Saturday, December 31, 2005

Shady’s Back!

Well we’re finally back from paradise on earth: AKA Mauritius. Hubby and I had a fabulous vacation and had serious thoughts about not coming back. But wanting to be paid, and the uncomfy bed at our hotel finally convinced us.

You all probably noticed that I didn’t update the blog while I out “Wandering the World” and I will only say that it’s not my fault. Hubby said that y’all would think I was a big loser if I posted while on my holidays. I pointed out that most of you already know that I’m a loser and it wouldn’t matter. But in the end, the fact that we left the laptop behind in Delhi (*gasp*) and the walk to the local Internet café won out and we didn’t blog.

I did; however, take notes! So be prepared over the next week or so to hear about Mauritius and Dubai. I’ve even twisted Hubby’s arm so that he’ll provide his own perspectives in a guest blog or two.

We missed you all! (Except you! You know who you are… Ok fine we missed you too!) And we’re kind of glad to be back in Delhi. I have to go and write the first installment so be prepared for lots of exclamation marks, way too many adjectives and very few references to anything that sounds like it happens in real life.

No Time Like the Present

Ok I couldn’t wait to start sharing so here we go with day one…

After waking up at the crack of dawn (high 5 to Hubby for deciding to call his family and talk to them at the top his lungs) we were off on our adventure. This “adventure” will heretofore be known as getting the heck of Delhi… err… Dodge. Yeah that’s it.

After a fairly short plane ride… No, before I tell you about that I have to mention that Emirates is a cool airline. Lots ‘o legroom for Hubby and individual consoles with movies and games for me. A win-win situation if I ever heard one! Go Emirates! Now back to your irregularly scheduled blog.

We finally landed in the Dubai airport, which Hubby had once dubbed Cloud City of “Star Wars” fame. Y’all have heard me go on about the airport in Amsterdam? Well his one was better. Seriously! But I’m getting ahead of myself because with a 12 hour layover we bee-lined out of Cloud City and into the Oasis of the Middle East: Dubai.

Those of you living in India will appreciate our first stop of the day: McDonalds! I ordered a Big Mac combo that consisted of what was probably the best Big Mac ever constructed. YUM! Living without beef for half a year (except for wonderful trips to ACSA courtesy of the Duke and other such benevolent friends with memberships) will leave a girl with a Mac Attack Craving the likes of which are rarely seen.

A few cool observations about Dubai versus Delhi. Or, the Battle of the D’s as I have decided to call it.

• Dubai drives on the US side of the road, which actually kind of threw me at first. But here’s the weirdest part: people actually drove on their side of the road, in their own lanes and without using their horns every few minutes. It was most disconcerting.

• Ugly architects need not apply. The buildings here are beautiful works of art. Skyscrapers with lotus blossom pinnacles and architectural details that reflected the movement and colors of the sea were only the beginning. What seemed like a concrete sail marooned on land was actually a hotel. The regal place just down the road was a freaking day spa. What a town?!

• Word up to my Canuck-ian readers: I had a white hot chocolate at Second Cup after lunch. A taste of home in the desert!

• A few moments of weirdness were had when we realized that there was nobody knocking on our windows asking for money. The lack of beggars was a pleasant diversion.

We don’t want to be Delhi haters but this, for me at least, was my first foray out of that town since our arrival in late summer. I love our home and friends here but traveling is always about noticing the differences and appreciating changes. It’s why we travel: why go places if you’re not going to enjoy the small and big changes that surround you.

For dinner we mozied over to the Hilton. We started off with drinks by the pool with our new friend the Desert Snowman. (Truly a weird sight.) Then we wandered upstairs to the Pan-American restaurant for more drinks – this time accompanied with salsa and chips. Hubby’s salsa is way better but it was an ambience thing.

Then things went downhill… at least for me. We went to this fabu Italian place in the hotel for dinner. Where, despite having what looked like heaven on a plate I could hardly eat a bite. Dammit! Hubby, of course, was not suffering a migraine and ate his bolognaise with relish and is still going on about how good that dinner was. Life is very unfair. Damn him.

Dubai at night is what Vegas might look like if it had way more class, less strippers, and no casinos. If that makes any sense.

Anyways, we made our way back to Lando and his Cloud City via taxi and spent our remaining hours in Dubai shopping at the Duty Free and talking about how great Christmas in Mauritius would be for both of us. (And not just because I think it rhymes.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Better Late than Never

Happy Christmas to our friends and family all over the world!!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Your Santa Name

One of the lovely ladies on ECfans found this amazingly amusing site. If you scroll down to the bottom and type in your name you’ll find out the name by which Santa knows you.

