Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pet Peeves!

There are a few things that just irk me so much I find it hard not to tell people off. I always or usually keep my mouth shut, so I am using my blog as a way of telling these people exactly how annoying I think these things are!

  • People who take the elevator going up or down one floor! I hate this more than you know. When I am going from the 1st floor to the 6th floor it takes 5 minutes because we have to stop on every floor to let off someone who can't seem to walk up or down a flight of stairs! Even 2 floors crosses the line for me. I usually stare furiously at the back of their heads and I really really want to say "are you kidding me? You really could use the exercise!" My friend Labels does this all the time, and I refuse to get in the elevator with her. She always says to me, "I don't need to exercise, I can't keep weight on." This leaves me starring at her dumbfounded, while in my head I'm telling myself to keep my mouth shut!

  • When people say, "what happened!" This statement, question, comment, is used after everything and anything. It drives me bonkers.
Example 1
Me: "I'm not feeling well"
Colleague at work : "Why, what happened?"
Me: I don't know I'm just not feeling well, I don't know what happened!! (If I knew I'd either be a doctor or a psychic!!").

Example 2: While on the phone with Muscles, the signal breaks and one of us has to call the other back. This happens a lot.
I answer the phone.
Me: "Hello"
Muscles: "What happened"
Me: How the hell do I know? The signal broke, I didn't do anything! Stop asking me that"
Muscles: Laughs! Cause he asks me this EVERY TIME this happens and he knows it drives me crazy!

  • When I hand the people in the cafeteria at work a 100 rupee note to buy coffee that costs 10 rupees and they give me the change back in coupons that can only be used in the cafeteria! And what's worse is when it's a Friday and I won't even be back for 2 days. But I have a wallet full of coupons I can't use until Monday. I should have the right to get my change back in actual money, not coupons!!!! It's not like I'm returning a shirt at a department store, and they give me a credit note. It's a freaking cafeteria!
  • Horn honking! It's so damn irritating and people honk for the fun of it or just because they want to. Just because you have a horn doesn't mean you need to use it all the freaking time. Oh, there is a car in front of me, better honk, there is a car beside me, honk again, I see a car about 2 km's ahead of me better start honking. no one is beside me or in front of me, but better honk just in case! Stop it already.
  • People and not just men starring at me. I feel like saying, "Yes, Hollywood movies and the media have it right! I'm white, an easy lay, I have sex like the girls do in "American porno's," I have had 3 divorces, I am not close to my family, in fact I don't value them at all, and I'm rich!!! I wonder if i can fit that all on a t-shirt?!
Writing this post has been very therapeutic!

What are your pet peeves??? Comments please!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reading about China

I am currently reading a biographical and autobiographical novel that I have to talk about. It's blowing me away. The name of the book is Wild Swans: Three daughters of China written by Jung Chang. The author writes about her grandmother's, mother's and her own struggle through war, Japanese invasion and communism.

A particularly gruesome and cringe worthy part of the book is Chinese traditional foot binding, which men found extremely attractive and erotic, as it showed vulnerability and a need to be protected from the men. Women had to endure excruciating pain,and foot binding was a symbol of high social class, and when a woman was married the first thing the bridegroom's family did was examine a woman's feet, large feet (normal sized feet), were considered to bring shame on the husband's household. Chang writes “My grandmother’s feet had been bound when she was just two years old. Her mother, who herself had bound feet, first wound a piece of white cloth about twenty feet long round her feet, bending all the the toes, except the big toe inward and under the sole. Then she placed a large stone on the top to crush the arch, My grandmother screamed in agony and begged her to stop. Her mother had to stick a cloth into her mouth to gag her, My grandmother passed out repeatedly from the pain.” (p24). As cruel as this sounds, this was being done for the future of Chang's grandmother, as she would be considered un-attractive to men and unable to get married to a person of good social standing if her feet weren’t bound. Luckily the practice of binding women’s feet was banned in China in 1911, when the Qing Dynasty fell (pronounced Ch-ing).

