Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good grief it's New Year's Eve

Where did all that spare time go? We have been very busy since we got back organising this year and next year. After many attempts I secured a paid job (YAY) which starts next week, and Robin has arranged his sponsorship (better late than never) and has booked his ticket for the middle of January to head back to Nepal to the apartment he has arranged. He will be busy trekking, making maps, updating the guidebook and who knows what else. Oh yes, he is working on some smartphone apps too which I have helped with (being so smart at such things) and we hope they will be out soon - you will be the first to know.
The credit cards have been getting a bit of a hammering thanks to no job, but I am cheering myself up with the thought of all the POINTS we'll have... I think I know where my first few pays are headed!
Strewth these blasted planes overhead are driving my nuts - it's like the blitzkrieg today!
Our Christmas was a fairly sedate affair with mad nanna on her leave pass from the maximum security twilight facility (and with not a lot of idea what was going on - but she knew who Robin was after 10 months away, still not sure who I am though!).
The Hawaiian party I wrote about 3 weeks ago was fun - there were some really bad outfits there, and interesting uses of palm trees.
I have my new iPhone 4s now and I love love love it. And it has a sparkly pink protector in case I drop it.
Just before Xmas I was cleaning the oven (a pyrolitic one which heats up to about 500 celsius) when the inner door glass broke. Into about 10 million pieces. Fantastic. First time we've had to clean the oven with a vacuum cleaner! When I rang the manufacturer on the Monday the woman said "oh we are only sending someone out if you are using the oven to cook Xmas lunch. Are you cooking Xmas lunch?" so of course I said YES. Otherwise I'd be waiting for weeks. And they fixed it for free. How kind.
And of course what has kept me sane has been the cricket - the chance to sit back and enjoy Australia beating India (especially when I won a $10 bet with my Indian friend)  is worth being under employed. I am still not sure if I should go double or nothing on my bet with Adi, as I think the only game India are likely to win will be Sydney. Must give that more thought. Pity I only get to go to day 1 and day 5 (if it lasts that long) of the Sydney test thanks to my new job.
My highlight for this year which is rapidly disappearing into the sunset would have to be getting my 2nd eye done (not that the op was such a highlight considering the anaesthetic didn't work) because I can now see better than I have been able to since I was about 4 years old. And that was not yesterday! And Robin's highlight was definitely being able to complete the Manali to Srinagar trek, which everyone told him could not be done.
Well I hope you are looking forward to a great NYE wherever you are and whatever you do. Stay safe, don't drink more than a bucketful of anything and see you all next year when there will be more thrills and spills on the GHT - this time with more India, Nepal and maybe even some exciting news for Pakistan.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where have I been all week?

At home, that's where! Had a good flight from Bangkok last week - the plane was pretty empty so everyone got a row each and I enjoyed the delights of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. LMAO.
I managed to drop my iPhone at the luggage carousel - it still works but is definitely a health hazard as you can see. Good thing our phone contract had expired so I managed to get a new 4S delivered, so I can now use a phone without getting shards of glass embedded in my fingers.
The weather since we got back has been pretty ordinary and I have had to get out of the summer part of the wardrobe and concentrate on the long sleeved end. Boring. Still no exciting job offer. Boring. Test cricket Australia v NZ - only a bit boring...
Tonight we have Rhonda's 50th birthday party and it is a 50's Hawaiian theme - which would be fine if the weather was warm but I think I will have to ditch the grass skirt and coconut top - which probably isn't a bad thing! And I lost the toss and get to be designated driver. Which means Robin gets to do the honours at Xmas.
Puss was very happy to see us and I can't tell you how many times I have fallen over her as she darts around me. Pest!
Robin is hoping to head back to Nepal in mid January as he has a lot of businessy things to attend to, but I plan to be here in Sydney until mid year before I head back to Nepal and India. No firm plans yet, it all depends on so many things.
Today I drove to the shops in the next suburb and discovered that the nearest parking spot was in fact the one I had just vacated out the front of home.. so I drove back home, parked and walked. Summer Hill shops on Saturday are a nightmare, and today was no exception. There was a guy outside the bottle-o playing Hungarian songs on the piano accordion, the 'band' outside the bank playing Eagles songs, and some children who were playing maybe clarinets or something (very badly) delighting us all with Xmas songs. I HATE XMAS SONGS! But the highlight of the trip is this place:
I think the people in there must be very scary.....and in all the years I have been wandering past I have never seen or heard anyone in there, but every now and then a new gnome feature appears.
I need a cup of tea and a relax in front of the cricket after that experience.
Have a great weekend

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homeward bound

Hello from our last night in Katty. Tomorrow it's Bangkok airport for a sleepover then back to hopefully sunny Sydney. If that was 4 month in Nepal, Sri Lanka and India well I have had it. It has been many things, but dull wasn't really one of them. I've just got time to check a few things, like the newspapers... and here are some items you may enjoy...



Keep your seatbelt fastened until the plane comes to a complete stop.
Plane tickets and passport? Check.
Road safety Katty style

Visa expired today and you fly tomorrow? Check!
If she weighs as much as a duck she's a witch..
 
And so it's namaste from me, and it's dib dib dib from him.

Thanks to everyone in this crazy part of the planet and I hope to see you all soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Now where did I put last week?

Strewth, how can it be the last 3 days in Nepal already? And what was I doing all week?
Sunday was our friends last day, and then we had some other mates come back so it was a moderately sized evening at Sams for what has now become Singalong Sunday. oh dear me...
The week has been very busy with Robin looking at various options to occupy himself here next year, while I look for meaningful and remuneratively excellent employment in Sydney...Fingers crossed and thanks everyone who is keeping an eye out for me. We have also been apartment hunting which is q reeal exercise in frustration, becaue landlords assume you work for an NGO and couldn't give a rat's how much rent they charge. Oh buddy you are so wrong. We are hopeful that Robin can find something decent to share with a few friends which isn't too far from where we currently are, but is less noisy and chaotic.
I found a cafe with free wifi and great chocolate cake (which even has chocolate cream and icing!) and also does a mean chicken and avo salad roll. After 4 months that tasted pretty good.
Today I visited friends in Shivapuri and helped bottle some home brew - which I was pretty good at - and then we sat in the garden having lunch and wine in the sun. The wonderful sun which has been out all week, except at night obviously! My goodness the nights shave been cold and many places now have their fires roaring - if I wasn't on the iPad I could show you some pics... Maybe tomorrow. Got an excellent virus on the iPad and iPhone which did some interesting things and I hope I have now fixed it....never use an unsecured network.
Singalong Sunday night loome ever larger so I think I had better prepare myself.
will try to post some of my excellent pics as soon as I can get the laptop away from sir.
sayonara

Sunday, November 20, 2011

here comes the sun mmmm


 At last us 'valley denizens' can get our clothes dry, heat our shower water and warm up. It is truly marvellous that the sun came out after 5 days of dreary. I seem to have started an unofficial facebook club of laundry lovers here in the 'du. And we are all very excited of course.