I copied the following explanation from the site:

Everyone has a special, secret Christmas name.

It works like this: When we are born, Santa needs to know who we are and where we live.

Because we all use so many different languages and have different names it gets really confusing for poor old Santa Claus.

So, just before the Stork delivers us, all of Santa's little helpers - like the elves, pixies, goblins and fairies - gather round and select a name for us and that's the name Santa remembers.

Your favorite blogger (and that had better be me!) has the new name of Happy Chocolate-Gnome. This thing knows of whence it speaks. After all if chocolate were a food group I’d be the healthiest chiquita around. Sadly it’s not. And saying that it’s milk chocolate and therefore belongs in the Milk and Milk Products category is evidently wrong. Stupid food pyramid!

So, what’s your super-secret Santa name?

Midwest Memories

I’m still being rather melancholy today, I’m afraid. Don’t get me wrong, we’re enjoying ourselves here in Delhi. We’ve found new friends and are settling into our daily lives here a little more every day. But it's not going to make us forget our lives back in the States. We still miss all of our friends back in the US.

The guys from ACES went out on what seemed like an awesomely good pub-crawl this past weekend. I can honestly say that there are no people like those guys anywhere on the planet. Y’all are the best. UIND will be starting soon so I expect you all to transfer here. =)

My friends from the office are also very missed. =(( The gossip, the friendships, the lunches at Casa (which I really don’t think would survive without us), dinner at E’s (ever fun since we get to wonder if the food will be cooked this time), the everything. You guys have no idea how much I miss going in everyday and seeing all of you. Although I miss you all everyday, it’s even more this time of year when friendships and families are so important.

OK, I’ve rambled on here more than usual. Suffice it to say that we miss you all and raise a glass of Yuletide joy (aka Champagne) in your honor.

To our friends and family around the world
almost Christmas!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Almost like Christmas

I can say with little doubt that everybody who knows me in the real world knows that adore Christmas, Christmas time and basically anything involving this time of year. I’m normally the one singing carols as I wander not only around the office but even down the street. Shopping for friends and family becomes my favorite sport for most of the month of December. Best of all is the food this time of year: it’s always yummy and there’s always lots of it! Christmas rocks.

Unfortunately it doesn’t really feel all that much like Christmas around here. Delhi, although chilly, isn’t snowy. The stores and homes aren't bedecked with Christmas lights and Santas on the lawn. There are no Santas in the malls (what with the complete lack of malls except in Gurgaon) and no general feelings of hustle and bustle that one associate’s with December.

Before you all yell at me I realize that Christianity is not the religion of choice here. So I’m totally in the minority celebrating that holiday. As a result I’m not really feeling Christmas-y. *sigh*

I’ve been to holiday themed parties... in fact I co-hosted one last Saturday that was trés, trés fun! (Note to my fellow host: DC you rock! She did literally everything to prep this party and deserves all the credit for how well it turned out.) We saw some great friends, nibbled on yummy food and sipped on everything from buzzed up hot chocolate to Champagne cocktails. Best of all though was just getting all of our new friends together for the occasion.

But a few hours Christmas just isn’t the same as the inundation we get back in the Real World. When friends become family and the warmth of the season isn’t about central heating (although it helps!).

Enough of being maudlin… Who’s up for some Christmas carols?!

Deck the Halls with boughs of Curry Leaves
Fa la la la la
La la la la!

‘Tis the season to eats lots of Jelabi
Fa la la la la
La la la la

Don we now our Salwar Kameez
Fa la la
La la la
La la la

Why am I the only one singing here?! Don’t make me sing the famous rap song by Stray Cowy Cow “Pop it like its Dilli Haat” or we may all live to regret it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

World's Greatest Niece

Happy Birthday to my little niece, E!!!

We miss you and send all our love.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I’ve Been Here Too Long

I was recently reading a thread about living in India on one of boards that I frequent. The thread was a listing of ways to tell if you’ve been here too long. Let’s just say that I’m in trouble. So here are some of the highlights from that thread plus a few new ones of my own.

You know you've been in India too long when...

