Friday, August 29, 2008

Nicknames

I've decided that I need to give some of the "characters" in my blogs some decent nicknames. Using initials is un-creative, and doesn't really allow you to remember much about them.

So for the man in my life (aka boyfriend), whose initial is J, we will call him muscles. OK, he only allowed me to call him muscles if I clarified that he is very smart too. He doesn't want people to think he is all brawn and no brain. So now that that is clear, muscles will be his nickname..the guy has good muscles in a lean kind of Brad Pitt Way and not Ah-nald S. way. And I think it's funny. And it's my blog and I can do what I want.

As we go along I'll give others nicknames as well.

My landlord, will now be referred to as Mr. Nosy.



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nosy, nosy people

People here are nosy, so darn nosy. They have nothing else to do with their time and second of all they are judgmental as all hell. However, I have been told by numerous people that people in India are generally like this.
I'll tell you about the workplace on another blog entry because I don't even have enough time to get into that. But here is a situation that happened with my landlord on Saturday. I was out all day, sight seeing, having lunch blah blah blah. I arrived home with J, around 630-ish with a few minutes to shower and get ready to go out again. I bump into my landlord who lives in the bottom floor flat.
Here is the conversation: And my landlord's English is not that great, but we can make small talk.

Ll: Where were you all day?
Me: Ahhh, I was out.
LL: Where?
Me: I was sightseeing, Golconda fort and lunch and why do you want to know...??
LL: Electrician came today to fix something and you weren't home.
Me: Oh, did we set up a time for him to come? (knowing we didn't set something up and now I'm getting very annoyed)
LL: No, but he come
Me: Well you should call me and tell me these things, it's not my fault I wasn't home.
LL: So you aren't going out tomorrow right?
Me: YES. I am going out. Why?
LL: Electrician needs to come
Me: OK what time? I'll arrange to be home
ll: Morning
me: No sir, I need a time. Morning could mean anything from 8am-2pm
LL: 10am
Me: Fine. But if by noon if he isn't there, i will have to leave.
LL: Are you going out tonight? (eying J who is standing next to me, suspiciously, and J is grinning at the situation just wanting to see how I handle it).
Me: Yes. It's my birthday
LL: Ok. Where you going?
Me: (sighing heavily) a pub
LL: Don't be out so late, it can be dangerous.
Me: (Incredulously) Thanks I'll keep that in mind.

After we are out of earshot and going up the stairs I turn to J and say to him, "I just turned 32, how come I feel like I'm 15 again?" he smiled and said, "welcome to India."
I really really am starting to hate hearing that. I KNOW WHERE I AM!!!!!




Sunday, August 24, 2008

Driving Videos

Boy, do I have a treat for you all today. I have posted 2 videos of me on the back of a motorcycle to try and give you an idea of what driving is like in India. The driving is somewhat tame, since it is fairly early in the morning. I'll try to get good traffic material another time around.
**Warning** This video might make you a little dizzy.


video



video

Sight Seeing and Birthday: Pictures!

Yesterday I went on my first real sight seeing adventure in Hyderabad. The weather has gotten nice enough to bear going out in the sun. The temperature yesterday was a beautiful 31 degrees, with clear blue skies, a perfect day for climbing the ancient Fort.
Golconda started being built in the late 1500's by the 4th Qutb king, Ibrahim Quili Qutb ShahWali to keep out the Mugals. See the link for a more detailed description of the fort.

I'll let the pictures speak for the beauty of it. Also, later that day I met with J's friends for lunch then to a cafe for hookah smoking, then later that night a quaint get together with some friends for my birthday. It was a busy day, but I'll lay it out in photo blog style, since I have not posted many pics since I arrived here. Enjoy!

To see more pics please check my Facebook page.












Posing!!













Hookah!


P dissing the hookah



J's friends: lunch at Ohri's





Birthday cake. Thanks Paro!


My birthday flowers from J


S and S

Paro and me At 10 Downing

















Thursday, August 21, 2008

How I spent my birthday!

Well another birthday come and gone, and the second one I spent living in another country. My experience in South Korea was nice, except the green tea cake I got. Now that was disappointing!
In India, it was a nice experience, and no green tea cake. Actually in India the rules are kind of the opposite than at home, or in most places. The person who is celebrating their birthday usually takes their friends out, and pays them a lunch or dinner or drinks at a pub. Also when you get your cake it is tradition to get it smeared on your face.
So on Saturday I'll buy my friends a round of drinks at the pub and hopefully they won't smear cake on me, because I plan to be wearing nice clothes. I don't think I'll take it too lightly if I do get a whole bunch of cake in my face. I'm a good sport, but come on that's just gross and a waste of perfectly good cake!!!

