Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Long awaited pictures

Well finally I have taken some pictures of my new apartment and my scooter. Enjoy!

Living room

The entrance

The Indian style Guest bathroom (third one). The other two bathrooms are Western style toilets.

The spare room-computer room

Timothy and I on the day of his going away party-Tim and i wore Indian style clothing

My vanity and door to my bathroom

Me in a modern salwar kameez

My Dining room

My Kitchen

My laundry area

my laundry soaking and waiting to be scrubbed and washed

My Indian spice rack and what I use to make rotis

My bookshelf

My closet space -so much space!!

My computer desk area

A quick monsoon rain

My living room

My Scooter-a Honda Aviator

My bedroom

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living the Indian Life

So I have moved into my new place and am fairly settled. I had many friends take me around the gather the things I need to live comfortably. Pots and pans, blankets (since I now have AC), garbage bins, mops, brooms…you get the point.
I have decided on two important things; most working people in India have maids, either to clean the house or do the laundry (by hand) or to cook meals, and some have both. I have decided to have neither. People think I am crazy- how am I going to find the time to clean my place, do laundry and cook for myself. I just tell them I’ve been doing it myself for over 10 years and nothing has changed that fact.
There are reasons for my “madness.” Firstly, I have seen the maids clean, I actually told Tim to just pay me what he pays her because I’ll do a 100 times better job. I’ll clean my own damn place, thank you very much. Then I know it is clean!! Secondly, I figure this will be a good way for me to learn to cook Indian food myself. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had hired a cook. She actually never ended up showing up to work. So I just downloaded Indian recipes, and with some friends help started learning to cook Indian style.
So I decided to do it all by myself. Today I did my first bucket wash ever. OK, so I have occasionally washed my underwear in the sink while traveling. But I just did a full load of laundry scrubbing and squeezing all by myself. They actually have products here for bucket washed as the majority of families do not have a washing machine. You can get a tide scrub bar and on the back of the Tide package it gives you handy instructions on how to do a bucket wash. I think it went well, although I probably have to spend more time rinsing the clothes before hanging them to dry outside on my makeshift clothes line.
The cooking is actually not been to difficult, yes Indian food uses a lot of spices, but it is fairly simple, although I did need to buy a mixer grinder so I could make thick curry pastes. I have to yet to try to make any of those yet as I just got my grinder. In India there is no such thing as curry powder. Curry here is a mix of mostly chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and ginger garlic paste. Along with tomatoes and onions you can make so many different types of masala (curries). I don't eat much rice, so I have been practicing making roti (or chapatis). It is simple in that it is a mix of whole wheat flour and water. Getting the right mix is essential or else the dough could be too sticky or dry. Then you make small balls and roll to a thin pancake like size. It's not as easy as it sounds. Getting the right shape is difficult, and I have made some square looking rotis. Then you put it on a roti making pan and flip and flip until cooked, you can also hold the roti over the open flame to give it a nice texture. I am finding it kind of rewarding cooking all this Indian food. People just are soooooo impressed when they find out I cook not only by myself with no help but Indian food to boot.
I'll be sure to post my trials and tribulations of my Indian cooking attempts, hopefully with pictures. I hope to get pictures up soon of my apartment and scooter. I promise.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bryan Adams!!!

Indians LOVE LOVE LOVE Bryan Adams!!!! They can't get enough of Bryan Adams. When friends visit, they ask, "hey man, do you got any Bryan Adams?" Errr, ya I think I have Summer of '69 downloaded somewhere. But that is about it.
OK, the guy is Canadian. That is great. But I mean, why the fascination? You hear Bryan Adams everywhere. I mean the dude has some good stuff. He does. But come on.

Anyway just another fun and wacky fact about this place I now call home.

Bananas, mangoes, and jackfruit oh my!

