Monday, 25 February 2013

33% of Goal Reached on Kickstarter!

Young woman laborer carrying tiles
Just a quick entry to let you all know that I am at 33% of my goal for self-publishing my book Sipping Chai in Chennai. Thank you to all of my readers that are supporting me in this endeavor to tell the stories of single working mothers I have met while I have been working and living in South India for the past eighteen months.

Please click here to see a detailed description of my Kickstarter project.

If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, please read the information below and go to the URL listed below. It's a great way to become involved in many creative and helpful projects worldwide!

  1. What's Kickstarter?(

    Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.
    Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $450 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects. If you like stats, there's lots more here.
  2. How does Kickstarter work?

    Thousands of creative projects are funding on Kickstarter at any given moment. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. The filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers you see on Kickstarter have complete control and responsibility over their projects. They spend weeks building their project pages, shooting their videos, and brainstorming what rewards to offer backers. When they're ready, creators launch their project and share it with their community.
    Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.
  3. Why is funding all-or-nothing?

    All-or-nothing funding is a core part of Kickstarter and it has a number of advantages:
    It's less risk for everyone. If you need $5,000, it's tough having $1,000 and a bunch of people expecting you to complete a $5,000 project. 
    It motivates. If people want to see a project come to life, they're going to spread the word.   
    It works. Of the projects that have reached 20% of their funding goal, 82% were successfully funded. Of the projects that have reached 60% of their funding goal, 98% were successfully funded. Projects either make their goal or find little support. There's little in-between.
    To date, an incredible 44% of projects have reached their funding goals.

Apollo Health Clinic - Family Health Centre

A well-kept secret in Chennai is the Apollo Health Clinic in Kotturpuram, an area very near the center of Chennai. Since moving to India nearly two years ago, I have not been to the doctor except to have a couple of ear infections looked at. I figured it was high time to 'do the needful' and have my annual check up since I was coming up on a birthday. A friend from the US who works in Chennai recommended the Apollo Health Clinic.She and her seventy year old mother had both gone there and highly recommended it.

The clinic in Kotturpuram is clean, efficient and the staff is friendly. You don't need an appointment, which at first sounded like a really bad idea to me but, when I rang them up, they said to be there at 7 a.m. - no appointment was necessary. I got there ten minutes early since I thought they probably told everyone to be there at 7 a.m., but I was surprisingly the first one there.

Once you are checked in they move you quickly through the various labs, tests, and doctors as if you were on a conveyor belt. Since you have to fast for twelve hours prior to checking in, they do give you a small South Indian breakfast, once you have completed all of the blood and urine tests. That was at about 11 a.m., and I was ravenous. I ate my two iddly with coconut chutney and a vada washed down with South Indian style sugary coffee in record time. I usually only take black coffee, but I was so hungry I just ate and drank whatever they gave me. (I am famously not the world's pickiest eater and absolutely love South Indian food, the hotter the better.)

There are different tiers of service for your annual physical, and it mainly depends upon your age. I got the 50-60 year old ACE Health Screen (The Half Century Special, I call it) and it cost me Rs. 5,100. This is about  $95 US dollars, and covers everything. I was there a total of five hours and had a chest-ray, a mammogram, an pelvic ultrasound, a pap smear, blood work,  a bone density scan, a dental check and a private consultation with the doctor two days later to go over the results of all of my tests. This was all covered in the Rs. 5, 100 paid when I checked in that first morning.

I highly recommend the clinic if you need a comprehensive check-up, which seemed like a good idea now that I am pushing sixty. (OK, maybe not quite sixty, but I do want to reach my golden years in a healthy state and also be able to keep up with my grand kids...)