Currently, this book is banned from being published in China, brought in to China, or spoken about in the media in China. The author currently lives in the UK and was the first person from the People's Republic of China (not just the first woman) to receive her PhD from a British university. The author, writes with passion about her family, which consists of women who changed things in China, exemplary examples of women who showed courage and stubbornness to not follow the rules of their society and risked their lives for their freedom and their beliefs.

For most, when the word communism comes up, the first thing that comes to mind is evil, rules and oppression, however while reading this book (I am only 170 pages in of 500 pages), I find myself rooting for the communist to a certain extent, because things are just so bad while under the rule of the Japanese and the Kuomintang military that when the communist take power, things in China begin to change for the good. Women were being raped and sold as concubines by their families to the Kuomintang military (Chinese) and severely beaten and tortured by the Japanese. Now I understand the hate and rivalry that exists among Chinese and Koreans against the Japanese. When I lived in South Korea, that contempt was ever present, even in young Korean minds, although they were too young to have lived through that pain. History definitely lives on through stories told by their grandparents and in their history books.
When the communists take power their beliefs are that women and men are equal and should be treated as such. And for the first time women were able to educate themselves and make their own choices. However, communism comes at a price of certain freedoms, and is oppressive and a very structured way of living and I am definitely not advocating it. You just have to read the book to see why. But I do see a different side to what is portrayed in the media. Books like these show us the true picture of the pain and suffering these Chinese people endured and how people fought for their “freedom.”

I wanted to write about this book in my blog because it made me think about the amazing women in north america who fought for the freedoms we have today. Living in India, I hope women continue to keep fighting for their rights, and to go againts what is socially acceptable in order to be happy.

This book is a must read!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's a small world after all!

I have been assigned to two portfolios at work recently, before I was only working for one portfolio at GEMS (GE Money), and when the upper management found out I was Canadian, I was assigned to a Canadian portfolio along with the American one I had already been assigned to.

It's been extremely busy, and being part of management, we have targets we have to reach and along with that I have to give training sessions in a classroom, and so many reports to fill out at the end of the week. So more work with two portfolios, but working and teaching Indians about Canada and listening in to Canadian calls has been so much fun!!! I'm not sure if I can mention the portfolio I work on (in a blog) but many of you know it well!!! So I have made a sort of reward that the first agent to get a call from any family member or friend, I will buy them dinner. Of course I have to be sitting with them or monitoring their calls at the time. There have been some close calls, and I get giddy when a customer calls from Sudbury, or Ottawa.

Having now worked and listened to Canadian customers and American customers, I can safely say, that most Canadian customers really are more polite, more patient and just less demanding.
Are there some jack-asses in the bunch?! Oh yes there are, but they are few and far between. Everyone at GEMS loves working on the Canadian portfolio, and I love being a part of this team as well.

Just to give you a hint, I have actually called this call centre before even knowing I was going to be working here, and some of the agents have actually pulled up my account to check on my birth date (because I wouldn't tell them). And many of you have called this call center too!!!! I even tracked down the actual agent I spoke with, he was quite freaked out to meet a real live customer, I mean they are in India, and really what are the chances of meeting a customer? When I went to speak to him I wasn't sure if he was happy to meet me, or scared out of his mind. He kept asking if I was satisfied with the call?? I don't even really remember what I was calling about, probably to change or update an address. But I told him he did fine!

I love how small this world actually is!!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


On Tuesday I had the shock of my life, my computer crashed. Muscles downloaded a program on my laptop and I guess my anti-virus program had expired (oops my bad), and there was some Trojan virus attached to the software he downloaded. And kaboom (well it didn't make that sound) but that was more like the sound my heart made when Muscles broke the news to me. My computer was going berserk!

I remained calm. For 5 minutes. Then I lost all sensibilities and started pacing my apartment muttering not so nice words under my breath, hoping Muscles could work magic and restore it without losing anything. I was never angry at him. But I was freaking out. I am so computer illiterate I just had no idea what was happening.

