It's incredible what you learn about the animal world living in India. Not only are cows sacred - and have right of way on the roads - but in a stand-off with a dog, dog wins... in a stand-off with a horse, cow wins. It seems ironic that one small animal (Mitzie) could terrorize one large animal (cow). I witnessed a 'head to head' between the two of them on the street the other day and when things got a little tense between an over curious calf and Mitzie, the Mitzter came out on top, sending the calf fleeing down the street. On the other hand, while out for a pleasant ride recently, my friend and I were confronted by a handful of cows which sent the horses into a flat spin and literally jumping for cover. In fact, as the cows galloped toward us, we had to take cover in adjacent bushes and try to calm down the horses. Clearly this was HYSTERICAL to the couple of young boys who were herding the cows, and they spent a good few minutes chuckling at these crazy white women in their fancy outfits cowering in the undergrowth. Had Mitzie been with us, however, I am sure things would have been TOTALLY different, and we'd all be celebrating her victory over the herd and our more dignified handling of the situation!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
... when you're having fun! And we've certainly been doing that, for the most part, since the arrival of our 'daughter,' Mitzie. Not content with turning our lives upside by getting a dog, we have also moved house, which involved re-house training (for all of us!) and all the general stresses and strains that go with shifting (as we call it here!)
Thursday, September 04, 2008
As I speak, the Mitzer is hawling her 3' wide dog crate along the living room floor as she tries to pull a blanket out from the inside. I refuse to put it back where it belongs as Mr. M does not believe that she EVER behaves in a less than desirable way...
It had to happen. A flat tyre. On the way to a wedding. Our driver's sister's wedding. In the middle of Bangalore. I was driving. During Monsoon. In fact, during a stinking Monsoon afternoon which saw the streets become rivers. Thankfully, my Hero, Mr. M, was in the car with us (me and Mitz). I have never seen him spring so quickly into action. He was out the car, into the trunk, spare out, flat tyre off, spare on, quicker than you could say, 'should I get out and help?' In fact, both Mitzie and I remained dry as a (dog) bone inside the car while Mr. M was soaked to the skin. What was amusing, was the lack of police or helpful looking individuals when you need them. Out of the hundreds of people thronging through the Bangalore bus station (where we took refuge) only ONE person offered to help, with more people finding it quite amusing to see the only white guy in the vicinity up to his knees in water changing Madame's tyre. It did make me realize that while I have been on quite a high a lately driving myself here and there, with or without hubbie, that we are quite prone to getting flats here (due to the lack of road surfaces!) and if I were on my own it would be quite a pain in the ass. Having learned to change a tyre on an army landrover, I'm sure I could do it, but wouldn't want to! I was impressed by my knight in shining armour who delivered me to the wedding an hour late, but on time, as things generally run late here, without me having to get even slightly ruffled. That's a few brownie points well earned.
Monday, September 01, 2008
... and whatever else ammunition you have in the crazy war between dog owner and residents. We have had another complaint; this time, about noise after 11:30pm in our bedroom... apparently the sound of strange instruments dropping on the floor and rather heavy feet. Ah, that'll be Mitzie practicing the euphonium and drums. Crazy!!!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
As we learn about life with our little dog, two things have become quite clear:
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I am exhausted!!! Just over two weeks into being a puppy momma and I am shattered. Not sure if it's the combo of non-stop nannying, or a bit of a heavy partying weekend, but I am wiped out. Also, the stress of our neighbors is taking its toll and I'm wondering whether they are involved in the disappearance of three pairs of our shoes from outside our front door... It's very Indian to leave your shoes outside the door, and given that we are walking our dog outside in the mud on the non-existent road, it's actually a necessity that we don't come in the house in them. So, yesterday lunchtime I was a little shocked to see two pairs of sneakers and one pair of birkenstocks had gone! Of course, housekeeping (the ladies who clean the stairs and take the trash out) claim they weren't there when they came around in the morning; they were, everyone saw them (me, Tom, driver, neighbor) and security hadn't seen them... Security also haven't noticed the three times previously that our driver has had his fuel pipe cut and the petrol drained from his bike... The building manager did make me feel better by saying that if the company paid for better security, we wouldn't have this issue. THAT'S reassuring. I'm not sure which is worse - having a thief in the building OR handling somebody's passive aggressive behaviour against us...
