Mason and Matt. That's not an act; they're really fighting.
We made it back in town on Wednesday morning, and Matt, like the good little worker he is, went straight to work after almost two full days of flying. I tried my best to be supportive, so I only took an hour nap during the day. And then I ran two miles and skipped lunch (not by choice... I just didn't have food, and the hotel food is too expensive). I feel like I atoned a little bit for my lack of work.
Anyway, the trip home was fine. I should take a moment to mention the complete and utter bliss we felt upon arriving at the international terminal of the Mumbai airport. We went straight to the KFC counter and ordered chicken strips (there's no good reason they don't have these in Baroda, but they don't). After ordering, the blessed man at the counter asked "And would you like a cold beer with that?" A cold beer! It was as if the heavens opened up and the angels alit on our shoulders, filling our world with song once again. Needles to say, we had that beer. Delicious. Then we spent a delectable two hours in the executive lounge at the airport, where we drank all the alcohol our stomachs could handle... for freeeee. It was a grand time in my life. I believe at one point I used the words "nirvana" and "utopia". All this grandeur mere hours after leaving Baroda. It seemed almost too good to be true. Of course it couldn't last forever. However, after arriving in Chicago (on the way to Jackson) we saw none other than Jack Bauer himself. That's right, folks. Kiefer Sutherland was right in front of me in the security line at O'Hare. He was wearing an all denim outfit, super trendy cowboy boots, and of course, sunglasses indoors. Everyone knows that alone ups your cool factor by about 100%. He looked good. Real good. Very thin, actually, and older than I would have expected, but good nonetheless. This is the second celebrity we've seen at O'Hare in the past three months... when leaving for India in July we saw Hulk Hogan. He was wearing a yellow tank top and a bandana. At first I didn't recognize him because I remember saying to myself "Oh, that guy looks like Hulk Hogan". And it was. Awesome. My apologies for not mentioning this back in July... I don't know how I could have forgotten such an important fact.
Jen, Aura, Me, Mom. Yes, that's Garland's old hat, and yes, I am pulling it off.
Anyway, being back in Amurca was great, even if it was for a sad occasion. Good to see family, good to eat food, good to drink unlimited alcohol, etc. etc. A quick note to the family: I got no less than three compliments from people on the plane about Garland's blanket. Everyone wanted to know where we bought it... I just told them my grandpa was a big deal and he had big deal things. I think they were impressed.
Aura, Mom and Matt playing croquet.
In other news, Krishnan is still here (which is kind of awesome), but not for long (not awesome). It's undetermined when he's leaving, but he is ready to go immediately. It makes me feel slightly better that even Indians don't want to be in Baroda.
Last night, the refinery sent two cars over to take all of us downtown to the Dussehra festival. I think. Don't take my word on any of this stuff... people keep telling me the names of things, and I either forget, or I don't understand what they're saying and I get tired of asking them to repeat it. Anyway, this festival (whatever it is) is really big in Gujarat, and the drivers took us downtown to look at all the decorations. There were various statues set up of Ganesh and some other gods... of course I don't know their names.
God. I don't know who it is, but look at the moons in the background. Awesome.
I apologize if this is offending any devout Hindus who might be reading this... you'll get over it.
Ganesh and his rats. I know nothing about him or the rats. Sorry.
We also came across some sort of play they were performing on a big stage in the middle of the street. I couldn't understand any of it, but there was lots of yelling and screaming, and it appeared to be some sort of horror/terrible/Nightmare on Elm Street sort of deal. There was a projection in the back that kept flashing scary images, and at one point a scene from The Ring. It was all very strange, but cool.
This is the best picture I got of the performance... it would be really good if that girl's head wasn't in the way.
We walked around there for a couple hours, and then when we'd had enough, the drivers took us back to the cars... except the cars were blocked in by a big truck....
which was blocked in by a huge group of people dancing.
This is a different dancing group, but you get the idea.
I didn't mind so much as I was enjoying watching the locals dance, and so when they invited me to join, you better believe I jumped right in! Katie and I were the only two courageous (and unabashedly ridiculous) enough to dance to the weird and ever-changing drumbeat.
Mostly we just jumped around. At one point someone gave me a stick with a chain hanging from it that I jangled around in the air. At another point, a man came up and started teaching me dance moves. I got a little nervous when I noticed a striking resemblance to the Dirty Dancing moves I know so well, but I did them anyway. Until the driver came and grabbed my arm and dragged me away. Perhaps I was embarrassing him or myself. Or both of us. Who can know? Anyway, while Katie and I were dancing away, Ivan had taken it upon himself to do a 100-point-turn and free our cars from behind the truck, so we went home. All in all, a pretty good night out in Baroda.
In other news: we got new neighbors across the hall. They leave their door open all day and are very loud. They have a 4-year-old child. And that's all I'll say about that.