But there was no way to get rid of the virus through some of the tricks he tried. Luckily Muscles is somewhat of a computer genius. He built his own computer from scratch, so I had all my hopes on him. I have so many pictures, and videos downloaded. I don't have a television so I download shows from home, my computer is my gateway to home and to life outside of India, I would be lost without it.

Muscles informed me that there is good news and bad news. The good news is that he can fix the computer, bad news is, he'll have to completely reformat it and remove EVERYTHING from the hard drive to get rid of the virus. But, he has one of those 80gb IPOD and so he could save my itunes folder (which holds 800 songs), all my pictures and the videos I had downloaded which was about 15gb of data. It took 3 hours to move the data to his IPOD and the computer was in safe mode so it was running a lot slower than normal. The first few attempts he made to fix it failed, his Windows XP Cd was not working, so he ran around the city trying to find another copy from a friend. Then after about 4 and a half agonizing hours, my computer was functional again. I had lost most of my files, a lot of software, but I can't complain. It could have been worse. If Muscles hadn't been so good with computers, i would have had to pay through the nose to fix it, and perhaps would have lost all my pictures (most are backed up on CD's in Canada), all my downloaded songs and TV shows.

I have been busy re-downloading many programs, because my computer is now pretty bare, but it is running so much quicker! And Muscles installed an awesome anti-virus program on my system so we can hope to avoid this situation in the future.

Crisis diverted! And my heart is beating regularly now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thank you for NOT smoking!

Apparently India has not gotten the memo that smoking is not a cool thing to do anymore. I know there was a time when people smoked for the sheer status they thought it brought them, and that it was cool.
But there has been a shift in North America. First, you can't smoke anywhere anymore, celebrities don't even want to be caught photographed smoking because it is pretty much socially unacceptable there, and because it is terrible for your health and makes you look 50 when you're only 40.

People here in India think it's cool to smoke. I've asked some men why they smoke and they said because it's cool (insert eye roll here).
That's when I start to lecture them and tell them how bad it is for their health, and how it gives them premature wrinkles. But of course it is THIS statement that usually works on them, I tell them that if me or any of my girlfriends noticed a hot guy in a bar, then saw him light up a cigarette, we probably wouldn't approach him. knowing it could affect them with the ladies, usually does the trick. Now for the small addiction problem....quitting is not an easy thing to do.

After the "smoking is not cool" memo finishes circulating Europe - people are STILL smoking up a storm there too- they have to send it to India. When I look at a man smoking, I do not see James Dean. I see yellow teeth, a wrinkled face and hear a very un-sexy hacking phlegm-y cough, none of which scream "oh baby, come to mommy."

I think my work here is done........

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm a hero....well kind of

One day last week I heard whining and crying and so I eventually looked out my window and saw that one of the puppies that lives across the street (these are outside dogs) had fallen in the gutter and was stuck and crying. His mother was whining and just starring at her puppy, as she was helpless to get her pup out. So I ran out in my pj bottoms and sweater down the stairs to the gutter where the puppy was stuck. A few of my Indian neighbours had come out on to their balcony to see what the ruckus was all about, as the puppy was crying pretty loudly and had been for a little while now. I hear the puppies whining and crying everyday from my window so I didn't think to check until I realized the puppy sounded desperate and scared. So I stood over the gutter, but the puppy was so scared and he was shaking, but he kept hiding under a small area that was covered and I couldn't reach him. With the help of another Indian man, we managed to get the puppy out from under the covered area, using a small stick. The man gently nudged the puppy so he came out just enough so I could reach in and grab him by his belly and pull him out. The puppy, ran to his mother and the mother licked her pup continuously in relief of his safe return to her.
I took this picture a few minutes after I rescued the pup!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I always thought roosters only crowed in the early morning, to wake up the farmers and let them know it was time to start work on the field.

That is utter crap. The neighbours have a rooster who runs around all day and crows at ALL times of the day and night.

I'm not a violent person but if I had a BB gun............

