Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

It's many days since we went to Washington DC to get out visas, but here is the start of the story.

We arrived at the Indian Embassy on Massachusettes Ave. in DC, parked in a free "two hour spot" in the neighborhood across the street, and walked to the Embassy. We were greeted at the entrance by two stone elephants. It was all familiar: descend the consular steps, open the door, enter, take a number, look around at the sea of Indian faces which is dotted with just a few Westerners also waiting for their turn at the window, and listen to newcomers ask the question, "is there a line?"

The same Indian woman that took my visa application two years ago was behind the counter. She was dressed in a yellow "saree". I was a little worried about her, since last time she'd was short with me saying - like the man at the gate of the Emerald City - "come back tomorrow"and followed with "you had time to mail this in."

We were #71, and someone told us that the line was moving very slowly.

Finding three seats together, Natalie (7 years old) and I killed time by playing tic-tac-toe.

Every now and then, the woman behind the glass would yell instructions to the crowd: "please have your photos stapled to your applications". The application DOES plainly say to do this, but we were worried about putting a staple through the photo, so we'd left it undone. There was a stapler on the counter, but it was empty. A worker behind the glass came to use this stapler, and Martin told him there were no staples in it. He came back with staples and handed them to Martin who after filling it began fixing our photos to the applications, much to the consternation of the worker.

A little later, the woman in yellow instructed the crowd to make sure that you placed your application into your passport at the picture page of your passport, and at a certain location on the document.

If you got your application in before 12:30PM you were supposed to be able to receive it the same day. Although it didn't happen that way for me in 2004, I hoped for that this time because I was right on the day of the needed six months, to get my six month tourist visa.

At nearly noon, a second woman (dressed in a pink Punjabi dress) came to a second window and things started to move a little faster. We were finally called to the window of the yellow saree. I made a point of saying "Hello, how are you?" as I passed the documents through the window. She opened my passport and looked at my application. I heard her saying "artist"; looking at Ray's I heard her say "artist"; and then to me said "What kind of artist?" I said "painting." She looked at Martin's, calculated the amount for the three passports and said "$160.00" $20.00 less than we expected. Martin finally spoke, "Isn't it supposed to be $180.00 each?" The woman politely explained that a British passport holder is $40.00.

She stapled a receipt to a red "raffle" ticket with a number on it, pushed it through the opening and said, "They will be ready between 4:30 - 5:00PM." I was amazed at this apparent ease and said, "Today?" She nodded.

We walked back to the car and Natalie took us off to the National Museum of the Native American.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Indian Visa #2

I may be having some problems in getting my visa. My passport might not have enough time left on it to walk up to the window and get a visa. So I might have to get a passport an then the visa! Not happy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Muse for ED!

Posting this painting for ED who suggests naming Martin "Jules".

This "Garden Muse" overlooks an established but waning garden east of Newark, Ohio. I was painting with a friend. The first painting of the day was a good one, but a gust of wind took hold of my umbrella and over went the easel with the painting and the can of solvent. I righted my easel and watched the turp covered painting magically melting away. A pity: it was a good one; I needed paintings for my exhibition.

After a break to buy "white spirits", my friend and I returned to the same lovely garden. This garden goddess" had looked delicious bathed in a morning light, but would I like her as much in the afternoon? Yes, the aging muse wanted her picture painted. It was that moment in spring just before the buds would break on the trees. Sunny and warm for that time of March.

How to get an Indian Visa #1

Make sure you read online all the rules for applying for a visa, and follow directions carefully.

1. Find out which location you need to use.
Ohio falls under the jurisdiction of :
Indian Consulate in New York :

Indian Embassy in Washington DC :

2. What type of visa do you need?
There are many types of visas for entering India. A complete list is online at the above links. For our purposes we are applying for the tourist visa:
Tourist visas valid for six-month and one year (six months stay each time) are available. Ten-year Tourist visas permitting a stay of maximum of six-month on each visit are available to U.S. citizens who are frequent visitors to India. A person desirous of visiting India frequently but not intending to stay for more than six months at a time is advised to apply for this type of visa. Please note that it is not possible to extend your stay in India beyond 6 months if you are visiting India on this visa. For non-US nationals, who are permanent residents of US 5 year tourist visa with six months stay each visit is available.
COST $60.00 - for this type visa. Complete fee schedules for other types of visa are listed online.