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
It is quite ironic that as our neighbors demand that we walk Mitzie outside the apartment complex, this article appears in the Times of India about our very neighborhood.... Couple this with the 25,000 stray dogs in Bangalore, the majority of which seem to live nearby, and you'll understand why walking your dog outside is NOT a pleasant experience!!!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As anyone will tell you, I'm a very reasonable person (ahem) but can hold an argument with the best of them, even if my position is tenuous to stay to the least. That's why I'm relishing the residents' meetings at our apartment complex next week... Since learning that a couple of people 'complained' that we had a dog in the building - which is completely within the rules - and getting a copy of the rule book handed to me, I spoke with the secretary (I'm not giving it an upper case S) of the residents' committee to address her concerns. She launched into me with a tirade of comments, mainly aimed at the fact that the building manager doesn't follow the rules and we should not have the dog in the 'common areas.' In a nutshell, we're allowed to have the dog but not take her on the landscaped areas or the kids' play area; no problem. We can, however, walk any pet (iguana, elephant, dog, or cat) around the periphery of the building, which in our case is a driveway. She didn't seem to know that. Nor did she seem to agree with it. Tough. They're your rules, baby, and if you don't like it, it's your own doing. By the end of the conversation, my wily PR ways and sugary sweet apologies for not having known the rules had got her onside, but you knew it wasn't going to go away.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
On a very sombre note, I learned today that a wonderful guy called Dave Freeman had passed away at the weekend. Dave and I met through Fiona and had a mad couple of days in Mumbai together which included the now legendary evening that saw us polish of five bottles of extremely-expensive-in-India-imported-New-Zealand-wine Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc ($750 please!) BEFORE heading off in a desperate search for more booze! Oh, and food; we forgot to eat...
Posted by The Author at 8:22 pm
I am sitting here exhausted sipping a nice glass of red at the side of Mitzie's crate after chasing her around the living room for the last hour removing anything and everything from her mouth... iPod case anyone? Tupperware container? Bag of sneakers? Slippers? Pink horse whip? Silk cushion? I could go on... this is, of course, aside from the 'authorized' chew toys imported from the four corners of the earth before her arrival Chez McGuire. Aside from these things, earliero on our walk around the building I had to remove an either dead or comatose mini-frog from her mouth as she tried to digest it, as well as a 2" piece of unidentifiable bone, and I think some cow cud... I cannot imagine having a baby would be this hard - just kidding, all mommas out there!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
So, not only did Mitzie find her BIG barking voice yesterday, Tom and I are BARKING MAD that we've had our first complaint about her at our apartment. Wow, didn't even take a week!!! Head of the residents' association (WHATEVER) has complained that she was in the 'communal areas' which I'm assuming as a rational person means poolside and in the kids' playground, NOT the driveway around the building where everyone parks their cars. I'm cool with not taking her on the grass, and look forward to seeing THE RULE BOOK that the building manager is bringing tomorrow. Tom has vowed to learn EVERY rule in the book, and call the building manager every time we see someone contravening 'a rule.' Maybe it was me letting her run wild in the spider plants (she looked VERY cute!) or Tom taking her for a snoop in the bushes by the kids' playground... whatever, we will overcome!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Who knew that having a dog could be so difficult? But I should have known, having had Majesty (horse) to relate it to. One minute you have a glorious day, the next, a terrible time, with no rhyme nor reason to it. I guess that's the beauty of the relationship between humans and their pets.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Where to begin! The last 24 hours have been a revelation!!! For no apparent reason yesterday, Mitzie gave her first tiny 'wuff wuff' followed by a small growl... I think it was her reaction to the dearth of Olympic coverage here in India! She quite enjoys watching the TV. Then last night, she pooped in the designated area on our balcony, despite about eight attempts to get her to do it outside. And this morning, we had our first peeps on the balcony too!!! It had been 15 hours since she last went, which seemed ridiculously long, and she doesn't seem to want to go outside on the grass. Slowly but surely she'll get the hang of it...
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Mitzie has now been with us nearly 48 hours. She's adorable and so loving but a lot of hard work!!! Yesterday she learned a number of new tricks - some good, some not so good - such as:
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It's been a long time coming, but around the time of my last posting, we found a gorgeous little 8-month ol dachshund bitch that we named Mitzie. Given summer travels to the UK, France, and Singapore, we couldn't bring her home until yesterday... and now our life will never be the same!!!