The culprit!

The College System in India

University was one of the best times of my life. I enjoyed my four years at the University of Ottawa, met amazing people, partied enough for a lifetime all while earning my bachelors in communications and doing fairly well. It's a life experience I would never trade for the world. I had a conversation with my friend from work yesterday (she is a good friend of mine and I'll nickname her labels, because she likes to wear brand names) about her college experience in Hyderabad. I wish you could see the look on my face while she was describing it to me. I'm sure I looked absolutely dumbfounded. Her description of College was that is was a jail. You have to arrive by 8:50am or else the gates of the college would be closed and locked. Once you are inside you can't leave. At all. Let's say you forgot to withdraw money and you want to buy lunch, and you need to run off campus to get money, you can't. I don't think ALL Colleges in India are like this, but the one she went to was like this and so are a few others in the city. Then when your classes are over at 2:30, they re-open the gates and you can then leave for the day. The worst part? If you miss a day at college your parents are called or sent a message by text to notify them of their child's defiance.

I'm open minded, and I try not to judge too quickly, but having had such an awesome time in University, I find it sad that others don't get to have that experience as well. I know that things are different all over the world, and I guess that is why I travel. But it doesn't always make it easier to understand the motive behind these kind of rules. I'm not sure who this helps? I guess I see it as, there is a time when you have to let young adults make their own choices and mistakes and learn the hard way. And this system of locking the gates is a way of saying you really aren't capable of making your own choices, and when you are here to study that is what you do.

The second thing Labels told me is that in India, if you don't have your masters degree, you are considered "un-educated." Labels is the only one in her family who does not yet have her masters (her three elder siblings all have theirs) and they tell her all the time that it's time for her to do it. The ultimate accomplishment is to go abroad and get your masters, which many do if their families can afford it. The education system in India is quite good and there are so many people to compete with that to get the best jobs having a masters is almost a must.
Muscles mom is a PhD in English literature and is a professor, his grandmother has a PhD in psychology, and I think there is also a lawyer somewhere in his family. His father owns a small pharmaceutical company, so there is a lot of pressure for him to be highly educated and successful.
The word pressure and sacrifice always comes up in my discussions with my friends.

Knowing all this has made me more motivated to get my masters degree, I've been feeling like getting back to studying lately, so maybe this is a good opportunity. I just won't be doing it at a college in India. I like my freedom too much!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The city has come alive......

On Monday, a few times during the day I heard sirens going off in the city that sounded like air raids, but I KNEW they weren't to warn the city of some impending bombing, it was the signal that Ramadan had started in Saudi Arabia, and that at dusk, Ramazan (as it is called in India) will begin.
Since Canada is a multi-cultural country and I have a few Muslim friends I met at university, I know what Ramadan means. Also, I got to learn more about it having traveled to a Muslim country during the time of Ramada (Malaysia).
Ramazan is similar to lent (for Christians), as the idea behind it is will power and giving something up as a sacrifice to God or in this case Allah (which means God in Arabic). Fasting is meant to teach the person patience and humility. Ramadan is a time to fast for the sake of God, and to offer even more prayer than usual (and most are encouraged to recite the entire Qu'ran during Ramazan). During Ramazan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance into the future, ask for help in refrain from everyday evils and try to Lent is very similar as you give up something truly important to you for 40 days.
Ramazan is for 30 days on the Islamic calendar and from sunrise to sunset you fast. This includes:
  • No food or drink, not even water
  • No smoking
  • No alcohol
  • No sex
  • No impure or immoral thoughts
Most people wake very early, perhaps an hour before sunrise (around 4-ish), pray and eat a hearty breakfast, then for about 13 hours they go without, as a sacrifice to Allah. Then at sunset, the fast is broken with some fruit and snacks, then there is prayer and then dinner. During the times between sunset and sunrise you can do and have all the things you can't have during the 13 or so hours of fasting. So it's not like you are giving this up for 30 days continuously.

