Thursday, October 6, 2011

Navaratri...

…is a nine day festival that celebrates the Mother Goddess in all of her manifestations; each is worshiped for three days.  First is Durga who destroys negative tendencies. Then Lakshmi who bestows good virtues and fortune.  Last is Saraswati who instills wisdom and spiritual knowledge. Worship and fasting take place during the day and the nights are filled with feasting and dancing.  The festival ends on the tenth day with the victory of good over evil.

We attended the hoopla taking place in our complex on Tuesday night with the promise of a much larger crowd on Wednesday.  The night we attended there were a couple of hundred people in attendance, but when the rains came last night we thought it would be cancelled.  Alas, no.  This festival, from what I heard, is a big one.  Astro turf was laid out over the muddy lawn and tarps thrown over the DJ’s equipment.  The show must go on, as they say.

As I looked down 12 stories from my balcony and saw the crowd…the women in their brightly colored clothes, swirling their skirts and dancing with each other and their sticks…ah, sticks are a part of this festival’s dance.  They hit them together and against one another’s as they sway and bow and turn.  Anyhoopla, I wanted to be a part of it, but it was almost midnight…and whoever the god or goddess of rain is was still making an appearance, so I watched from afar.

The night we did attend I noticed that dancing aside, it was also about togetherness and community.  People mingled…and they mingled with us, the outsiders.  There were booths set up along the sideline run not only by local businesses, but by children.  We saw one such booth with the typical carnival game of cups stacked in a pyramid where the participant had to knock them down by throwing tennis balls.  The problem was that the cups were set up on the table that all the people were walking past, not on a second table in the background.  As one young girl laid down her rupees and was ready to throw, the masses kept walking by and blocking her shot.  Not the best plan by the kids who thought this up, but she managed to have her chance as Paul stood on one side of the crowd and I and another young boy the other.  I would have liked to have gone back down last night to see if they rectified that problem or just let it be…I'm guessing the set up was the same. 

The following video quality is really bad, but you get the general idea of people dancing in small groups.
video
Also, here are a few of the photos Paul took that night.







Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We're Back in India...

…and apparently for a while.   After our trip to Italy where I spent two days of it on my own while Paul was flown first on a private jet and then on a helicopter to Romania where the location had been changed to the last minute, we find that India is still our home for a bit longer.

Italy was beautiful and wonderful and amazing.  It was hard to leave, but India welcomed us back with open arms and for good measure, a slap in the face.  We arrived at our flat at 2:00 a.m. to find that our power had been shut off.  A mistake on the electric company’s behalf, but that didn’t help the fact that it was hot and stuffy; about 90 degrees…and that the stench of rotting meat permeating the air from the freezer.  We opened the only two windows with screens and slept on the sofa and loveseat.  Not so bad, except for the fact that we had been cramped on a plane for nine hours prior.

Paul woke early, went to work, and had the driver bring our paid receipt to the electric office.  I scrubbed the inside of both the refrigerator and freezer with Lysol, bleach and baking soda…none of which really helped; and then went grocery shopping.  Of course I got in the line with the new cashier.  Not only did he not know how to turn on the conveyor belt, he moved like molasses.  On second thought, it was slower than that.  I think he may actually have been moving back in time.  He picked up each item with his right hand and then transferred it to his left, at which point he would pick up the scanning gun, use it and then set it back down.  He did this with every.single.item.  Keep in mind I was not only shopping for the week, but replacing everything I had to throw out.  Let’s just say my frozen items were no longer so by the time I left.  In hindsight I wish I would have pulled out my phone and videotaped it; then again I don’t think my phone could handle ten plus minutes of video.

That was Monday, but then we lost power for several hours on Tuesday.  Apparently between load sharing and yada, yada we can expect these outages to continue through October 20th.  On a good note, Monsoon Season is nearing its end.  We did have a big rain this evening, which I thought would interrupt the festival going on, but no.  There’s no stopping Indians and their festivals; especially when they include dancing!  Tonight is the eighth day of Navaratri, which I will share with you in a day or two.  I know I’ve barely posted anything in months, but I was busy…FYI busy = lazy.  But pinky swear, I will.  No really, I will.  I broke my pinky toe years ago and it hurt like a bitch, so I don’t want to jinx myself.

