Thursday, January 31, 2008


While the world writes about dance fever in Bangalore, or should I say, the banning of dance fever, we actually are suffering from two very serious outbreaks:  firstly, gastroenteritis, and now cholera.  Yes, we are living in the 21st Century (I think!) but the authorities seem to be more focused on banishing dancing than banishing archaic diseases!  Never a dull moment in Bengaluru!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Schmapping in Sydney

It seems my photos have been spotted in Sydney, just a year after we visited.  This shot has been shortlisted to appear in a new guide to Sydney.  It's not the best photo I've ever taken - by far - BUT it was an historic day as England beat Australia!!!

Welcome Dorothy Jane Arnold!

So, the breeders finally spawned - a week, or two weeks late, depending on 'witch' doctor you talk to in Bangalore.  Here she is on her very own website, at less than a day old.  Everybody say 'aaah...'

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Weekend Warriors

We were adventurous this weekend. We just got back from our first official road-trip - a weekend in Kerala at the beautiful Rainforest Resort looking right across to the Athirapally Waterfalls. And while we have traveled the 'Golden Triangle' of Delhi - Agra - Jaipur by car (or Qualis, an SUV), which is about five hours per leg, we've never done such a long trip in such a short amount of time. We went with two new found friends, found over good food and flowing wine, the four of us making an interesting variation on a typically British joke, "A Hindu, A Muslim, A Catholic, and a Protestant walk into a bar..." The first friend, a bigwig at a wonderful new Indian wine company, Big Banyan came armed with many bottles; the second friend, a thespian-cum-artist-cum journalist (at, among others, our favourite, the Bangalore Mirror), armed with pencil and pad. Our ambitious journey took us from Bangalore into the state of Tamil Nadu through the Western Ghats and onto Kerala - a mere 500km, or 300 miles. Now, for those of you who have never visited India, motorways are a new fangled thing, few and far between thing, and, where they exist, are generally made up of two lanes, but filled five abreast, with traffic heading toward you in the wrong direction, trucks driving on the right (we drive on the left here), and crossed by the odd farmyard animal or pedestrian. The direction signs are great too; depending which you look at, the distance to your destination changes, as does the spelling, and the locals are no better. Stopping to ask directions - or seek confirmation - generally resulted in an argument between the two pedestrians which is probably still going on now. The bulk of our journey was via picturesque but pot-holed routes, passing through small villages, taking tea at 2 Rupees a cup from tiny street vendors, traversing tretcherous mountain sides, and getting stuck behind the odd herd of cattle/sheep/goats. We witnessed the act of 'motorized threshing....' where villagers layout their crops on the road for passing cars/trucks/cattle to run over it and 'thresh' it. It's quite ironic that someone just emailed me this piece from the International Herald Tribune on the state of India's transport system, all of which I can relate to! The net net is that a journey that on western roads might take four or so hours, took 12 there - and another 12 back. Luckily I am a sleeper. And the company was good. Plus I can hang on for a good bathroom, although I did experience everything from 'behind a bush al fresco' to 'Indian squat' to 'Western okay-ish.' After quite an adventure, we are taking a rest in Bangalore for a while, but will be hitting the road again some time soon - armed of course with wine, toilet roll, and a strong constitution!

Monday, January 07, 2008

My Lips Are Sealed...

... or rather, they almost could be, if I took advantage of the new hot surgery that's taking Bangalore by storm - Virginification (my word, not theirs...)  I was horrified to be greeted over my tea and scrambled eggs this morning with the Bangalore Mirror headline shown here, but of course, had to read on...  For the bargain price of between $500 and $2,500 - depending how much work is required - you can be again, as Madonna once sang, Like A Virgin.  And fool your family, friends, and more importantly, your future husband into thinking on your wedding night you were about to be "touched for the very first time..."  It's sad but true that even as India, and particularly Bangalore, progresses in this hi-tech era, pre-marital sex is still a stigma.  One 26-year old software professional, who recently underwent the surgery after the failure of her previous three-year live-in relationship, is quoted as saying, "My parents are looking out for a groom.  The only option I could think of was hymenoplasty.... who will accept me if I reveal the truth?"  There is of course always some humour -despite the worrying content - in these newspaper articles.  The best part of today's feature?  A nice typo, of course.  'Twenty per cent of the women, specially athletes and cyclists, have raptured hymens, despite being virgins.'  I'm so glad they're happy!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Twelfth Night, a day of firsts

