Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dahej and Mumbai


Dahej is a developing industrial zone about 2 1/2 hours north of Vapi. The Nathanis are building a new mill there, and we both were interested in a tour. We took the Shatabdi (“high speed”) train from Vapi to Baruch, and then a car took us the 40-or-so km to Dahej.

Looking down the length of the machine.
Dryer Section and beyond.
Lon and Ashraf at the wet end.
Ashraf and Lon
Since the mill is under construction, a dog or two can wander into the site.
Construction worker housing. Note the satellite dishes.

Mumbai - Juhu

We spent Saturday evening and Sunday at the JW Marriott in the Juhu area of Mumbai.

Juhu Beach wasn’t terribly crowded.
Beach and grounds at the Marriott
High tide.
Dogs liked to dig out cool places in the sand to nap.
The “hair” on this statue is really there to keep the pigeons off!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

An Unexpected Return to Vapi

WestRock’s India operations have been having a “rough patch”, and Lon was asked to come back as a consultant. He’s been here for five weeks. I had difficulties getting a tourist visa, but after four weeks, it finally went through, so I’ve been back here for a week. We return to the States tonight.

I had a great week back in Vapi -- it really does feel like our second home. I wish it had been longer. It takes a few days to adjust to the time change, and just about that time, it’s time to head back home.

For the most parts, Vapi’s streets have improved. This neighborhood added a nice even layer of crushed rock and now has sidewalks (or “footpaths” in Indian English).
Another view of the new sidewalks.
I’d wanted to take a picture of this for quite a while and finally got around to it. Getting a car is a big deal and requires a proper ceremony!
This trip I got to visit the Morai village school that is right next to WestRock’s Morai mill. About 60 students in Standards 1 through 4 study in a 2-room school. The school was established over 100 years ago!
Shoes are always left outside.
Muddy footprints on the stairs at the Vapi train station look like inspiration for a fabric print.
Lon was “felicitated” by the hourly workers at the milll. (Quite unusual). This is one of the three bouquets of roses we got, along with a shawl and three Ganeshas -- Ganesha’s big festival starts tomorrow. While expensive by Indian standards, flowers are a bargain here. I doubt if this arrangement cost more than $10 -- it has over 2 dozen roses by my count.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sri Lanka - Part 22 - Nawan Maha Perahera

Monday, 22 February 2016

Every "poya" day (full moon day) is a holiday in Sri Lanka. All government offices, banks, and most stores are closed for the day. Alcohol is not sold or served. Many Buddhists spend the full day in the temple.

Once a year, many temples, especially the larger ones, perform a "perahera" on poya day. This is a large, elaborate procession with monks, dancers, bands, and elephants. The local temple relic and statues of Lord Buddha are also part of the procession.

This year the Nawam Maha Perahera, put on by the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, was on our last day in Sri Lanka. The Perahera route was very close to our hotel, so we were encouraged to go see the procession before leaving for the airport just after midnight.

We took a walk in the afternoon and came across the elephants that would be in the procession -- and all the chairs set up for "VIP" visitors.
Some elephants were relaxing in the shade.
The Perahera was scheduled to start at 7:00. We got a spot on the sidewalk near the beginning of the Perahera route, and the start of the parade passed us about 8:45. We watched until 10:00; then we had to walk back to our hotel and prepare for our flight. I wish we could have stayed until the end.

The Perahera mostly takes place along the streets surrounding the Gangarama Lake.
These photos were taken at night with an iPhone. So don't expect crystal clear photos -- the dancers were usually moving very fast!

I'll start with photos of some of the dancers and musicians. We were amazed that a dance troupe could dance to their drums and not the drums of the units ahead and behind them.

Most units had an elephant between them and the next. They were covered with shimmering costumes. In the hour and a quarter we watched, we saw 26 elephants. Here's a sampling:

"Horn OK Please" is going back on hiatus until we return to exotic locales in 2017.

I'll be returning to my U.S. blog, "No Turn On Red".

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sri Lanka - Part 21 - Galle and Colombo

Monday, 22 February 2016

We didn't leave Galle until 10 AM, so we had time to walk the beach.

The tide was coming in, so we got to see a lot of impressive spray as the waves broke on the boulders on the beach.
Lon dodging the incoming tide.
Sue on the beach.
The beach at the hotel was filled with seashell and coral fragments.
In a small rock crevice, someone had assembled a human figure from coral and rocks.
The view from breakfast at the hotel.
We took the expressway to Colombo (2 hours vs 5 hours on the "shore road"). We then spent the rest of the day in Colombo before transferring to the airport shortly after midnight.

The palm-type plant has a trunk that resembles a snake.
Near the National Museum: Original art for sale.
A building under construction. The chairs in the lower right are set up to view this evening's "Perahera".  (See following post.) While under construction, construction workers and their families live in the incomplete structure - you can see their laundry drying. Not in the photo are their cars that are parked on the first and second floors.

Sri Lanka - Part 20 - Galle

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel has a very interesting sculpture of the confrontation between the Portuguese and natives as the Portuguese established their presence in Sri Lanka.
After arriving at our hotel, we had an excursion to the Fort area of Galle.

The old walls of the Portuguese/Dutch fort contain the oldest part of Galle. It is on a peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean.
Because Galle is an old trading center, it has a high Muslim population. This is a mosque that looks remarkably like a traditional Portuguese Roman Catholic church.
The old fort walls still allow for a complete circumambulation of the old town - with a nice view of the rooftops of Galle Fort. The Dutch Reformed Church and Anglican Church can be seen in the back.
A typical street in Galle Fort.
A roof-top garden and laundry.
Even if you can't read Sinhala, it's clear that the A-Level exams in Chemistry and Physics are a big deal!
The main entrance to the Fort was added by the British.
Rather than take a tuk-tuk, we opted to walk the two miles back to our hotel.

A Muslim woman in a burka enjoys the beach with her children.
Sunset view from our hotel room.