1. You start speaking in the passive voice. “I am thinking that you are correct.”
2. Instead of humming the new song by Madonna you’re singing the latest Bollywood hit about Neal and Nikki.
3. You know what vehicle is coming down the street by the sound of its horn.
4. You call your family back home and they don’t understand your English.
5. You start using the head bobble correctly. (BTW, if you hear rumors spread by Hubby that I’ve been doing this… they’re lies. Or something…)
6. You start to use Indian-English in actual conversations. "This is my Britisher friend from London."
7. You say, "yah yah" in conjunction with the head bobble. (Instead of the usual yeah or yes.)
8. You start arguing with the Tuk-Tuk driver over 10 Rupees.
9. You start thinking of how much things cost in terms of Rupees rather than dollars.
10. You swear you can see cockroaches even though you haven't. (I swear I hadn’t been drinking and it was crawling up the wall. I swear!)
11. You actually know a little something about cricket. (I am working very hard to get rid of this knowledge!)
12. You realize that when the electrician says that he’s going to arrive at 10:00 he actually means 2:00 in the afternoon.
13. You are no longer frustrated by the fact that nobody can tell time and just accept it as a natural course of Delhi life.
14. You find yourself eating with your hands regardless of what ethnicity of food you’re eating. (Fetuccini Alfredo tastes better when you use your fingers.)
15. You’re fine when you eat Indian food but rich American food suddenly gives you a severe case of Delhi Belly.
16. You get ready to board the plane to Delhi after your vacation and tell people that you’re going HOME.

Please feel free to share any others indicators that you think up. Starting a blog about living in Delhi is not an indicator! (I think...)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Driving Miss Typ0

There I was I was sitting, per usual, in Red’s back seat (that’s the car’s name, BTW) reading a book and wondering how long it would take to get to the Hyatt when I saw the weirdest thing. I saw a yellow Volkswagen Bug with left-hand drive. Both my driver and I looked at it for a moment and shared a puzzled look. Why would anybody feel the need to import a wrong hand drive car here? That's really lame.

As I contemplated how long until the snazzy car got stolen, scratched and dinged up I got to thinking about cars here in Delhi. You can actually tell a lot about a person just seeing them in a car struggling to get through a roundabout.

So to that end, I’m going to share with you some of my deep car thoughts. Or as I dubbed it: “What people think when they see you in your New Delhi car.” (For the record, this had a way better title when I was sitting the car four hours ago.)

The Expat Outsider: Sitting in the back seat of my car while my driver takes me around Delhi.

The Suicidal Expat: Sitting the front seat while Hubby drives.

The Embassy Expat: Drives car with blue CD plates

The Overpaid Expat with a Family: Drives a Qwallis or SUV

The Way Overpaid Embassy Expat: Drives a yellow imported VW Bug with left hand drive and CD plates.

The Been here too long and you’re now jaded Expat: Senses the beggars and touts near the window and simply gets rid of them with a distracted shake of the head… Without ever looking at them.

These new observations inspired other observations…

• The most important safety feature in an Indian car: The Horn
• Second most important safety feature: High beams, which appear to be the only lights that work on most cars at night here. “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” is no long a song: it’s a way of life.
• Best hotel feature: all the hotels here have free valet. This always reminds me of that line from “Clueless” where she’s supposed to be learning how to parallel park: “What's the point? Everywhere you go has valet.” Cher was so smart!

Oh and I almost forgot our final category of Expat car owner:

Q: What do you call an Expat who cries and goes into a panic swearing their day has been ruined just because their driver called out?

A: Loser Delhi_Typ0 Expat who should learn to drive on the wrong side of the road or just learn to buck up.

(As always, please feel free to disagree with that sentence.)

(Seriously! Disagree with it already!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Choices We Make

Despite the fact that tonight was a blissful “Becker”-free night I still couldn’t bring myself to watch the crap on TV. I know that you’re all shocked at this idea since it is a well-known fact that I can and will watch any crap that appears on my television at any hour of the day. Please I am one of the only three people who watched the short lived Medieval set Fox TV series “Covington Cross” back in the early ‘90s. I love television. But I couldn’t bring myself to watch "all new" three year old, crappy Indian TV this evening.

So I perused my bookshelves. In an odd first move, I checked out my serious books… for about 2 minutes. Realizing that reading about people’s organs liquefying in “The Hot Zone” or rereading the biography of Mick Foley were both not really up my mental alley for the evening I moved into the guest room. There I checked out my perfectly alphabetized and organized collection of books that I actually read: you know the trashy romances. Now I know you know that these are my “literature” of choice. (Hubby, the quotes around the “L” word for you.) But even the thought of reading about the perfection of love during the Regency era didn’t hold my attention for long.

So after making some KD for dinner I turned to my DVDs. That left me with the narrowing down process, which meant that I was going to have to make a decision. Dammit I hate making decisions. *pout*

Feeling contrary, I started at the end of the alphabet. Was it a Xena evening? While I love watching the Battling Bard it didn’t hold any allure. I have several musical-esque films I could have watched. One of these would have been ideal since I always sing along with musicals and can’t do that when Hubby is in town. I continued along the list of DVDs and contemplated Disney movies, action movies and even “Jackass the Movie.” That’s how desperate I was entertainment.