So back to how I spent my birthday. Well I woke up nice and early and went to Juice, my salon of choice here and had a pedicure, manicure, and a hair cut. So essentially I pampered myself. Then J came to meet me and he took me shopping where I bought myself a cute birthday outfit. Skinny black trousers, and a black top. I love my new figure cause these pants were skinny and went just above the ankle (think Audrey Hepburn style cigarette pants). I'll wear them Saturday and take some photos. Then I took J to my one of my favourite restaurants called Chutneys. It's a veg restaurant (what they call vegetarian restaurant), and you are served these amazing chutneys with your meal, like coconut chutney, ginger chutney, and curry chutney . I had an amazing paneer tikka dosa. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese that is hardened, and tikka is the spice. It was so delicious. J, who does not really love vegetarian food, cause for most non-vegs in India if they don't have meat at every meal it isn't a meal, actually enjoyed his meal of mushroom masala and butter naan.

I also received some great gifts from my friends at work. My friend Parvathy and Delsuz bought me a gorgeous candle holder and tea lights. M, bought me some copper coloured Indian style sandals (I'll take pics and post soon), J bought me a royal blue silk halter top and a white and black dress/top to wear with leggings, earrings and flowers. Good taste for a guy I must say!! And Shae bought me a lovely black scarf.

All in all a wonderful birthday spent with new friends, in a new culture, and country. Quite a lovely experience, and made getting another year older a little easier.
I missed spending my birthday with my girls back home, but thank you all sooooo much for the birthday wishes. It means so much to hear from all of you!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The BEST free gift ever!

I bought something yesterday, I don't even remember what it was, but the free gift I got with my purchase was a rechargeable flashlight. RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHT. I've never been so excited to get a flashlight in my entire life. If I got that at home in Canada, I'd shrug and be like, "what the hell is this, and when am I going to use it?" But here it was like I won the freaking lottery! The guy at store looked me funny when I squealed with delight.

So when the power goes out I have a flashlight, so I can at least read at night when it happens (it doesn't happen that often). But the best part, is I can recharge it once the power goes on for the next time the lights go out. Awesome.

Seriously. I need to give my head a shake.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ban on Dancing in Bangalore

I once thought the movie Footloose was a work of fiction, and here I am in a country that has a city living the actual movie. No dancing in bars! I wish I was kidding. But I'm not. I have heard that there are several different reasons for the ban, such as they want to lower the chances of rape, that they want to promote a healthy lifestyle, they want to prevent westernization, and that it is the combination of drinking and dancing that is the problem (if you've seen Footloose this one was preached on that movie as well). No one can really put their finger on the real reason, but now the bars are closing at 11:30pm, and the cops show up precisely at 11:30pm waving their bamboo night sticks harassing the customers to leave and get home.

First my issue is with the fact that politicians think that dancing is a "western" thing to do. India boasts some of the most amazing dancing in the world, their movies (Bollywood) are all about dancing and singing numbers. Dance is a huge part of their culture. Yes, perhaps the bar scene is more a western thing, but, dancing?? I mean, really?? How is dancing and drinking corrupting the minds of the youth?

Now if the ban on dancing is to prevent rape, well I just don't even know if i want to justify this with an educated response. Everyone who is educated knows rape is about power, and not about sex. You can get raped while wearing a snowsuit, or a bikini. You can get raped anywhere, anytime, if eliminating rape was as easy as banning dancing, I am sure the many rape victims would have protested clubs and dancing ages ago. Give. Me. A. Break.

India is a democracy, the choice should be up to the person. Bangalore has become the "silicon valley" of India, and young people are moving from all over India to work here, westerners come to work here, so to me it just doesn't make sense. A democracy means having the right to choose. I'm so damn flabbergasted with this new ban I just don't even know what to say.

Here are some quotes from the movie Footloose....

Reverend Shaw Moore: "If our Lord wasn't testing us, how would you account for the proliferation, these days, of this obscene rock and roll music, with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality? "

Ren: "What did David Do? What did David do? What DID David do? David DANCED. Leaping and dancing before the lord. LEAPING AND DANCING."

Reverend Shaw Moore:"Even if this was not a law, which it is, I'm afraid I would have a lot of difficulty endorsing an enterprise which is as fraught with genuine peril as I believe this one to be. Besides the liquor and the drugs which always seem to accompany such an event the thing that distresses me even more, Ren, is the spiritual corruption that can be involved. These dances and this kind of music can be destructive, and, uh, Ren, I'm afraid you're going to find most of the people in our community are gonna agree with me on this."

Ren: "We danced, we danced our asses off."

I remember when I watched this movie, I thought what would I do if i lived in a place that banned dancing? I love to dance. I dance when I'm happy, I dance with my friends to celebrate, I dance when I'm sad, and I dance to have fun. Having this part of my life taken from me, would be difficult, very difficult.

