Dinner in Paris

Dinner in Paris
We celebrated our engagement at dinner the next night

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rehearsal Dinner Details

The wedding day is right around the corner and we’re so excited to celebrate with our friends and families. The rehearsal dinner will be on Friday November 7th at Maharaja Restaurant. For starters, just think Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Lamb Vindaloo, Naan, Bhangra, Fimli music and Punjabi MC.

If this gets your mouth watering, stomach churning and head bobbing then you’re in for a good time. If you’re confused, don’t worry as you’re not alone. We’ll get you initiated into the world of Pakistani/Indian food and music.

After dinner we’ll be moving on to enjoy the Milwaukee night scene and see firsthand why the city’s baseball team is named the Brewers.

We’ve been asked some great questions by many of you regarding the rehearsal dinner.

Here is a quick Q&A:

Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Maharaja Restaurant
1550 N Farwell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 276-2250

Driving Directions from MAC to dinner (5 min)

There will be shuttle service from the MAC to the Maharaja.

Please wear what is most comfortable to you. We expect most of our friends and families to be dressed in business casual attire. We plan to wear traditional Punjabi/Pakistani/Indian attire-- referred to as Salwar Kameez, Kurtas, Sarees, etc. We’ve heard from some of you that you intend to dust off your Punjabi attire for the rehearsal.

What if my flight arrives late?
We’ll probably be at the Maharaja Restaurant until 9:30pm. It’ll be a casual affair so come late and join the festivities. We’ll also be hitting the Milwaukee night scene so join us later if you miss dinner.

After party?
Details to come. We’ll be at a local Milwaukee joint.

The rehearsal dinner will be a casual buffet style and kid friendly. We can also help to line up baby sitters for those looking for away from the kids.

Other questions?
Please call or email us.

See you in Milwaukee!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Where to Stay

The ceremony and reception will be held at The Milwaukee Athletic Club (MAC). There are 50 guest rooms reserved for our family and friends. Call to get a reservation: (414) 273-5080 or book online. Please indicate you are reserving rooms under the Frank Chaudhry wedding.

We are suggesting that our family and friends stay at the MAC. This will be the central location for all activities and group gatherings. Other great hotels are also within walking distance, please let us know if you prefer to stay elsewhere and need help choosing one.


We are registered at Crate and Barrel and Macy’s.

Ceremony and Reception

Ceremony: 4:30pm at The Milwaukee Athletic Club on Saturday, November 8, 2008. Black tie optional.

Recepition: Reception to follow at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Black Tie Optional

Sunday Brunch: 10am on Sunday, November 9, 2008

Getting to Milwaukee

Flying into Milwaukee: Air Tran, Frontier and Midwest Express are easy airlines to take into Milwaukee.

Flying into Chicago: Chicago, O’Hare Airport is a 90 minute drive from Milwaukee. There are buses that leave Chicago, O’Hare hourly and drive directly to downtown Milwaukee (within 5 minutes of The Milwaukee Athletic Club) from 9am to 10:00pm.

Things to do in Milwaukee

NY Times Travel Article: 36 Hours in Milwaukee

Sprecher Brewery Tour

Miller Brewery Tour

Calatrava Art Museum

Lake Michigan Path: The Lakefront of Milwaukee has a great walking/running path that takes you past various museums, the Yacht Club and beaches(yes, Milwaukee has beaches used 2 months a year).

Potawatomi Casino: Owned by the Potawatomi tribe of Wisconsin. 5 minutes from downtown.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back Home in the US

We came back to the US just in time for the holidays and couldn't be happier. We feel grateful to be near our family and friends again. We are so excited to be back. We spent Christmas in Milwaukee with Kristen's family which was a festive homecoming filled with the Frank family's Christmas traditions. We are going to be in Florida for New Years with Kristen's family.

We are still in transit as most of our possessions are in storage and spread out through Milwaukee, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. The start of the New Year will be hectic as we plan to move to SF and find employment. I am currently car shopping and intend to be in SF in mid January.

