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Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy birthday, Anka!!

Thursday our Indian colleagues had a surprise for Anka: a birthday cake and a kurti.

In Hampi

After a long day of visiting temples, I'm just chilling out with a kingfisher. Here is hot, very hot and none of the guesthouses have AC, I'll have to sleep with just a fan. Hopefully there're no many power cuts tonight. What a difference between bangalore and here.

But first about the experience in a sleeper class. It wasn't that bad and the seat I thought it the worse, it turned to be the best (at least for me). The lower berth has teh window, so I let teh window open for the whole trip. At the beginning I had to close the second window because it was raining and water was coming inside, once it stopped, both windows were open. Likely I could sleep almost the whole night.

The adventure of yesterday was to get to the train station, just 10min before I left it started raining and all rickshaws were either with a client or not willing to go to the station (too much traffic jumps). Also the busses were crowded and the ones to teh station didn't stop. I was starting to get nervous, so I had to beg a bus driver to open the door (putting my hands like for "namaste") and it did worked. He opened the door for me and I got in time in the station :)

I don't know yet what i'll do tomorrow, but for sure I'll visit more temples. I was thinking about renting a bike. Depends on how hot is tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

7 in a swift

Today Janardhan and Mahesh have invited the whole team for lunch. Jana for his farewell and Mahesh for his wedding. As most of the team members have a cab driver, we had to fit seven of us in a swift. You might compare this with the “six in a swift” from Mikonos, well we put the tallest one on the steer and the four little Indian women with me in the back. We would have been able to take one more ;)

The food was again a buffet, and again I ate too much. So much that I just had some pineapple as dinner, as I don’t want to spend half day in the toilet. Well my “record” so far is 7 times in a day, well it was after the huge dinner of Friday. I should remember this: “you shit, what you eat” ;)

SL means SLeeper class!!!

I was really happy to had tickets for Hampi, even more because I thought I had 3rd AC class. But my tickets are for the sleeper class!!! I was wondering why the tickets were so cheap and yesterday I checked the tickets with Swati and realized that I got the wrong class. During lunch time she and Yogesh were thinking what to do in order to get other tickets, like buy a tatkal ticket. If you have an "emergency", you can buy this ticket 1 or 2 days before departure (you have to pay 200 rupees extra).

At the end, I just said I'm going to give it a try. As the train is during night, no more people than those who booked a berth are allowed (I hope) :)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

?ME..What else?

I haven’t written for a while, mainly because I had no time and I was (still am) very tired, but also because I wanted to give my impressions the chance to settle and become a bit more consistent.

A far cry from when I wrote I love it I love it…it is very interesting to see Sere’s enthusiasm so different from what I feel – of course not the same things make different people tick – so nothing unusual about this. If you have the patience to read this rant (it will be a rant) don’t brush this off on account of our age difference (20 years)…

So, in short, after a few days here, I totally lost interest in almost anything else bar having to go to work do the KT and come back and I’m rapidly losing interest in that one too. Spending time with Sere and listening to her experiences, hear about her battling with the crowds, busses, temple queues, playing Russian roulette crossing the street and, looking at her photos provide a wonderful and very enjoyable escape from it all and this is a thing I haven’t lost interest in. The food I had was quite good but for the last three days I only enjoyed toast with marmite, laughing cow cheese, tomatoes and fruit. Incredibly mouth watering fruit.

As I don’t know who will read this I’ll keep it clean and not mention more than once the ring sting after Indian food or the fact that it would be a sound business idea to collect the gasses we produce (not in public I might add – after all we are ladies of a certain standard) and sell them to GASUNIE for a profit

So, on Saturday when Sere went to Mysore, not going to comment on the name, I attempted to visit a mall (in line with what a shopaholic should do when visiting a new city) and go to chill and find peace, or maybe myself (about time) to Isckon Temple. Taxi picked me up and literally elbowed it’s wings through the streets for one hour before reaching the gigantic eye sore (my sore really) mall. I spotted on the ground floor Spar (a huge one) and full of expectation went in. The crowds unimaginable…took 45 mins to buy tomatoes, gouda (expected to find Cheddar as after all India was part of the British Empire, but none was to be found) and guess what….to my complete surprise a chilled cabinet full of Lindt chocolate. And what an array of Lindt varieties…can’t even find some of them in Holland. Switzerland eat your heart out!

After that I needed a pee, immense queue at the toilets, so had to abandon choosing to risk an embarrassing event..Soooo soooo many people pushing around you that I lost all interest in shopping or even looking. The mall has 4 floors, fairly clean and modern, but the noise was maddening. I had to ask the taxi guy to come to my rescue and thought I’ll go back to the hotel to my lovely bathroom and then, after freshening up get ready for my trip to the temple. After another 1/2h of my taxi weaving through traffic, trying to avoid knocking off motor bikes holding 2 adults and many kids, exhausted and totally disappointed in the shopping experience and the fact that I still had rupees in my purse, I found out that the queues at the temple are min 1.5h long. I had no choice but to seek spiritual enlightenment in my bed with an episode of Frasier. Eureka didn’t happen but a headache did and that killed my entire weekend.

Monday at work – it smelled and some smelled. The sweet smell of whatever they spray to take away the smells (not dissimilar to Las Ramblas in Barcelona or Venice only with the minor difference that there you could hide in a wonderful café and smell coffee or hot chocolate instead) only made it worse.