Monday, June 23, 2008
It's one of those strange days today. My friend went for some laser hair removal, only to find out her appointment was delayed slightly due to the fact that four eunuchs - dressed in full sari's - were having their faces done... which made this bizarre story in today's Times of India even more apt. (I had to look up tonsured too...) But I'm not sure if that's actually as funny as the headline in today's Mirror: Son Turns His Dead Dad into a Teapot Gotta love the tabloids!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I was just having a little fantasy shopping in Louis Vuitton, Tod's, and Canali, and forgot for a moment where I was. New York? London? Paris? No, good old Bangalore! And if that's not enough, Tiffany and Stella McCartney are opening in the same mall! That tipped me over the edge. When we arrived a couple of years ago, we got over excited at the tiny Marks and Spencer here. No more, now you can go and splash out on shoes, bags, and jewelry much the same as your former colleagues are doing in London and New York. The prices are comparable - i.e., high - plus a 12.5% tax but if the Dollar/Rupee exchange keeps going in our favour, who's gonna grumble! Well, I do of course have one small grumble. Small being the operative word. I've never been able to buy shoes in Bangalore that weren't handmade because Indian women have tiny feet, certainly not the size of my plates. Tod's could offer me a 38 in the shoe I liked; I need a 43... Apparently big sizes are on their way... ah, one can dream.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
It's that time of year, it seems, when we as expats wave goodbye to many of the friends we've made during our time in Bangalore. The longer we are here, the harder it gets. The departures often coincide with the end of the school year; conversely, the arrivals happen between now and September. The first year was ok-ish. We had a couple of good friends leave, but a solid social circle remained; the second year was more difficult (two sets of friends to Singapore within a day of each other); this year is horrendous! Four families with whom we have a lot of contact and spend much of our time are jetting off to the four corners of the earth - San Francisco, Shanghai, Beijing, Sweden. At the moment the only upside I can see is more holiday destinations for us in the coming years. But that doesn't help the day to day as you seem to be one of the only survivors in your group. That said, little things like the arrival of a new foal at the stables make life a little more palatable during the tough times. The little girl was born on Wednesday evening, and I had the thrill of meeting her at just 45 minutes old and her sucking my finger. We watched her first steps, her first feed, and her first poop! At just 18 hours old, she was frolicking around in the paddock. It's times like this that you realize just what a genius mother nature is! I will be needing many hugs from her in the weeks to come...
Friday, June 06, 2008
Last night I went to my first Indian movie premiere, well, I guess you would call it a Bangalore movie premiere, which was in fact my first time inside an Indian movie theater. Not that I don't like the movies, but with good quality fake DVD's readily available at $1 each, sometimes it's not worth the hassle. But last night, friends and I went to see the eagerly anticipated premiere of "Sex and the City" and it was quite entertaining - both the movie and the experience. For starters, there were more men flooding into the 10pm screening than you would EVER see in the UK/US; my husband wouldn't be rushing to see SATC anytime soon. So, assuming they weren't there for the "City" aspect of the movie, I assume they were there for the "Sex." In Bollywood movies, it's still mainly taboo for actors and actresses to even kiss, let alone swing virtually naked from a sex-swing as we've seen Samantha do in the past, so the skimpy outfits on screen last night would be near-porn for the censors here. Which leads me to another thing. I'm not sure if we actually saw the whole movie because of the censorship issue; there were definite jumps and stops and starts in the soundtrack which led me to believe that either too foul language or sexier scenes were cut, despite the fact that some of the movie was still quite risque, as you would expect. Something I wasn't expecting was the on screen instruction at the beginning of the movie to "Stand for the National Anthem" which was then sung by a host of celebrities... Being British, it felt like it was time to go to bed as when I was a kid, they'd play the National Anthem on TV at the end of the evening's broadcasting (pre-24 hour TV, of course!) This was followed by the obligatory movie trailers and an hour and a half of movie, before an unexpected interval: the film stopped abruptly, everyone rushed out for a pee/ice-cream or both, then headed back for a second round of movie trailers and an equally abrupt resumption of the movie. The last time I was at the movies and they had an interval was during "Out of Africa" which was about 9 hours long! The trailers were quite entertaining: really good trailers for some likely bad US movies and some really bad trailers for what could be good Indian movies (one was touting the fact that some actor was playing 10 parts in one movie; I guess he's the Indian equivalent of Eddie Murphy!) SATC itself was entertaining enough to keep me awake, unlike the premiere of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" in Leicester Square, London, at which I managed to sleep through the "most exciting section" of the movie, the pod race. I can only blame that on too much pre-movie champagne, a humiliating stagger down the longest red-carpet in history (with people wondering, "who the hell is she?"), and a less than compelling story-line; I'm Star Wars old school. So, back to last night. Whilst there was no red carpet or champagne (no liquor licence) we enjoyed a free pepsi and popcorn, but bought our own Baskin Robbins. All in all it was a great fun evening and a real 'taste of home' for those who miss the "City" that never sleeps. Speaking of which, having got home at 1:30am (how can movie theaters stay open that late but bars and restaurants close at 11pm???) I desperately need some sleep before I head off to buy the fake DVD that is sure to be on-sale already.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
... to get excited about winning a rosette! I have found in recent years that all the motivation I need to take part in something (road race, horse show) is the promise of a rosette or medal - or preferably both. I've never thought of myself as competitive in that sense but I guess I am now!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Or should that be, driving by Miss Julie... Motorists beware, for the first time in 2.5 years, I got behind the wheel of our car and took to the roads of Bangalore! I did drive the car when we first bought it - just around the apartment complex - and since then have left the driving in the capable hands of our wonderful driver, Manoj. Yesterday was a bit of an oddity: Tom was working from home, so we gave Manoj a surprise day off, but then had a dinner invitation to a hotel about 15 minutes from our apartment. Normally we would take a taxi: there was a taxi strike; or a rickshaw: the heavens opened just as we were leaving, so an open air rickshaw wasn't an option. Only one thing for it, grab the car keys and give it a whirl!
