Well, last nights party was a smash, I think… To be honest I can clearly remember only the beginning. The last thing I can recall before the rest is shrouded in a carb and dairy induced haze was heading off with that sexy little glass of milk. I woke this morning in a tangle of sheets, stumbled out of bed bleary eyed (and honestly a bit bloated) and turned on the light in the kitchen only to be confronted with the horror from the nights debauchery. On the crumb covered counter was a griddle covered in congealed butter that reflected the light in a dirty rainbow reminiscent of an oil slick. The trash was over flowing with the little paper separators that are designed to keep your cheese in isolation in the package so that you can be assured of their purity. The refrigerator was hanging open, its wan light a sorry counterpoint to my sensitive sleep filled eyes. The sink was filled with its own horrors – bowls with a rim of tomato soup coagulated like blood on the shoes of a CSI tech, paper plates with the now indelible mark of the blade I used to savagely cut my grilled cheese, glasses with a coating of milk on the bottom that had dried like the paint at the bottom of a can left in the sun. The Coup de Grace, the knife I vaguely remembered wielding in my best impression of Jason from the horror series Halloween. It still had a hunk of salami on its tip that drew the eye and served as judge, juror and executioner. Just when I thought I was beaten as low as I could be by the debauchery of the night before I noticed my cat over by the stove with his back to me. I cautiously approached him to see what he was so intent on. He slowly turned his head and looked back at me with feral eyes like those of Church, the cat that returned from death in The Pet Cemetery. Not heading the signs I continued forward to satisfy my curiosity and was confronted with irrefutable proof of my crime. There on the counter where my wife bakes cookies for our children, where many a family meal has been made with love, where my daughter washes her hands after making the numerous objects of affection that adorn my office and where my sins lay under the harsh light of the new day on which my cat was gnawing on, daring me to try and stop him. It was the skeletal remains of the final grilled cheese wedge that escaped my carnivorous rampage only to serve as evidence that I need to make a change and that if I continue down the path I am on, I face the real possibility that one day I could find myself on a lifetime channel show about how America is eating its way into an early grave and how obesity is becoming the new norm. I take this all in and let it strengthen my resolve that starting Monday I embark on a journey of change and self discovery. But until then I am still the weak man with an obsession and a countdown. Only 3 more days to enjoy my old life. Armed with that knowledge I vow not to go without a fight. I will take these last 3 days to prepare myself while sewing my few remaining wild oats. Though it sicken me to do so, I WILL eat pasta one last time. I WILL go to Starbucks this morning and buy my last large iced coffee and I WILL have at least one doughnut washed down with milk so cold it threatens to shatter my teeth. Then I will say goodbye to the me of today and embrace the me of tomorrow.

So with only a few days to go before the challenge starts I have decided to treat those bad foods I love like the prized possessions of an eccentric terminal patient who throws a big party so that he can enjoy them one more time before gifting them to others. Today I bid farewell to grilled cheese. We had a grand party. Of course grilled cheese was there but I also invited some salami to the party. Tomato soup (processed with much salt) crashed the party and before I knew it, a big glass of milk was trying to drag me off to the coat room. I was weak. I admit, we partied. It meant nothing to me though. I don’t intend to call them in the morning and am sure that soon they will find someone new to spend their evenings with while snuggle up to my new love, bell pepper slices…

Today I begin my journey as a paleo eater and more difficult to believe, a cook… Below are the results of my first paleo shopping trip. This was much harder than I thought. So much I had to say no to. I plan to try Marce’s Sweet Potato Chili and Eggplant Medley. Got some extra stuff to experiment with too…

So, for those that don’t know me, or just don’t know, I joined a Crossfit gym last May.  I have been going regularly and am averaging 4-6 times per week.  I ahve to say, I am loving it, from the challenge to the change.  I have seen drastic improvement in my strength and ability and a general slimming accoss the board.  Now it has been nearly 5 months since I joined and I am looking for the next big PUSH for my body.  Enter the LuRong Paleo Crossfit Challenge…

 

My gym has decided to try to field the minimum 20 challengers for this 9 week Paleo event.  They describe it better than I  do:

Welcome to The LuRong Living Paleo Challenge, Your Catalyst for Making Real and Measurable Lifestyle Changes.

Our nationwide challenge is about life-transformation through education, nutrition, and fitness. It is time to take control of your health, diet, and performance. Whether you are just beginning the journey for better health, or an elite athlete looking to break your PR’s, you owe it to yourself to take the LuRong Paleo Challenge. No more excuses and no regrets. Improve yourself, impact the world around you, and win some serious prizes! Now is the time!

