Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday musings

Why are Sundays so universally uninteresting, wherever you are in the world?
Well, following on from the other day when I wondered about the free sample of incontinence pads in the mailbox, yes we all got them but nobody knows why. None of us admit to needing them right now. Mind you, they're handy for the travel first aid kit to cover a big wound or burn. Just don't tell the patient what they really are!
Well, I've still not had a call from Robin but SPOT keeps me informed. And Bob is now back in San Fran trying to get ready to face the world. It seems there may be one or two logistical SNAFUs that I may have to deal with from afar. Despite certain assurances to the contrary by the guy employed to logisticate, Robin DOES need a permit for where he is going, and of course he doesn't have one. And doesn't know that he needs one. So, I have been sending him SMSs to say be careful, hide in bushes etc but I don't know if he has received the messages. The assistant logistician is trying to get the paperwork to checkpoints etc, but judging on current form I'm none to hopeful of success. My last message to Robin this morning instructed him to press the SEND HELP button on SPOT if he gets arrested by the army or the border police, and I'll get onto someone with BRAINS in Delhi. Like the Embassy. Cos I will know exactly where he is. Just one issue - I don't know whether Robin used his Aussie or Pom passport for India. And I need to know in case of any problem.....
Meanwhile, Katje and Henk made it to Simikot and the weather has taken a turn for the monsoonal. Not good news.
And Nepal has ONCE AGAIN failed to draft a constitution in time. So the 601 erudite members of parliament (oxygen wasting boofheads as you may recall) have given themselves another 3 months to stop arguing and do something. Anything. Nothing. Who cares? Not them. What that country needs is a damn good dictatorship and a few hundred pollies up against the wall.
I went to visit mum today at the hostel and was really impressed with the positive change in her. She seems far less batty (maybe because there are so many totally batso people there) and quite happy and healthy. Which is fantastic.
On the way home stuck in traffic on the M2 I had a good chuckle over a car number plate: SIKRX7. Yes mate, I'm sure your car is FULLY SIK - especially as it was on a tow truck when I saw it. SICK!!
My friend Billi climbed Lhotse the other day, as did Robin's old uni chum Simon, but on Everest north side where Andrew Lock and our friend Jamie are, the weather has taken a turn for the worse so they have been foiled in their attempts by all accounts. Not my idea of a good time.
And finally, article in Wanderlust magazine about the GHT and Brave Sir Robin. Enjoy.
I'm cold - time to shut the doors and do some ironing!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Should I be worried?

Got home from work today, and apart from the usual Target and Franklins catalogues, and highly unwelcome window face envelopes, was a free sample from BrandPower of Tena Lady incontinence pads. What the? Did my 56 year old male neighbour get one? Haven't checked cos it's raining.
Robin is busy pressing SEND on SPOT but I've not talked to him - although it might have been him that called earlier tonight. At least I know he's OK.
Speaking of which, I finally got the bodgy Indian person calling me about a problem with my computer's Microsoft Windows operating system. After I let her rabbit on for a bit - I was busy cooking so couldn't be bothered talking - I said that I didn't have a computer that uses Windows so she would have to call someone else to get some money for her scam.
I'm just enjoying the final of Survivor Redemption Island - all in brawl would be the best way to describe it. I LOVE the final tribal council. Of course Robin dislikes this program so I have enjoyed watching this without his annoying interruptions.
I see the world is going to end on 21 October - pity really. Will the religious whacko be right this time? We shall see....
I note we have a severe weather warning tomorrow with 90 Kph winds - I'd better not wear a skirt and novelty hat to work.
Have a great Wednesday and enjoy the State of Origin if you like that sort of thing.

Here's a baby elephant at Bardia Jungle in Nepal from our trip last year. Hope he makes you smile.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why wasn't I told?

If I had known earlier that the world is going to end today I wouldn't have done 4 loads of washing, vacuumed and washed the floors and dusted. And I certainly wouldn't have taken a hundredweight of sausages out of the freezer for a barbecue tonight! And why oh why did I pay the bills last week?
I wonder what time it's due to happen - I mean, do I have time to do my hair and fix a cocktail or what?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Woo-Hoo Friday!