So my words of wisdom, come from Kenny Loggins himself;
"Everybody cut footloose, you're playing so cool, obeying every rule, dig way down in your heart, you're yearning yearning for some, somebody to tell you, that life ain't passing you by, I'm trying to tell you, it will if you don't try you'd fly if you'd only cut, loose footloose."

Come on Bangalore, lift the ban on dancing, trust your youth to make the right decisions. You can't hand hold them their entire lives. People need to grow up and make their own choices eventually!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weight loss

When I was at home there was always an internal struggle to exercise, eat low fat, eat light products, watch the amount of carbs I ate, etc, etc, etc. And I think everyone should exercise to feel better, and keep themselves healthy. And just because I am in India that hasn't changed. But it's different. I don't think about it- AT ALL!

I eat whatever I want, in moderation. Such as I only allow myself rice twice a week. The stuff is the devil to me, and it is white, glutenous and delicious. It's a staple in the Indian diet, and most people eat it 3 times day. My body will not accept this! It will rebel. I've managed to be able to stick with the 2 times a week rule. However, I allow myself roti everyday, but it is made with whole wheat flour and water. I also exercise at least 3 days a week, I run about 5k and do about 20-25 minutes of weight training. When I want chocolate, I eat it, when I want ice cream I eat it, when I want a regular coke instead of diet, I drink it. When the Indian dish in the cafeteria looks like an oil well, I still eat it. And I do this with absolutely NO GUILT!! But I also eat small portions. The reason for this is because I am not eating low fat tasteless food, I need much much less food to satisfy me. Plus the spices used in Indian food are so savory and delicious they tend to satiate the palate much more so than other cuisines.

The best part, is the weight is melting off me. It's mostly a good thing, but now my clothes are noticeably bigger, and I need belts for many of my pants. I'm not complaining. But I love that when you don't think about every little thing you put into your mouth, you tend to enjoy life so much more, and manage to lose weight along with it.

There are some noticeable things I am not doing which is probably helping with the weight loss:
  • I only drink alcohol moderately. (In Korea it was a sport for the foreigners, but many of my Indian friends don't drink)
  • I don't eat fast food (I've had pizza twice since arriving in India) if I want pizza I'll have it though. I just haven't craved it.
  • I don't eat junk food-other than chocolate. I have fallen in love with the Cadbury's Fruit and Nut bar. And I only eat that once in a while
  • Portion sizes in restaurants are half the size than they are at home, and when eating with friends we share dishes
  • I cook my own food 80% of the time- the cafeteria food at work is very greasy
  • I don't worry too much about what I am eating and I don't feel guilty about it!!! I never deprive myself!
So the moral of the story is, yes if you want to lose weight, you need to make changes in your life, you need to exercises, or you will never keep the weight off. But you can do it slowly, and without giving up everything you love to eat. You just need to be smart. And people, you do not need to move to India to lose weight either. Sometimes all you need is just a different perspective.

On another note, I'm keeping up with the Olympics through the internet, and want to wish the Canadians the best of luck!! They need to start earning some medals soon though!! I mean India got it's first gold medal at a summer Games in like forever in shooting!! Which is awesome, and I am so happy for them. But come on we are Canada. We kick ass!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Indian Logic

Everyday the tax paying citizens of Hyderabad experience a power cut of 3 1/2 hours a day. When the cut happens depends on where you live. For me it happens daily from 8am-11:30am. Lucky for me, I'm sleeping (since I work graveyard), and it's not hot (about 25-26 degrees) out so I don't need the fan or air con. But others experience their power cuts from noon-3:30 or 3pm-6:30pm. THAT would be a pain in the ass.

Now the reason for these power cuts, well, a new politician (some minister or other), promised while campaigning, to give the farmers free electricity, so the logic is to take the power from the working and paying citizens to give the farmers free electricity. Now that's Indian logic for you. If this happened at home, there would be riots! But like people tell me when something silly like this happens, "Welcome to India."

Here is a conversation I had with a friend about power cuts:

Me: (After hearing the reason for the power cuts), wow, that is retarded logic
J: Ya, it is. It doesn't make sense
me: Well I guess I'm getting used to them now
J: How often does the power go out in Canada?
Me: silence ( I don't want to brag)
J: so, how often?
Me: Maybe once....
J: a week
Me: no
J: a month
Me: no
J: So....
S: Once a year maybe, sometimes twice a year, I guess it depends
J: silence, starring at me
Me: But once the power went off on the whole eastern seaboard, it was cool we lost power for almost two days (I was trying to make it look better).
J:When was that?
Me: errr....2004
J: 2004!!!???
Me: But we're not a third world country.....
J: shrugs..."welcome to India" and goes back to eating his dinner

Now, power cuts happen, I've gotten used to them. And sometimes the power goes out above and beyond the 3 and half hours allotted to the fine citizens of Hyderabad. When it rains the power goes out. Now it rained for 30 hours that last 2 days. My power went off and on intermittently during that time. And some of it included during midnight-2am when I am still awake. I have 2 candles that give off only a glow. And actually I don't mind them all that much now, because this way you can get other things done. Here is a list of things you can do when the power is cut, and none of them include sulking and cursing.