Hyderabad is about 50-60% Muslim, so the city has come alive with activity. On my way to work yesterday at around 7:30pm, I noticed much more activity on the street, vendors selling the Muslim traditional food, haleem and just a general hustle and bustle of activity that is not usually present. Old city, Hyderabad, which is predominantly Muslim will be crowded, but will offer amazing shopping experiences.

Traveling and living in another culture offers so many great learning experiences and this is definitely one of them. Experiencing the real thing is so much better than reading about it in some book or reading about it in the newspaper.

I have many Muslim friends, that I have made here, and I plan to celebrate this religious holiday with them and learn as much as I can about Islam from them. I won't be fasting, but I will be enjoying the shopping and all the wonderful traditional foods that will only be available during this time in the city.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Poutine in India

About a month back, Muscles and I went to a place called Mocha to smoke hookah, have some good coffee and chill out. I discovered on the menu that they had poutine. They described it as a "French-Canadian" treat made up of french fries, gravy and cheese curds and was gooey, messy and delicious, (so far this is sounding like poutine). They also said that is was pronounced as "foo-teen." Which maybe was some kind of foreshadowing as what was to come.

So on Saturday, Muscles and I went back to Mocha, and met my friend Paru there. I promised my sister I would go back and try to the poutine. The menu at this place is pretty extensive and mouth watering, but it's still also India. And even at home in Canada, I try not to go to another cultures restaurant unless the people who own it belong to that culture, and for instance, it's also a bonus when you go to a Japanese (or whatever cultures) restaurant and see not only Japanese chefs, but also many Japanese patrons as well. That usually means the food is authentic. But alas, I am in India, and beggars can't be choosers.

So I ordered the poutine, and knew I was in trouble when they asked me if I wanted a cheese sauce. I was like, no I want gravy and cheese curds. And the waiter was like, no poutine comes with cheese sauce.
"Sir, I'm Canadian, and poutine does not come with cheese sauce." Muscles, leans in, and says, "This is India, remember the popcorn chicken debaucle with Timothy?"

I don't think I wrote about this, so briefly I'll explain what happened. A few months back after going to see a movie we decide to get some food, Timothy does not enjoy Indian food so much, so when he saw popcorn chicken on the menu, he ordered that with some fries. Now we all know what popcorn chicken is. Tiny pieces of fried chicken, which is bite size, hence the name popcorn chicken. Well when Timothy got his order of popcorn chicken, we were all on the ground laughing. It was pieces of chicken cooked in POPCORN!! Actual popcorn was stuck on the chicken and deep fried. The poprcorn chicken fiasco was hilarious enough as it was, but seeing Timothy's pouty face for the next hour was really what was priceless!!

Moving along to the poutine incident, I just tell the waiter to bring me the poutine. I know this isn't going to be what I get at home, because seeing poutine on the menu was just too good to be true. But I told my sis I'd try it.
The batteries in my camera had died and I so wish I could have taken a picture of what the hell I got. It was french fries smothered in a white cheese sauce. Disgusting. I called the waiter over, and Paru and Muscles are now a little afraid of what might come out of my mouth.

Me:"Sir, what is this?
Waiter: "It's foo-teen"
Me: Laughing- "no, it's not. The menu says it has gravy and cheese curds"
Waiter: "oh so you want curry sauce then"
Me: "No, I don't want curry sauce, I want cheese curds and gravy like the menu says"

He takes away the poutine and brings me back the same damn thing but with a curry sauce on top. Not a single cheese curd to be seen! Ok, I have to admit it was improved, but it was still NOT poutine. I ate the thing in silent disappointment and forced Muscles to eat some too. "This is not poutine" I say sadly, mostly to myself. I can sense Muscles is about to say something, and I turn to him, before he has a chance, and I say "If you even tell me I'm in India, I am going to dump this cheese sauce over your head."

I'm just going to stick to Indian food from now on......I got my hopes up with seeing the poutine on the menu. But eating the chocolate avalanche afterwards did make me feel a lot better!!!