closer to home...

Ok, I'm done whining. Watch this space, as I intend to post from time to time, sort of a brief travelogue. Blessings to you.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Just have to brag on my daughter. Last night I watched her sound out a word, and figure out what it said. All by herself. 4 years old. Very cool.