Our mates Neal and Rhonda leave this evening for Honkers then Sydney - we spent some time this morning in the cargo place cross the road organising to send 41k of 'stuff' back home, so I dropped some of Robin's blasted books and maps in so I have more room in the bag for my important stuff.
It brightened my day!
Well I have finally  managed to extricate my laptop from sir, so here are some pics from the rafting trip:







Friday, November 18, 2011

Back from the wild west

What a great trip we had to the jungle, when the flight finally left. We had a jungle walk in the afternoon where we saw nothing, then the next morning at 4 am (whose stupid idea was that?) we drove for 3 hours to get to the raft put-in point. I was not amused.
Drifting down the Babai river was wonderful, so peaceful, and there were just some small rapids where we sometimes got stuck and had to get out and drag. Lunched along the way and then set up camp beside the river. The following day we drifted a bit more till we got to the Mahendra Highway where we had to finish. Along the way we saw crocs, a wild bull elephant, otters, a huge sambar deer and loads of beautiful birds. We did not however see a tiger, even back in the jungle... But we did have prints on the beach where we camped. We finished the rafting near an army camp, so as we were waiting for our lift of course 2 of the boys came over to chat to us and get their photo taken. When I can get to my laptop I'll download some photos, but Robin has been updating software and things aren't going to plan...Gosh that sounds like a "what I did on my holidays" composition from 4th class!
Our flight back here was delayed by 2 hours so we had a free cabaret at Nepalgunj when a drunk Nepali businessman spent at least half an hour abusing airline staff. What a dick. Also met an Aussie pilot and ended up in Sams with him till the wee hours - he hadn't arranged a place to stay so he got to sleep on our floor on the downmat with a sleeping bag. See how nice we are by rescuing people!
Once again the Lukla flights have not been leaving - I think it is pretty hilarious but I may be alone on that one...
Tonight we are off to Dwarikas for the posh barbecue. I hope they have heaters there as the
weather has been very cold for this time of year - about 6 at night and no sun during the day. it is seriously interfering with my laundry efforts.
enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Look out jungle here we come!

Heading off tomorrow to Bardia for some r&r in the jungle - and hopefully to see some animals. The weather has been lovely here in the 'du and the sun has been out all week which makes a nice change from last week when it was cold and damp. I think everyone has managed to get rescued from Lukla and town is full so it will be good to get out for a few days.
Robin got back safe and sound on Tuesday from India, and Neal and Rhonda came back a day early from their trek due to the undelightful weather they were having. Despite that they had a most enjoyable trek by all accounts. It has been a very hectic social whirl with people coming and going and everyone wanting to catch up. We have been locked out every night so far but I think we may be back a little earlier tonight since we are on the 8.30 flight to lovely Nepalganj in the morning.
I had better continue with my pathetic packing attempts - I sometimes wonder why I bother, and then realise that I haven't! Which is why I am always doing things at the last minute I guess.
Have a great weekend and I hope next time I can tell you about seeing a tiger.... fingers crossed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Greetings from the gym

That's right I am back into it and I guess it is a good idea... try telling that to my knees though. At least I don't feel quite so guilty about having a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch afterwards.
Well people are still 'stranded' in Lukla although about 20 flights got out yesterday (which would be about 300 people) and I am pleased to say that most of my friends here are of the opinion that these people are not so much stranded as useless, lazy and want to have something to complain about. No doubt when they all get back they will be able to whinge about the lack of hotel rooms in Katty and the unavailability of flights to wherever they are going next. That's what usually happens anyway. Why should this year be any different? One friend has suggested I record a 2 minute rant for Youtube and we can make it go viral. I'm thinking maybe not...
On the social front I have been very busy with friends arriving to go trekking (to Everest but I changed their minds for them), helping an Aussie mate here with his office, and gossiping.
Yesterday afternoon we had a big storm here which caught a few people unawares, and then the weather got really really cold. I didn't get to the ATM and didn't fell like going at night so I had enough money to buy a dodgy kebab (which actually wasn't dodgy) to go with the beers at Sams, which I didn't leave till midnight. Dirty stop out. Tonight is my last singles night so I am going to make the most of it. Maybe. Depends on whether I make it to the ATM...
So BSR arrives tomorrow, on the wings of this magnificently not quite right article from Indian media. I had no idea he was an 'ace mountaineer' (or as my friend put it 'mace mountaineer'). Oh someone from Sams wants to know how many woolly hats without bobbles you can get from an average sheep. Any ideas? We googled it but didn't get an answer. It's really important or I wouldn't ask...
I have a feeling that I am going to get some snide remarks about the messy state of our room here, so I am thinking that maybe I should try to tidy it up a bit before sir comes tomorrow. Trouble is I am still looking for some things so everything is just kinda spread everywhere - and I have to get all my warm clothes out as well as stuff for the jungle extravaganza later this week.
I can hear the ATM calling out to me.. I had better pack up and get out there before people coming from Lukla get all the money. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Still no Lukla flights

It has been about 5 days since people managed to fly to or from Lukla, and the local TV news was reporting last night that there are 3000 people stuck in Lukla and another 500 in Phaplu just down the trail. Trouble is, Lukla is running out of meat and veg, and people are running out of places to stay while they wait for their flight.
A very simple solution is to walk for another maybe 2 days (since you have already been trekking you should be fit) and get to the roadhead, catch the bus to Katty and not miss your international connection. Alternately, you can sit in Lukla or Phaplu and complain about how somebody else should fix the problem. And how your travel insurance won't pay, and you have to fight with everyone for the first seats once flights start, or you have to bribe your way onto a chopper.
Everyone here knows that every year in late October or early November there is about a week of bad weather when flights to the mountains quite simply cannot go. Overseas tour operators should know this too, because they are always complaining about how much it costs them to evacuate people and change flights. So, why not just change your stupid trekking programmes to allow for the weather problem, or just give the staff instructions that if the flights is cancelled they immediately start walking for the roadhead? That way people could still get out in time. Why is it always that the Nepal Army has to waste time and money flying enormous helicopters up and down to Lukla to rescue these idiots? It makes my blood boil. But I guess you can see that. That's my opinion and you are most welcome to it!
At least the people here in Katty who were hoping to go to Everest are smart enough to see that their holiday is slipping away and they just go somewhere else for trekking.
So what else? Well I missed Raj's birthday bash in Delhi but Robin went along and ate too much food. Robin had an interview in the Hindustan Times - the English they attribute to him cannot possibly be his but it is an interesting angle...
People here are still excited about the 'peace deal' between the major parties, who now admit that they are embarrassed that they wasted 3 years arguing about petty rubbish instead of working for the benefit of Nepal. Maybe now they can get on with the business of actually running the country. Dr Bhattarai really does seem to be doing a good job and he has the confidence of the people. If his previous efforts as Finance Minister are anything to go by we may just get positive change here.
The weather here right now is what can technically be called 'dreary': damp, foggy and COLD at night. Thank goodness for my Red Spot Boutique doona I brought all the way from home.
And in vitally important breaking news, the Fate of the Nepali Calendar hangs in the balance...Do not read if you are easily befuddled or demented. You can see why this country is such a basket case when you read this.
The reason it says 2069 is the Nepali calendar is a bit in front - I forget exactly what it is based on but right now it is 2068 and 2069 starts about 15 April next year.
It's Friday and some more friends are arriving just as others leave, so the frantic social whirl continues. Spent last night chatting with an interesting Saudi photojournalist. Now that's something you don't get to say too often!
I am going to see if my washing is drying on the balcony (probably not) and think about going to the gym. Or not. I am feeling rather lazy after I spent the morning updating my CV in an attempt to procure work on my return home. Ah the joys of being a contractor. Have a beautiful Friday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And it's hello from Kathmandu