Another blinder. Work problem? Sorted
Physio? Another session for knees back and shoulders - owww
Friday drinks next door - done
Take away pizzas from Vic's at Summer Hill - you beauty!
Chocolate cake all round
Meanwhile in India, things aren't going so well. Bob has decided to bail out a little early and is heading to Simla and then Delhi to fly to San Fran and his beloved Jeanne. Lucky her - she gets her man back after a couple of months.
It all happened rather quickly, but I gather from the limited telephonic communications I have had that the pilgrim season, food, FLIES, accommodation, logistical issues and the sheer difficulty of everything about this trip have taken their toll on Bob. And fair enough. I want to say now a HUGE THANKS to Bob for having the determination and guts to come along yet again with Robin, to keep him company and be there for him. Having Bob there helped Robin get to where he is now. It means more to me than he can ever know. And thanks to Jeanne for letting him go - I know only too well how hard that is. I hope he takes you out for a great treat when he gets back.
Here's Bob, me and Robin in Sam's in the 'du after their Kanch to Everest trek in 2008. It's easy to tell who was trekking and who was logistics in this shot! It's a tough job but someone's got to do it! And I am so ideally suited - I have a computer, lots of phones and I seem not to need any sleep at all. Of course I could also multitask for Australia at the Olympics.

        Have a safe trip back and huge everlasting hugs mero sati! Om.

And Peter - thanks - it's all under control. Go have a laundry picnic!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome to my nightmare

What a stupid couple of days. Got home yesterday with just enough time to grab the car and drive to physio - parked in by neighbour. No prob, got him to move but because the street is being dug up what used to be a 3 point turn ended up being about 57 in the Landrover. Stuck in traffic but finally got to physio (good thing he was running late!) only to find that when I scanned my health fund card it didn't work. Only just got the flaming thing because my other one didn't scan. Because I didn't have any $$ or credit cards on me I had to leave without paying - what a good look. So tomorrow I'd better take some other form of payment. And for that I pay $97 a month??
Got home, Lakshmi had delivered me a nice mouse that was flying through the air - so I called the neighbour (god love ya Neal) who came to rescue me as I was in Damsel in Distress mode. So there's Neal with a broom trying to corner the mouse while I try to control the struggling cat.  Got that sorted finally, and was just trying to get my dinner, when Robin called me. Since I hadn't heard from him for a week that was kind of exciting, but I was in the middle of 'plating up' as they say on the cooking shows. Meanwhile, somebody was banging on the front door and through the peephole was a very bright light. That'd be Steve from across the road with his stupid Ebay torch. He was delivering a home made muffin and requesting some milk. And Neal came along with him - I don't know why. So I had to hang up on Robin who was mystified about  what the hell was going on at home! By this time my dinner was getting cold but we had to discuss Saturday Rugby plans. PHEW!
Finally got to eat dinner and call Robin back. He was in Gangotri - the origin of the Ganges, and it's pilgrim season. The place was full of Hindu pilgrims and whacky western hippies, and there was no hot water, beer or meat. Depressing. They had a good trek but were very tired, and Auden's Col was not very interesting but they did get so see snow leopard prints.
Trango in Bhutan 2010
Today they were headed for some town or other but got separated from some of their crew, and the driver decided to take them somewhere else. With seriously crap reception. So we spent a frustrating hour trying to call each other - I have a landline, mobile and skype but just couldn't get through and Robin only just managed a few times on his expensive global roaming. I can't report much, but his crew have managed to trash his Trango tent poles and all the jets on the MSR stoves which they assured him they could operate. It constantly surprises me that trekking staff take no care whatsoever with gear. We love the tent and the stoves and to have them trashed (don't ask me how) is seriously annoying.
Add to that I had a very irritating day at work which, to put it mildly, shat me to tears. How ridiculous that I should be sitting at my desk after hours, fuming because of a staff member who can't be bothered to treat people with respect and do their job properly. Still, I'm where the buck stops and I have to deal with it. And fix it. Something to look forward to.
See me later!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Buddha Jyanti

 Buddha's 2555th birthday today. So light a candle for him. And spread a bit of love. Today celebrates 3 great moments in Buddha's life: his birth in 623 BC, his attainment of supreme vision in 588 BC, and his enlightenment (death) at the ripe old age of 80.So it's a bit like Xmas and Easter with something else as well. Turkey and chocolate anyone?