We feel grateful for our time in India and benefited immensely from the experience. We worked for three months in Delhi and then spent the last three weeks of our journey traveling through India and briefly through Pakistan. More specifically our travels took us through Agra and the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, Kerala, Amritsar and Lahore, Pakistan.

The Taj Mahal is magnificent and is a must see. Visiting Rajasthan and the desert cities was like going back in time a thousand years. Then we ventured out to discover the West Indies in Kerala via the backwaters along with the tea and spice plantations. Our trip to the Golden Temple in Amritsar eventually led us to Lahore. Crossing into Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah border gave us an opportunity to see the border closing ceremony which provides a healthy dose of border bravado to the thousands of cheering Indians and Pakistanis who show up daily. The visit to Lahore was a stark contrast to the chaotic atmosphere that is depicted in the media. In Lahore we comfortably walked around the markets and the tourist sites and experienced a city that is peaceful and operating smoothly. Below is a link to some our pictures over the past four months.

India 2007

We have been back in the US for about a week and have mostly adjusted to the 12.5 hour time difference. We look forward to seeing our friends in the New Year and getting settled in SF. This will be a memorable year for us as we start our new lives in SF and get married on November 8th.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Good Water?"

There is a vibrant expat community in Delhi estimated to be in the several thousands. Many of the expats subscribe to a Yahoo! User group called Yuni-Net (Young UN India Network) which is a good source for networking, asking questions or just about anything else. It’s sort of a Schwab Unofficial meets expats of New Delhi. We used this list to help find our current apartment. I am constantly amazed by the policing of this network by its users. There was a recent exchange that I thought was a rather entertaining example of the expats policing the list. Needless to say, I’m not drinking Evian. Keep reading below.

Original Post:
Sent by: yuni-net@yahoogroups.com
To: yuni-net@yahoogro ups.com
Subject: Evian water??

hi yuninetters!
does anyone know where is in delhi a big supermarket, where i can buy a lot of good water, like evian? thanks!


Hmm. Simple enough question. Here are some of the more colorful responses:
From: Andy

Hi Erka

Sorry, I really hate to ask this, and you may of course have very good reasons, but - why do you want to buy water that is trucked half way round the earth and that will necessarily cost you a fortune (apart from, dare I raise the green flag, the carbon footprint, i.e. energy wasted for transporting it)?

I'm not aware of any problems in quality of Bisleri or any of the other local "brands" if bought from a shop. Are there? does anybody know of any?

My tastebuds may be too un-educated, but I can't recall any special taste in Evian that the local waters would be lacking.

Best wishes, Andy

Posted by: "sameer

Thanks for asking the question andy! it has baffled me for long too, what the obsession with evian is?
there are several "big supermarkets" and even small shops where you can easily buy a lot of "good water", such as bisleri, catch, Himalayan and many others. millions drink it everyday and haven't complained one bit. but yes, do check the seal (even on evian). however, if by "good water" you mean "i-paid-too- much-for- it-so-it- must-be-good" , then i am sure no shop owner in Delhi would mind if you paid them extra money for the several Indian brands that they house. or if the "goodness" of evian is in the fantasy that it has been transported all this way "just for you", then even your local delhi shop-wallah will be happy to put a few bottles of water in his autorickshaw and drive it all over town before delivering it to you. or perhaps, you can try obtaining a "find your local evian store" map from the French embassy!

Posted by: "Ronny

I also agree with Andy. But I also thought that people on yuni-net might be more conscious about their consume.

However Erika, to make you feel more comfortable with the idea of drinking Indian water: Bisleri just announced they join this unsustainable business and are going to export abroad.

The one month check in

We have been on the road since June and it feels great to finally have a place to call home. We arrived in India a little over a month ago. We spent the first few weeks staying with a friend before getting settled into central Delhi.