Where the sun hasn't come out....but it is party time! I'm here with Neal and Rhonda (Neal getting in early for birthday celebrations), Bazz (who I haven't seen for like 8 years) Rodney (we call him the Sea Captain) and Anjou. Just having a few relaxing drinks before Bazz decided to ring the bell for goodness only knows what reason - which meant we all had to have another drink..... oh well.
Kathmandu is still packed to the gunwales - there were only 3-4 Lukla flights on Sunday and nothing since so people are stuck where they don't want to be - and some are starting to get very cross. Good thing the only place I will be flying to is Nepalganj to go to the jungle. There are some very big mahseer in the river and the time for fishing is almost over, so a whole bunch of people I know are headed down to Bardia via Nepalganj to see what they can catch. We are going down to play in the jungle but there will also be a spot of fishing so I am told.
Of course the big news here is that the political parties seem to have finally agreed on some peace points and maybe now Nepal can move ahead.
But I just couldn't resist this letter in the paper today. It is the most astounding example of Nepali logic I have seen for some time......
WTF? Car racing fans going to Lumbini - time to ring the bell again Bazz!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

last day In India for now

And it will be weird to leave. Again.
Thursday's karaoke was kinda strange. There was a family from Mumbai in town for Diwali with their very fat 10 year old out of boarding school. He was 'entertaining' us with rap songs with quite a bit of language that most of us would deem unsuitable for a 10 year old....I managed to get a bit of singing in before the large Indian fellow in a pink shirt (who rather fancied himself) took over doing Hindi numbers for the rest of the night. Oh well.
Friday I was put on hold for the stupid Metallica concert which of course didn't go ahead so what a total waste of time that was. As if you couldn't have predicted that there would have been 'technical and logistical issues'......
But the Formula One has been fun - I have been teaching Raj the finer points of F1. Because I learned to drive in Bankstown!
Last night was another night of singing and dancing my way into the hearts of hapless drinkers. Had loads of fun and NO BLUE DRINKS. Adi, sadly, was in the mood to sink too much alcohol and kept jumping up on the seat then saying Oh Judy I am so drunk and nodding off on me for 2 nano seconds before leaping up to sing. Oddball.
Today I am on a quest to find the man from the office here who has my passport and money which I wanted changed into $. I do hope I find him soon... I'd better ask Raj when he gets back from the paan shop.
Final F1 race today let's hope nobody dies like the last 2 weekends in motorsport.
I am assuming that Neal and Rhonda got their stupid Qantas flight yesterday before Qantas was shut down. Didn't I say all the free fizz in the world at Qantas club doesn't make flying Qantas OK? Didn't I? So with any luck they are cooling their heels in Hong Kong before flying to Nepal via Bangladesh this evening (as you do... such a direct route!). And if I get my passport back I'll see them tomorrow.
Robin and the girls finally made it to Srinagar late last night and are having a rest on a houseboat before they get their plan sorted to get back to Delhi etc etc. I don't expect I will see him for a week...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

whoosh there goes another Diwali

.


About a squillion crore rupees up in smoke last night. It was fairly quiet (and that is of course all relative here in India!) until after everyone had performed their Lakshmi Puja, then whacko off it went, non stop till goodness only knows when. I gave up and put the a/c on (who the hell could breathe what was passing for fresh air I shall never know) and stuck in the ear plugs. Bliss.
So yesterday was a fairly quiet one at home, with family visitors coming through. Then Raj and his wonderful sister and her family went out for lunch, so I was home alone having a wonderful quiet time when my darling friend Manish turned up to wish me festive greetings. I don't think I have ever seen anyone look quite so handsome in a striped kurta shirt as he did yesterday. No, really! And here he was, to give me a present and a kiss. What a lucky girl! Anyone who wants more than that is just plain greedy.
I am just having what has turned out to be an extremely pointless and stupid Facebook conversation with someone in Nepal...I asked him (since he runs a trekking agency and has some people in the area) how a couple of villages are after the earthquake and landslides. Fine didi he says. Oh so all the houses are rebuilt and everything. Oh no, he says, no houses left no schools. Deep breath. OK Einstein, so where are the people living? Or are they all dead? He tells me that they are 'camping'. So, I venture, what in particular about THAT makes you say everyone up there is 'fine' you bloody idiot! no answer.... Then I asked what about food. The reply, and I can't believe I am writing this, is 'They had some extra foods'. Yeah maybe they did 6 weeks ago. I bet they don't now. And winter is closing in. Fack!!! It is no wonder that country is disappearing up it's own drainpipe when you have idiots saying everyone is fine because they are at about 3500m altitude, with winter coming, no fuel, a sheet of plastic to live under and no food. Yeah fabulous. Oh well.
Meanwhile, I went to the hair do emporium this morning - got up and found myself unable to stand the hair anymore. Much better now.....The birds are singing and tonight is karaoke. And tomorrow might be stick ball. Which I will lose.
And another New Year has just whirled into view - Newar New Year. So Happy Nepal Sambhat 1132. I feel young again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hey Fatty, step away from the sweets!

Delhi cops used to take 'Fat Sweaty Coppers' to new heights - or should I say widths? But no more. All hail the plan for the Brave New World.

Monday, October 24, 2011

DUCK! Diwali is coming

That's right, firecrackers and strings of lights EVERYWHERE in Delhi now. Only 2 days to go before the big night when we shall all no doubt choke on the smoke, if the week leading up to it is any indication. Seriously dodgy looking corrugated tin open fronted shacks are springing up all over town to sell fireworks, and right now in our garden a well dressed young man in very pointy shoes is up a ladder with yet more lights - the trees here are more bloody electric than environment at the moment.
After I last wrote I managed to get food poisoning (not from anything blue) and so spent 2 days existing on lemonade and a piece of toast. So I wasn't much fun. But I did enjoy the 2 good results in the Rugby and well done New Zealand for hanging on against the French - that was one tough match. Last night got a tandoori chicken home delivery (thanks Manish) which I had to stop myself from completely devouring in record time, and now feel much better.
Brave Sir Robin and the girls meanwhile have been testing my patience again. I got the call on Saturday morning that they wanted to have a dessert, and could I please send thru a steamed pudding recipe. None of them can cook, or even have a remote idea about batter etc, so I found the simplest recipe I could and sent it over 5 SMSs to them. Now, BSR is always telling me what a fantastic judge of space and volume he is, whereas I am apparently crap at it. The recipe called for 125g of flour, so I said 250g is one cup, 125g is therefore half a cup. Obvious really. Oh, and I must point out that to call them I usually tried for an hour or so nonstop before getting thru. If I was lucky. Anyway, finally late Saturday I got thru to them just as the pudding was coming out, oh we didn't get the quantities right says Robin because ..... we only had small cups....what a dick. He then engaged in conversation with everyone else for some time while I was shouting down the phone 'if you want to talk to them I will hang up and see you in Nepal next month!'. That got his attention....
Anyhoo, they are now heading via an unexpected route to Srinagar, which they should reach by next weekend all being well, though it is going to be very cold they have been assured that the crew this time around aren't a bunch of panzies. Hopefully. They sure don't make them tough like Nepalis here in India.
And coming up for my last weekend in town we have the inaugural India F1 Grand Prix which will not be as big a palaver as the CWG we hope. It has certainly affected the Delhi-ites driving abilities...
Neal and Rhonda seem to be getting very excited about getting to the 'du next Sunday - it will be great to catch up with them again. And to get some new clothes to replace my dead ones - thanks Iain and Trek & Travel!

Friday, October 21, 2011

did you miss me?


