(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Friday, February 2, 2018


The trip to Idaho for the post-Christmas-Christmas was possibly the shortest it’s been since we’ve been doing this. The schedule was a bit tighter given obligations in Nairobi, where Christmas/New Year’s fell on the calendar, and the fact that my leave time is going to be stretched this year given my need to return to the US for my niece’s wedding. And some other things.
everything we do involves lots of chairs
As such we didn’t have time to head to my sister’s great place up in the mountains. And we were unable to get the girls up on the mountain to do some skiing (which was one of my priorities for the holidays). I did manage to fit in a half-day ski near Boise, amidst other obligations. In retrospect it seems rather selfish. I do love it though. Next year will shall get the girls up on the mountain, for sure.
only a half day but well worth it
The short time that we had in Idaho we spent running errands, seeing family and going to the doctor. It’s just how it goes. We didn’t need to drive and change lodging as much as we normally do given the more reduced schedule. It sometimes gets out of hand and I don’t think people realize how challenging it was for us to fit in with the family for all the activities and so forth. Often the activities are not kid friendly (which complicates things) and when they can then they need to be properly equipped, further complicated by the fact that they change size each visit. It will get easier in some ways as they get older. At least that’s the hope.
our hosts

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Christmas in Indiana

We arrived in Louisville on schedule. The family was awaiting us, as they normally are. I’m the guy that carries the bags for the stars. The two little ones in particular tend to steal the show. As it should be.
happy to be out of airplanes and airports
We were soon at Priya’s parents’ house and getting settled in. As I normally say, it’s a very relaxing place to be. It does have its moments of chaos, as it is anywhere we go, but generally we can unwind and not feel that we need to be on the go all the time. It’s not that we are inactive while we are there, it’s just that the pace tends to be manageable.
it looks more peaceful than it is...
We had done a considerable amount of Christmas shopping online in advance of the trip and it had a marked impact on how much time we needed to spend doing last minute trips to shopping malls and so forth. I hope to do even better next year. It makes such a big difference in how stressful things are while on holiday.
new fedora
We did get a bit of snow while we were there. Not much however. Things got much colder after we left apparently. Living near the equator, as I have for the last nearly 13 years, I quite like the cold weather. Much easier to appreciate it when you don’t have to live with it, I guess.
turned out to be a bit of a competition
Something else we’ve done a couple of times now is go to a play at a place called the Derby Dinner (“Derby” obviously referencing the Kentucky Derby whose home is in Louisville as well). It’s a small theater in the round with a substantial buffet dinner. The talent (more the actors than the cooks) is surprisingly good and young and old always seem to enjoy it. This time we saw A Christmas Carol. And the food isn’t bad.
mum and daughter sharing a hug
Christmas was more or less as it normally is. We sang carols, the children had lots of gifts (too many, in my opinion) and put together gingerbread houses, had Christmas dinner and Christmas pudding, etc. We create too much noise when were there and we create too much silence once we're gone. Given our lack of traditions in Nairobi (and before that Bujumbura), these are their traditions. It’s a bit of a strange upbringing but it’s never dull.
my cute girls

Monday, January 22, 2018

St. Paul

After three visits to Somalia and a trip to the UK in November, by early December I was sensing that I was in need of a break. It generally happens in the weeks leading up to vacation. The problem was that vacation involved more travel and more travel tends to be draining. But I knew that once we settled in at my in-laws’, I would have some respite from my professional stresses. It wouldn’t stop completely given that I generally work a small amount each day (usually very early in the morning) to keep track of what’s going on and mitigate, to some extent, getting completely slammed upon return. Also, when you get back you are expected to make decisions about things that happened while you were away. This just makes it easier.

sort of a tradition - making Christmas cookies
We flew through St. Paul, Minnesota, and stayed for a couple days. It’s always good to see our friend Kathy and we have grown to enjoy visiting the area. Lots of interesting things to see and do. Arriving in December it serves as our initiation to the US Christmas. This year in Nairobi we’d actually put up some decorations, saw a couple of Christmas specials and listened to a bit of Christmas music. The girls are older now and we’re gradually forming some traditions. Living in East Africa and spending holidays in the US every year does present some challenges to having our own family traditions. It’s hard to say how our girls will look back on their holidays/traditions but they will invariably not resemble what I experienced as a child. As precious as those memories are to me, I’m quite okay with the differences.
and putting puzzles together

Temperatures in Minnesota were actually quite bearable during the two days or so while we were there. We would be punished by their weather later in the trip during a layover as we spent a few hours going to and from the Mall of America. It was worth the trip (and we were able to see Kathy again) but the midday temperatures were around -22 degrees Celsius (-8 F) not considering the wind chill factor. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
Mall of America

More or less adjusted from the jet lag, we were soon on a flight to Louisville.