The experience thus far has surpassed my expectations. Kristen and I were in a bit of a daze initially and were second guessing our decision to leave our life in the US for this temporary move. The AA Delhi to O’Hare flight seemed all that more attractive during the early weeks. The initial daze has now vanished. We have started to block out the noise and instead focus more on the beauty of this place. We have both grown and learned so much in our short timer here. Focusing on our work has made our visit more purposeful.

As we have been here just over a month I thought I would share some of my key cultural takeaways thus far:

“Crabs in a bucket”
Our friend Rajika who has lived in Delhi her whole life used the analogy of “crabs in a bucket” to describe India. The analogy goes something like instead of helping one another to climb out of the bucket, the crabs hurriedly crawl on top of one another. Instead of some crabs getting out, the crabs just crawl on top of one another and keep falling down. India is a constraint ridden environment which is only further impacted by the caste system and other religious and cultural barriers. While it’s a sad realization to think of people in this way, I nevertheless understand Rajika’s point of view. I wish there was less corruption and more collaboration in this culture.

I have roots here
While I was born in Pakistan and moved to the US at an early age, I still feel a sense of attachment to this country. My father’s home was near Ludhiana, which is just north of Delhi. After Partition my father’s family moved to Jhallan which is a small village near Hafizabad Pakistan. It helps that I speak Punjabi which is one of the many local languages. I often get awkward looks when I bust out my Punjabi which is entertaining for Kristen to watch. Punjabi is spoken by about 100 millon in the world mostly in India and Pakistan. Despite Punjabi being a separate language it has a large overlap with Urdu and Hindi which are two main languages (aside from English, of course) spoken in Delhi. Having a language skill has been invaluable as I have been able to interact regularly with locals, which has been an enriching experience. Kristen is also taking Punjabi/Urdu lessons which have been entertaining for me to watch.

Financially poor but emotionally and culturally rich
When meeting people in this country who are financially poor my initial emotion is a feeling of sadness. My heart goes out to many of the people we encountered who live in harsh poverty. For example, there is the nicest man in our neighborhood who has a small stand where he irons clothes each day. He is at his stand early in the morning and irons clothes until sunset, sometimes staying longer to iron under the street light after dark. He charges 5 cents per item for the ironing. At this rate he probably makes no more than $2 dollars a day. Some days I don’t think he even earns one dollar. The same could be said for the maid our landlord employs or the bicycle rickshaw drivers we see on the streets in Old Delhi. After further observation and getting to know some of these people, I have realized that while these people are financially poor they are rich in emotion and culture. I can’t judge these people by my preconceived standards of material wealth. In fact as I reflect on my life there have been times when I was financially rich but was emotionally bankrupt. This experience has been a grounding force.

I continue to learn something new each day. I am having a rewarding experience and consider myself lucky to be able to spend this time with Kristen in India.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Children of the Dil Se Campaign

We first had an opportunity to visit the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Dil Se Rainbow Home for girls. The building was donated by the Delhi government. As you will note from the pictures, this shelter is an old and dilapidated building. The home is being funded by a Dutch NGO which hopes to open as many as fifty Rainbow homes for homeless children in India. The Dil Se campaign is working with the Dutch group to manage and fill the home with homeless kids. We were moved during the ceremony to see homeless girls ranging from 2-15 years of age.

Later in the week, Adnan and I had the opportunity to visit one of the boy’s hostels run by the Dil Se campaign on a farm outside of Delhi. We went with the head of the campaign, Harsh Mander, whom the boys call Papa. When we arrived to the country property the boys ran up to us, opened our car doors with huge smiles and embraced Harsh with hugs as they continuously said, Namaste to Adnan, myself and the other volunteers. Their excitement was overwhelming and tears welled up in my eyes. We were their guests and they were busily preparing for us all morning.

