Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Fifth Mosquito Battle Plan

Every morning our boys wake up with 5-8 new mosquito bites this time of year. It doesn't really bother them, but it bothers us. In a country where windows and door are not made to seal tight, it is difficult to prevent the blood eaters from getting in the house. We do have screens on the windows, but...

The first battle plan was little plastic circles which adhere to furniture and are soaked in some anti-mossy repellent. Didn't work. Then we put mossy repellent/lotion on the kids (both standard stuff as well as lavender extract spray). Must have worn off part-way thru the night because it didn't work. Third, we tried a plug-in thingy that burns some liquid that kills the mossys in the room. We tried blocking gaps around the door with foam in combo with an electric racquet (powered by rechargeable batteries) which we used to kill any invaders. Fourth, I spent an afternoon treating the curtains with permethrin -- a nasty chemical which kills any insect which touches the treated fabric. The mossys often hide in the curtains, but they seem to still be in the room and just hiding elsewhere now.

Now I'm planning a fifth strategy: use all five methods at once. Sigh.

By the way, Asha is generally okay because there is a net around her cot. A few still get in occasionally. The good news is that there are only a few months of the year with a lot of mosquitoes. But for this season the motto is: Give Blood. Live in India.

(originally posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 as "The Fifth Mosquito Battle Plan" at

Thursday, December 23, 2010

India's Unique Cities

We just returned from a four day visit to Calcutta (or, officially, Kolkata). We stayed with Indian friends that Libby met 10 years ago while working with street kids and recovering drug addicts. We met kids that have grown up, married, and have jobs at multi-national companies. And others who are still struggling to get by with three good meals a day.

It was refreshing. And exhausting. Although the flight is only two hours, traveling thru pushing/shoving crowds and multiple security checks with three small kids and pregnant wife...

But mostly, we enjoyed seeing the differences in Calcutta. The streets are narrow (a remnant of British planning, I'm told). There seems to be more of a bustle in the air. Cars are a bit older. And there are many other small differneces which catch your attention and excercise your senses.

I'll never forget the green, lazy, grand feeling of Chennai. The wild-west, dusty feel of Ahmedabad. The sophisticated but grid-locked feel of Bangalore (now renamed Bengaluru). The appearance of power, influence, and Western development in Delhi. And the humid chaos that is Mumbai.

India's diversity is amazing, but in the middle of all that it is the people that matter. Our boys can't stop talking about their new "didis" (sisters) who played with them in Calcutta for hours on a lovely patch of grass between high rise apartments. We're grateful for renewing old friendships and the gifts of hospitality that we can never repay.

(originally posted at Thursday, December 23, 2010 as "India's unique cities" at