That’s when I realized what day it was: It was Rex Manning Day!!! That’s right i wanted to “say no more, mon amour!” It was time for a walk down memory lane with Liv, Renee and the rest of the gang at “Empire Records!”

I mean, seriously, who put the soundtrack together for this movie? Whoever you are, you’re a freaking genius. The weirdest thing about this movie is that it totally reminds me of my days working at the Central Library… Except that the movie has better music.

Memories brought on by movies. Life can be so totally OK sometimes. =)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bliss thy name be Chocolate

Hubby and I have what we refer to as the “rotation.” What that basically means is that we enjoy going out to dinner (and having it delivered) but only go to a dozen or so places to actually eat. So that you don’t think too ill of us, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursdays we always cook our own dinner. (I won’t point out that this is because Maria, the housekeeper, will come in and clean our dishes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’ll just let you think that we enjoying cooking but have a weird schedule.)

But when we do finally go out we have a few places we always go to. These of course, are the places that many of the other expats go to. Lizard Lounge or Kylin on a Friday night if we feel like drinking. Moshe’s or 360 on Saturday if we want a nice sit down place.

But we’ve gotten bored with the rotation. I wanted a new obsession so I asked around about a nice place to have lunch. Person after person said the same thing, in the same reverent hushed voice: Choko La. This was evidently a fairly new restaurant/café in Basant Lok that specialized in chocolate. Having heard my favorite three syllable word I quickly ushered Hubby there for a birthday lunch.

We sat down in the nicely designed café and perused the menu. I naturally went to the beverages first which turned out to be more complicated than advertised as they had at least 5 different types of hot chocolate. I asked for a recommendation and awaited my chocolate potion.

OH MY GOD!!! For those of you who have heard my Soup stories from Namibia… This hot chocolate goes on the same list as the Soup. Devine. Delectable. Sinfully perfect. I seriously can’t tell you enough good things about the hot chocolate I drank. The food on the hand was rather blah. But did I mention the hot chocolate?!! Bliss. Sheer bliss.

So next time you’re bored and in need a warm drop of ambrosia head to Choko La for some serious chocolate ecstasy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I Love You

Today is my husband’s birthday.

Happy birthday, sweetie!

You are the very best thing that ever happened to me.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Oh Blessed Warmth

I woke up this morning and in a fit of randomness flipped the TV to CNN World. I listened half-heartedly to articles about Richard Branson’s latest whim, the Middle East’s latest insanity and a bizarre headline that seemed to imply that the US was the only member of NATO. Stirring my hot chocolate and wishing that I had whipped cream to improve the richness of my breakfast beverage the anchor started to talk about the slightly chilly weather in the US.

The wimps in the Midwest are complaining about the seasonally temperate weather in the region. So what if the thermometer says that it is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. So what if a snowstorm is sweeping across most of Southern Canada and the northern states in the US. You people are wimps!

Oh, who am I kidding? You are the strong people I long to be; the people I used to be. For I am now a weak, weak woman. I give into the temptations of chocolate. I bow to the superior will of my credit cards while shopping. And now I gave up and gave in on the space heater front.

I used to revel in the chilly weather that begged me to wear sweaters and heavy winter coats. Matching scarves, hats and gloves to my jacket of choice in the winter was a joy. Walking through the pristine white fields of snow to dig my car out in the morning so I could get to work… Never mind I hated the driving and shoveling part. But I did love the walking in snow part!

Now I live in this wonderland of warm weather called India and I’m shivering just because the thermostat says that the weather has is now under 15 Celsius. Last night Hubby and I bought two space heaters. That’s right: TWO! I’m a double wimp. *sob* We’ve turned into feeble shades of our former selves who warm their hands in front of electric gadgets. If I keep this up, they’ll take away my Canadian citizenship due to the freakish inability to stand the cold.

If I cared about my pride, I’d turn the damn things off and deal with the chill. But I think that we all know that’s not going to happen any time in the next month or so…

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Why Nairobi is Better than Delhi

By Special Guest Blogger Hubby

Well, I suppose it’s time for another guest blog, as I have been asked nicely to provide perspectives on my trips outside of Delhi. Fair enough. Anyways, I spent a week in Nairobi on a business trip during the last week of November; it is mainly my own sloth that has prevented from guest blogging sooner.