The 20 boys live in one building on 5 acres of land that is sprinkled with trees and gardens. The building consists of one huge room where the boys sleep on blankets, eat lunch, do schoolwork and keep their few belongings. It is a minimal space that will eventually need to be expanded to house more boys coming to live at the hostel. The home will eventually house over 100 boys. The boys take care of themselves and their environment. A few nurturing adults have volunteered to live at the hostel and are there to assist. And other volunteers like us come in and out during the day to teach, play or counsel the boys. This is a free environment and the boys may leave whenever they want. The boys have courage and the will to survive through all the cruelty already shown to them in this lifetime. They are ready to move on and do something with their lives. They were abandoned, abused or sent away from their homes to find a better life. Some were orphaned and had no relatives to turn to. Adults were missing in their lives. And now things are changing for them.

From the minute I got out of the car, I had two to three boys at my side the rest of the day making sure I was cared for while I was in their new home. They joyfully took me for a walk on their land, showed me their gardens and orchards, danced with me, showed me their treasured paintings, performed martial arts, gave me peacock feathers and flowers, taught me Hindi and most importantly shared with me a sense of hope. Most of the children followed the adults around wanting to latch on and hug, silently asking for attention. What they crave most is love and positive affection. They are already grown ups in many ways including the way they take care of themselves but they are little boys on the inside wanting a hug from their non existent parents. The boys continuously came up to Adnan and hugged him. It would not be appropriate for them to hug me, a woman.

Everyday the boys cook for themselves. Today they made us lunch, a special dish of rice, roti and aloo ghobi (potatoes and cauliflower) for the visiting volunteers. A group of boys served all the guests first, making sure we were all full before the kids served themselves. While I was sparsely eating lunch the boys actually insisted that I eat more. They would not leave me alone until I had 3 helpings of food. And remember this is before they ate themselves. I did not want to eat their food because it is precious to them. They were making me indulge in their greatest treasure. The boys looked to us as honored guests and if we were satisfied, they were satisfied. I was there to care for them, but they were the ones caring for me.

During introductions Harsh asked what the boys wanted to learn more than anything. They all shouted at the same time, ENGLISH!!! In India, English speaking skills are the way out of poverty. This is exactly the gift I can give back to them. During my work with the campaign in India I will be creating a conversational English program for all the Dil Se Campaign homes. I am developing the program for volunteers so it can actually scale. I am developing the program to teach the volunteers who in turn will teach the kids. Teaching the volunteers how to teach the children English is best way I believe that I can leverage my teaching and professional development background. I am honored and proud to be helping the kids in some small way.

I have taught in some heart wrenching situations with abused children but not even that prepared me for the emotions I felt meeting these kids. Meeting the boys was one of the most moving days of my life. These kids have a courage I have not encountered. The love, compassion and caring they showed brought a sense of perspective to my own life. I asked myself; how can children that have experienced the cruelty of the world at such a young age still dance, sing, smile and play. Watching the boys interact helped me to see the resiliency of the human spirit. Of course, there were two or three boys who had forgotten how to smile or play. These few boys wandered away and wanted to be left alone, which was sad to see. And my prayer for them is that their smile returns from the work the Dil Se Campaign is doing for them. The world shut their eyes on these kids and here in this environment they are learning to trust adults again.

As we drove away the smiles left their faces and they asked when we would be back. Soon I promised.

Here are some pictures from our visit to the Salaam Balak Trust and the Aman Biradari Dil Se Campaign boys and girls homes. Click on the link below to see the pictures.

Volunteer Role

Aman Biradari, Dil Se Campaign

I am reminded of a quote that I first read in an email that was sent to me by Harsh Mander, the executive director of the Dil Se Campaign. I thought that I would share the quote:

“Human history is not only a history of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will define our lives.”
Howard Zinn

Aman Biradari is a people’s campaign for a secular, peaceful, just and humane world. The previous mission statement seems obvious enough, but it is not the life lived by the homeless children we have had met in Delhi.