  1. Read (unless the power cuts happen at night. Invest in a a good flashlight for night time power cuts)
  2. Do your laundry by hand
  3. Cook your breakfast, dinner or lunch (thank God for gas stoves- I can still eat when the power goes off)
  4. Ponder life
  5. Dream of home where the power goes off only when there is an electrical storm, and then it becomes fun and exciting. Even romantic if you are with a loved one.
  6. Paint your toe nails (girls only please)
  7. Get out of the house and run some errands or go to the gym
  8. Clean the house (providing power cut is during the day)
  9. Listen to your Ipod - providing it is charged
  10. Stay in bed and and sleep until power comes back on!

I've had no power cuts today at all!!!!! Knock on wood! I do not want this post to be construed as complaining. I'm not, I love life here. You learn to appreciate so many things. I'm just trying to paint you a picture of part of my life here and what it is like. Now many of you are probably thinking, I could never live like that, or put up with that. Well, you'd be surprised how nice life can be without the distractions if electricity. The area just becomes quiet, and peaceful and it allows you time to tear yourself away from all the things that take up our time.
Life just becomes a little more meaningful and believe it or not, I find myself more active and less bored than I've ever been. I'm not ever glued to the tv, because I don't have one. I'm not chained to my computer, because I've learned there there are other things to do than to be a slave to it.

I'm so very very fulfilled. "Welcome to India."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hookah smoking and poutine

I'm sure you're confused by the title, but yes, I encountered both hookah smoking and poutine in the same night and at the same place!
On Saturday night a friend took me to a popular funky cafe called Mocha. Inside are couches and small tables, Arab style. You can also sit outside on a makeshift bed with a table. This place also has the best coffee in Hyderabad, and I chose Costa Rican coffee and we both ordered the Marrakesh hookah (this picture looks like the one we smoked). Now, how to describe the hookah (wikipedia can probably do a better job- so check out the link before continuing to read. It's very very mild, hence the reason I could smoke it and not cough up a lung. And it tastes fruity, I guess strawberry flavoured is the closest I can come to describing it. The flavoured tobacco is filtered through milk which is what makes it so mild. The amount of smoke you blow out after taking a long drag is massive and white, the cafe itself is filled with this sweet smelling smoke and it in no way resembles cigarette smoke. Non-smokers can enjoy this once and a while without any of the disgusting smells, tastes, coughing and hacking that cigarettes can give you.
So all in all hookah smoking was a good first experience, and I'd do it again. The cafe was playing some great music, it was chilled out and a great place to hang out on a rainy Saturday night.
Now to get to the poutine part, I was sifting through the menu and at the very back under specialties poutine was listed. It was the only thing listed and it described it as a "French-Canadian delicacy" (hardly a delicacy I think) and then it described it as "gooey, gross and utterly delicious." I didn't order it, because we were planning to go for Chinese food, but boy was I giddy and excited when I saw that. A piece of home so far away. Now before I get too excited I'll need to go back to this place and try the poutine, because the Indians could very well have butchered this Canadian treat. I will keep you all informed as to my poutine taste testing. It did put a big smile on my face though.....but in order the pass the test, the cheese has to make my teeth squeak, the true test of a good cheese curd!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Happy Friendship Day!

Tomorrow is friendship day, and in India it's actually a big day. There are tributes and events happening all over the city. So I thought I'd take this time to honour the amazing friends I have in my life, new and old friends, near and far friends.

I just want to say how much I miss all of you!! Every time I meet someone new, I hold them to the standard of the friends I have back home. One of you I've known since the first day of University, another after a bad break-up, one through work, many others while playing sports, and one of my closest friends, happens to also be my sister. So no matter how we met, or how you fit into my life, please know I value and love you all. Leaving the country and being forced to form new friendships, has only made me appreciate the friends I have at home.

My definition of a friend is someone who never judges you, who listens, who is there for you through thick and thin, would never let anyone talk shit about you. They let you cry on their shoulder after a break-up, they tell you that maybe your ass does look a little big in those jeans, but it's not YOUR ass it's the jeans. Then they try to help you find a pair of jeans that make you look smoking!
True friends make sure you don't date the loser, and if you date them anyways, they are always there to support you, because if he makes you happy then they are happy too. Then when you break up with the loser, they bring you chocolate cake and or vodka to ease the pain. And a true friend never says "I told you so."

So all my dearest friends this tribute is for you! I might be away from home, but you are all in my hearts and minds! And I hope I'm in yours too! Have a terrific friendship day!!!