I tried doing this on my iPad a few minutes ago but could only manage a title and no body text. Useful. SO here I go again on the Macbook.
Now what was happening. Monday I went at peak hour to CP on the metro which was surprisingly civilised, and got my changed again plane ticket. And had to fight off and shout at touts who were trying to get me to go to the market or their friends blasted shops. Had breakfast on the way home because the person who contributes nothing in terms of money or food to the house ate all my bread and peanut butter. I'm too old to be living in shared accommodation like this!
Anyway then went off to Khan market for the nth time to check the final dress which still wasn't right so I told him to give up and make a shirt instead, to be collected on Wednesday. Then Raj finally appeared from his mysterious 2 day trip to some mango orchards and we had dinner and some drinks. Tuesday was a busy one as BSR called me in a flap to say that the 3 weeks rations they had were finished after 2 weeks because the cook and 2 of the porters were crooks and I would have to get them sacked and get a replacement team. Great. So I rang the agency and shouted at them, and said that if they did not fix it ASAP I would personally ensure that the whole world knows how CRAP Indians are at arranging trekking. Oh and the crew were scared of snow. FFS.
I wasn't feeling quite right by this time, so was enlived totally by this challenge (not). Raj and I had also decided to get some decorations to do up the house for Diwali so off we went, with little Kana the Japanese student driving the whopping great Landcruiser round Delhi to AG Roy Marg where all the traditional Diwali stuff is sold. By about 9.30 I was so cold and sleepy I felt like dying. I crawled into bed with blankets etc on and was unable to breathe, and got no sleep all night. I had a pounding headache, awesome fever and a horrible rash, and my guts didn't feel too good either. Took several handfuls of anything I could grab, and thank goodness someone got me a hot water bottle. I managed to get downstairs for about an hour and lie on something other than my bed but it really wasn't worth it, so I went back upstairs and crawled into bed. Manish came to visit briefly (didn't bring flowers or grapes though!) which brightened my day. I had various diagnoses from people, such as virus, malaria and dengue. Thank goodness Manish convinced me to wait another night, and Wednesday night was much better. And at 3am Thursday I woke up knowing exactly what it was - blue food colouring. Which I am allergic to. And which was in my shot on Saturday night. How stupid. Won't make that mistake again. But I did get to watch lots of James Bond movies on telly.
So Thursday I finally left the house for 10 minutes to go to the ATM and I really enjoyed getting out. Had to miss the karaoke at Harry's but there is always next week. My last one...
Last night I had a sleeping tablet to make sure I got an uninterrupted sleep (well until the school marching band out the back starts at 7.30) and woke up to Vinita bringing me bed tea, which I drank and promptly fell asleep again. Got down at 11 am just in time to polish off some breakfast before the rugby, which of course Australia won. And I WON A BET. Sorry Ade, but you know it was a forward pass..... I will be collecting it on the 9th and if you won't be in town leave the money with Verena!
BSR and the girls are now in Panikher near Kargil and are finalising their plan to trek to Srinagar, which will take 6, 9, 12 or some other number of days. I've lost track frankly. Depends if there is more than 1 micron of snow. I can't get over what a bunch of pansies these Indian 'mountain men' are. Have a glass and a half of toughen up princess is what I say. No wonder hardly anyone bothers trekking in India - you'd be better off hiring nanna as a porter. And she would probably make nice cakes too!
So the weekend looms anew and my dance card is practically free - I am calling in a favour to avoid something I don't want to do and let's see what turns out.
Tomorrow I will definitely go to Khan market to collect the things I meant to get on Wednesday. I hope.
Go the All Blacks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

bad weekend for losing money


What a god awful pair of rugby games that was... Crummy French Irish ref who sent the Wales captain off and then what the Wallabies were doing I cannot say.... So now I owe another 50 bucks and should probably give up on picking teams in comps.Had a fairly quiet one yesterday what with the rugby being on in the middle of the day, but I did manage to change my ticket for Kathmandu to the 31st so I can have some more time here in Delhi before I get back to no power land.
I'll have to go on the wonderful Metro again today - I can't wait to see what shenanigans are happening in the ladies compartment...

And in some jolly airline news from Nepal I give you these:
A flight for Lukla had some fun and games
A cargo flight had a bumpy landing
And a good reason to hang on to your luggage
And you wonder why I am convinced that I'm going to go in a plane crash in Nepal.....
On a lighter front however, the government is really concerned about what the citizens think. Either that, or surely this MUST be a joke. As if the phones would ever work anyway!
I'm thinking of opening a karaoke bar in Katty. But because of the power cuts of course I need a way to do it without electricity. So I thought it could be 'unplugged' but how do the performers read the words? What do you reckon about having someone hold up the lyrics printed on cards...With a torch shining on them in the dark of course. It could be such fun.
Robin and the girls appear to be about halfway to Srinagar and any week now I am expecting a call...

Here for a good time, not a long time...


Which may be just as well....
OK so I didn't have vodka for lunch on Friday - we all went out to Oh Calcutta instead.
That night I went with friends to Underdoggs, a particularly classy sports bar. There was miles of security and we thought it was because the cops found loads of RDX up the road in Ambala earlier that day. But no, it was because Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt (who shares my birthday but I look better) from BIGG BOSS (India's Big Brother) were coming. I think Manish really wanted to check them out but we stopped him. Anyway, we had some food and beers and I managed to lose my double or nothing bet from the T20 last week when I backed NSW and then RCB, by playing some dreadful pool against Manish who has obviously spent too much time in pool joints. This establishment also has a game where there are drinks lined up on either end of a table (much like 10 pin bowling) and each team of 2 has to try to get a ball into the other end's cup. Then the loser drinks. Frankly any game that involves the constant requirement for a mop and bucket should be a worry. And my goodness the girl who lost wasn't very well. Glad I avoided that one.
So to Saturday, where I watched Wales suffer an ignominious defeat at the hand of a crappy rugby ref. Well what do you expect he speaks French. And I didn't bet on them so it was nothing to do with me.
Then I managed to find the car and driver out the front at the same time so went to Khan market to the tailors and a bit more shopping, and was on my way home when I had to divert to buy food for a visitor (as if I didn't have enough to carry!) then got ready for Saturday karaoke. Oh dear me...
Benningans was chockers when I arrived but luckily my seat was saved. I had just opened a beer when the girl next to me suggested I try her wonderful looking  cocktail . So I did. And I liked it. So I ordered one and downed it sharpish! Then beer, then another Cosmopolitan and I was ready to rock!  Adi and I dancing while Manish sang. Awesome. It was decided that Adi shouldn't have vodka and coke anymore but that a blue shot of god knows what might be good. And because Manish was driving he couldn't have one so he convinced me to join Adi. Great idea. Tops. Cheers. Thanks guys. Love you heaps ;)
And so after getting home about 2am I was woken by the god botherers out the back at stupid o'clock so gave in and got up. I decided to change my flight from here to the end of the month so that I have more time here for fun and also only need a 30 day visa for Nepal. Instead of the only other option of a 90 day one. So now I get to go back into CP on the metro tomorrow to get my new ticket, and then Khan market for my final frock at the tailors. PHEW.
And of course in another hour we have the Wallabies... I hope they win cos I bet 50 on them and if I lose I may be forced into another double or nothing pool game. And we all know what will happen there.
Time for food...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lane driving is lame driving


Anyone who has been to the subcontinent will understand that road rules are somewhat haphazard. In Pakistan there used to be signs that said 'Lane driving is sane driving'. We figured that here they would have to say 'Lane driving is lame driving'. Nobody is in the least bit interested in staying in their lane, and every last bit of space is taken up. Which makes for some great traffic jams. I spent about an hour trying to go about 10 kms yesterday. What a waste of time.
Speaking of time wasting and oxygen bandits, Yahoo customer care (ha) sent me an email to say that there have been other users with the same mail unaccess as me. So they asked some ID questions and then sent me THE SAME STUPID RESPONSE. What a bunch of losers.
Last night was Hindi karaoke night and since I don't know Hindi and can't sing I spent my time drinking, gossiping and dancing. Which seemed like a good idea at the time. Today for penance I went to the post office - there's 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back. There seems to be something about trying to do things on a Friday here that has me jinxed.

I finally got to the tailors on Wednesday (with the same taxi driver who got me lost on Monday night) and the fellow has done a sterling job on my clothes, so tomorrow I go to collect them.
We have had an almost never ending stream of guests and drop-ins here at soap opera central. I can never work out who is here for business or pleasure. People just wander in and out, get cups of tea, even curl up for a sleep! etc - yesterday I had to drink vodka at lunchtime with one lovely fellow who is back today and wants me to have more vodka. Possibly NOT a good idea.