Adnan and I are currently working for the Dil Se campaign which is part of Aman Biradari, a grassroots organization started 5 years ago in Delhi. We have a high level of respect for the Executive Director, Harsh Mander whose work in Gujarat after the tragedies of 2002 was quite intense. Working with this campaign is sort of like working for a start up but in the social sector, of course. Adnan and I had the pleasure of seeing 5 years of work come together as we celebrated the opening of The Rainbow Home for Girls. Previous to the home the girls were homeless living on the streets, some as young as 3 years old. The young children are the most painful to see because all they truly need is a parent’s warm embrace. Instead the children have the hard cold streets that brutally take away their childhood.

Street children in India have had blind eyes on them. More and more children are taking to streets for a variety of reasons and an alarmingly miniscule proportion have been reached out to by state and non-state actors. It is estimated that out of 50,000 street children in Delhi alone, 1,200 are reached by custodial juvenile homes and a maximum of 1,500 by all NGOs. There are also serious limitations to the conventional state approaches of custodializng such children, and the NGO model is too cost intensive to be replicable on the scale that is required.

In the past there have been Government run homeless organizations but they shut down due to funding or other unfortunate circumstances. The children also hate these homes because they are more like jail/juvenile homes with abuse running large and child trafficking happening all too often. These homes are corrupt with rapid abuse. If the children aren’t criminals already, they will leave these custodial homes as criminals. NGO’s also started homes but most were only funded over a five year period. At the end of the five years, the children were back on the streets unless other funding could be raised. In most cases no such funding was available and the homes shut down.

Before the Dil Se Campaign the homes were run in isolation to the community and to each other. The Dil Se campaign is different because street children’s homes should be sustainable. They should be state lead with a low cost model and the state’s responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable of its citizens. The campaign tries to provide the rights given to all citizens by the government to the children. These rights, including protection, food, education, health care, recreation and love, derive from the fundamental right to life in the Indian constitution, and to the international covenants to which the Indian government is signatory. The state told Aman Biradari that they will provide land from abandoned government sites/schools. The campaign is dedicated to keeping these homes open with the help of government funding as well as help from the community and the private sector. The Dil Se campaign wants to open 50 homes throughout Delhi that run together in vacant Delhi buildings or in schools that are vacant at night because the infrastructure is already there. These kids have missed years of school so they not only need schooling but also need shelter. The campaign believes in keeping these kids until they are productive citizens. They will not turn a child away and the children are free to come and go as they please.

During our work with the campaign we were surprised to learn a few moving facts. Only one in ten street children beg for a living, and most of these are very young. Less than 10% of street children are in conflict with the law, not more than children who live with their families. Street children all work for the little money they have whether from picking up garbage to be recycled, sweeping stores, cleaning, shoe polishing, apprentices, etc.

My first impression of India

It is wedding season in India but not for Adnan and me! Not one plan is in place for our wedding (except for the possibility of a Monsoon Wedding).

We arrived in New Dehli somewhat disheveled and have remained in a frenzied state everyday sense. We have had to a find a home, a volunteering opportunity and figure out our whereabouts. I must say that between the locals we have met and friends we knew before we got here, everyone has been so sympathetic and supportive of us. I am grateful for every gesture of thoughtfulness.

Dehli is everything people told me it would be; dilapidated houses, muddy roads littered with piles of colorful trash, homeless people/families/children, cows ruling the streets, stray dogs scavenging for food, slums lining the roads, hoards of people sleeping on mats wherever they can and much more. But no one told me about the amazing service at stores and restaurants, the enticing food, the beautiful parks, the helpful locals, the entertaining newspapers in English, the incredible boutiques, the detailed handmade articles, the non-wasteful living system (they have their own recycling system that pretty much everything is used and reused and reused yet again), and most importantly the hope running through the veins of the city.

