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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Good Bye 2013, Hello 2014!

I thought I’d do a recap in pictures of our 2013 before we get too far into 2014. So here it goes:

January: Paul and I started the year in the non-immigrant visa section in Consular, interviewing people who want to travel to the U.S. for business or pleasure. Max started school at a small daycare on the compound and loved it from day one. We spent a long weekend in Amritsar and finally saw the Golden Temple. Definitely worth the trip! IMG_2496 

While in Amritsar, we went hand-made camel-leather shoe shopping – good stuff at good prices!

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February: Paul and I went to the Surajkund Mela, just outside Delhi and had a lovely day looking at arts and crafts from around India. Can’t wait to do it again in a month.

Surajkund

Max turned turned two and fell flat on his face right before the small celebration we had for him:

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We went to Mumbai for a long weekend, did the sights, visited Dhobi Ghat (a washermen’s community) and a couple of Bollywood studios.

Mumbai

March: I went on a two-week assignment in our consulate in Hyderabad. Paul and the kids came to visit me on the weekend and we did some sight-seeing.

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Hyderabad

I came home in time to celebrate Holi (a very colorful Indian spring holiday)…

Holi 

… and Easter.

Easter

April: After a year on the visa line, Paul moved to the Consular Information Unit, where he was in charge of responding to inquiries from U.S. and Indian customers as well as from Congress. He also did outreach to the Indian business and student communities. I worked on a large and complicated project in Consular which kept me busy most of the month. We took one trip out of town and it was to Takshashila Gurukulam (a school for poor children in rural Uttar Pradesh), where Nia made a donation (she had collected money from her friends instead of birthday gifts and we matched the total amount).

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May, June and most of July: These three months were pretty much a blur. Paul and I were extremely busy as this is our peak season in Consular as well as transfer season, so a lot our experienced colleagues left post and were replaced with new ones. I was now training new colleagues on the visa line, which seemed crazy at the time. We also both worked on Secretary Kerry’s visit to India, and helped organize the Ambassador’s 4th of July reception, which meant we were late a lot. Plus, Delhi is hotter than hell at that time of the year but as much as we wanted to get out of town and relax a little, it was simply out of the question.

May was also when I got my second assignment, GSO in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was excited at the prospect of serving in my cone but also nervous about whether Paul would be able to get a job there. As it turns out, he was not able to find a job there and is still unassigned, which is not good. All the jobs in Addis are now gone and we really don’t want to separate but are not sure what we can do at this point, other than hope for a miracle.

We didn’t take a lot of pictures during that period but here are couple: Paul and the kids heading to the 4th of July Party on the compound.

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A rangoli (flower and rice decoration) design at the Ambassador’s 4th of July reception – one of my responsibilities for the event and an opportunity to learn how these beautiful decorations are made.

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And one from when Nia got head lice and Max was imitating me nitpicking with the help of a head light (awesome, I know – and if you’ve seen her hair, you’ll understand the hell I was in trying to get them out on top of everything else we had going on at work).

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But in the end of July, I went to DC for a week-long training class, while Paul and the kids went to Chicago to visit his family as his Mom was not well.

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On the way back, we stopped in Bulgaria for a week to visit my folks.

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August: Both kids went back to school and I started a new rotation in the Fraud Prevention Unit of the Consular Section. I am still in this job and it is challenging but also very interesting as New Delhi is a high-fraud post. There were two  Indian holidays in August within a couple of days of each other, so we managed to sneak  a 5-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand which was awesome! This is us at the Temple of the Reclining Budha.

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September: For Labor Day we took a train trip to Udaipur, Rajasthan. The overnight train ride was a bit scary overwhelming but once we got there we had a terrific time. The picture below is of me and the kids at the Monsoon Palace, overlooking the Aravali mountains.

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October: Paul’s brother Greg and his family visited us and we took them to Agra, where we got rained on at the Taj…

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… and Jaipur, where we visited palaces, saw monkeys and rode elephants.

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Nia was in a musical.

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The kids got to trick-or-treat multiple times and Max got addicted to lollypops.

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November: We celebrated Diwali (Indian Festival of lights), with a party at work, at which I danced in a saree, no less!

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Paul and I went to the annual Marine Ball and wore Indian attire.

daniela and paul at marine ball 2013 (1)

Nia turned 10 and we celebrated the occasion with a sleepover for her and her besties at our house.

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We also went to the Camel Fair in Pushkar, Rajasthan, where we saw lots of camels and got to go on a sunrise camel safari in the desert.

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That’s Max and I at the back of our camel cart.

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Paul and I went on separate work-related trips to Punjab but to different parts of the state – I went to a bunch of small villages,

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while Paul went to Amritsar (again) and Chandigarh.

Paul Amritsar

We celebrated a couple of colleagues getting married, Indian style.

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December: My parents and my cousin Hristo came to visit us and I took them to Agra (you see the theme here?)

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and Jaipur (again).

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Less than a week after my parents and cousin got to India, Paul’s Mom passed away after a prolonged illness. We are all heartbroken for she was a wonderful spirit and will forever be missed. Paul flew to Chicago for the wake and funeral. I stayed behind with the kids and my parents and cousin. I couldn’t quite leave them alone in a strange country after just having gotten here but I feel horrible that I was unable to say my goodbye to Paul’s Mom, who had been like a second mother to me.

We spent Christmas and New Years quietly at home in Delhi.

So, this was our 2013. Here’s hoping your 2013 was a good year and looking forward to a happy and prosperous 2014!

 
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