Jambala - Buddhist God of Wealth
Not a whole lot else to report - it's cold here and I still haven't managed to see the 4 planets lined up. Lakshmi the Wonder cat (Hindu Goddess of Wealth) is driving me mad because she keeps pinching the warm spots in the bed. And she never does the housework.
Robin is heading slowly towards Gangotri but there is some unpleasant looking weather headed their way.
I heard from Katje Staartjes and Henk today - they are doing Nepal from west to east. They tried last year but had some bad luck with an injury to Henk so we wish them best of luck for their second attempt. I will keep you posted as I hear from Katje. Today they made it over 3 high passes from Darchula (Nepali side) to Bhajang and plan to be in Yari on 23 May - Katje reports there is a lot of snow around and nobody in Simigaon yet.
Meanwhile on Everest northside Andrew Lock is waiting in basecamp for the right weather for a summit without oxygen. Hope it all goes well for him. He's already done all the 8000ers but this one he really wanted to do without oxygen.
Right well that's enough form me for now.
May peace prevail on earth. Om mani padme hum.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

If that was a weekend I had it

Barbecue, drinks and rugby at number 4 on Friday, shopping dinner drinks and rugby at number 4 on Saturday, ALL day clearing mum's place out today. Woo hoo. I really know how to live on the edge. Of reality...
Mum seems to be settling in well at the hostel, and is finally eating decent food - we struggled to get her to eat anything at home. However, she seems to be getting completely mystified by the simplest things - the phone for instance. Di got her one with BIG buttons and a spot to stick mugshots of pre programmed people in (if you get my drift). So we checked it was working this arvo and when Di rang it mum looked at it as though she had never seen a phone before, and for the life of her she couldn't work out how to answer it... And then she was asking me where keys for the balcony door were - Don't know mum I don't live here. Did they give you any keys when you moved in? No idea came the reply. Ok so I start looking for keys - hey mum what are those keys pinned to your trousers? Keys for the house. But mum you don't live there anymore. Oh, don't I? Oh dear.
We were all astounded at the amount of stuff mum had in her small place - so many towels (and beach towels - mum has never been tot the beach in her life!). I have a Landrover full of stuff to give to a refuge or something like that. We've got a washing machine, bed and a whole bunch of furniture to give away, and we all took something that we loved of mum and dad's that mum couldn't take with her. Some of the things we wanted were rather illogical, but there you go. 

1st birthday what a cutie
She hasn't stopped on the phone since.
Probably most exciting of all was our baby photo albums - boy are they from a different age. Pink 'leather' cover with 'Our Baby' emblazoned on the front, with the obligatory stork - come on it was 1959! Inside is a page where the proud parents write the details of baby (size, weight, hair/eye colour etc) and then a squillion pages for pics - wonderful black and white (and some studio portraits) that had to go into photo corners. And each one has the date neatly written in white ink underneath (the pages are black as you old farts would know). I'll have you know that I still have the cabinet in the background of the telephone pic.
Robin is currently somewhere near Shivling - I've not had a phone call from him for a few days but thank goodness for SPOT (who I have nicknamed Roger) so I have a pretty good idea where they are and what's in store for them. Roger manages to send me a ping every day. Pretty useful item.
I am heartily sick of this cold weather - I gave in and got the blanket out to add to the doona and electric blanket so perhaps I won't freeze overnight.
I'm going to enjoy the rest of my very well earned Beer Lao and head to bed.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Saw a dreadful play last night!

