My mother sent me an apron for my birthday, because she said "it had my name on it". I've been looking for a tag since yesterday but can't find it and am beginning to think she may have meant it as a figure of speech.
My eldest daughter, acting as a benign teacher, corrected my written French.
My youngest daughter claimed that I didn't look any different than I did in my wedding photograph taken twenty three years ago.
My bride gave me a Pink Floyd album as a present, on vinyl, a medium which anno domini 2015 is as vibrant as the recipient of this fine gift.
My friends and family from around the world sent their wishes via FB and encouraged me to not just make it through the next fifty years but to make them interesting.
My wife (same person as bride, see above) drew a post retirement picture of us showing her lying on a bench, reading a book in Goa and me frantically running, with a few remaining strands of grey hair blowing in the wind.
With wishes, gifts and projections such as these it's easy to feel loved while staying grounded.
It's 7.30 in the evening and I walk out of my office in the center of Bombay to search for a taxi. I am carrying my briefcase in one hand and a huge green and yellow ABN AMRO umbrella in the other, to protect against the pounding rain. I need protection from the rain but am petrified that the tip of the umbrella will as a conductor for the lightning that flashes across the dark monsoon sky.
Outside the office compound there are tens of people trying to hail a taxi, peering into the small decrepit Fiat taxis, worker bee hookers on a strip, hoping to attract the driver's favor and win a ride home. I finally start walking in the direction of South Bombay, prepared that I may have to walk the full ten kilometers until I reach the Taj Hotel, where my family is holed up.
Finally, after walking for a kilometer, with cars whizzing past and horns blaring incessantly, I find a taxi willing to go South. I get in and sink back into the seats. Fumes, a blend of petrol, garbage and humidity, waft in, the noise is deafening. The ride to Colaba takes another hour.
Nothing could be farther from the life we left behind in Chicago's Lincoln Park than this. This will be home for the next several years but it will take a long time for it to feel like it.
I'm cycling along Marine Drive on a beautiful Sunday morning with Mira, our eldest daughter. It's 8.30 a.m., the air is still clean and we look out over the Arabian Sea on our right and the art deco buildings that line Marine Drive on our left. We're on the last stretch of our ride heading home in a city that has become home.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.