Friday, May 16, 2008
So, BA just posted a 45% rise in profits. BA b oss Willie Walsh is happy, of course, but decided NOT to take an annual bonus because of the recent Terminal Fiasco, sorry, opening of Terminal Five. I'm sure that that reputed $1.4 million dollars will be put to better use paying just a few of the people who've claimed insurance directly from BA for delayed baggage. I for one benefited to the tune of $500 (and contrary to what I wrote earlier, it WAS for the full amount). The full financial effects of T5 will not be felt until next year given that it opened to close to the end of the fiscal year, so watch this space. In the meantime, I find it unbelievable that BA is suggesting they may have to put up flight prices in response to surging fuel costs. In an environment where most people would currently rather fly Baghdad Airways than British Airways, one would think they would use their marketing savvy to rebuild customer loyalty and entice nay-sayers back into the fold with cheaper fares. I for one will still fly BA for convenience of a direct flight to the UK, but am still in my heart of hearts a Virgin. Virgin Atlantic. Nothing beats the purple and red decadence and sheer fun of Richard Branson's Upper Class experience; the hanging chair in the old Heathrow lounge; the sausage sandwiches and unlimited champagne; and a free fake tan and a manicure before even getting on the plane. BA are fun-suckers on the ground, in-flight, and at baggage (what baggage?) reclaim. And soon we will have to pay more for it. Bloody Appalling!
Thursday, May 08, 2008
It's a dry day in Bangalore... or should I say a dry THREE days, which means that there's no booze being sold anywhere, and moreover, most of our favourite restaurants are actually CLOSED!!! Reason? It's election time in Bangalore and as far as I can make out from our driver, there are concerns about unruly behaviour if voters are drinking; plus, it appears that it's customary for the political parties to dish out booze. Maybe I should sneak into a poll booth and grab myself a shot or two of India's finest whisky??? Normally, a couple of dry days wouldn't be an issue - we have a party to go to on Saturday night, which definitely will not be dry - but it's our anniversary tomorrow and we were hoping for a nice meal out. Instead, we will have it at home with much better (imported) and much less expensive wine (remembering that tax on booze here is over 250% and then there's the mark up in restaurants...) and I will be cooking (beef, I hope) steaks. Cheers!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Over the last three weeks I have witnessed every kind of weather - snow storms on arrival in Manchester; wind and rain in Yorkshire; bearable sunshine in Spain; torrential rain in Spain (NOT on the plain....); sunny mild weather in London; and finally searing heat in Bangalore. Last night, we added another weather phenomenon to the list: CYCLONE! I kid you not, we were hit by the edge of whirling Cyclone Nargis. It began with a little lightning, some thunder, then torrential rain which left parts of the city under 2.5 feet of water, but the worst was the wind which sent the rain every which way, most of it, it seemed, into every room of our apartment. Yes, the window sealants are THAT good here... One room (a little less well sealed than the rest) was full of hailstones by the time I got to it, and I seriously felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz as things were whirling around outside. The most shattering effect? It knocked out our satellite signal TV for the last 10 minutes of my nightly fix of Seinfeld.
It all reminded me of my favourite email of the year, following the much heralded 'minor' earthquake in England a couple of months ago:
"Not often I send these types of things out but with the uk earthquake last night it really makes you think...
With all the news on TV lately about the hurricanes that America is experiencing, the typhoons in China, flooding in Switzerland and recent mud slides in South America, we shouldn't forget that the UK has its share of devastating natural disasters too.
Attached is a photo illustrating the damage caused to my uncle's home from the
earthquake that occured last night.
It really makes you cherish what you have, and reminds us not to take things for granted.
Do take care of yourself and be safe."
Friday, April 25, 2008
I got an email last night from BA settling my claim for compensation - WOW - that was quicker than it took for my bag to get to me! Of course, it was not for the full amount I claimed for, despite being quite conservative and NOT buying the $300 jeans or the winter coat or the boots... I guess the proof will be how long the check takes to get to me. Let's hope they use Royal Mail vs. Air Mail...