My dear neighbour Steve asked me out for a hot date last night - wine bar, dinner and an opening night play. Sounds like a proper date!  But he said I didn't have to come across...
The little wine bar was delightful, Grasshopper, located in the rather inaptly named Temperance Lane. Then off to Sailors Thai in the old Sailors Rest Home at the Rocks - such wonderful curry puffs, warm duck salad and brilliant prawns.
Then it started to get silly. We had tickets for what turned out to be a modernised production of Brecht's Baal. I had no idea what it was about before I went, and frankly I still don't. The complimentary programme tells me that is it is about a drunken wastrel with an unending lust for sex with anybody - and he is a poet and musician. I can tell you that there were a lot of people running around in the nuddy, there was simulated sex (gay and straight), dreadful music, a rather impressive rain effect onstage towards the latter part of the evening, and unfortunately as Baal lay dying on a skanky mattress (which was supposedly a forest?!) I got a view straight up his whatsits. Yucko. Steve and I were both relieved to be able to head to the bar. What a stupid play.
You may have heard about the cold SNAP we are having at present in Sydney. I don't think I've ever been quite so cold in May before, and getting up is a real struggle every day.
Robin and Bob are now trekking again after enduring a string of skanky towns at pilgrim time. The other day they drove to Badrinath so that, as he put it, they could look at a rock with tinsel on it. Lucky for them the queue was over a kilometre long so the crew decided going back down for lunch was a better idea. When they were driving to Kedarnath they got stuck in huge queues on the road and some awful driving which of course didn't help anything. When I spoke to them last night there was rain about and they were in a tent.
Now, everyone except Jeanne must go to the next paragraph! Bob sends this message for you Jeanne: "you are warmer than the mountain sun and more beautiful than the mountain meadows".
Right you lot I'm back again. Black Friday tomorrow so watch out for vampires and werewolves. And of course tonight and early tomorrow we can gaze into the sky and see Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter all lined up. If we get out of bed at stupid o'clock. If we don't have crappy eyesight. And you'll need some very warm clothes to wear if you are in southern Australia right now. 
I may just stay in bed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's a mystery

I don't know who is doing what anymore!
Anyway, Robin and Bob drove to almost Kedarnath today and are in another pilgrim place - tomorrow they start walking and boy will they be glad to get out of pilgrim towns.
I have no idea how much of anything the boys in India are doing for them - since I've had to call him on global roaming I was trying to keep it short but he would insist on rabbiting on about possibilities a month down the track. Sorry dear, I'm trying to pay the bills so SHUTUP. Love you!!
Hope you got a chance to check out SPOT - there should be a few more blips from now if I'm any judge of satellites.
Mum moved into her new accommodation today and according to all reports it went mostly OK. Will have to spend this weekend clearing out the old place so we can stop paying for it. Such fun.
Here's a funky chocolate ball dessert thingy from Trader Vic's in the Bangkok Marriott. Seriously yum.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Indian Blowout

Oh dear me....Robin was unable to secure the necessary paperwork - in fact the local magistrate wouldn't even see them unless they had a letter from the Home Ministry saying they were allowed to cross Kalindi Khal. Which they didn't have because I am not doing their logistics, and the person who is didn't get it and seemed not to place any importance on it. So this morning I was trying to see if I could find someone in India who could help but it is pretty difficult from Sydney. And I couldn't. Well I could, but that person was out of India and didn't have any contact details with them.
Robin has now had to sack the logistics people (since he and Bob were mostly working it out themselves anyway) and tomorrow they have to get a car to take them to Rishikesh in pilgrimage season so that hopefully they can start trekking. The GHT is meant to be a duplicable BY ANYBODY route, not something that you need more connections for than Paris Hilton on Facebook.
But some brighter news - the camera they bought him is very good - well it would want to be for that price - and the SPOT is working. I can even show you where he is when he checks in.
Wanna see it? So hopefully he will check in most days and we'll all be able to see where he is and follow his progress. Which will be fun. Do let me know what you think! Peter, I'm sure you'll love it. You can have fun swapping between the different map views - satellite, terrain and hybrid.
Well I had the last visit with mum at her place today - the room she has at the hostel has been newly painted and has a little balcony and lots of trees outside. It's quite nice. I really noticed today how bemused she seems by everything. And how cross she was that nobody wanted her enormous ancient washing machine, fridge or microwave. 
Well I'm tired after all the aggravation of today - I took an hour to travel 22 kms today to see mum. What a pain in the butt.
Have a great week and stay tuned for more GHT palaver.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday night fever