Everyone who knows me knows I prefer fruit to vegetables, heck I prefer sweet to anything salty any day of the week. And India has some of the nicest fruit, especially bananas and mangoes. Wow, I have never tasted a banana likes the ones I have eaten here, and they come in all kinds of sizes and vary in sweetness.
And Mangoes, well you have never really savoured a mango unless you have eaten one just plucked off the tree. Yes, we have mangoes at home but they definitely have a different taste after being transported thousands of miles. You can buy mangoes on the side of the street, or in the markets. And they are pretty cheap too. i guess you can get about 5 or 6 of them for under a dollar. Actually I just finished eating a juicy mango with my cereal for breakfast. Pure, pure heaven.
Now the jackfruit, I have never tried a jackfruit before, and they just look plain scary at first, kind of like a medieval torture device. I was riding on the back of my friends Christopher's bike, when we passed a stand with this odd looking fruit. I asked him what it was, and he looked surprised that I have never tried let alone have seen a jackfruit before. I then asked him if he ever saw a real blueberry? Of course he hadn't. I rest my case.
So Christopher stopped and while sitting on the motorcycle I savoured my first piece of jackfruit. HEAVEN! Not too sweet, not too sour. Just perfect! Now I am addicted. I am constantly looking for the sweet Indian man selling jackfruit on the side of the street. I'd buy one myself but cutting the damn thing is nearly impossible and I'd probably need a sword to slice that baby open.. Each piece has a large seed and you can fry them in oil and eat them, apparently they have the same taste and texture as almonds. I might try it sometime.
** click on the links to see pictures (this is for the computer challenged) :)

In other news.....I'm moved in, have Internet, and a gas stove and am well on my way to harmony. But that is another post. This post is about fruit!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Moving, driving a rickshaw, the spa, father's Day and a Gay Bar!

My title sounds like a new idea for an American sitcom......

I've been so extremely busy at work this last week, I've been working about 10-12 hour days because I am helping assess the new hires, and then also training for 2-3 hours a night. My training consists of me standing in a classroom type setting with my power point presentations that I have developed and teaching Indians about the way we live in North America. I am loving my job.

But things are certainly heating up on the personal front- meeting new friends, experiencing new things, and just trying to find my niche in this country. There isn't too much room for an independent, outspoken gal like myself in a country where many women have to be escorted around town (even when they are 25), or where grown men have a curfew at home. Most of the friends I have made have a lot more freedom, but I do have some good friends where meeting up with them is a challenge. I am a foreigner in this country, and I have to go and pick up my Indian friends to escort them out. But I do it, and I smile and realize things just are different here, and I am accepting of the culture, although wrapping your brain around it is another thing.

OK, so good news first, I am moving. Today. At 4:30 IST, which is 7am EST. Just so you are all clear that yes it is happening today. And I have almost finished re-packing (again) my things and am astounded what one can accumulate in 8 weeks. I won't have Internet connection for a little while (I hope not too long), but if I am out of touch that is why. I can't check my personal emails at work, and I don't actually have time as I am never at my desk it seems.

Yes, i drove an auto rickshaw. Tim and I went out to dinner a few nights ago and on the way home we got a cool driver who asked Tim if he wanted to drive. He said NO WAY! I was like, sure, I'll drive. So I got in front and the driver told me how to switch gears (it's a motorcycle on 3 wheels with a caboose.) So I drove the thing the whole way home, turning and switching gears, while Timothy laughed his ASS off in the back. Then the guy told me he was going to give me something special and told me to lean into the turn as he did a freaking pop-a-wheelie on the thing. I screamed like a girl.

Just another adventure to go into the trunk of world experiences, it goes on the list with other fun things like elephant riding in Thailand, zip-lining and surfing in Costa Rica, karaoke singing in Japan, getting caught in torrential monsoon rains in Singapore, getting pinched on the ass in Italy and climbing mountains in Korea.