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I'm finally back in Bangalore with a streaming cold, chesty cough, and horrible jetlag. It's hotter than Satan's crotch here and my body is freaking out after two weeks of snow, rain, wind and temperatures in the single digits centigrade. I don't know about you, but I can't do with centigrade. If I have a fever, it should be 103 not 38.something or other. If it's hot, I want it to be in triple digits, not double digits. I'm also very anti kilograms and kilometers, but I still think that England shouldn't be a part of Europe and that carrots should be all different shapes and sizes, not EU-ified as they have been.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
So, after five days 'missing in action' my luggage from BA finally arrived. Not a word of warning or the promised phone call, just a slip through the door to say it was in the recycling bin! Thank god it wasn't recycling day... Suffice to say my claim for five days of necessaries is lodged with BA and we can only wait with baited breath to see what they deem necessary or not. The fact that I had traveled from a country currently celebrating temperatures of 100 fahrenheit and above, to one that was lucky to reach a half of that, one would think that a coat and boots would be 'necessary' items.
Friday, April 11, 2008
1. You can get pate in the supermarket - that's pate for dogs as well as humans - in fact, you can get ANYTHING in the supermarket.
2. You are driving along in bright sunshine then suddenly hit a freezing snowstorm.
3. The line for the Manchester flight contains at least one woman in a full 'leisure' suit complete with camel toe.
4. The TV is full of repeats, celebrity cooking programmes, and property programmes (with/without celebrity).
5. Wine is one fifth of the price of India - and 10 times better.
6. You can drive YOURSELF around the city AND get up to speeds of more than 10 mph.
7. McDonald's sells beef.
8. The temperature is in single digits.
9. The cows are ALL in fields.
10. Your luggage doesn't arrive when you do...
I have restrained from posting for the last five days in an effort to keep calm and relaxed but enough is enough. BA - YOU SUCK! I flew business class from Bangalore via Heathrow's Terminal 5 to Manchester on Monday and STILL I have no luggage... My flight from Bangalore was more than two hours late, leaving my connection time between T4 and T5 less than an hour, which involved lots of puffing, panting, running, and bus travel, with thankfully the Manchester connection being slightly delayed. On arrival at Manchester, wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, cargo pants, uggs, and a hoodie, I was paged and told my bag wasn't there, but would be coming on the next flight in the morning. As I drove over to Leeds in my rental car, I encountered a snow storm on top of the pennines and the temperature dropped to 2 degrees centigrade, that's about 28 degrees less than my home climate of Bangalore!!! Clearly my clothes would not be up to these temperatures, although thank god I had the foresight to wear Uggs not flip flops!
The next day came and went, and a few calls to BA ascertained that no-one knew where it was - Manchester or Heathrow, and messages were being unanswered at each airport... great. Day three, same old story... I spoke to some urchin who told me that I could claim for basic things I needed, like jeans and a couple of t-shirts. I asked him, "Do I sound like a jeans and t-shirt girl??" He conceded no. Which is actually bullshit as I have the largest jeans collection in South Asia (currently standing at 17 including the two in my missing luggage...) But I am 6 foot tall and a size 9 foot (UK) - getting anything to fit me is a nightmare here. We did manage to find an outfit in good old M&S to wear for my mum's birthday dinner, but I had to couple it with a pair of Geox sneaker shoes that I left here one time before. Classy. But wait, on checking on the BA site, my bag had been found! And it claimed it had been delivered, same day, by courier, Express Baggage. Of course it hadn't, so another call or two to BA and we discovered that it was indeed with the courier but could take 2 to 7 days to be delivered. They have a backlog, apparently....
So, day four, we headed off to Gap and Harvey Nichols. I found some fabulous jeans for $350, but they didn't have my size, and the sizes in Gap are different to the US, but I managed to find one pair that fit, for about $100. I am excited to have an alternative to my cargo pants now! Many more calls to BA and I am now on day five (having been told earlier in the week that a couple of days was nothing, some people had waited MUCH longer - LIKE I CARE!!!) I placed a call this morning, the bag is with the courier, 'just wait' was the instruction from the lifeless BA rep. Wait for what??? 'Buy some basics,' she said, ''and wait.' I am heading to Spain a week from today - my uggs and cargo pants won't be the basics I need there... I see more shopping on my horizon today!
The BA reps I am speaking to have clearly had enough, sound lack lustre and are not equipped with the basic information that a consumer may want to know, i.e., how much can I claim for? There doesn't appear to be a limit; use your reasonable judgement. Well, half the clothes in my case are from Ghost - wouldn't it be reasonable to go and buy a couple of pieces from there? $200 for a pair of pants and $100 for a top. My shoes are from Donald J. Pliner - $250 - not available in England, but I'm sure there's something as expensive here. And my make up and toiletries (as I obviously couldn't carry them on the plane...) you've got $200 right there, easily.