Strewth I'm worn out. Spent 4 hours today in Trek & Travel with Rhonda getting her kitted out for Nepal later this year- we had to go today cos the sale was still on. So now I have a front room with 4 of her giant shopping bags FULL of trekking gear - boots, clothes, sleeping stuff, poles and god knows what else, plus my king bed doona, 4 towels, Robin's boots etc etc etc destined for Nepal. No room to move.
We had a great time shopping though and we were lucky that Robin called while I was there so he got to talk to his BFF Greg (who had the pleasure of devoting more than half his shift to us) and Rhonda which was very cheery for all concerned.
Just watching Touching the Void on telly - Joe Simpson's amazing story of survival after dropping  into a crevasse in South America - one of the greatest back from the dead stories ever. Gripping book - read it before you see the movie.
So Robin is in Joshimath on the one weekend of the year when, apparently, the Hindu temples are opened so that everyone can see the gods and goddesses - so there was a choice of no room or a Rs 2000 room (about $41 Aussie - more than Robin and I ever paid in India - outrageous! Lucky I bought those on sale earrings yesterday to make up for his extravagance). He is SICK TO DEATH of trekking in the hot midhills and longs for the cool air of the mountains, but he and Bob seems destined to be deterred from attaining such joy. Tomorrow they will be seeing some local bigwig who may give them permission to go towards a 'dangerous' (not) pass. It sounds like the GHT in India is much more frustrating than Nepal.
Here at home the Tahs won tonight, we had a lovely barbecue even though our hostess went to hospital cos she took the top off her thumb slicing onions at the school fete - and then her hubby did the same at home. So then I turned up and took a slice off MY thumb opening the dip. What a bunch of crocks!! No wonder we have turned to alcohol.
Sunday is mothers day - be nice to your mum. If she is no longer around, think something nice about her, or make something she always made for you. I will be visiting Mum for the last time at her place, and my sister and I (with sis's kids) will be organising her stuff for the move on Tuesday. I expect to not be happy afterwards - but wait! Neal, Rhonda and I are off to Vic's for dinner (the Italian place of a few weeks ago) so it will all be good.
Time for bed - be nice to your mum - if it wasn't for her you wouldn't be here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's Wednesday!

What's not to love about that.
I went to the Quarterly CEO awards tonight after being advised that 'someone from the department' should go. It was lovely to see that my mate Nicole got an award for being little miss helpful (we couldn't get by without her) and so did my accomplice in policy rewrites, Soula. It was good to be there. And I was a good girl and didn't have a drinkie.
Lots of big news. Mr bin Laden - GAWN. I gotta say I did not approve of the carryings-on by Joe in the street in the USA running down to the White House and celebrating - rather undignified and inciting hatred. Whatever else Mr bin Laden was, he was still a human being with a family. Sometimes this world makes me sad. And of course, now we know why certain people weren't at the big wedding last week, and also maybe why the newlyweds didn't go on their honeymoon.
The SPOT arrived in India and is still not functioning - but I have advised the people in Delhi just to give the blasted thing to Robin and maybe it will work better in the mountains. The problem with the camera has been sorted - it was a rubber ring on the lens so I am hoping that the boofheads can take the replacement Rs35,000 camera body back for a refund. We could do with the money.
Robin is now heading around the south side of the Nanda Devi reserve and has had some good weather last I heard a few days ago. Seems he's out of range again. He's been having a few problems with his orthotics which is a shame and I am busy trying to find a solution for him. Who says I'm not doing logistics?
And on the Mad Nanna front, a place has become available for mum in the hostel in her retirement village. She wasn't too keen on it but Diane bless her has managed to get her to say yes. So Mothers Day this Sunday will be spent ironing name labels on her clothes and sorting out what she needs to take and what we have to ditch. A time of conflicting emotions. Not sure how I will handle it on my own.
Finally got the ticket booked so I'm outta here just before my birthday. I'll be sorry to leave the workplace - I really enjoy working there and they have been such marvellous people to work with. I've really appreciated the challenge of being a manager after such a long time away from it - I feel I've done a pretty good job so far. And I still have a couple of months to get some things set up. Let's see. It's hard to imagine looking for another job when I get back. Who knows what the future holds. I kinda feel like this place is home. Haven't thought that about a workplace for 10 years.
Oh, and the Nepali niece and nephew don't have enough money to come to Australia and are on the hunt for funds - I couldn't help them out at all. Dear Yashu emailed me the other day to ask which pots and pans she should bring - I laughed at first and imagined the Clampetts (The Beverley Hillbillies) on an international flight with household goods dangling off wheelie-bags. Then I gave her some sound aunty advice.
Oh here comes Lakshmi squeaking at me again. Now that the weather has gotten cooler she insists on crawling into bed with me at night. Now she's trying to type so I'd better go.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