Enjoy the weekend.

Go the Wallabies!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I hate Yahoo email

As regular readers will know, my email has been playing up since the end of September. I have written to Yahoo every day with no success.
After their last stupid email this morning here is what I sent them:
DO ENJOY!

Dear Robot,

I think you must be a robot as a human would surely have read the trail of emails about this. I will assume that you are a robot that was trained in English. Therefore, I expect that you will be able to follow the content of this email. I apologise in advance if you are easily offended.
I have typed these things till I am blue in the face, but WTF I apparently have nothing better to do with my time.
Since 30 September I have had trouble with my Yahoo email address which is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
My husbands email which is yahoo works fine on the same computers and same internet connection. I have sent requests etc to Yahoo every day since then, and I still have the same problem. I get automated stupid responses then a follow up which does not address the issue and when I write again the loop starts anew.
I have attached a document of what I think are the highlights of this marvellously pointless exercise.
Just a few suggestions for next time this happens to people. You may choose to implement them or not, I really don't care because I will never use your crummy 'service' again...
If someone says they can't log in to their email, why do you send an information request to that email? Dumb
If someone says they have carried out all the tasks suggested in your mail, and followed everything on the laughably named HELP page, and still their email doesn't work, why do you continue to tell them that YOU are happy to report you couldn't replicate the error. WE don't care that YOU are happy. We are NOT.
Why do you ask for screenshots and suggest people use an alt tab function when they have advised right from the start they use an ipad and there are NO SUCH KEYS.
In fact, why even bother sending ridiculous automated template replies to people that say you will be happy to help within 24 hours. I have been waiting more than 10 times that long and have not had one sensible interaction.
Good manners prevents me from telling you what I really think about this whole thing.
I can appreciate that perhaps, like Blackberry, there has been an outage that affects many customers. If so, tell us. If not, find somebody with a brain to sort out my individual problem. If you are unable to hire anyone with a brain you should use a different employment agency or pay more money. Remember, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.
If you can solve my problem please feel free to email me.
If you wish to apologise for the appalling lack of customer service or common good manners in your 'organisation' (I can't believe I called it that), please feel free to email me.
If you want to send me another automatic response or stupid template with unhelpful hints like use the alt tab button, may I suggest you use your time more productively and have a toilet break.
Goodbye

I will let you know if I ever hear anything useful...don't hold your breath.

Dilemmas in Delhi

What an odd week it has been, and we are only up to Wednesday. Hmm where to begin.... Monday afternoon perhaps...
After having left over puris for lunch with my friend Manish and a chap called Ajoy (nicknamed Butch I know not why) Manish and I wandered up to the cake shop for some muffins, then we had a bit of a business meeting thing about a website while I kept trying to get my Yahoo email to work since the Indian call centre fix only worked briefly. Which is better than the Australian one...
Manish was helping out with karaoke on Monday night in a bar on the rooftop of a mall in Gurgaon but couldn't give me a lift, no worries I will get a taxi since the driver was busy. Well I could have taken the metro but really....Gurgaon is about 25 k away. So I managed to get a taxi eventually and gave him very precise directions viz turn left out of the enclave, U turn at the junction and just go straight. For reasons I shall never know he did something else, then finally dropped me at what I believed was the correct mall and tried to overcharge me by saying he had no meter, although when I booked the taxi I was told it had a meter. So we argued for a time and I shoved Rs500 at him and got out. Wandered all around the wrong mall and then rang Manish. He couldn't work out where I was so asked me to go into the street (which incidentally was unlit and no cabs around) to try to spot any landmarks. I couldn't so I walked down the street in the dark past guys peeing into the bushes and thought that perhaps it wasn't such a good idea, when I chanced upon a truckstop and found a random bloke who was only half drunk and asked him in English to speak to Manish on the phone in Hindi. I gave him the phone and he talked to Manish in English then me in Hindi. Finally I got the phone back and Manish gave me some directions, then my helpful drunk friend's face lit up and he stopped a really crappy passing bus and so I got on. I was the only female and when I told Manish he was horrified. Where are you, don't hang up he kept saying. Finally I saw a sign for some big hotel and he told me to get off. NOW. So I started yelling stop the bus and in the end jumped off while it was still going. And there was Manish right behind me. What a darling.
Had a good laugh and several drinks after the escapade. What a dick. I did not however enter the beer chugging competition. One had to consume a 1500ml jug in 3 minutes to get it for free. Of course the local boys had no technique and after swigging about a third of it in 15 seconds they all felt sick. Buckets were rushed to the stage. How tasteful.
Manish ended up staying the night at Raj's so in the morning Raj went to Old Delhi and bought us different puri and halva as well, then we had a wonderful singalong around the piano (well we liked it!!) before another meeting about a website in Japan for Spanish wine. My life is so interesting.
The home front here is not a happy one with clashes between Raj and CA. I do so hate Raj asking what I think, but as I am here as his guest is it my duty to have an opinion and report to Raj. Ham in the sandwich.
Last night however I was very lucky to go to Gurgaon again (this time in Raj's car!) to visit his charming sister and her husband who are staying with their son. I first met them 2 years ago at their wonderful estate in Dehra Dun in the hills north of Delhi. Pushpa is from a royal family in Bengal and both he and Raj's sister Mohini have the most exquisite manners and are a real delight to spend time with. And the food was delicious too.
This morning the Days of our Drearies continued in the front garden for the whole street to enjoy, especially as the power had gone so nobody could enjoy their Indian soap operas. There's one right here. I tried to sneak past but got spotted unfortunately. And 2 hours later it continues although CA has gone to breathe in some more incense at the ashram.
I hope to get Raj to take me to Khan market soon so that I can check my clothes at the tailor. Perhaps we can have lunch.
Or perhaps I have to solve another problem that just landed in my lap. Holiday what holiday?
Here's a lovely orchid from the Botanical gardens in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
And Robin misses all this fun!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Go the mighty Wallabies!

I think that game took 10 years off my life. Especially as it was only 10.30 here in India and way too early for a glass of wine. I was trying to teach the finer points of the game to Raj, my delightful India host who finally returned from Japan.
Since he arrived on Saturday evening the house has returned to some sort of normality - the cushions are all out on the garden furniture and shopping has been done by someone other than me. And I have a distraction from listening to CA recite inspirational poetry by Sri Aurobinda (Jai Mata! he always adds at the end, to indicate just how marvellous it is). Enough to drive me mad. And why he continues to tell me I should: get up before dawn, sit cross legged (with MY knees?), eat only paneer (Indian cottage cheese), chapattis and tulsi tea (herbal stuff that you can't put milk and sugar in and contains precisely no caffeine), and hang out at the ashram all day I cannot imagine. No thanks mate I'm watching the rugby. Then the cricket. With a beer. Jai Mata!
Still not a lot of news from BSR but if you check out SPOTWALLA you will know as much as I do. Which is not much!
This morning Raj took me for breakfast in Old Delhi - haven't been there for 10 years so will do a bit of sightseeing later this week on the fabulous metro and perhaps I can get groped again. Here is a picture of breakfast: the dough thing is a puri, with pickle, spicy chick pea and different spicy potato.
And speaking of puri, I can't believe I forgot to tell you about The Worst Thing I Have Ever Drunk. (Thanks to sriniv for the flickr photo.) Had it at a lovely restaurant called Punjabi By Nature. It is a smaller version of the puri pictured and you place a small hole in the top, pour in the vodka mixed with cumin, black pepper, raw mango or tamarind. I put one with cumin in my mouth (how bad could it be I thought) and half of it came straight back out onto the plate. Meanwhile the others are looking at me going oh that looks like it is awful, and I was wondering how the hell I was going to swallow it or get rid of it. No potted plants so I had to swallow. YUCKO. It came with a free beer and I know why. Even over a week later my stomach churns at the thought. It was worse then Gammeldansk which was the previous winner, even over salt butter tea. And boy did my guts suffer next day. made me wish I'd gotten a hangover instead. But of course I didn't drink more than 1. Even BSR who can normally drink anything had a look of horror on his face when he went for the raw green mango flavour. And chipmunk cheeks!
So I have been sticking to beer and rum since then rather sensibly I think. Most days I wander up to the SDA 'Rainbow' market to get some dinner (before Raj arrived anyway) and stop at the local Beer and Wine shop to get a bottle of beer to bring home. I think I am getting a reputation as nice ladies wouldn't go there. The place was a real treat on Friday night about 9 pm as the staff barricaded themselves in behind cases of beer and dispensed 330ml bottles only (except to me of course).
In bizarre news from Bihar state (is there any other sort?) a man gets annoyed. I really like the bit after the ad in the middle where the cops indicate precisely when he started to behave abnormally.. make sure you read it!
And in weird news from Goa, a couple decide they have had enough and they're not gonna take it anymore.
Last but not least, the sign outside the Cricket Club in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where we spent a wonderful afternoon before flying back to Kathmandu.
Have a beautiful week!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Madam, let me help you!

