No mas “das”!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2014 by poojaland

Forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that one of my biggest annoyances here has been dealing with the mosquitoes– aka “das” in Marathi. I got my first bite within an hour of arriving at my aunt’s on Thursday morning, and it’s been more of the same. My current bite count is 13; I get at least two new ones a day. I’m wearing my Naturapel as often as possible, but I just realized it’s only to be applied up to twice a day (and is only active for eight hours). The bugs here are at work 24/7, so it’s impossible to be protected all day and night. I’m making night time the priority, as that’s when I can’t see the bugs and swat them away, but then it’s hard to pick what other eight-hour stretch will be most mosquito-filled. I really thought the bug problem would be less this time of year (I’ve always come in the summer on previous visits), but that’s unfortunately not the case. Good thing I also brought along some Benadryl itch-relief cream — for all the good it doesn’t do!

Tomorrow night, I’m hopping an overnight (10-11-hour?) bus with Cousin P and Uncle A to Goa. I’ve never been, but have heard amazing things. We’ll be there all day Wed. and will meet up with Cousin V. Then Wed. night, we’ll hop the bus back to Pune. Kinda anxious about the fact that there won’t be a toilet on board — I generally wake up with an urgent need to pee! — but hopefully I’ll make it through OK. I’ll be sure to take toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as I’m sure the toilets at any of our stops will be a bit undesirable!

Some random pics..

View from one of the balconies of Aunt N’s (note the little shrine in the middle of the intersection, with a beautiful rice-powder drawing in front).

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Having tea, of course!

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Cousin M, his wife and son (see previous post about lack of helmets and using scooters as family transportation!):

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A building in Dharavi, Mumbai, one of the largest slums in the world (made famous by “Slumdog Millionaire”).

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Yum! Spicy-sweet goodness.

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…a little bit more….

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2014 by poojaland

So I spent a good 30 minutes earlier today typing out a post, and then when I hit Publish….it deleted out everything. UGH. Now it’s 11:15 p.m. and I’m exhausted, but I have M’s computer in front of me (which he’ll be taking back to the office with him in the morning), so I’ll see what I can quickly re-create.

Things have been great in India! I’ve managed to see all of my relatives in this general area in the first three days of my 11 days here – and I have a lot of relatives! Spent yesterday and today in Mumbai, which is a beautiful city, but also amazingly crowded. Some quick observations and notes:

1. Road rules are for sissies! Drivers regularly ignore lane lines and traffic lights, unless they’re on a major highway or police are in sight. Traffic moves in one direction or the other in a morphing mass of personal cars, taxis, rickshaws, buses, animals, pedestrians and people on scooters and/or bicycles. Crosswalks are very hard to find (or ignored), so as you can imagine, crossing the road is quite an adventure. Heading the wrong direction on a highway? No problem, make a U-Turn! Feel free to pull over to the side of the road which already has two cars pulled over — sideways — and chat with your passengers. Don’t worry about your scooter technically only having room for two people. Your daughter can stand in front of you and your wife behind you can hold your little baby. No need for any helmets, either. Have an open-air truck? Grab some friends and give them a ride into town! And honk if you need to:

  • Get a dog or cow out of your way
  • Get a pedestrian out of your way
  • Get a truck out of your way
  • Let a truck or car know you’re about to be in their way
  • Basically, let the world know you exist. Really, no more than two seconds go by without someone honking on city streets here.

2. All my relatives have Western-style toilets and showers now, but they generally come with caveats – “Turn on the water down below the pot, then flush, then turn it back off” (it always takes me a couple tries to get the water completely off). “Tap this flush button verrry quickly; don’t hold it down very long” (and then you have to press it again one or two more times before everything goes down). Another relative has the toilet in a little outhouse in their front yard; the door doesn’t close completely, so it’s a bit stressful using the toilet. Plus here at Aunt N’s, the shower is a tiny stream of water — it’s like showering in a camp shower.

3. People take it VERY personally if you go to their house and don’t a) eat copious amounts of food, b) stay for at least a few hours or c) plan a date to spend the night (this last item is strictly family related). I unfortunately am not a huge fan of Indian food, so it’s hard for me to keep saying no, but I feel it’s worse to take the food and then waste it!

4. I really like wearing seat belts! It’s only required for seatbelts to be provided and worn in in the front seats of cars here. I can’t tell you how wrong that feels! And unsafe, with the crazy drivers here. So whenever I’m in the back seat of a car with working seatbelts back there, I buckle up.

5. I really like saying “Please” and “Thank you”! It’s not very common here in regards to service people, but it’s a habit I don’t mind keeping, even if it gets me a lot of blank stares. I even make eye contact — double weird, apparently.

6. I’m kind of a confusing person for people here – they see my cousins speakng Marathi to me, but then I answer back in unaccented English (my Marathi sounds so bad it’s almost offensive). Several salespeople will be helping us with something and then say to my cousin in Marathi, “Does she understand?” I’ll then reply in Marathi: “Yes, I understand, but I can’t speak very well.”

7. Great deals are to be had from street vendors by bargaining, but I have a hard time playing that game – I know everyone does it, but it feels like I’m trying to take advantage of people. Especially since most of the stuff I’m looking at is already so cheap in U.S. dollars! Thankfully Cousin A and his daughter G did the heavy lifting for me at a couple shops in Mumbai.