I went to the spa yesterday, as I felt I needed to chill out and get a little pampered. The prices are so good here that is is hard to resist. So i went for threading (like waxing but with sewing thread). I have to say it hurts like a bitch. But it is better than waxing as it doesn't pull your skin. I also had a traditional head massage with coconut oil, a facial, a haircut, a french manicure and pedicure. I was there for over 4 hours and it was worth the time. I felt de-polluted. With the pollution here, it is good to have facials and pedicures and such every few months.

i know you are all waiting to hear about the gay club so I'll get to that. I have a gay friend, who will remain nameless, not that he cares, but this is a public forum where work people can access this blog if they look hard enough, and in India, homosexuality is still very very in the closet. People have actually told me that there are no gays in India. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I saw last night how many non-gays there are. Anyway my friend asked us to go with him, I was the only girl, and the other guys who went were straight too, and they are some of the coolest Indian guys I have ever met. These guys represent what India will most likely be in the next 10-20 years. Still Indian in culture (live with their families, get all meals cooked my mommy) but they also have modern views in life, and are open to learn new things. Such as having a somewhat openly gay friend and going to a gay club. ( I should also add that two of the guys I went with are also Christians). i know religion isn't the issue here, but I think Christian Indians might have more modern views than Hindus and Muslims. I don't want to generalize, and I know that is what I might be doing. But in my experience here, the Christians I meet here tend to a little more open.

Man, it was so fun to just go and dance with my guy friends and not get hit on or starred at. I danced for hours with everyone, even the gay Indian guys. It was nice to see these guys being able to have fun and be themselves and not have to face the scrutiny of the Indian culture. Things are changing here, but it is still a very new concept, and I was even surprised how well the Indian (straight) guys were at ease with the situation. One of our friends had a really hard time and I could sense his discomfort at being there. I told him it was different and it was OK if he felt weird about it. I think he was trying to put on a good front, because he didn't want us to think he wasn't "western" or modern. i told him even western people still have an issue with homosexuality and it was OK if he was uncomfortable at being at the gay club. It's NOT for everyone. He is fine with having a gay friend, and doesn't treat him differently, so that is all that matters. I on the other hand, had a friggin blast! it was one of our friends birthdays too, so after the club which closes around midnight-ish, we went back to our place and hung out and partied and ate cake until way past 4am. I am on the schedule so staying up until then is something I have to do anyway. All in all a terrific day, spa and gay club!

And lastly, but never least. Daddy! I wish you a happy father's day! I miss you with all my heart and hope you have a terrific day. Just because I am not there, know I am thinking about you. But also know that you have a lot to do with me being here, in India, as you always told me to be independent and do what makes me happy! You knew ever since I was a little girl that traveling and seeing the world was my dream. Who can say they are really living their dream? So thanks Dad, for leading by example, as I know you are living your dream. You have a wonderful family, (two amazing daughters I might add) HAHA. a wonderful wife and mother to your two girls, and you have a comfortable life. One that is so different from the one you grew up in, even though you were always surrounded by love. Thank you for giving Shar and I the things you never had. It means more than you know!

Happy Fathers day to all the men in my life who are father's. It's the MOST important job you'll ever have!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ice Hockey-Detroit VS Pittsburgh

While Timothy and I were having lunch today, the restaurant had TSN playing with game 4 of the Stanley Cup final! I almost fell off my chair. The only sport I've seen on TV here has been cricket, football (soccer), tennis and more cricket. So imagine my pleasant surprise to see the game on. It made me slightly nostalgic for home and made me miss my father.

But I thought it was really cool considering that when I say I play hockey people I think i mean field hockey.
Too bad Detroit won though...would have been nice for the Penguins and Crosby to have won.

**** Last night was the first night I slept without sweating. The temps have gone down to about 35 degrees.....sweet relief.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Can I be your friend...please!!!!????