This is the first Nationwide Paleo Challenge that gives people of all experience levels a chance to win. The comprehensive scoring is based on 3 major components: WOD performance, diet, and improvements. Compete both as an individual and for your Affiliate Team.

Being a team player and looking for a challenge, I decided to join.  Part of the support system supplied by my fellow team members is a private Facebook Group where we share ideas, thoughts and complaints.  I tend to be a bit wordy and like to turn a phrase.  Some of my fellow teammates suggested I pull some of the better posts out for posterity.  These blog posts are excerpts from my Facebook Group.

 

I hope you enjoy!

We know the site has been silent since we went on vacation but hey, it was VACATION so you can’t expect Stacy to keep up on her daily posts can you?  We were too busy trying to cram 4 weeks of fun into 2 weeks of vacation!  We did a pretty darn good job of it too!  Those we DID get to see, you made the trip wonderful for us all.  For those we missed we are truley sorry but with only a few days in each state it was a logistics nightmare!

Now normally as you all know, Stacy is the one that keeps you all up to date on all things Fluegge.  Unfortunately, she is not fully back into the swing of things as we just made it back yesterday and the family is pretty Jet Lagged.  We made it back to our house at 5am Sunday morning.  After a quick nap we forced ourselves to get up and start adjusting to the 11.5 hour time difference.  Off to the market Addie and I went to stock the fridge and sneak some Basken Robins Ice Cream.  Then it was movie night at our indoor driven courtesy of the DLP Projector I brought back to India with us.  The kids hit the bed at 9pm and us by 11 hoping to get a full nights sleep.  It was naive thinking on our part…  Stacy was up by 2am, followed by Addie and Ender shortly later.  I was better off and forced myself to stay in bed despite repeatedly waking up till 6am.  Monday was work and school for all.

Addie and her constant companion
Addie and her constant companion

All did pretty well throughout the day but crashed hard in the evening.

Stacy tried to keep the kids up till 7pm but failed.  I left work early (got home at 8pm) only to find a house full of sleeping beauties.  It seems even the cats crashed!!

Stacy, Ender and Tiger - OUT!!
Stacy, Ender and Tiger - OUT!!

We have lots of pictures and lots of stories ranging from the trip home to Wisconsin, our time there, the miserable trip to Florida (with some good points as well) to our time there and finally our trip home.  We made some really great memories this year and some nightmares as well (look forward to our fun with Airport Security and Water in the Wall!).  Once Stacy catches up on her sleep, she will be back to posting and sharing all we have done and are doing.

Happy New Year to all!!

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!  Traditionally Beauty has taken after my wife in the coordination department.  She is forever missing objects that are thrown, having issues navigating the stairs (she DID have a cone for weeks so that may be part of that), and generally displaying a distinct lack of athletic ability which was obvious.  That’s why I was so surprised when I threw a piece of popcorn her way tonight and she snatched it out of the air!  As a test I threw about half a big bowl and she caught a good 85% of them.  Some arching high over the bed, others zooming in low, didn’t matter.  She snatched them from all angles.

Now we have another pass time for when the power goes out and there is nothing better to do!!

I don’t know about you, but I HATE getting my hair cut.  I never seem to have the time to do it between work and family distractions.  Once I DO make the time, I always struggle to figure out how to tell the stylist what I want.  No matter what I say, it always seems that either it gets cut too short and I have to wait weeks before I like the look or they leave it too long and within a week it looks shaggy again.  I have had this same issue for years now.  Just think how much worse it is now that I am in a foreign country and working 12+ hours each day!

Before I left in January I made sure I got my hair cut shortly before leaving.  After that I came home for a “conjugal visit” each 2 months so I just got it cut at my usual place back in Florida.  Now that the family is here though, I am not traveling back to the US regularly so it has been getting increasingly long making me feel like Shaggy from Scooby Doo!!!

I have been complaining for weeks now that I needed to get it cut while Stacy was claiming that she was going to start putting Ender’s hair up in Pig Tails.  Even Ender’s Grandma commented on how long his hair looked in the pictures on the site.

Today was a holiday for us in India so we took the kids for a nice long walk.  Earlier I had planned on driving out to one of the up scale salons I have heard about.  Co-workers were telling me I could get a cut for between 500 and 750- Rupees ($12-$18 USD) which they feel is expensive but that’s what I paid to our local Cost Cutters back home so I was fine with it.  The issue – Time.  Just like back home, I never seem to find the chance to slip out.  I am either working or playing with the kids (today it was another Zelda Marathon on the Nintendo Wii).  So by about 2pm Stacy was going stir crazy and delicately suggested we go for a walk (did you detect the sarcasm around the word delicately?).  So we all got dressed and headed out for an adventure.