So, while I 'wait' as advised for my bag to turn up, I keep buying 'essentials' like M&S undies and Boots toiletries. And while this is painful, I know it pales in comparison to the pain that will be coming when I have to claim for these 'basic items' from BA. If it's taking more than a week to get luggage handled - and that's supposedly their core competency as a business - how long will it take to process an insurance claim??? If I'm still blogging in 2010 I'm sure I will be able to share it with you...
Thursday, April 03, 2008
No, this is not a reference to my previously sexually oriented postings, but this recent op-ed piece in the Times of India explaining Indians' notions of dirt varying from the West. It was written as a response to the recent Forbes survey on the world's top 25 dirtiest cities, among which Mumbai and Delhi were mentioned. It's a really interesting take on how Indians view and define 'dirt' and whether it's in its right place or not. It would seem that those living near to me, feel that the drain (small canal) designed to take care of the extra water from the monsoon rains is the right place for their dirt. In the last few weeks it has become clogged with crap, from either the local building site, or just good old trash. But I guess that's okay, according to this article, because it's out of the kitchen and not in anyone's way. Visiting India for the first time can be an assault on the senses - usually the poverty, the cows and dogs on the street, the traffic chaos, and the trash everywhere are what jar westerners the most. We have a couple of friends who would find this article most interesting - while she is a HUGE fan of India and loved the Ganges and the whole gritty experience, he calls it a 'shit tip.' He loved Singapore, and its clean streets and bright lights, but she found it 'too clinical.' I guess India really does have something for everyone - and at least the trash on the streets gives the cows and stray dogs something to nibble on for lunch!
I've previously posted about the 'Ask The Sexpert' column in the Bangalore Mirror and questioned its validity. I even met someone from the Mirror who confirmed that the letters were indeed real. I now understand why. Read all about it...
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
We just took a long Easter weekend break in Singapore and I cannot say CULTURE SHOCK loud enough! Maybe if you were visiting from London or New York, it might not hit you so hard, but from Bangalore, where 'road rules' apply to no-one, 25,000 stray dogs roam the streets, and a good wine is hard find, it was overload. Many people say Singapore is too clinical, and I can understand that perspective, and our friends who live there do miss the hustle and bustle of India, but for a weekend, I can handle it! The sidewalks are SUPER clean, the roads smooth and hassle free, traffic sticks to its lane, the manicured greenery greets you the minute you leave the airport, there are no stray dogs, and you have a million choices of food and drink venues - THAT STAY OPEN AFTER 11:30! I'm pretty sure you can dance in Singapore too! So, my top things to do in Singapore were:
"It's a god awful small affair, to the girl with the mousey hair..." Well, the 'season finale' of season one of Life on Mars last night on BBC Entertainment was a god awful BIG affair to this girl with the mousey hair so you can imagine my horror when, five minutes before the end of the show, they cut to commercial break (yes, we have them here on the BBC) and NEVER RETURNED TO THE PROGRAMME! I know that everyone else in the world has watched the first AND second season of this show, but here in India, we haven't, and I am pissed! I have been searching fan blogs and youtube but we missed SO much of the end that it doesn't make sense to me! The last we saw was Sam coming back out of the woods after letting his dad go.... and that was it!!! Now, we read that the very last scene shows Sam jumping off a building, so maybe we were censored here? It wouldn't be the first time, read the breeder's account of watching the very censored Brokeback Mountain... That said, there was no rhyme nor reason to the way it ended. I am distraught. Help!!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It's official. I can't help being sarcastic, insulting, or just wholly inappropriate. It's in my genes! News just out proves it: British Humour Dictated by Genetics. So, apologies to my global brothers and sisters, but I now officially have a get out of jail free card for some of my off-colour remarks and 70's sitcom style quips. As Bette Midler (funny for an American) famously says, and I wholly concur: "F@#% 'em if they can't take a joke!"
Anyone living in Bangalore knows that the traffic can be a pain and turn even the shortest of journeys into an expedition... and while we are excited about the arrival of a brand spanking new international airport to the city, the travel time to reach it has caused much concern. It's in the north, outside the city, about 40km from us - but that's about 2.5 hours driving time, depending on the time of day. And while road improvements are being undertaken, there are still certain areas prone to jams. The existing airport, while old and small, is just 10 minutes away from us in the south of the city. And we are not alone in wanting the existing airport to stay open for domestic flights at least. The new airport travel time could turn a quick 3 hour door to door trip to Goa into a 6 hour nightmare. So, the front page of the newspapers was a welcome relief this morning, delivering the news that, surprise surprise, the new airport, due to open on March 28th, will now be delayed for two to four weeks due to the air traffic control system not yet being operational and approved. Rather selfishly, as I have a big trip planned shortly, I can only pray that the system doesn't get approved until I am safely landed back in Bangalore, meaning that instead of leaving the house at 2am I can leave at about 5am for my flight... and have a 10 minute journey home at the end of that long haul flight back.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
My friend the breeder and I have been criticized for having patronizing blogs and making wild assumptions about cultures we know nothing about. Shame on us for having a sense of humor. Well, here's a great site that is both patronizing AND makes wild assumptions about a culture that we know EVERYTHING about - OUR OWN. So, enjoy, and see how many of these things you can identify with. Go on, laugh, life's too short...