I am not tooting my own horn when I recount this story, but this happens to me a lot. It happens because I am a white foreign woman.
Tim and I went to a restaurant for a lunch buffet today. And while I was in line for food, this guy started talking to me. He said "welcome to India." I started to laugh and said thanks but I had been her 2 months plus 2 months of traveling. Then he asked where I was from, and I told him Canada. "Canada." He said. "I've been there once." What part, I asked him. Conveniently he doesn't remember. Fine. I went back to my table to eat, him and his friends looked over at our table a lot. I should mention the guy was cute, but he was young. Maybe 22 or 23.
Then he came to my table and gave me a bowl of strawberry ice cream. "For you" he said with a big smile on his face. "Ahhh, thanks" as I pointed to the ice cream on my plate. I graciously took it, feeling slightly embarrassed.
We left the store and went to the 99 rupee store (the dollar store) and there he was. He followed me while I checked out the apple cider vinegar. I pretended to be very engrossed in the vinegar aisle. Then he asked me if I had a lot of friends. I told him tons. Then he asked if he could be my friend and if he could have my number? Then he asked again, and said "please I really want to be your friend!" I gave him a fake number, so he would leave me alone.
Man, I am just too nice for this country. I know I should just tell the guy to piss off.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I woke up today to dark clouds and a roar in the sky. RAIN!
It poured for about 8 minutes, and Timothy and I did a little dance on the balcony. The air has lost a little of the heat and now a breezy wind has taken its place.
Relief! At last.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Martha and me with the newly engaged couple!

OK, Ok, I have to post one good thing

I have actually taken tonight off of work because I am a little under the weather (don't worry Mom I'm fine), and there is a cab strike in the city protesting the hike in gas prices. This is how we get to work (paid for by the company). Anyway I took the opportunity to stay home and get some rest.
I called work to let them know. And let me tell you, the Indian people are just amazing and caring people.
I've gotten like 4 phone calls in the last hour asking how I was feeling, if I had eaten, should I see a doctor...??? The concern they have shown me, knowing I am alone here and not feeling well, is amazing and heartfelt.

So yes the best thing about India is the people. Amazing, wonderful, caring human beings. This is why I love to travel, the people on this globe never cease to amaze me.

Indian Stretchable Time and more tidbits

When I was told that Indians marched to the beat of their own drum, or more so that they had a certain way about time, I figured how bad could this be???
Let me tell you how bad it can be:

1. Average time it takes to open a bank account: 4 days and counting!

2. Time it has taken for the company I work for to find me a place to live: 2 months and counting! (counting because I am still not moved in and the date keeps on changing).

3. When a friend tells you they will meet you at 7pm, expect them to show up no earlier than 8pm and that is being kind.
4. When I have scheduled training to start at 8:30pm, expect it to start for 9pm. It even happens at work.

Other tidbits you might find interesting:
  • The people come and knock at your door to collect the Internet and cable money for the month. I don't know if this happens everywhere, but I've seen it happen in Hampi and where Tim lives in Hyderabad.
  • The bars close at midnight. I went to a pub last weekend, and couldn't believe I was getting tossed. The cops were even there waiting to make sure everyone stopped drinking and left.
  • A maid comes everyday to clean Tim's place and washes our clothes by hand. Tim doesn't have a washing machine.
  • The power goes out at least once a day. Sometimes for 2 minutes, sometimes for 10 minutes, and sometimes longer. **** update**** after I wrote this post the power went off from 5am to 7:30am. With the fans off and not working, I couldn't sleep until the power went back on. (remember I sleep from about 4:30-noon) since I work the night shift.
  • Indians gossip (both sexes) like a bunch of teenage girls in high school. It's ridiculous. I had a friend over for dinner one Saturday and on Monday everyone knew about it at work. I got a ride on the back of my friends motorcycle to work one day, and everyone was whispering about it. Being the only foreigner in the group I work with makes it worse too. Everyone wants to know what the white girl is doing, who she speaking with and who she is dating. They even gossip about who I take my coffee breaks with.

There are plenty of great things about India and about Hyderabad. But I don't feel like talking about those things today. So in the next post I'll be sure to write the good things.

NB: The weather is cooling off somewhat now (getting to about 35-36) it is starting to rain in the evening and everyone here is getting excited about monsoon as it cools the city down. I am really getting used to sweating, but I won't miss it once it cools off.