Here's the list of everything included from Apollo's website for the 50-60 year old client: (

  • Blood Group and RH-Typing
  • Blood Sugar (Fasting)
  • Bone Densitometry (Dexascan)
  • Bun (Blood Urea Nitrogen)
  • Complete Blood Count [CBC]
  • ECG
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
  • Gynaec Consultation
  • Lipid Profile
  • Mammography
  • Pap Smear /Cervical Smear
  • Physician Consultation
  • Serum Calcium
  • Serum Creatinine
  • SGPT [ALT]
  • Stool Routine
  • Stool Occult Blood
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone [TSH]
  • Ultrasound Whole Abdomen
  • Urine Routine
  • X-Ray Chest PA View

  • Dental Check

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Working from Tiru

This week I will be working on some projects from Tiruvannamalai. I have actually taken a few days off from my full-time work in Chennai to have time to recharge my batteries at home. For the record, last Friday was my 51st birthday and my husband and I went to Mahabalipuram, about a two hour drive from Tiru. It was nice to sit by the ocean, watch the fisherman far out on the horizon, and splash around in the ocean that had a surprisingly strong undertow.

We actually stayed at the Ideal Beach Resort, which was a huge treat since we tend to stay close to home unless we head overseas to visit family. It's a bit pricey so I consider it a romantic place for a special occasion. The food was good, the service was wonderful and the staff even surprised me with my own pink and white birthday cake  and sang 'Happy Birthday.'

The resort is about an hour's drive south of Chenna, so it's a good place to get a break from the constant activity in Chennai if you work or live there. Here's the link to the resort: Ideal Beach Resort

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

An Update On Kickstarter Project

Tamil woman named Kutti working in the fields
Just so everyone can follow along, my fundraising has reached a milestone of 20% of the amount I am trying to raise to self-publish my book about single moms in India called Sipping Chai in Chennai.

Please find the link to the fundraising project at :

Sipping Chai in Chennai

The official count is $1,101 and I still have 27 days to reach my goal of $5,000.

As promised, my heart felt thanks go to the following donors who quickly jumped on board since I launched my project:

Daniela Cammack 
Reuben Chandrasekharan
Eileen Kroll
Cynthia Morris
Gokul Raj
JootStrap LLC
Santiago Morales

Thank you , thank you, thank you!


Saturday, 16 February 2013

My Book Project has been Approved!

View of Mt. Arunachala from our roof, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India
Hi, Friends~

I have just uploaded a link to my latest project: A proposed book that will document the lives and struggles of single mothers I have met in the past 18 months in India. I have listed my project on, a website that puts together creative projects with potential backers.

Please click on the link below to access my project:

If you know anyone who might be interested in offering support, please feel free to forward the link.

Have a great weekend!

Thank you and namaste~


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Flurry of Indian Weddings

An Indian Bride (wikipedia)
Living in Chennai during the week is good in many ways. I get to visit with my women friends during my lunch break at work and catch up on all the gossip about their extended Indian families. Being the only foreigner on my staff, I get to ask a lot of questions that may seem silly about Indian marriages and husband and wife relationships, but my female coworkers tend to humor me and speak frankly about their lives and families.

It seems that there were a flurry of marriages this past month and at least one 'love' marriage in one of my friend's families. This took up much time over lunch discussing the reaction of  both the groom and bride's side of the family. How did the parents handle it? Did they attend the wedding? (It seems they did not.) What will happen when the first grandchild arrives? Will that change things? No one can ignore their first grandchild, right?

Although my coworkers have young children or teenagers right now, I had to ask them what they would do in ten years time if one of their children wanted to marry someone they did not approve of or choose for them. What if their children did not want them to arrange their marriage?

Their responses varied from, "What can you do?" to "Who knows how much the culture will have changed in ten years time? Maybe it won't even be an issue?"  They seemed to be more open to the possibility that their children may want to choose their own partner, which surprised me. Three of the woman in my office have  'love' marriages, not arranged marriages, so maybe I am in a different environment working in high tech or maybe things are slowly changing in India?

If any readers from India would like to comment, please do!
Bride and Groom from Maharani Weddings Website

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Eating always helps to calm one's nerves
Today I did something that took me way out of my comfort zone; I submitted my book project (Sipping Chai in Chennai)  to a website called It's a website that helps artists and authors raise funds for projects they believe in.

The project I believe in is my book called Sipping Chai in Chennai. I have a first draft of my manuscript and hope to have it published within the next year. However, and this is the big HOWEVER, I am going to self publish my book with Balboa Press ( and this takes some funding up front. is a way for authors to accept donations towards their various projects.