Supersize me is an expression associated with the US and it's never more apparent than when you've been away from it for a while. Everything is bigger - coffee cups, food portions, buildings, and of course, people. I read only yesterday that with more than 50% of New York residents being either overweight or obese, the city is funding 'fruit carts' for poor neighborhoods so they can get some good food vs. junk food. While we are big, I don't think we are 'supersize,' although living in Asia is interesting for a couple of six footers like us. I can't buy shoes here as my size 42/43 is tooooo big (but I can have them hand made for next to nothing, so that's a plus!) and clothes shopping is a nightmare for someone with long limbs. Even sports clothing is difficult: Adidas sells 'Asian' sizing, and their Asian XL barely covers my midrift! My husband has problems too: a slim fit Anokhi shirt? Forget it. Despite his recent 10kg weight loss, the shape is just not right. He has a great solution - Custom Made! Shirts, suits, pants; all very well made and very inexpensive. Will he ever be able to live in the West again??? His current trip to the US brought home a very real fear we both used to have when flying internally. No, not terrorist attacks. Or even bad airline food. The fear that the 'supersize person' would be seated next to you! By 'supersize', I don't mean a few pounds overweight, I mean obese; the 300lb+ man/woman who will spill over into the adjoining seat and need the seatbelt extension designed for moms with babies. We have all done it. Sat cowering in our seat as the overweight person walks up the aisle looking for their seat number; a sigh of relief flooding over us when they sit down before our row, or pass us by altogether. So, my 'large in Asia, small in the US' husband was particularly chuffed when boarding a flight in the US to be told by the passenger in the seat next to him, "thank god you're sitting next to me, you're thin!" So, while in Asia, we may be 'supersize,' back in the good old U S of A, we are mere small fries.
I can never remember if being on the booze is on or off the wagon. Or what the wagon has to do with it. Or whether it's wagon with one g or waggon with two g's. Suffice to say today is a landmark in my life - a whole month off the pop! Obviously, it was slightly enforced due to, oh, emergency surgery BUT it was January 31st when I had my last drink - a very fine Australian red we had brought back from Oz last year and saved for a special occasion. The occasion was that our friend Gordon was in town - who knew that the real occasion would be the last drink for a month. My husband claims it's the longest I've gone without a drink since I was 18. I would probably argue that it's the longest I've gone without a drink since I was 15! While nit-pickers may dispute the legitimacy of a month that is the shortest in the year, given it's a leap year, it's the longest February we'll have for another four years, so it should count for something. I am a little torn though. Someone (more religious than me) reminded me that it was Lent and that maybe I should stay off the pop 'til Easter. That seems a little excessive to me, especially as I have some English friends arriving tonight. It would clearly be rude NOT to have a little tipple or two with them. And definitely amiss not to take advantage of the excessive Sunday brunch we will be attending tomorrow. So, for the moment, I am content with my month/29 day abstinence and looking forward to whetting my palate with a little fizz very soon!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
It has taken me two years+ to realize that I'm a 110 percenter living in an 80 percent country. My cravings for symmetry, accuracy, timeliness, and thoroughness are never going to be met here, so as my husband would say, 'get over it!' I am trying. Recently my craving for 110 percent actually got me more than I bargained for with a - with hindsight - hilarious view of the Indian perspective. I ordered, from my lovely man at Perfect Computers (in name only, as he once told me...), a pack of A3 Epson Matte Archival Photo Paper. It took a few weeks, but eventually it came, and I handed over my $75 and was on my way. It was only when I got home that I realized that the paper was 'Super' A3, not just A3, which is a whole lot bigger than I had bargained for. I called the store, they suggested I speak to Epson. The conversation went something like this:
Monday, February 18, 2008
So, while laying in my hospital bed, some unscrupulous internet travel company from Italy that I have never used nor heard of stole around $700 from my checking account! That's just what you need to come home to. And the process of getting it back is as painful as surgery. It all started when I looked at our online statement on Friday and realized that there was a chunk of money missing, but the itemized posting hadn't appeared yet so I called up the bank. They told me the amount and company, even giving me a phone number, but said they couldn't do anything about it until it had 'posted' onto the account - why didn't I call them? We actually tried the number - doesn't exist - but I didn't feel it my job to call them, given I hadn't even heard of them! And how weird not to be able to do anything - basically, let them take the money first, without stopping them, then get it back. Cart before horse? They then went onto tell me that the card number used was one that isn't even in our possession. Nor have we ever met. So they closed the card. The weekend passed and on Tuesday, I called