Of course there are things that terrify me here. But it isn’t what I had expected. For example, the top of the list is not the water (only a little scary) but commuting on the roads. Whether I am walking or riding in an auto rickshaw my nerves are shattered by the time I get to my destination. I have seen my life (as well as other lives) flash before my eyes. But what I have learned over a very short period of time is what looks like pandemonium to me is actually a very orderly street system here. Driving down the road is something like the following: First bargaining with numerous auto rickshaw drivers for a fair price, many of whom will not take you to where you want to go. Then proceeding to get in the mini vehicle instantly being sprayed with dust and exhaust from other drivers while swerving because a car is driving down the wrong side of the street (this would immediately cause an accident in the US) while avoiding a horse cart swerving again to avoid bicycles carrying everything you can possibly imagine balanced on them. We almost just hit a pack of stray dogs and people walking in and out of traffic while passing a motorcycle with a family riding on it (a baby is sandwiched between her mom and dad, the driver). It is mayhem. But it somehow all works. The auto rickshaws nearly kill us or others almost every day we ride them and no one seems to flinch. The bright side of auto rickshaws is their extremely cheap price. Getting anywhere in the city will cost you less than a dollar. We drive for 40 minutes across the city and it is still around a dollar. Unreal.

The first few days after we arrived in Delhi we stayed with a friend of a friend of Adnan’s named James Moore. He is from Texas and is working at The Gates Foundation in Dehli. He was generous enough to let us stay with him for the first eleven days until we found an apartment.

We have an apartment in an area of New Delhi called Defense Colony. Our landlady built the four story building 2 years ago. She owns two of the floors and she sold the two other floors. We are living in a newly renovated basement space. The only problem is when the wind shifts at night, the nearby sewage wreaks havoc in our place. The smell has woken us up several nights due to its poisonous scent. I have never smelled anything so foul. I might not have a sense of smell when I return to the states and Adnan might finally lose all of his nose hairs. :) We are both excited for the cold weather to come.

We have met with tons of people and organizations to volunteer with. In the process we have learned a plethora of information about this dramatically changing city. Organizations are starting all over the city to help the poorest. Dreams fill the city. They say that over 400 million people in India live off of less than $1 a day. That is a greater population than the United States. We have seen many street children here which are a difficult reality to stomach. I want to snatch them all up, put them in a classroom and teach them. (Well, I will be doing that a couple days a week).

We have had some really interesting meetings. Check out this tour we took about homeless street children at the Delhi rail station. It is the Salaam Baalak Trust tour that is run by former homeless street children at the New Delhi Railway Station.

I am grateful for the opportunity for this eye opening experience. To sit and observe this ever changing country has been fascinating. So much growth is happening and so much more needs to happen. I refuse to allow the less-lovable elements of this city overshadow the positive points of the truly multidimensional metropolis.

We have some exciting trips in the making as well, including a visit to Manali in the Himalayas for my birthday in October and the Pushkar Camel Fair in late November. Keep in touch because there is more to come.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Florence, Italy Pictures

After the Amalfi Coast we decided to work our way back up north and visit Florence. We had received mixed reviews of Florence. Some folks strongly recommended that we visit and indicated it was their favorite city in Italy. While others cautiously warned that we stay away this time of the year due to the high number of tourists.

We spent three nights in Florence and had mixed feelings about the city. It is a beautiful city and gave us the opportunity to see Michelangelo’s David. Waiting in line for almost three hours to see the David was not as enjoyable but we were only mildly frustrated as we had been prepped by our friends that the lines would be long. We went to visit the Uffizi Gallery the next day and decided to pass after we learned the wait to get inside was over two hours. Florence is a small city so we were able to cover a lot of ground to see numerous other works of art and the beautiful architecture.

We would like to visit Florence again but next time plan to rent a car and visit Tuscany and the surrounding countryside. I will also make sure to visit during the slow season after the summer tourists have cleared out.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Positano, Italy Pictures

We were in need of a vacation from our vacation after Rome. Our legs were exhausted and we had visited more than enough museums for now. After taking a series of trains and buses we finally arrived at Positano in the Amalfi Coast which is a stretch of breathtaking coastline in Southern Italy. Neither Kristen nor I had ever visited the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast is where I had planned on proposing to Kristen but couldn't hold out beyond Paris.