8. They’re crazy about security here since the (somewhat) recent terrorist attacks in the country. We have to go through security when entering malls (one mall even does a quick pat-down for ladies) and then to see the Gateway of India, which is across the street from the Taj Hotel, which was bombed a few years back.

9. People have people for everything! Labor is apparently very cheap here. Between 5 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. here at Aunt N’s:

  • A lady comes to make chappatis
  • A guy delivers fresh buffalo milk
  • A lady comes to do the dishes
  • A guy delivers fresh cow’s milk (for Cousin M’s son)
  • Someone delivers the paper
  • A lady comes to do house cleaning
  • Cousin M’s son’s nanny comes

10. “What’sApp” is all the rage here, though I think I’d heard of it once in the U.S.

OK, running out of steam now, and this ran on pretty long. Hopefully type more soon (with pictures!).

Hello from India!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2014 by poojaland

No better excuse to revive this blog than another international adventure!!

So, I’m writing from Pune, India, where I arrived with my cousin D yesterday morning. It’s been a loooong couple of days — got up around 1:45 a.m. Seattle time on Tues. the 25th. Arrived at Sea-Tac at 4:20 a.m., were I soon after ran into a former co-worker from Microsoft — random! Hopped the plane at 6:20 a.m. and touched down in San Fran at 8:20. Met up with D and got our seats together for the next leg of our trip. Boarded the plane to Hong Kong at noon; we thankfully had the only three seats of a  (D took the aisle, me the window) so we could spread our stuff comfortably. The flight was supposed to be 15 hours, but as we took off, our captain informed us it’d be closer to 13 — bonus! Throughout the flight, we: watched movies/TV (for me: “Gravity,” “About Time” and a random ep of “The Mindy Project”), ate (I’m on the “Vegetarian – Lacto/Ovo” meal plan, which has too many bland veggies!) and tried unsuccessfully to sleep.

Whoops.. cousin M needs this computer back as he’s heading to work in 5 minutes. Hopefully post more later!

Protected: She’s ALIVE!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2012 by poojaland

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Check it, because I wrecked it

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 by poojaland

Aw yeah, it’s a gold-star day for me — I scored 418 points in Scrabble, against Norm1 the computer! This was done on my Scrabble iPhone app (the official Scrabble app), which is my go-to time-waster when there’s any time to be wasted. This score is my highest ever, kicked off with my first word, “Higgles,”which garnered me a huge points bonus as it took all my letters to build.

It’s all about the little things, my friends.

New favorite nutritional shortcut

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2011 by poojaland

Being that I’m not so good at eating well — and don’t have the sophisticated palate that really enjoys healthy food — I’m always looking for nutritional shortcuts. I.e., how can I get the benefits of eating fish without eating fish? (Here’s my solution.) Last year, I happily discovered V8 Fusion. It’s 100% juice with no sugar added, and each serving contains one full serving of vegetables and one full serving of fruits. As a bonus, you can even now buy the cans at Costco! The Costco pack has two flavors, Pomegranate Blueberry and Strawberry Banana. Good stuff!

I know you’re ideally supposed to have more than one serving each of veggies and fruits per day, so I do eat additional fresh stuff here and there (and I don’t drink a can of this every day). Still, it’s a great supplement to my otherwise relatively unhealthy “diet.”

Sheet, I forgot to mention —

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2011 by poojaland

After my last post, I went onto my blog and re-read some of my last few entries. I read the post where I whined about my white sheets … and now, only a few months later, I’m a bit sheepish to report that I have an entire new set of bedding. Um, yes. So, I finally reached my limit with the super-light bedding. And for a few years now, I’ve been coveting various Calvin Klein bedding sets. Macy’s always has great deal on bedding, so I went on to their Web site and was happy to discover they had several CK bedding sets on sale. My dream sets were still prohibitively expensive ($200 for just a duvet cover?!), but there were a few that were around $150 for a duvet set (duvet cover + two shams). In the end, I went with the Marin design. I didn’t like the accompanying sheets, so I splurged on a new set of sheets as well (also on sale!); they’re a dark blue-gray color. Rather than spend more money on accent pillows, I took one of the shams with me to Ross and wandered their surprisingly well stocked pillows section to find a color that would complement the color scheme of the bedding set. I ended up picking a large, square pillow with a ruffled edge in a cool dark purple color that I thought went well with the dark sheets and lighter blue of the duvet and shams (as a bonus, it was only like $9). The duvet is more vibrant in person, but below is a pic of how everything looked once it was washed and set up — excuse the bad quality of the photo, which was taken on my iPhone.

The duvet cover is 100% cotton, but I was still worried about the effect Buster’s claws might have on it. The first night I slept with the new bedding, I did hear his nails catch on it a couple times. The next morning, upon inspection, I discovered a couple places where his nails pulled out a little loop of fabric. So…I ran back to Macy’s and picked up a cheap fleece blanket to toss over my bed. It’s not super sexy — I remove it when company’s coming over — but it provides a great barrier between pricey bedding and a kitty’s sharp claws.

The blanket also gets the stamp of approval from the feline himself, who curled up on it within minutes..