The weather was very nice.  Not too hot, not too cold.  The streets were crowded but nothing new there.  We walked for about a mile or so and stopped to check out a local sweets shop where the kids had a donut-like dessert soaked in sugar water.  We also checked out a gift and novelty shop and a furniture shop where Addie found a living room set she loved since it was black leather with tiger striped pillows.  Then as we were walking back up a side street I saw a little barber shop and thought: “What the heck, it will always grow back!!”.  After checking with Stacy to see if she wanted to have Ender’s hair cut (I barley finished asking before she repeated “yes yes yes!!!”) I marched us up the steps and into “Arvind Hair Dressers”.

The experience of the hair cut in India is of course just a bit different than it is in the US.  Gone are the big jars of combs soaking in what I always assumed was Windex.  I couldn’t find any electric razors our over sized magazines filled with the latest GQ styles.  There were no little old ladies sitting in the back under the brain sucking torture chair (I think someone told me that was actually a drier but I like my idea better).  What was the same?  Barber chairs (though a little older than I am used to), Drapes to wrap around the victim, combs, scissors and of course, the straight razor!!  More on that to come.

So, Ender and I walked in and my plan was to see how his cut went before entrusting my hair to them – heck, he is a kid and can pull off a wacky cut better than I can and besides, these days I have less and less hair to risk!!  There were two gentlemen there when we went in (Stacy thinks the guy who in the back is Arvind – I am not convinced).  I pointed to Ender and asked for a cut.  With nary a word they placed a board over the arm rests of the chair (booster seat you see) and plopped him up.  1 minute later and Ender was draped and ready to go.  I must say, Ender was VERY good about the whole thing.  I started to explain what I wanted – same thing, only less.  As I was trying to explain this, the other gentlemen came to me and pointed and said “Cut”?  In for a penny, in for a pound.  I tried to say “Yes, after him” and point to Ender, still hoping to insure my cut would turn out ok, but my meaning was lost.  He gently nudged me over to the next chair and strapped me in.  He looked at me inquisitively and so I tried my usual: “Short on the back and sides, long on top, especially the back where i have a colic and blend it a little high on the sides so it is not too drastic a change”.  His response as he came at me with the scissors: “Me no English”.  Crap.

So by this point I am wondering what I have done.  Ender is already started and the hair is flying.   His hair REALLY WAS long.  3-4 inch chunks were blowing past me!  So, I thought maybe I could get the meaning across in that universal Tarzan mode of speech I have had to use with my drivers in the past.  I pointed at the sides and said “Side Short”.  I pointed at the top and then said “Top Longer” and placed my fingers about 3 inches apart.  He nodded with a semi clear look and started forward when I realized, that hand gesture could mean how long to keep it (what I meant) or how much to cut which would have left me looking somewhat like my Dad after missing 1 or 2 trips to Walt’s (those that know him know what I mean – No offense Dad!!).  So in an emergency effort to stave off a potential fashion disaster, I yanked on my hair, pulled it straight and then made cutting motions at the length I wanted.  I did this in a couple areas around my head.  This seemed to make sense to him and we were off.

Through the whole experience Ender was great.  He sat there as good as can be and let the man twist and turn his head as needed to get at him from all angles.  He never flinched or turned away even though the constant snipping of those shears was over powering.  That is until the last phase came which is usually his favorite.  The cleanup trim.  You know, where they bring out the clippers and straighten around your ears and the back of your hair?  I must admit I like it too since those clippers kind of massage your neck and the sound tickles the ears.  Not so in India.  Remember above when I mentioned there were no clippers?  Here it was the combination Straight Razor and Box Cutter.  It LOOKED like a Straight Razor but it used those square blades you find in Box Cutters and Paint Scrappers.  Ender was NOT comfortable with that and to be honest, neither was I!  I saw Stacy come in about halfway through Ender’s Shave and from the mirror I could see the blood drain from her face.  Not that it was a razor exactly.  Not that it looked like Ender was in danger of being hurt, but because she didn’t see where the razor came from!  Now not to keep you in suspense, fear not.  I watched and they DID change the razor for both of us before using it.  I saw new blades unwrapped and the old thrown in a trash receptacle.  To wind this up a bit, the cutting continued, the shaving followed which was tense for me as well.  I am NOT comfortable with someone else holding a razor to my skin, I don’t care WHO it is!  Before we knew it we were done.  I was nick free and proud to be.  Ender though did suffer a small nick to the back of his neck which the barber applied a septic gel to.  By this point Stacy was very agitated.  Once she saw the blood (just a spot, really!), I had to rush to her and tell her that it WAS a new razor and not to worry.  I think she made me repeat myself 3 times before she was convinced.  I turned around and asked how much for both?  (lots pf pantomiming here) and was told: “70 Rupees”!  That is about 1 dollar and 30 cents!!  That was for BOTH!  And to be honest, we both look great!  We will definitely be going back there next time too!  Not so sure about Stacy and Addie though…

