Submitted by Robyn Morris
How you do escape the 110-degree heat and dust of early summer in New Delhi, India? One family heads to Geauga County each year for about six weeks. Katherine Ernst Mehta grew up in Geauga County, and during a “study-abroad” semester in college, she went to India to explore the arts and culture of that country.
While Katherine was in India for the four-month stay in 2009, she met Amrit Mehta. “I was glad that Katherine was heading off for a unique adventure, but I forgot to tell her not to fall in love,” says Katherine’s mother, Robyn Morris. “But Katherine has such good judgement, that if she says Amrit is the one, that’s all I needed to hear.”
Katherine and Amrit married in 2010, and they have made their home in New Delhi, the capitol city of India. They now have two young sons, ages three and five.
Each year, the family, along with Amrit’s mother, Rita, travels to Ohio to escape the oppressive Delhi heat. Travel time from New Delhi to the Cleveland Hopkins airport is generally 24 hours, with one or two layovers. This means, about 18 hours in an airplane.
After landing, the family needs to get over “jet lag”. Since India is on the other side of the world, their “body-clocks” are just about completely reversed from the local time. For example, when they land in Cleveland at midnight, their bodies tell them it’s mid-morning. It’s time to get up and get moving. Often, on their first day here, they shop at the 24-hour stores at 4 a.m. because they can’t sleep.
Also, temperatures in Geauga County in May are on par with mid-Winter temperatures in New Delhi! It has never snowed in New Delhi. A typical January day’s temperature in Delhi is in the 50s. The coldest of days only go down to the 40s.
After a few days in the States, sleeping and eating patterns for the travelers match the local time and custom. So, how do the Mehtas spend their six weeks in the States? It is certainly not hard to find things to do here!
The oldest son (age 5) loves mini golf. So, one of the first outings after arriving was to Chip’s Club House in Chardon. They also enjoyed Fantasy Island mini golf in Bainbridge.
The entire family took a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Of course, dinosaurs were the attraction, but a surprise favorite was the outdoor exhibit of Ohio animals. Everyone thought it was great.
Other animal highlights were a trip to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the animal safari at Wagon Trails Animal Park in Vienna, (Trumbull County), and visiting the farm livestock at Century Village in Burton, where it’s free to walk the grounds.
Attractions in Burton (where the family is staying) included the weekly vintage car show (free), the local library programs (free), playing tic-tac-toe at Coffee Corners (when purchasing cookies and beverages), and strolling through the village park and residential streets in Burton.
The number of people in every city in India is essentially unimaginable for anyone who has never been there. The country is vibrant, colorful, chaotic, friendly, intimidating, noisy, aromatic and overwhelming. Driving a car on city streets is undertaken by only the most confident and alert of drivers. Amrit quipped, “Before I came to America, I didn’t know how anybody could ever fall asleep at the wheel. But the streets here are empty! Now I understand.”
Other local attractions for the Mehtas included the Eagle Park Sprayground (water fun) in Middlefield, the Geauga Airport pancake breakfast with children’s activities, a family picnic at a pavilion (free or low-cost to county residents) at one of the Geauga County Park District locations, and the new model railroad museum at Corner Field in Huntsburg.
The adults enjoyed the drive-it-yourself greenhouse and nursery tour sponsored by E&M Growers Supplies and attending the Geauga Growers’ Auction. With a group of friends, the young adults also took a brewery tour in Cleveland.
Fine dining was often included in the plans. Some of the memorable choices included these local restaurants: Warren’s Spirited Kitchen and The Smith Restaurant, both in Burton, as well as Cabana’s Island in Chardon. A little farther out, the group enjoyed Chinese dim sum at Li Wah Restaurant in Cleveland. But the most unique eating experience, with all delicious food choices, was at the home-catering location of Steven and Twila Miller in Burton, an Amish couple who are creating a new approach to Amish cooking.
Miller provides menu choices to be selected by the customer in advance of preparation of the meal. Then, he makes an abundant amount of food for the group, with choices such as shrimp tacos, BBQ ribs, steak, and raspberry mousse cake. This dining and catering option works best for groups of 15 people or more.
As part of a large family group, the Mehtas ate dinner at the home-catering location, followed by a large “campfire” in a pit at the Miller family property. Steven and Twila and their children joined Amrit and Katherine’s family group around the fire. (Because it can be difficult to find contact information for the Millers, here is a telephone number to contact them and leave a message:
The Mehtas also enjoyed some destinations a little farther out, including a vacation on a small lake in northern Michigan, and a tour for the adults of Kentuck Knob, a house designed by the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, which is about three hours away from Middlefield. Since this special house is only four miles from Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania, the young boys spent time at the park, especially enjoying standing knee-deep in the Youghiogheny river, looking at minnows, and sailing “boats” made of sticks and leaves over the falls.
The differences in daily life between India and the United States, and the cultures of the two countries, cannot be easily described. Every aspect of household living is defined by cultural experience and expectations. Many activities that are just understood to be commonplace in one country, are totally foreign in another.