PHEW! May already!

Busy busy busy. Of course there was the Royal Wedding on Friday - yes I sat down and enjoyed it enormously, especially the ghastly get ups Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice turned up in. I love the way the 'hat' has a Facebook page now - ha ha ha. The bridal party looked lovely and the good old Queen was elegant as usual.
But while all that was on I was busy on the interweb emailing India backwards and forwards. You see, the SPOT that I posted actually arrived. Amazing. However, the person I sent it to believes I didn't set it up right as they keep pressing the send button and I don't get a message. I have explained about 4 times now that as it is a one way device, it will confirm that the message you sent got to the satellite, but what happens to it after that it cannot say. He keeps asking me for the logon details so he can 'check' that I did it correctly. Oh no my good man is the constant reply. And he reckons you can't get lithium batteries in Delhi. Rubbish I say. Plus I am still angry about the logistics bloke buying a new camera body for Rs35,000 that doesn't work. So I have told Maninder that whether he can get the SPOT to work or not he is to forward it to Robin soonest (an Indian saying). The SPOT site does indicate that it won't actually work in India, but as Robin is up in the mountains and at a completely different lat, long and altitude there is always the chance it will work as there are plenty more satellites available there. It's come this far it might just as well keep going! God give me strength.
It finally stopped raining in Sydney - everything feels so soggy and damp and it really makes my knees ache. Still, the zumba must go on.
On the GHT India front, Robin and Bob are now on their way to Joshimath via the southern fringes of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. When I spoke to him briefly on Friday they were faced with a day of 800m down, 600m up and 1300m down to get to wherever they were going - which may have been Namik - the connection wasn't 100% clear. Next time I hear from him I'll let you know.
I've been organising the books in the front room as sir has bought so many books we had nowhere to put them. Up and down the ladder I go carrying books, sneezing from the dust (must speak to the maid about that), and deciding which ones to keep and which to throw. Then comes organising them into my un-Dewey decimal system - I'm still working on that.
And our Nepali niece and her hubby (the wedding in Nepal last June that I wrote about) got their visas for Australia so no doubt they will be busy trying to get organised in time for that- they'll be studying at a Swiss Hotel school in Adelaide from July. Big step. I'm sure poor Puru (her dad) is very sad...
Here's a traffic jam (just a small one) in Kathmandu to cheer you up for another week of communting. And the umbrella is because I was crammed into a rickshaw that I was too tall for..
as usual.
I was very amused to see during the week that although all the political parties in Nepal promised they wouldn't have any strikes (bandhs) this year as it is Nepal Tourism Year and yet there was an all-in strike the other day and people had to walk 11 km from the airport with their wheely bags on the crappy pot-holed roads to get to where they were going. Great advertisement for the place.
And last but not least, I just checked my footy tipping for the weekend and saw to my total surprise that I scored a perfect round! I think that means I get a cash prize. Should get a bloody medal since I don't know a thing about it. Robin will get a laugh out of that. I do miss him a lot...