We lucked out again with an amazing B&B with a fabulous view of the ocean. We were high up on the cliffs and strolled through winding hills and series of endless stairs during our walks. Our friends Greg and Bridget stayed in Ravello and Capri during their honeymoon two weeks before us and gave us some great suggestions of places to visit. Kristen’s parents had also visited Positano the week before so we were well equipped with amazing suggestions for food.

Positano reminded me of the Wasatch Front of Salt Lake City, my hometown. Whereas Salt Lake City is surrounded by majestic mountains which provide “The Greatest Snow on Earth”, Positano is perched upon the mountains and overlooks the ocean. For the Utahans reading this blog, imagine Big Cottonwood Canyon at the eadge of the ocean instead of the Wasatch Front. A truly spectacular view. I could have remained in Positano indefinitely and will be visiting again.

Rome, Italy Pictures

Rome was our next stop after Paris. We stayed at a great B&B in central Rome for five nights. We spent each day walking and sightseeing in the scorching heat. Rome is a city to be seen on foot and we were happy to have logged the miles. It was my first time in Rome and I had mixed views about some of the sites. Visiting the Roman Coliseum and Roman Forum were historic to say the least, but I was taken back by how much the sites had eroded. I don’t have any idea how one would preserve historic sites from the 9th century BC of course, but I couldn’t help but wish that there was more than just rubble remaining in certain areas.

Visiting the Vatican was one of my top sightseeing experiences. We first climbed the steps to the top of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. We worked our way over to the Sistine Chapel and marveled at Michelangelo’s ceiling as it came to life. Wow! Pictures weren’t allowed inside the chapel but I would encourage anyone to read more about it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel. I was in awe as we walked through the Vatican museum and then later through St Peter's Basilica. I was amazed by St Peter's Basilica and struggled to come to grips with the sheer beauty of this place. The Vatican is a truly special place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Surprise

I met Adnan fifteen months ago through my Dallas friend Caitlin Starrs. We were both at William Decherd's annual banquet in Las Vegas . That night sent my life into a whirlwind of events starting first and foremost with finding my true love. I spent the past year flying between Chicago and Atherton, CA staying at 'The Compound' (Adnan's choice of residence with 9 other friends from business school) which was a daunting experience yet well worth it.

On June 15, 2007 our time came when we could finally be together permanently. We booked flights together to Chicago, CA, NYC, Paris and New Delhi which was exciting since we always flew alone, distressed to leave the other. So our adventure starts at Adnan's graduation from business school and now I know it will continue on and on.

Adnan and I spoke of our future and marriage. The words were frequent in our conversation since I had resigned from my job, moved out of my apartment and put my graduate school pursuits on hold in Chicago. Adnan asked me to please put trust in him to do the right thing for our future. In my mind, I prepared myself to get engaged after India meanwhile oblivious to the fact Adnan was looking for an engagement ring and then quietly holding onto one during our visit to NYC and Paris. It could be obvious to some that I would get engaged in Paris, but not to me and especially not on the night Adnan proposed.

The day of the proposal Adnan and I frolicked around Paris falling in love with the city. By the end of the day we were exhausted so I made dinner at our humble apartment. We waited peacefully in our apartment balcony for the lights of the city to turn on as well as the Eiffel Tower. Just as the Eiffel Tower announced its presence to the city, Adnan got on his knee pronouncing his love for me and his commitment to our future with a gorgeous ring.

I was stunned! To the point that answering immediately was impossible. I went into hysteria, my heart pounding rapidly while I stared down at my shaking hands with a new shiny diamond settling in until I heard Adnan's voice a bit anxious in the background asking me to please answer. YES, OF COURSE! I shouted. I finally hugged Adnan as an immense sense of peace took over my emotions. A special way to end our magical day and a fabulous way to begin our endeavors. Forever!

Monday, July 23, 2007

She Said Yes!