3. Two (2) passport photos.
AAA can take the passport photos for you. For a member the price is $8.95.

4. Download the application form from the website.
You can get your visa same day if you go in person to the Embassy or Consulat for your jurisdiction; or, you may apply by mail but you must mail your passport.
Ray once lost his passport in the mail process. So we like to try and get to the window and do it in person if possible.
Form for those applying to the New York Consulat :
Form for applying at the Embassy in Washington DC :

5. Will the Embassy or Consulate be open the day you plan to go?
Indian National Holidays: (Check Embassy Holidays) A list of holidays during the year 2006 can be found at the above link. Dates may change at short notice. Please check with the Embassy by calling (202) 939-7000.

6. About the fees :
In person : In case the applications are deposited in person at the counter, visa fee can be paid in cash or by Cashier's Cheque/Certified Cheque or Money Order made payable to the Embassy of India, Washington (PERSONAL CHEQUES / CREDIT CARDS are not accepted)
By Mail : Personal Cheques/Credit Card/Cash are not accepted for Mailed-In applications.

For tourist info :
Government of India Tourist Office in New York is the ideal place for first hand tourism related information on India. The office is located at:
1270 Avenue of Americas Suite 1808 New York NY 10020
You can contact them at Tel: (212) 586-4901 or Fax (212) 582-3274 or send them an e-mail at

Monday, November 13, 2006

Name Game!

India preparations continued!

At left is a painting I did in January 2005, from our hotel rooftop in Mamallapurum. 6" x 8", oil on canvas, it is called "Dawn, Kumbakonam".

This will be my second time to India, and Ray's 5th. This time, my husband Martin (a British national) will be going with us. His job is to take photos! We couldn't let him go without a job! It's a working trip. Like Bob & Bing on the road with Dorothy Lamour, we will be going with glad hearts, looking forward to our upcoming and unknown adventures.

So what's in a name? "A lot of fun" when you've away in a strange place and can be anyone that you wish to be, instead of who you really are!

Last time Ray and I christened ourselves with Indian names which we still, at times, fondly call each other: Ray is "Hrundi" and I am "Sri Debi", so we have our names; but, we are currently looking for a good English nickname for Martin, who might wind up as Reggie or Geoffrey! We're not sure yet. Martin thought "Bertie" was a good one, but . . . Ray and I can't pronounce it with a proper English accent, so we figure this one is out for now.

Please leave me some comments if you have any thoughts about a name for Martin.
Also, if you are interested in receiving a weekly email from me while I am in India and Bhutan, let me know in a comment!

Preparations for India

I will be traveling in India and the Kingdom of Bhutan from February 6th - March 6th. Four weeks on the road, and painting with a fine artist and great friend, Ray Hassard (pictured here working on a pastel on the beach in Mamalapuram, about a month after the tsnunami).

Ray and I travelled throughout South India for six weeks in January and February of 2005. We traveled mostly by bus with two overnight train rides, and just one internal flight. Since we carried everything on our backs, we traveled as light as we could: with little clothing and leaving most of the room in our packs for our easels and other necessary supplies. We painted as often as we could, returning with at least 30 paintings each. We cemented our already 18 month old friendship laughing, painting, and drinking in dark Indian bars from town to town. It was leisurely traveling. We had the luxury of time and a loose itinerary. India was always surprising to me. Just when I felt I'd seen everything, something new or bizarre would delight the eyes of this well-traveled Westerner and make me smile in amazement! It truely was the trip of a lifetime.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fine Irish Day

As I get ready to paint today, I look outside my window and see that it is a misty grey day with a "soft rain" falling. I am reminded of my December '05 trip to Ireland. And so, I picked out a Sharon Shannon CD to listen to as I paint. Suddenly I am transported back a year in time to Doolin, County Clare. I remember that first morning painting at the feet of the Cliffs of Moher. Feeling the cold wind against my hands and cheeks, and listening to the sound of 30 foot waves crashing around me, I felt small. All of nature's splendor before me, a wild place! Here's me painting that day, and the final 6"x8" oil painting from that morning.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My own website

Very soon I will have my own website. It is a long time coming, but it seems it is almost there. I have spent most of the day working on the Ohio Plein Air Website, and now early in the morning I have just finished sizing photographs for my own site as well. It's a no-man's land for me. I am a creature of habit, and don't totally understand the lingo of the web. I punch in the numbers that someone else tells me I should and hope for the best. Then I send through the magic of the internet to the man who really knows what it's all about: the designer.
I am happy to say that, for me, the election results turned out as I had hoped. Having said that, I am off for bed. Bon nuit!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Out of the Comfort Zone!

For someone that has been around computers for a long time now, creating this blog has seemed way too hard. Maybe it's the idea that the audience for this thing could potentially be the entire world - if people find me! This first entry is a little like the first page in a sketchbook: you want it to be perfectly wonderful since it's the first thing someone will see when they open the book.