Our new haircuts

The moral here is that while India is NOT the US, while the things we were used to back home often don’t exist here or are so different as to seem alien, that does NOT mean they are bad.  Just different!  To be honest, I think this cut was better than any I have had in the last 10 years!  Yea India!!  Judge for yourself!

Well, it was inevitable.  All writers suffer it at different times in their careers, Stacy just hit it a little sooner than others.  The dreaded “Writers Block”.  She has been trying to insure that a new post gets added every day so that depending on your particular point of view you all can either A) be re-assured we are all still alive and well, B) get a glimpse of what life is like in India from an outsiders perspective, C) get a little chuckle from her dark and cynical sense of humor or D) find a new way to waste  few minutes of your lives which you will never get back.  She has been keeping up great, even on days when she would rather just go to bed but here at the end of a long week of working at the school she found herself lacking inspiration.  To insure you all have something to read today, she is forcing me to try my hand at blogging so here it goes.

I thought for awhile on what my first post should  be about.  I have been here much longer than the rest of the family (got here 9 months ago tomorrow).  I have seen more of the sites including Charminar, Gonkonda Fort and the Jewels of the Nazim exhibit at the Hyderabad Museum in Old City.  I have also had the chance to fly to London, Mumbai, Dubai in the Middle East and most recently Malasyia.  Seems I should have lots to write about but after thinking on it for awhile I thought I would write first about my most recent and personally significant achievement – Driving in India!!!

Now those of you who have never been here before may be thinking: “Whats the big deal?  You have been driving now for 22 years, how different can it be?”  (Yes I really have and writing this makes me feel REALLY old!!).  If you are thinking that then let me try to help you see WHY this is such a big deal to me and a total suprise to most of those people I work with, some of which won’t even drive themselves and they have lived here all their lives.

Lets start with the more obvious differences.

1) The Driver sits on the wrong side of the car.  Now this truly is disconcerting by itself but you then have to realize that everything else is wrong too!  The turn signals are on the right, not the left.  I still turn on the wipers everytime I go to turn!.  The Stick Shift is on your left so you have to shift with your LEFT HAND.  The shift pattern remains the same but now 5th gear is up and near you while 1st is up and away.  I have hit reverse more than a couple times when trying to shift into 2nd.  This also means that the customary blind spots we all have are now all out of kilter.  I can’t explain this one to its fullest since it took me weeks to realize what it was I was sensing.  lastly on this topic, backing up…  Just sit in the passanger seat one day and pretend to back up.  The first thing you will do is try to turn to your right to look through the back window and if you are anything like me, you will promptly drive your elbow into the window to your right because there is no room to turn around to look! 

2) In India we drive on the left side of the road.  Makes sense with the steering wheel reversed but making sense and being easy are drastically different!!  Just going straight down the road is challenging with me having to chant “stay to the left, stay to the left, stay to the left” over and over but even then I have had people remind me that I had slipped to my old ways and had drifted to the other lane.  They did this in the universal mode of friendly auto etiquette – they honked like mad and flashed their lights, which given the Indian Driver’s policy of honking the horn at every intercection, each time they pass a car, every time someone is not moving fast enough for them, the entire time they are waiting at a red light and just for good measure, when they shut off the car (kidding on that last one) – made this less of a reminder to me.  The hardest part of driving on the left is when turning at an intersection.  I keep wanting to go over to the other lane and then over think it so much I am not sure anymore WHICH lane I should be in!!

