Sunday, December 10, 2006

Typos Explained

Anyone who has ever worked with me will tell you I'm a stickler for punctuation and typos. As I've blogged about previously, India is the land of typos. Today, we saw a great one; a safety sign telling us that 'joy walking is dangerous'..... I guess if you're too happy, you may stumble into the road and get hit by a passing rickshaw. And the newspapers here continue to be full of them, which is why this quote on my google page today really made me laugh: "Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing". - Randy K. Milholland That explains it all!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strawberry Fields Forever

It was 26 years ago today, Mark David Chapman blew John Lennon away... many people remember where they were when the two Johns were assassinated - JFK and Lennon. I only remember the latter, being at school in Leeds, sitting next to a girl in class who was a huge Lennon fan, complete with glasses and CND symbols on her schoolbag. I can't remember her name, but I certainly remember her pain, as it was only years later I too was to become a fan of the man who was taken from us that day. This time last year, on the 25th anniversary of his death, we were still living just steps from the scene of the crime, the Dakota Building, and from Strawberry Fields, the part of Central Park dedicated to him with its iconic Imagine mosaic that hundreds, and thousands last year, would flock to commemorating his passing. I had no idea on that dark day in Leeds in 1980 that I would be so close to where it all happened years later.

Living on the Upper West Side, Tom and I enjoyed Strawberry Fields immensely, having breakfast there and just watching the world go by, although he would joke that it was where all the freaks would hang out. But he would indulge me at times of sadness, like the anniversary of Lennon's death, and five years ago when George Harrison died, when our good friends Kerry and Maurice were also in town to witness the outpouring of grief from Beatles fans around the city. It was so close to our apartment that any walk/run into the park would necessitate a trip through there. In fact, so special is Strawberry Fields that Tom chose it as the place to propose to me four years ago last July, on the bench dedicated to Thom Hunter.

As I think about Strawberry Fields and John Lennon, it seems odd that in five years living in that neighbourhood we never once bumped into Yoko, who still lives in numerous apartments in the Dakota. That is until the day we were in the most obvious setting - on Broadway, my birthday, two years ago, with tickets to the ill-fated Ono produced musical, Lennon. There she was, diminutive and demure in her trademark white pant suit and floppy felt hat, just a few rows behind us. Behind us. Can't believe Yoko had worse seats than us! But it was the one and only time we saw her, despite sharing the same dry-cleaner on 72nd Street and the same deli for cigarettes! I loved our time in New York, for many reasons, but one was to be able to share this wonderful neighbourhood knowing that one of my heroes, John Lennon, had spent some of the happiest years of his life there. My local cafe, pharmacy, and bar, were all frequent haunts of his and despite me missing him by, oh, 20 years, his presence was still felt and shared by everyone there.

Had he still been alive today, I wonder what Lennon would have made of his neighbourhood, his adopted city, the US, the UK, and the state of the world. And how would he have been perceived: would he have been labelled anarchist, activist, or aging hippy? The more time passes after his death, the more his messages of peace and love seem to ring true, and the more they seem needed. He was the ultimate working class hero and let's hope his life and works will be remembered for another 26 years ... at least.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Weevils Wobble....

A friend of ours recently shared her horror at finding weevils in the weetabix (yes, you can get Weetabix here - lovely when mushed up with hot milk and sugar!) and since hearing that news, I've frequently found weevils in our jars of rice. If you've never come across a weevil, here's one, looking particularly menacing close-up. Upon googling 'weevil' they are apparently quite harmless. Or they spread e-coli. All depends which site you look at. Good news is that they don't live in the cupboard, they are actually already in the grain of rice, growing, before you even get it home from the supermarket. In fact, I picked up a bag of rice in our local supermarket the other day and it already had large weevils crawling in it! Free weevils with every purchase. Bargain. Bad news is that as it takes a while for them to come out of the grain, you and I probably cannot, or don't want to, count how many weevil pupae we've eaten over the years in their formative state. Marvelous. In Eastern folk medicine, weevils are believed to be capable of curing or relieving cancer, diabetes and AIDS amongst other diseases, by eating them. Surprisingly, there is no scientific background to back up this claim, but given that I have none of the preceding diseases, maybe it's preventative! Apparently, there is also an Indietronic (?!) band from Yorkshire, God's own county, going by the name of The Weevils too. Who knew? So, as tonight's weevil discovery are languishing in a trash bag well outside the apartment, I am adapting dinner from chilli con carne with rice to a spicy pasta dish. Last I heard weevils don't live in pasta, but I may just have to google and find out... after dinner!

A Christmas Mail Miracle

The mail in India is an interesting thing: letters from one end of the country to the other can take weeks, if they ever get there, while letters from the US to India can take mere days. And packages are a big problem: will they get here unopened, contents intact, or will they be opened, bits missing, and taxes due (depending on the contents, and the day of the week, it seems you can be taxed different amounts!) So imagine my surprise today when a Christmas card, mailed in the US a few days ago, arrived despite it bearing only the first line of our address, the suburb spelled completely incorrectly, no mention of Bangalore or the zip/post code, and India handwritten on the label as an after thought. It's sad to say, but this small mail miracle made my day!