I have been there for 5 years now, and have a little seniority in my department, but as we all know, the newspaper industry did suffer this year, and business has taken a big plunge. Mainly due to the huge shift towards internet usage for news, as well as classified ad services. But, I am very thankful that I still have my job for the time being, and my company is a very generous company to work for.
We did have fun this year though - with almost record breaking temperatures this summer, we enjoyed inner tubing through town on the Chena River on 90° days and I managed to get my kayak out on Chena Lakes one day. Chirag and I traveled down to Anchorage for the Fourth of July weekend and witnessed an amazing sight right on the Parks Hwy: around 1am (Which is still twilight in the summer), we saw a baby moose run across the road into the woods, followed by her mother. We thought she'd been hit by a car, as she fell into the middle of the highway. But as we got closer, she got up and we saw a grizzly bear attacking her from the other side!! The bear was very small compared to the moose, so he was fighting to hold on with all his might, but it was a very surreal thing to witness outside our car - within about 10 feet by the time we came up on them. We tried to get a picture, but they wrestled off the side of the road into the bush and we don't know what happened, but the whole sight made our adrenaline surge with amazement and a little bit of fear. I'm sure photographers and documentarians wait days to months to witness something we came upon by random timing. I made myself feel better by saying that the bear had cubs to feed. hahahaha!
On our way home from Anchorage, we noticed a familiar (for me) and aggravating sight emanating from the west: smoke. Wood smoke. Forest fire smoke. Sudden forest fires had erupted around Nenana, a city about an hour away from southwest Fairbanks. Most of the winds come up from the southwest, so August was a challenge for everyone in Fairbanks. Sudden forest fires broke out everywhere within the southwest borders of town and made Fairbanks a very eerie, smoky ghost town for about a month. There was a particular day that we couldn't even see across the street, people were wearing masks and smoke was ebbing into the stores. But, as with every natural event, there is an opposite, and in this case, positive, reaction; August brought our usual, wonderful rainy days that abruptly ended the fires and, as though nothing ever happened, we proceeded into autumn.
Autumn came around and Chirag started getting job interviews in Anchorage, New Orleans and in Texas. In October, I joined him in Dallas for something we had been saving for since April - a U2 concert with floor seat tickets! We're both big fans of the group and never thought we'd get to see them in concert, but we came upon a deal for tickets that we couldn't pass up, so we joined one of Chirag's friends, who now lives in Dallas, and attended THE biggest event of my life! It was in the New Dallas Cowboys Stadium and I think about the same number of people as the population in Fairbanks joined us. It was amazing!!! It was like being in a DVD of a concert. It was the biggest musical event that I will ever attend and well worth the wait (I have videos/pictures on my Facebook.com profile!!!)
We came back home and turned around to go to Anchorage once again for a comedy show by Dane Cook; a comedian-turned-actor that I've loved for about 5 years, so that was fun for the both of us - and we dined at a wonderful North Indian restaurant in the heart of Anchorage that made Chirag homesick for some good Indian food.
I've done my experimentation with cooking within my first year of being married. As for Indian cuisine, I've only mastered "butter chicken" and egg curry, but only with help from Chirag's mother, who has sent us authentic Indian spices from Bombay.
Hopefully within the next year, I will be able to go to Chirag's home city of Bombay for a small, Indian wedding ceremony with his family - Something I think I could have only dreamed about!! If anyone has the chance to see the movie "Monsoon Wedding," I recommend it very much, as it explains the traditions and shows the traditional dress and ceremony of a family like Chirag's family. Indians of north, south, east and west India all have different wedding dress and traditions, and Chirag's family would be of the northern tradition; the same as in the movie "Monsoon Wedding."
His family wasn't sure what to think of Chirag marrying an American, but since we had been friends for over a year before we dated, they came to know about me before anything between us was serious. Chirag's family also knew that he was "destined" to live in the United States and wasn't TOO surprised to know that he wanted to stay here permanently. I'm proud to say that in November, he was finally offered a job with an oil company that he plans to join in February of 2010. I hope everything works out to our advantage, and after 6-8 months of training, he will most likely be stationed in a city outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. Unless he can be transferred to a position within Alaska, I will be joining him in Arkansas and enjoying a new part of the US that I never thought I would be seeing. (Though, between you and me, we hope he's stationed in Alaska ;)
I hope everything is going good for your families and it's been wonderful getting to know the family I was always so far away from over the last year. Please add me on www.facebook.com if you have a profile. It's a wonderful way to keep in touch with family in a casual, non-active way! hahaha. I love you all and wish the best of 2010!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
Grace, Chirag and V.W "the love pug"