On another note I want to give a big shout out to my son and grandson who have birthdays today.  Both born on the 5th of October, at the same hospital and both are left handed…go figure.  Anyway, Happy Birthday to my boys!  Here’s a picture of the three of us…from a couple of years ago, but it’s the only one I have.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm Back...

Yes, I know I haven’t posted in awhile.  The last time was when I hurt my foot at a Pot Luck dinner we hosted.  Update:  I made a trip to the states a week later and had my foot x-rayed again.  It wasn’t broken, but the injury was treated as such.  I sported a cumbersome walking boot for six weeks and the bruising took almost as long to dissipate.  The bottle didn’t break the skin so there aren’t any scars, but I still have a bump where it hit.  Let me tell you that there have been many times when I have suffered the consequences of a bottle of wine the morning after, and times the entire next day, but never for six weeks!

So a week after the bottle incident Paul and I were at Mumbai International Airport bound for the U.S.  As I hobbled with one foot in an elastic bandage and the other a flip flop, I wondered why no one offered a wheel chair.  But then I remembered I was at an airport in India (silly me), and kept limping along.  After snaking our way through the long queue for immigration I went through with a mere glance at my passport and proceeded towards security.  While thinking ahead about how I needed to pull my laptop out, and trying not to think about how bad my foot was throbbing, I almost missed that Paul was being held up.  Apparently after letting him through for a year and a half without having registered in India with the FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) they finally chose to follow protocol.  I back tracked and waited on one foot, with nothing to hold on to, for about twenty minutes.  Right about the time I thought I couldn’t stand one second longer, they escorted him into an office.  Part of me thought this wasn’t a good sign, but the other part was just thankful because there were chairs.  As numerous personnel from immigration were telling Paul that he should have registered, he pointed out that his visa was stamped otherwise.  As they told him it was a mistake, he countered with how it was their problem and not his; if the Indian Consulate in Chicago was stamping passports incorrectly they should rectify it.  At one point someone glanced at my foot and asked Paul if I was able to travel without him.  Paul looked at me and knew my answer, “Hell yes.  I’ll see you in a couple of days, honey.”  After much hoopla they let him through with the promise he would register upon returning and we proceeded to the gate where the plane was already boarding.

That was over two months ago.  Paul has since registered with the FRRO, as have I.  It was an arduous process, and unfortunately it didn’t end there.  Our visas expire in a few days.  After being told that we do not need to go home, or even to New Dehli, to renew them we have spent numerous hours over several days at the infamous FRRO in the last two weeks.  Our fingers are crossed that everything goes smoothly and our passports will get the appropriate stamp in the next two days.  If it doesn’t happen we have to go back to the U.S. to get it done.  I know a lot of people reading this would think that wouldn’t be so bad. It’s a visit home with family and friends, a chance to replenish supplies and a break from India; but we have a trip to Italy on the horizon.  A trip that includes meetings with Paul’s employer to decide our fate…

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ouch...

Last Saturday night Paul and I hosted a Pot Luck dinner for the expats in our area.  There were a total of 20 adults and three children in attendance, representing several different countries.  It was a wonderful evening filled with good food and even better company.  The only snafu was when a wine bottle fell on my foot. 

The swelling set in almost immediately.  After applying ice for ten minutes, I self medicated with Kingfisher and hobbled for the rest of the evening.  By Tuesday, the swelling had not gone down and my foot was a nice shade of blurple (yes, that would be blue and purple).  I made some inquiries, and decided to go to Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi.

Once there, we were sent to the second floor where I took a seat as Paul stood in line.  After a few minutes he came back with a receipt (apparently you have to prepay for services) and the name of the doctor I was to see.  We then moved to the appropriate area to wait our turn…except there were no turns.  There was no one to keep track of who was next.  Evidently you are to watch the door that has your doctor’s name on it and move at the speed of sound when it starts to open.  That, or plant your body in front of it, thereby blocking any other patients from getting in ahead of you.