Oh please don't! These are the 5 scariest words you can hear in India, especially around Connaught Place. How did I forget that? Especially in CP? Let me explain.
Yesterday I had to achieve 2 things only, which is 1 too many but there you have it. First, change plane ticket dates for return to the 'du, and second, go to Mr Gopal the tailor in Khan Market.
1.Since the tickets were booked online with Jet, go to Jet website. Discover unable to change online. Ring office, spend 25 minutes on the blower to get them changed BUT I have to go into their CP office to pay $10 to change my ticket but not Robin's as mine was a different fare but we are on the same booking and paid the same price, to travel on the same dates, go figure. OK so far, considering.
2.Decide to combine shopping trips and go outside to find the driver. Madam, says the chowkidar, not here. When is he coming? I don't know. Fine, go back upstairs grab material, passports etc etc and walk up to the shops to get an auto to the metro. Cos I learnt my lesson about walking there the other day when I almost melted. On the way to the shops I see an elephant complete with mahout gossiping to the ironing man on the corner - the mahout was gossiping, not the elephant.
3. Descend into metro and decide to buy a Smartcard (yes NSW transport, even India can manage to have them!!!)and while I am at the service counter I hear manic screaming coming from the escalator gliding up from the platform. There appeared an elderly Muslim gentleman and a younger thuggish fellow who were going at each other and the elderly guy was really giving it to him. There were some cops and security trying to separate them, and finally they got them into the glass room where all we could see was the old guy trying to strangle the young bloke. Tickets please!
4. Finally got on the metro and managed to get a seat. Win! However, when I went to get off at CP with about 10,000 others the crush was unbelievable. The people getting on don't wait for those getting off, and there was a poor disabled fellow in front of me who was getting seriously stomped as he tried to get off. So I stuck my elbows out, started screaming and made like a crazed chicken flapping my way out, trying to help this poor chap get out.It was a very attractive sight, but even after he managed to get out people trampled him and he ended up on the ground with people just running over him. Delhi people are SO rude.
5. This is the fun bit. CP is 3 circles, and you need to know which one you want, or which block. I thought I wanted G but I really wanted P or something like that. Now, CP is where all the gormless recently arrived foreigners hang out (a bit like Circular Quay at home) so any foreign face is fair game. I had forgotten this. As I wandered around in ever decreasing circles, about to disappear up my own backside, a fellow offered to help. Yes madam Jet airways come I will show you. And promptly led me to a carpet shop. Oh look I said Jet Airways also sells carpet. He didn't get the joke .I set off again only to have someone take me to their friend's travel agency trying to sell me a ticket to Agra. No thanks. Then someone said his brother had a nice jewellery shop and perhaps I should just go there and avoid all these bad fellows trying to sell me things!! Finally I stood there shouting at the guy saying Gandhi ji would be appalled at their behaviour (that usually stops them) and he showed me where Jet airways was, and he was right.
6. Back to the delights of the Delhi metro with tickets in hand, but no carpet or jewellery, still carrying my large bag of fabric, headed for Khan Market, change at Central Secretariat for the violet line! Luckily the tailor was IN and I dropped of my frocks to copy, my material and my measurements. He isn't sure if he has the machine for jersey, but he knows someone who does. And for about $300 all up, material plus tailoring, I will have 4 new dresses and some kurti shirts. Next Wednesday I go back for fitting etc. Fingers crossed. I then did a spot of luxury shopping: a 4 point universal power board, peanut butter, jam and biscuits. Then I went to Chona's to reward myself with a walnut brownie with icecream (soft serve no less!) and chocolate sauce. But don't you want any food madam? asked the waiter. Oh no, this IS food I said!
7. The trip home in the Ladies Carriage was horrific. It was very crowded, and not just with ladies. There were some most unsavoury fellows in there ogling (eve teasing it's called here) the women, and rushing into seats when women were standing, so one local lady took such exception that she started chastising them for their rude behaviour. She then pointed at me and I believe she was telling them how bad they make India look to foreigners. Fair point madam. After she got off and the carriage got more crowded one of these boys moved near me and was staring at me, I ignored him so he stuck his hand on my upper lady parts. I gave him a slap and offered to take him to the police. He didn't want to go.
8. I got home and had a drink. Then I had another. Then Captain Ashram came in looking all radiant and asked if I knew anyone interested in ecological sheep washing. Time for another drink.
Go the Wallabies.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Festival Fabric Shopping Bonanza

Couldn't decide! So I bought the lot.

Ah Nehru Place, what a fine address for fabrics. The 4 at the top (jersey and georgette) are for copies of dresses I currently own, and the 3 cottons at the bottom are for kurta shirts. Tomorrow I will have to go the the tailor in Khan market to begin the process of copy and sew (as opposed to copy and paste). Hey, one of the fabrics is plain! Louela, a lovely Indian teacher who lives where I am staying, came with me, and kept saying "Oh Judy you pick such bright colours. Just like a peacock!" then laughing away. We ran out of money so had to come back home. But before shopping we fortified ourselves with a dosa lunch from the place in Green Park, AB, and some sweets from downstairs. Don't think I shall need much dinner.
As it is Dussehra today I might wander to the park to see if there are any fireworks going on. I saw the locals were busy putting up decorations etc when I got back form the shops. Apparently that is the done thing in Delhi. All afternoon trucks were going on the main road with statues of gods and goddesses and loads of boys playing drums and singing. Could be fun!
If you have been watching Robin's Spot page you will see they didn't get too far today. Maybe it was too cold. Maybe he had a birthday lie in. I wouldn't know.....

email success!