People interested in supporting the arts can scroll through a list of projects that need funding and make small or large donations to the costs of publishing a book or funding a documentary, for instance. The number of projects listed on is inspiring; all of these are wonderfully creative projects that people have spent hours of their lives developing. What is also a bit intimidating is that Kickstarter is an ALL or NOTHING endeavor. If you ask for $2,000 to self publish your book and raise only $1,000... then you get nothing... and the donors get their money back. So it is risky, but very fair to the donors.

But how much do you ask for? It cannot just be an arbitrary amount. I did a lot of research and tried to find the best company to assist me with self publishing my book based on my key topics - India, spirituality, and women. I spoke for the past six months with representatives from Balbao Press (a subsidiary of Hay House Publishing) and was impressed with what their self publishing packages included for $5,000. So, that is the amount I am trying to fund raise - $5,000.

It took me nearly three weeks to just complete the submission process to Kickstarter; there is the video they suggest you upload that is just you (me) talking about my book and why I feel it is important for the world to read it. Yikes. Talk about self promotion! It's not something I am terribly comfortable with, but I do feel that I have a story to tell. I spent this past weekend recording and re-recording myself alone in the back part of our house. I wouldn't even let my husband watch as he might have been shocked by some of the profanity uttered by his wife after getting a sentence wrong for the umpteenth time.

I will find out if thinks my book project is a worthy one in a few days.

In the meantime, here is a link to my youtube video where I talk about my book called Sipping Chai in Chennai. Thanks for checking it out!

Namaste~ Elizabeth

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Bird Songs in the Morning

 Mt Arunachala through the trees
I know I am back in Tiruvannamalai even before I open my eyes in the morning; a chorus of bird songs float through our open window to greet the day. There are many mornings that I wake up and glance around my bedroom wondering where I am. Living part-time in Chennai and part-time in Tiruvannamalai tends to do that, I guess.

Butterfly Visitor
Pond Heron
On the weekends, my husband and I enjoy having on coffee in the screened in veranda at the front of our house. It faces Mt. Arunachala and has views of the garden and pond just outside. This is where small brightly colored birds seem to start their day as well as numerous butterflies that seem to hover intently over the colorful flowers, deciding which one is most appealing for their morning sip of nectar. A new visitor to our pond is a pond heron often seen wading delicately among the rice paddies in rural India. I like to imagine that he is not eating the fish in our pond but instead just taking pleasure in the activity of the birds and other unexpected visitors to our garden as it slowly wakes up to another day in rural India.
Our Front Garden over the Christmas Holidays

Friday, 1 February 2013

Sunny Days in Chennai

My work week in Chennai is about to end; I leave in less than an hour for the peace and quiet of our  garden in Tiruvannamalai. Two nights ago, I had a pleasant walk along Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar. There was a nice breeze and so much activity; families picnicking after work and the usual parade of walkers. I especially love to watch the elderly couples with their smart running shoes doing the 'needful' and getting their daily exercise. I had never seen trainers (running shoes) worn with a sari before I came to Chennai and lived near the beach.

I realized today that I have not mentioned anything about my great network of non-Indian woman friends who live and work in Chennai. In addition, my female Indian coworkers are a source support during the week when I am away from home and my husband. My expat woman friends have come to India for various reasons; one is a nurse from New Zealand and directs an NGO working to improve the conditions of neonatal care in Indian hospitals, one is an American from California working as a project manager for a large American company with a base in Chennai, the other is a an entrepreneur from Ireland who creates business liaisons between Indian and Irish companies. Each one has been living in Chennai for 2-5 years. They are all fun, interesting and very immersed in their respective careers. It's been inspiring getting to know them all. Two of them speak fairly fluent Tamil, so have acclimated well to South India. I have to admit, I need to get a Tami tutor. I do feel like I miss 50% (probably more) of what's going on around me when I am outside of my office, where my coworkers speak English primarily.

More from Tiruvannamalai  as I will be based there next week.