again. Did it post? No. Could I stop it posting? No. After 45 minutes on the phone, we figured out that the guy we're talking to is literally 10 minutes down the road from us here in India. I asked if he could just pop around and give me the money. He declined. He did recommend that once I was reimbursed, I should take all the money out of the account, close it, and reopen another. I told him that after three rounds of fraud in two years, I was ready to take all the money out and just close it. Finally, on Wednesday, five days after me first spotting it, the fraudsters took all my money - and more - and it posted on the account. I called again. I was told many contrary things - the card was just issued to me, no it wasn't, yes it was, oh no, in 2001, then in 2005. Who knows why. Then I was told I should have been sent straight to fraud on the Friday, and I wasn't. Who knows why. I shouldn't have been told to call the merchant, but I was. Who knows why. So, as we sit here, I am waiting to be credited for nearly $700 so I can go and take it all out of the bank for good. I'm sure they won't miss me but the fraudsters who have plagued us probably will!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
So, today I had my stitches removed. All seven of them spread across three tiny cuts. Very neat. So as the physical pain subsides, the mental pain of our healthcare claim begins. For those NOT familiar with the US system, you have a kind of healthcare insurance that you pay monthly but there are so many rules: you have to visit a doctor within their network, or pay a lot more to go 'out of network,' which obviously we do as we are VERY out of network; you have to get 'precertified' before you can have a procedure, which means getting an approval code from them, even if it's an emergency, and that can be tricky in another time zone; and there are code numbers for EVERYTHING which, without, it becomes tricky to claim. So, last night, we bit the bullet and called up to get our post-op pre-approval and while the customer service people were lovely, if their questions are anything to go by, we could be in for a loooong claim process:
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Anyone who's ever been to India will know that the service levels here vary wildly - there's over attentive in any store you walk in, to the point that the assistant is a hair's breadth behind you and it becomes a game to swing round quickly and stare them right in the face, asking them 'what do they want.' And then there's the service you really need, like when something's broken at home, needs replacing or refilling, then usually, there's no-one to be seen for hours. Days. Weeks. Hospital in-patient service here is like the former, although they can't actually get into bed with you, the staff spends as much time as possible in your room, through waking and sleeping hours. Now, this is probably a good thing, I hear you say, given that the health service in supposed fully-developed countries is crumbling and people are dying versus receiving life-saving operations. I agree wholeheartedly. The healthcare here has been second to none. From the ER to admission to OR and discharge, everything went smoothly and quickly - both words not characteristically associated with India. However, the line has to be drawn somewhere. And I draw it at the 5:15am bucket bath. As I lay helplessly hooked up to the IV the first day post-op, the over-zealous nurse arrived around 5:15am to change the drip and inquired, "would you like your bath now?" NOW? It's not even dawn! Why would I want to bathe pre-dawn? With a stranger? Don't answer that. I said no, later. "6am?" WHY?? My negotiating instinct kicked in - yes, even at that time. I would bathe at 6am in exchange for a cup of tea. "No, not until doctor has done his rounds." What time is that? "9am." Well, I figure I'll bathe at 9am then too. That didn't go down well. I think we settled at a time around 6:30am. And no tea was forthcoming for another 24 hours. The next day was different. Nurse arrived at 6am and I feigned sleep. A deep sleep. Complete with eye mask and a little snoring. The nurses were very similar to the stewardesses on planes who will wake you out of a near coma to offer you some tasteless snacks and a cup of tea. Or, as I experienced on a BA flight to Heathrow, the first-time flyer next to you who wakes you to tell you they are bringing tea around. Or some headphones. Or a menu. Or a snack. Or a visa form. It might be a treat for you, lady, but the last thing I need is waking up every time a stewardess comes around on an 11 hour flight! Anyway, as I say, I got away with the early bath on day two. And bathed myself, with a little help from hubby, at a more reasonable hour of 8am. Aside from the enforced early baths, the service was second to none and I doubt that I would have received better care anywhere else in the world. And all for the bargain price of $4,000. You wouldn't even get the bath for that in the US!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008
... not quite as catchy as Tony's Bennett's Heart/San Francisco version, but more factually accurate. What began as a Thursday post-dinner, "ooh, I have a case of Delhi-belly," to a Friday night of, "ooh, I think I'm in labour but am not pregnant," to a Saturday, "not hungry, not sure why, not sick, but something's wrong..." ended up with me being admitted, feverish and rashy, on Sunday to The Manipal Hospital, suspected of everything from malaria to dengue fever to cholera (that will teach me to mention it on this blog!)