Now for some less known differences…

3) There are apparently no rules for driving here.  No official or universaly recognized ones anyway.  I have yet to see a speed limit sign.  Stop signs and traffic lights are suggestions and not rules.  I know this because just a few weeks ago I was driving and had the misfortune of being the first in line at the light, trying to make a left turn.  Now remember, since I am driving on the wrong side of the road, I can turn left on red much like we can turn right on red in the US.  I was patiently waiting for a break in traffic which was a COMPLETELY solid line of cars, rickshaws and trucks when a traffic cop came up to my window and started waving for me to go.  Now the light was still red and traffic was still zooming.  Cars behind me were honking and this cop started gesticulating aggressivley.  Still, what was I to do?  If I pulled forward I would have been creamed for sure!  So as Stacy started getting scared and I was torn and confused the cop came over to us, pointed and shrilly blew his whistle pausing only long enough to yell at me in Hindi.  I did the only thing I could.  I closed my eyes to slits, braced for impact, firmly placed my hand on the horn, told the family to hang on and shot out into the intersection convinced that we were going to crash.  Sure enough there was some additional angry honking from a large truck I cut off and some creative swerving on my part but we made it through.  That was 3 weeks ago and I litteraly have done little more than slow down at any red light I have passed since!  The only rule I have been able to discern is twofold.  1) When you are trying to come out into an intersection, do NOT make eye contact with the oncomming drivers.  If you do you have to stop.  If you don’t, you can pull out in front of them no matter how close it is or how fast they are going. 2) Never worry about any cars behind you.  You can change lanes as abrubtly and as often as you want to and it is the responsibility of the guy behind you to watch, and by behind you I mean that if the front edge of your bumper is even 1 INCH (or centemeter since I am in India and its metric here) in front of theirs then you have the right of way.  Let me tell you, it scares the living daylights out of you when you are driving along and that guy beside you just flies into your lane without so much as a “by your leave”.

4) Most of the cars here are small and outnumbered by mopeds and motorcycles (150cc or smaller).  Think of a jar full of fireflies careening around and that is what the roads are like.  As there are no rules, there is no concept of a “lane”.  It would seem that most drivers think the white line is for guiding the center of the car.  In a 2 lane road you find at least 4 lanes of traffic with motorcycles zipping in and around the rest of the traffic.  This plus the lane changing issues mentioned in item 3 make for a harrowing experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) The roads are not as smooth as back home.  In fact, in many cases they are more like cheese graters than roads.  Between the wash outs, the potholes and the mysteriously placed speed bumps it I often feel like a freshly poped kernal of Pop Corn.

 

6) There are obstacles here that I was never cultured to watch out for. 

 

 

Sometimes it is cows which have the right of way in India – and know it!  They can often be found meandering down the road or even sleeping in the middle of it as Stacy and I found late one night when we almost hit a big one looking up at us from the middle lane with her drowsy eyes and zero inclination to move. 

Other obstacles include:

Camels or whole families on a single motorcycle…

 

 

 

 

 

Auto Rickshaws bursting at the seams and the countless beggars tht accost you at intersections, incesently tapping and tapping and tapping on the windows, obviously deaf to our cries of Nahi (‘No’ in hindi)…

 

Ox drawn carts or if its been raining, MAJOR flooding of the roads…

 

 

 

 

 

All of these conditions and more make it quite an achievement for Expats to drive here.  I started driving myself home from work since I felt bad having my driver drop me off at 10am and then sit in the garage till I left at 2am on average (till Stacy got here.  Now I leave by 10 or 11pm).  We usually give him Sunday off as well but if I don’t drive it means we can’t go anywhere so I started some daytime driving.  Now I am driving all over and even went so far as to drive into some of the most traffic laden areas and back streets as well.  Stacy summed it up well today with a couple of different phrases uttered between gasps and cries of terror.  The first was that driving here is like living Grand Theft Auto (for those that don’t know, it is an ultra violent video game where the object is to crash into cars or people).  The second even better quote was from Duran Duran’s Reflex: “I’m on a ride and I want to get off but they won’t slow down the roundabout”

 

 

 

 

Watch out India, the Fluegge’s are mobile now!!

Normally a family only has to go through the “first day of school” experience once in a year.  Not so for the Fluegges!  If you have been reading Stacy’s posts then you already know she has gotten roped into volunteering at our kids school full time for the next 2 weeks while they wait for a couple new teachers to join.  What you may NOT have known is that she gets to ride the bus with the kids to get there!!

 

 

 

So it was up at 6:15am here to insure all 3 kids got up, showered, got dressed and had their breakfast.  Addie had some cinnamon toast, Ender had a pear and Stacy had her customary bottle of Pepsi.  Am I a good dad or what?  By 7:20 we were out the door and off to meet the bus.  Lets hope all three of them have great experiences to share when they get home!!