Don't know why I didn't think of this solution earlier. Instead of emailing yahoo Australia who were clearly in 'grand final long weekend who gives a rats' mode, I emailed Yahoo India and got fixed in an hour. Of course, India is the home of the help desk. Foolish woman!
And my cable finally got up and running so I can enjoy the Rugby World Cup, T20 cricket and news that I can understand. I told you last year about the shouty flashy news here and it hasn't improved. One I saw last night had about 6 different flashy things going on at once while the reporter shouted from out the front of some building. Pass the paracetamol.
My eye infection is getting better too. Pity I can't use my new contact lenses just yet. Hey get this, I was at the shop in Khan market the other day and the man said oh, we can have those for you about 7 this evening can you come back? Oh no, I said, I don't have a driver (all foreigners here have a driver as you'd be nuts to try it yourself), so he said well madam where are you living we will deliver them for you. So later a little man on a motorbike came with my 3 boxes of contact lenses which cost me $100 Aussie and no fee for delivery. Think I might get some more!
The noisy tamasha out the back was some south Indian christians and their max volume was much louder than mine so it was rather difficult trying to watch a murder mystery. Not only do I have no idea whodunnit, I have no idea what they did!
I am off for south Indian dosas for lunch then fabric shopping to get copies of some of my expensive dresses.
No further news from Brave sir Robin (it is his birthday today) and the girls. I don't expect a phone call for a week or so, but I should get a Spot most days.
Make sure you check out the shared page to see where he is. And sympathise with me trying to do a weather forecast that he probably won't get. I think I should just say clear and cold and leave it at that.
And RIP Steve Jobs. Thanks for making computers and software even I can understand.
See ya later

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yahoo is driving me nuts

ever since I got here on Friday my email has been playing up and in fact is all but inaccessible. I can log in to Yahoo but whenever I try email it throws me out. I have now sent about 12 angry HELP ME messages to 'customer service' at Yahoo with the only response being an email from some bloke called Don who asked me to reply to some questions, and when I did the email bounced back saying 'we don't check this email address anymore'. How completely useless. And infuriating. I managed to be able to check it briefly the other day by piggybacking on Robin's other mail server on the iPad, but now I can't even do that because the server crashed. Or something. HTF am I supposed to run a Logistics Empire if I can't access email?
So to anyone who has been emailing me... sorry.
In other irritating news, the cable TV that was supposedly fixed Sunday Monday Tuesday is still not working so I am stuck with Hindi shouty news and Jerry Springer. I got an eye infection yesterday and that hurts, AND the driver got back today so I arranged with him to go shopping. Yes madam he says. Then I got back from the chemist with my eye drops and the chowkidar (guard) said the driver had taken the car somewhere, maybe one hour, so I said fine when he comes you come upstairs and get me. 4 hours later I have given up. It is like Fawlty Towers here when the grownups are away.
Captain Ashram who you may remember from last time is too ethereal to be bothered with such stuff, and also thinks if you keep piling dirty dishes in the sink (which is full of water and floaty things) the washing up fairy might appear. The house servant is away for a week or so and I am convinced CA was not going to wash up, so I started to and got yelled at. But it STINKS. So I waited till he left and did what I could without any detergent... Honestly it would be so much better if one of the house owners was here. Drives me to drink. Short trip.
Oh and it is The Festival and Durga puja in the open ground right next to my room a huge tamasha (more like a schemozzle) is going on with a giant marquee and a very loud band. I expect it will continue for  few days. It usually does. 
Hopefully tonight I'll be heading out with Manish the karaoke bloke from last year. For some sensible conversation and dinner and drinks.
Meanwhile Robin, Helen and Toni are in Darcha where there is a forecast low of MINUS 11. Yucko.
Well that is enough whingeing from me for a day. Hopefully next time some of the busted things will be operational. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Greetings from Hauz Khas

 And here is Hydra having a drink from the tap. She is too naughty.
It has been pretty warm since we arrived and I am pining for a swimming pool but since it is the festival season that is a little hard to arrange. Oh well.
Robin, Helen and Toni at the Last Supper
Today I went back to sleep after being woken at 4am as the happy trekkers were loading into the car for a 16 hour drive to Manali. I arose many hours later and after breakfast and some internetverk threw myself womanfully into the business of shopping. I wandered up to the local Metro station (hadn't been there before) and whizzed off to Khan market for a spot of shopping. Almost over exerted myself so stopped for a beer and some chilli chicken before the Metro trip home and the long walk in the heat with my shopping. Ladies, DO take the ladies compartment if you travel on the Metro.
DANGER!!
Right then I'm off for a drink.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ready for India...

Last day in the 'du for a while. Packing mayhem continues unabated of course and somehow no matter how many times I have to do it I can't take less than about a hundred outfits.
Robin's talk last night went really well. There were about 100 good folks of Kathmandu there and I think they all got something out of it.
Well yesterday I promised you a good picture, and I have more than that. It's a festival BOGOF on photos!
I guess they don't wash

Deep Love for that orange suit!

He wasn't quick enough to get the light stuff!
One of Robin's trekking partners, Toni, should already be in India but we haven't heard from her, and Helen came in this morning from Everest. So it is all go for a Monday departure from Delhi to Manali for them. I might pass on the generous offer of 16 hours in a minibus to Manali on the sort of road that was on World's Deadliest Roads, which of course would be followed by 16 hours back again. Not really my idea of fun. Even with a sleep inbetween.
Guess I'll see you in India. Enjoy the long weekend and the grand final and the bad weather!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Vijaya Dashami

That's right it's festival time again. And in honour of it I have spent a few hours renovating the blog. I hope you like it. All the links you click on should also now open in a new page... Marvellous.
Back to the festival. Every Nepali is rushing to get back to their village, and the transport 'entrepreneurs' are charging outrageous sums of money for old folks to even perch on a wooden stool in the aisle of a crappy bus. Dashain lasts for 15 days, and today is the day to worship Durga. Dashain will be followed as usual by Tihar aka Diwali, which is my personal favourite. Many years ago we were adopted into a family here and every year my bhai (little brother) looks forward to us coming to his house to celebrate. It is a lovely festival and everyone can participate. So I must make sure that I return from India in time for Puru and I to spend the day together. That way he's happy and I get a present. Probably another pashmina cos a girl can never have too many.
Ssshhh! We have to be quiet because Robin is practising his talk for tonight. So many people have been invited and said they will be coming that it could be standing room only.
And just in time for the festival the rain has stopped. Hooray. And yes I have lots of washing on the balcony.
Yesterday was World Tourism Day and so the brilliant Nepal Tourism Board organised some things but frankly I don't know why. The first 3 foreigners to arrive at the airport got a free meal or something. Lame. Oh and Sams bar was allowed to stay open for one night only till 2am. Verena said she couldn't be bothered for just one night.
The GHT was officially launched yesterday too... yes I know we have been doing it for years. I can't explain why it has taken so long. Check out our Facebook page for more, and some updated info on the earthquake.
Robin reckons I should join Facebook, something I have vehemently avoided so far. Any thoughts?
I have a photo to put on the blog for you but today I am on the ipad so I can't, because Robin has his presentation on the laptop. But I promise you it will be worth the wait.
I had better start paying attention to the presentation or else!
Bye for now and enjoy the festival!

Monday, September 26, 2011

will the monsoon ever end?