Kristen made breakfast and we were off to our day's sightseeing adventure in Paris. We went to the Eiffel Tower but decided to move on after we learned that the top floor was closed for the day. We stopped by the Tuileries and relaxed for a picnic lunch. Afterwards we walked to the Louvre and spent hours visiting classical works ranging from Da Vinci to an exhibition of Napoleon's Apartments.

After an exhausting day we stopped by a cafe near Place Vendome for a drink and to rest our legs. Then we walked home through a number of amazing neighborhoods and saw the city come to life. This was the day that I fell in love with Paris.

Once we got to our apartment on Boulevard Richard Lenoir we managed to walk up to our seventh floor apartment as the elevator had been broken all week. Kristen made amazing tortellini pasta while I helped to sauté the chicken. We sat on our balcony overlooking the Paris skyline watching the sunset over this amazing city. As we waited for the Eiffel Tower to light up in the distance I couldn't imagine a more perfect moment.

I had planned on waiting to propose until we reached the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I had the ring in my possession and had been carefully hiding it from Kristen. I had been an emotional wreck ever since I had taken possession of the ring. Kristen had noticed and had spent the past week dealing with my shaky emotional state.

As we sat on our balcony and watched the Eiffel Tower light up in the distance, I knew that waiting until the Amalfi Coast was not going to work. This was the special moment. I went inside the apartment and got the ring from its awkward hidden spot. I said a silent prayer and then walked towards our balcony. My heart was beating intensely and my palms were sweaty. I was freaked out. I got on one knee and in a shaky voice asked Kristen if she would marry me. Simple question but I didn't anticipate the response. She burst out in near hysteria. She kept saying "oh my god, oh my god" while I lingered on one knee. I thought that I'd been on my knee for an hour. I tried asking for a second time and got the same response.

Finally, I asked a third time and insisted she please answer the question. She quickly said YES and my heart rate slowly came back to normal. We were engaged and I was in Paris with my fiancée. I could not have dreamt of a more perfect day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

See our Paris pictures

Click on the slideshow or go to the Picasa site to see larger pictures.

Day by Day Paris

July 17
  • The Islands - Ile St. Louis Ile De La Cite (Notre Dame)
  • Riding a Bateau mouche down the Seine

July 18
  • Eiffel Tower (Top closed so we left)
  • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Louvre
  • Walk home through Place Vendome on Rue de Rivoli
  • Dinner on our balcony

July 19
  • Montmarte
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Dinner on the square in the Marais
  • Drinks on Place de la Bastille
  • Dancing in our neighborhood - Bastille on Rue de Marquis

July 20th
  • Versailles
  • Dinner on Ile St. Louis
  • Bar Hemingway

July 21st
  • Walked the streets of Paris
  • Eiffel Tower park picnic at night
  • Climbed the Eiffel Tower by stairs and looked at Paris by night

July 22rd
  • Bois de Boulogne (picnic in the park)

July 23rd
  • Rained all day, set up blog
  • Explored our neighborhood, Bastille

July 24th
  • Orsay (too long of line so did not go in)
  • Walked the Seine home
  • Latin Quarter walking Tour
  • Left Paris and took an overnight Train to Rome

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Our short stay in NY

We spent one week in NY before leaving for Paris. We were both so excited to see our friends in NY and to visit our old stomping grounds. We were fortunate to have friends who let us stay at their apartments during our visit. We stayed with Kristen's friends Melanie and Jason for three nights and then with Adnan's friend Talib for rest of our stay.

We left our camera at home during the evenings so unfortunately didn't get to take pictures with our friends. In hindsight this was a mistake as we would love to have captured those memories on camera. The Bonobos NYC trunk show alone was worth capturing. Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly are giving NYC a jolt of fashion with those amazing pants.

Most of our pictures are of our sightseeing trips during the day. We loved being tourists and discovering the sights all over again. Click on the NYSE picture below to link to our NY pictures:

New York 2007