How exciting can one Sunday be?  Not only do I have to look forward to taking down the Christmas Tree (here it is in all its fake glory) but we had a day of exciting firsts. Firstly, among the firsts, was one that nearly made me cry - Majesty neighed!  As ridiculous as this sounds, we have had this horse since May and not a sound has passed his lips.  He has mouthed an empty neigh a couple of times - once I believe as an apology when we were reunited after a fall and he galloped home and left me - but never the real thing.  Today we had two.  It was like a baby's first words.  Only much less distinguishable.  And a little louder.  Secondly, among the firsts, Tom went inside one of Bangalore's up and coming hyper/supermarkets, the new Tata-owned Crazy Bazaar, or something like that.  He was amazed!  Three floors of very western style supermarket, and of course the obligatory meat department selling, among other delicacies, goat chops, goat hooves, goat kidneys - very neat looking - and goat brain.  Tom was shocked how small it was.  And there was only one.  I never thought goats were known for their cerebral matter.  Finally, among the firsts, was getting 'caught by the fuzz' upon leaving afore mentioned Bazaar.  The car park was full, so our driver parked off site and came to collect us when we called. He stopped for one minute while we got in on the driveway into the store and was pounced on by one of Bangalore's finest, complete with long-lathi (i.e., big stick!).  Much arguing ensued and we figured out that the fine upstanding Policeman was trying to fine us for parking!  Tom tried to interject.  As did I.  But he took our driver's driving licence and told us to meet him across the road, by his bike.  So, dutifully we drove around and prepared for the Dibble to give our driver a ticket (or demand an unspecified amount of cash in exchange for no receipt...)  As luck would have it, across the road at the Bazaar, about half a dozen cars were stopped in the same place, so our driver quickly said that he would pay the same amount as those cars as long as the Officer went over and fined them too.  There was a little arguing from him about him only having one pair of legs and that he couldn't fine everybody, at which point he caved and let us off, without even a Rs. 10 fine!  We decided that our driver is the best arguer in Bangalore - but in typical male fashion, he assured us that that title goes to his wife!  What a day!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

From the Horse's Mouth...

If only horses could talk.  I'm sure they'd make a lot more sense than some of their human counterparts.  Not that it normally matters to me.  Here is Majesty saying, "How'd you like my new Christmas headcollar?"  See, without even speaking, I know what he's saying...  He lets you know what he's thinking in his own little way.  Like the time Tom told me, "he's telling you 'enough already'" when he (Majesty, not Tom) tried to take a chunk out of me as I struggled to clean his dandruffy mane for far too long.  Thinking about it, Tom does the same too if I'm preening for too long...  And the time that he jumped in the air and spun around a few times when he heard a firecracker; that was him saying "I'm scared, someone's trying to shoot me..." Thankfully Tom was riding him at the time.  And today, he seemed depressed.  The first time I have encountered my horse in a miserable, unhappy, head hung low kind of mood.  It all became clear after a short time riding; he was a little lame on one leg and lugging around my post-Christmas weight was obviously making it worse.  So, we set off back to the stables for a 'shot of bute' to relieve the pain and, I kid you not, a 20-minute heat lamp treatment, administered by moi, on his rump.  He was very patient throughout the process, looking back a few times to see what was going on, but for the most part standing patiently while I heated him up - and hung onto my aching arm.  In an effort to humanize the process, I even tried a little 'deep tissue massage' to help the healing along.  Majesty can now look forward to a couple of days of rest, perhaps some time in the paddock (unless like last time, he jumps out of his into someone else's and proceeds to start a fight....) and be fit and well for a Sunday morning ride.  Let's hope when he sees us his 'horsey voice' is the usual - welcoming and friendly - and not screaming "bugger off to the gym, lard asses, I need to rest up my leg!"

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

If Music Be the Food of Love...

... I'm full!  There's nothing like a holiday or celebration of some kind to bring out two things in India - a never ending supply of very unsafe fireworks and loud tasteless music.  Of course, New Year's Eve was no exception.  It started (quite late) at 4pm at our apartment; a loud unrecognizable noise which remotely sounded like 24 monkeys playing kazoo's, and one of them on drums.  By 5pm we had progressed onto 'real' music including a rousing disco version of Wham's Last Christmas.  What makes it worse is that we are surrounded by apartment buildings that form a very inconvenient echo chamber meaning that the booming bass booms even more.  Thank god we were going out for dinner to escape the infernal racket!!!  But at our New Year's dinner we didn't escape it either.  After expecting quite violinists in the corner, come 11pm the thumping DJ started playing a mix of bad 80's disco (I kid you not when I say the last record of the year was D I S C O by Ottawa as I recall...) and Bangra Bollywood Beats.  And not content with pouring our free flowing fizz all night, come midnight, the over eager staff decided to drench us with it too, much to the chagrin of Tom, who protested loudly as the bubbles missed his new Christmas tie by inches!  Anyway, back to the music.  It started again today, New Year's Day.  At 8am.  Fabulous.  Happy New Year and here's to a noisy 2008.