It has rained almost non stop for 6 months so I am told. I am over the rain and I've only been here for 2 months! So boring. I have even been ironing my undies in an attempt to get them dry. How sad is that. The only sensible footwear is thongs, even though it's about 17 degrees.
This is Kantipath, one of the 'better roads' in Kathmandu. I almost lost my footwear trying to get from one side of the road to the other. See why:
video
I was out with our Nepali niece Geeta trying to buy a Scooty for her to get to and from college - a boat might have been a better idea.
And here is a splendid bridge:

And following on from yesterday's plane crash (and subsequent bomb scare from a bunch of arguing fools in the departure lounge), I can report that of the 66 major crashes in the last 20 years, 62 percent were fatal. And there are usually 2 per year here. Isn't that great? They are usually CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain'. That means they crash into a mountain. All pilots here are taught don't fly into clouds in case there is a mountain inside. Oh dear. The rescue efforts here were somewhat hampered by gawping Nepali sightseers who had blocked the only access road with their crappily parked motorbikes. Fatalism has its shortcomings.
I'm off to water the garden. Ha ha ha.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

another week, another disaster for Nepal

This morning a Buddha Air mountain flight crashed on approach to Kathmandu. All aboard succumbed to their injuries, and initial reports, although sketchy, suggest that even allowing for the bad weather, the plane may have have been on fire. There were 3 crew, 6 'Europeans' and 10 Indians from Tamil Nadu - most likely pilgrims who come to Kailash or Muktinath. RIP.
In other news, the PM Mr Bhattarai is away, and the marvellously astute Deputy PM made a speech the other day wherein he said that he wished last week's earthquake had happened in USA or Europe. Oh dear. I don't think it was badly reported, I think the poor man is too stupid to know better.
It has rained almost all week and I have only had one day where the sun came out. Depressing. We are trying to pack for India, without even knowing if we have a visa, or if our host is in Delhi to entertain us. Robin has tent stuff all over the room and the hallway, and we have bags for the girls who are going trekking with him as well. Gawd. And somebody across the road in the Tibetan (ha!) shop is testing out a long Tibetan horn. Ouch my ears hurt. And I somehow have to sort all my stuff out. As if.
And look what I just found on line - oh I so want to be old in this country!!
KATHMANDU: The Elderly Citizen Welfare Society, Chabahil organised the Sports of Senior Citizens festival here at the Nepal APF Club grounds to mark the International Elderly Citizens Day on Saturday. More than 150 elderly citizens of Kathmandu Valley participated in the one-day festival featuring six events — spoon race, musical chair, seven-a-side football, breaking the pot, badminton and Intelligence Question test. Founder member and the attorney of the society Chhatra Pradhan said they organised the festival for the first time to support the elderly citizen. “We want to spread a positive message to the society through such festivals,” said Pradhan.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

and then there was sun

Finally after 3 days of unrelenting rain, to add to the post quake woes, the sun has come out and everyone is busy doing laundry. I had 3 lines going on the balcony today - and I'm supposed to be on holidays! At least I still have a balcony...
Kathmandu appears to have gotten off lightly although the old Hanuman Dhoka has some rather large cracks in it. A Nepali friend yesterday bemoaned the fact that immediately after the quake on Sunday, when all the nutty Nepalis had run into the streets while buildings were still shaking, the TV wasn't taking the opportunity to tell people what to do. All they did was show the 1934 earthquake aftermath. Which made even more old ladies scream. Nepalis really aren't very good in a crisis. Most houses here have potplants all over their rooftop edges, and if one of those came down and brained you I think you would need more than paracetamol. Also, the streets are really narrow and most buildings don't have straight edges, so running into the street just puts you into a shooting gallery really. This whole country is so poorly prepared it just isn't funny.
I now have 2 earthquake apps on my iphone and ipad just in case. One has very useful instructions on what to do, plus a flashing light, torch, whistle, megaphone that sends morse sos and a thing to make you keep awake if you are trapped. Not that you would ever get found in this place if more than a few hours had passed. But I guess it makes me feel better.
I am supposed to be packing for India but seem to have lost motivation after all the laundry I did. The weather down the road in Delhi is about 10 degrees warmer than here so I have to get out a few things I packed away. Maybe I can hit the pool there.
Oh speaking of pools and quakes. At the Shangri La on Sunday, many guests ran out into the garden dressed, as Uttam so quaintly put it "only in their panties" as it was just after 6pm and everyone was getting ready for dinner. So, the staff at the hotel grabbed all the pool towels to redignify the ladies. How sweet. Uttam is sorry he wasn't there to help. Instead he was at home with his son hoping that the 11 storey monstrosity under construction next door didn't collapse. And he was pleased his wife and daughters were out shopping!Uttam is one of the few Nepalis that you can trust in a crisis.
Anyway onto other news. Our hotel escaped without any cracks and the water got fixed quickly..
We watched what may be the worst movie ever the other night: Dinocroc versus Supergator.. I don't think any of them could act (no wonder David Carradine end up tangled in coat hangers in a Bangkok wardrobe!) and it was heartening to see so many of them get devoured. Do check it out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

That was my first earthquake

Which was obvious by my reaction.
We had been watching Pakistan Zimbabwe cricket on the telly and had to go out to meet a friend at the bar, so I jumped in the shower to get ready. I heard Robin shouting something from the bedroom, but since it sounded like "wicket!" I didn't do anything. Then I opened the door to go get dressed and he was looking at me like I was a weirdo and yelling "Jude, EARTHQUAKE!!!!! Get dressed NOW!". So of course being the sort of person who has 3 emergency responses (cup of tea, cocktail or new hairdo) I was poorly equipped to respond properly. By now I could feel the room swaying and people in the street were squealing, so instead of trying to find a matching outfit I went for a skirt and a Target dressing gown. Don't know why. Then ran down 4 floors but couldn't even make it onto the street cos there were so many people standing around, especially the police who looked particularly ill equipped to handle the situation. After a few minutes we all decided there was nothing else happening so went back upstairs to put on something more sensible. Except that we had managed to lock ourselves out. Luckily one of our balcony windows was open so Brave Sir Robin climbed in and fell over all the bags underneath. Must tidy up.
Then we heard on the news that the quake was the biggest since the one in 1934 which took out a lot of people and buildings. And we also heard that some people died when a wall at the British embassy collapsed on them. Which you would have to say is bloody bad luck.
Our ambassador Susan called me to make sure we were OK, which was very kind of her, and said that she was busy manning phones at the embassy as the consul is on leave, so I guess a few frantic parents in Oz heard the news and were concerned.
I think we were very lucky not to have more widespread damage and destruction. A friend in the Everest region said it was pretty scary up there last night, as you can imagine.
So this morning we had no water as the quake broke the pump and some of the tanks, so we have come down the to American Club which we only joined last week, for shower, breakfast and some internet work. Maybe even a swim.
And we all hope there is no more earthquake.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The joy of newspapers

not a good look
 You should all be aware of my passion for whacky newspapers. And Sri Lanka didn't disappoint. Here are 3 I collected while we were away. Do enjoy
for everyone in Oz who has to layby bananas

And from the crime pages.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If that was a holiday we had it.


And what fun it was! We made the tight connection in Dellhi despite having to circle for a long time before we landed - mind you getting a lift in one of the golf buggy thingys to the transit area was kinda helpful. and then we ran. How dignified.
Dambulla - decorated by someone on LSD
Colombo is a pleasant city and very clean - and you should try the Galle Face Hotel while you are there. We toured around for 7 days round Kandy,  Polonnaruwa and the tea areas, then stopped in Galle to catch the test cricket before we hit the beach. Which was a mixed bag really. It was too rough to swim so we played coconut bowling, and the hotel we stayed in was truly diabolical : it was like living in an episode of Fawlty Towers only we weren't laughing. They ran out of ice for drinks, they ran out of bread for toast, they delivered meals you had not ordered and their 'signature chocolate mousse' came out of a packet. Don't get me started on the flies. Or the 3 different mattresses we tried in an attempt to get a half decent sleep. Or the Dumb and Dumber team at reception - I'd have had more luck talking to an axelotl. So we bailed early (without getting a refund of our up front payment - so we didn't pay our drinks bill) and went back to Colombo. If you need a dinner set Colombo is the place as all Noritake crockery is made there and you can get a 95 piece set (that's a lot to wash up!) for about a thousand dollars. But I'm not sure how you get it back home. And girls, the Triumph shop has very reasonable prices! That's bras, not bikes.
The weird Cannonball Tree in Kandy Botanical Gardens (which are fabulous)

So yesterday morning we had to get up before we went to bed to catch the early morning Colombo Delhi flight before getting back to Katty in time for a dinner at the embassy last night. Phew.
Sunset - no filter

 More pics later - we have a huge storm here now and I think I'd better stop.