Once I had had my consultation with the doctor, Paul got back in line to prepay for my x-ray as I got wheeled to radiology.  Yes, after limping around for almost an hour, I finally got a wheelchair.  Thankfully, the x-ray showed no fracture so I was wheeled back to the doctor’s office to get an elastic bandage…but not before Paul got back in line to pay for it.


Consultation:      425 Rupees
X-ray:                500 Rupees
Ace Bandage:    170 Rupees
Experience:        Priceless

Oh, and for those of you wondering how much 1,095 Rupees is…it’s under $25.00.

Monday, June 13, 2011

While in India...


…I’ve been making an effort to sample some of the produce available here.  Some is similar to what I’ve had in the U.S.; and some not so much.  Here are a few of the recent things I’ve tried that I remembered to take pictures of.

Dragon Fruit:
To me, it tastes like a cross between a kiwi and a pear.

Custard Apple:
I scooped out the pulp with a spoon to eat it, spitting out the seeds.  True to its name, it has the consistency of custard and taste similar to an apple. 


Kharbuja Melon:
It was the size of a grapefruit and tasted similar to honeydew melon.

Lychee (or Litchi): 
I posted these photographs in another post…
…but here’s one that looks quite a bit different:
The texture is similar to a grape and it tastes like…perfume.  I’ve never actually tasted perfume, but if you could put a flavor to it I think it would be this. 


Sweet Potato:
I forgot to take a picture of the inside, but it was white.  After baking it for quite some time, it did not get as soft as the sweet potatoes I’m used to, and was not as sweet.

Thai Guava
The way the seeds looked on the inside, it reminded me of an eggplant. The texture was that of a firm pear…but I’m not sure if it was ripe yet.  The taste was like an unripe pear, but then again it may not have been ripe.  I think I’ll have to revisit this one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Three Years…

It’s been three years since I started this blog.  So, Happy Blogiversary to me.

I went back and looked at my first post…I actually forgot what I had written.  You can click ‘here’ to see it, but apparently I conducted an interview with myself.  I’ve reposted it below (bolded and in italics); along with some updates:

Why did you start this blog?

I’ve followed some great blogs for awhile and thought I’d like to give it a try. I don’t lead the most interesting life or have any experience in writing (other than business crap for work). But why not give it the old college try (I don’t have a degree either).

Also, it’s something to do when I have down time at work (hehe).

Well, I guess two things have changed.  First, I think I am now living an interesting life; and second, I’m no longer a Nine to Fiver.


What will you write about?

I have no friggin’ idea. I’m sure there will be no rhyme or reason to my thoughts or the season (wait, that was a rhyme!). Basically…um…next question please.

I still don’t know from post to post what I’m going to write about; which is why I’m glad I named this blog The Random Memorandum.


Male or female?

Isn’t that apparent when you look at the Barbie secretary at the top of the screen?
Fine, female, for those of you driving on the right side of the road.

My first template was really generic and I used to have a cartoon of Secretary Barbie on the sidebar.  As far as the second part of my answer…I have no idea what I meant.  But I can say that while we’re living in India, we are driving on the left side of the road.


How old are you?

A lady never tells her age. Alright, we’ve established that I’m female, but not a
‘lady’. I’m forty-six.

Yeah, I’m still not a ‘lady’, I drink beer straight from the bottle.  Obviously since it’s been three years, I’m 49.


Where do you live?

I live in suburbia where people cut down all the trees and name streets after them.

Big change from three years ago!  Good-bye manicured lawns and street signs.  Hello Navi Mumbai, India.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A little? I’m 5’2”.

I’m still 5’2”…but here in India I’m tall!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Raindrops…

...keep falling on my head  bedroom floor.
video

Last night we listened to a symphony  cacophony of drips and drops.   As I lay there, I wondered which of these two scenarios was worse:  Putting up with the leaks for the next few months, or having the guy come out to do more waterproofing.