This is a city where you have to look up, not to look at architecture or stretch your head to admire sky scrapers, but merely to avoid looking at human misery. Little dirty huts from where people try to make a living, out of anything like ripped old tires or knocked about helmets (I did consider to buy one for Jelmer to go with his Czech byke) are strewn amongst rubble and fairly nice houses and rubbish. I feel most sorry for the stray dogs roaming through the streets. This is not a city where people can’t find jobs though, if they wanted to, plenty construction work or cleaning to do, and yet, you see people laying on the pavement in a booze or drug fuelled daze. They have no pride in this place. The billboards advertising posh Indian wedding attire or gold laced with diamonds and precious stones or shops ladden with goods for wealthy foreigners does not much to inspire them. It has a lot of potential and Indians if they are to be judged by the ones I know, are hard workers and renowned for their entrepreneurial skills so how can this place be such a mess. I know though that extreme poverty makes people concentrate on very basic survival needs

Not inviting, in spite of cutesy little temples kitschly decorated but nonetheless charming, in spite of it’s vitality...in spite of some very lovely people. I know next to nothing about their culture so I'm not judging, it's what I feel

Returned to the room ready for my toast milk and coke (the drink) which I ordered from room service only to find out when it got delivered by a new waiter, not used to my generosity, that he can’t add it to the bill as it’s not billable and needs to be paid for in cash and no receipt can be given. So I paid him the huge sum of 170 rupees (other waiters are used to my giving them on occasions not much less than that - time to clarify it doesn’t come out of the CG budget for KT this year) and, with great satisfaction complained about him to his boss. In general people are nice but I think most are out to get you.

And now sitting on the balcony, with a cig burning on the ashtray and a cup of Horlicks, under the beautiful coconut tree with it’s leaves rustling in the gently breeze, sounding like rain, soothing, I feel drawn to this place and it's people. I'd like to understand IT and why I feel the way I do about it. Will I miss it? Will I want to come back?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bindi, kurti and buses

Bindi, kurti and buses are probably the three things a turist will experience in India after some time. The bindi is the "dot" between the eyebronws. This area is said to be the sixth chakra, the seat of "concealed wisdom". According to followers of Hinduism, this chakra is the exit point for kundali energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck.

A common misconception about the bindi in the western world is that only married Hindu women wear red bindis as a symbol of wedlock. Nowadays bindis are worn by women of many religious. The colour red represents honor, love and prosperity, but many other colours are used as well. If you go to the market, you will see the pyramids with the powders in any color you could imagine.

In this trip, I got my first bindi in the chamundi temple, on the top of the hill of the same name in Mysore. And I got the second one in the Bangalore city market. I consider this one special, as I was taking pictures of the powders in one of the many stands in the market and the seller asked me where I was coming from and if I liked India. After a small chat, he asked me to come closer and he put me the bindi. I was surprised and I thought he probably wanted to sell me something. I couldn't be more wrong. He packed some powder in a paper and gave it to me as a present. I even tried to pay, but he insists on giving it to me as a present :)

Some people would think it’s just a casualty, but the powder he gave me was the same colour as the kurti I had bought just a couple of hours before. Amazing!!

What’s a kurti? It’s the short version of a kurta and one of the traditional cloths in India. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women. They were traditionally worn with loose-fitting paijama (kurta-paijama), loose-fitting salwars, tight-fitting churidars, or wrapped-around dhotis, but are now also worn with jeans. Kurtas are worn both as casual everyday wear and as formal dress.

Today both of us went to the office wearing a kurti. At the beginning we hadn’t big reactions, as they see it as normal. Afterwards everyone commented how nice we look in the kurti. I have to admit, it’s not only looking good, but also very comfortable. I think we’re going to buy some more for sure :) 

Last experience of the weekend was taking the regular bus rather than a rickshaw. In my first try I wanted to get to the city market from the botanical gardens. I first asked and someone told me that any bus would go there. I just took the first bus without asking further. When the “ticket boy” reached me (it was quite crowded), I said I want to go to the market, he looked strange and another passenger told me that I had to change. A second passenger told me to follow him because he was going to the market. The second bus was quite on a hurry and it didn’t properly stop. So I had to step in on the way. For going back, I asked the ticket boy before stepping in. In the market it’s easier, as it’s the first stop and buses wait for a while. I asked for “residency road” as my street is one way. Well there’re many one way roads in Bangalore, depending if I’m coming from the north of from the south, I asked to go either to residency road or Richmond road (our apartments are almost at the end of Richmond road). The bus had a strange route, but it did stop in residency road. I was very proud of myself ;)

So many impressions and not enough time to write - so that it is all fresh in my mind I'll try do it tonight. Thinking of and missing all our followers, particularly Bruce Willis

Made in India

A picture says more than 1000 words :)

"These were just the starters!!"

Last Friday we went for dinner with our Indian colleagues and their wifes and daughters (Sujatha is married as well but her husband and son couldn't join us). We went to a place called "Barbeque Nation". There is a grill in the table in which you make your own food. There were many things: sweet corn, champignons, chicken, prawns, potatoes, and everything was DELICIOUS!!! Beside the grill, the waiters came every minute with a lot of different things. After two full plates (I was ready for the dessert by then), Sudipto told me "these were just the starters, the mains are over there!". Furthermore there were also a lot of desserts I had to try ;) but not only the food was good, also the company was lovely.