So… Nairobi. Well, for starters, there’s not a lot of difference weather-wise right now: warm days, cool nights, just like Delhi in November. The only difference is that it is always like that in Nairobi, whereas here we have to grapple with 100+ temps starting about April, so I’m told (we’ll find out soon enough). But that’s where the similarities end.

• Traffic: like Pakistan, it keeps to its own lane for the most part in Kenya. When it moves (which is about half the time), the average speed is about 150 km/h. Advantage: None.

• Food: OK there’s lots of Indian food in Kenya, from the large Indian population there. But there is MEAT and LOTS and LOTS of it. We went to a Brazilian BBQ that was downstairs from the hotel, which was all-you-can-eat everything: chorizo, beef (!!), ostrich, chicken, springbok, camel (really good I might add), plus a salad-bar, good drinks, desserts. Coming from my standard lunches of dal and aloo (potatoes for the uninitiated), this was a really nice change. Advantage: Kenya.

• Drink: Tusker in Kenya, Kingfisher/Castle in Delhi. Both pricey. Advantage: Toss-up, probably slight edge to Kenya since there’s more draught beer there.

• Security: A minus point for Nairobi. Security is intense. There is razor wire and high walls everywhere. On the building next to the hotel, you could see barbed wire on the roof itself from the hotel restaurant. When asked why you would have such a thing, I was told that thieves stole computers by cutting a hole through the non-secured, corrugated roof from another business a few months back. Hmm. I was also told about houses having panic rooms and panic rooms within panic rooms (think the Jodie Foster movie, but I don’t think the rooms are as modern as those). Advantage: Delhi.

• People: very friendly in Kenya. They are in India also, but it’s just a little more laid back in Nairobi, security notwithstanding. Advantage: Kenya.

• Shopping: THEY HAVE BIG SUPERMARKETS IN KENYA. BIG BIG SUPERMARKETS WITH EVERYTHING!!!! And, as an added bonus, they have good coffee in Kenya, as judged by the 2 kgs sitting in our freezer. Advantage: Kenya (double points here).

So does that mean we’ll be hopping on the next plane to Nairobi now? Probably not, but maybe someday in the future, we could be blogging from there.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Day in Delhi

I know that you’re all dying to know what I do all day. (That was your cue to look interested and nod!) I was going to write about Monday but I spent the entire day trying to get a hold of our landlord to fix some problems around the house. So basically a blog about Monday would have involved me knitting, reading, watching TV and dialing and redialing the number to my landlord’s office. So I nixed the Monday plan.

I then turned my thoughts to Sunday. It was, by my new bored-out-my-skull-most-days standards a pretty good day. Hubby woke up early to play soccer so I sat in bed and read a trashy romance by one of my favorite authors. See, it’s already noon on Sunday and we’re only a few lines into this thrilling paragraph. I took a cold shower. (Dear Santa, this year all I want for Christmas is enough hot water on a daily basis to take a shower that lasts longer than 3 minutes. PLEASE! Please?)

Then we went shopping and ate cold, over cooked food lunch. We finished the day by having Hubby cook Jambalaya for me. Hubby is such a great cook. But that was kind of boring and I believe that I’ve already written about what a fantastic cook my Sweetie is now that we’re cooking with gas. (Lame joke, sorry.)

Shall I write about today? (Ok, since you insist!) I went to meeting for the Organization. My current pissiness about a post-meeting conversation shall not be discussed at this tine. Grrr. Arrgh. What the hell?! I miss two days and suddenly I’m a slacker? I was there for every other freaking day! (Oops, we weren’t going to discuss it, were we? Sorry.)

Onwards and upwards… I then went to the Delhi Network holiday luncheon. I love the DN and have met many of my Delhi friends through this organization. Ok most of my Delhi friends. That’s why when people at certain Organizations (that I have carefully not mentioned by name) ‘dis the DN I get mad. These women actually took care of me when I got sad, laughed at me when I was hung over and asked me to join them in friendship. I honestly can’t say the same for the other Organization at this point. Pathetic, huh?

Anyways, I am currently watching Buffy with my feet up on the couch and a glass of Fanta (not Fantica!) sitting on the table beside me. It’s beyond chilly in my apartment as I sit with my computer on lap to keep me warm. All in all Tuesday has been a good day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my attempt at sharing a day in the life of your favorite Delhi Typ0. And I hope you realize now that I really am the world’s most lame human being. (That was your cue to disagree!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

More Weird New from Typ0

I have some good news and some weird news. As always, we’ll start with the good news. My Amazon order finally arrived. All the DVDs and books I ordered appear to be in good shape and I’m happily watching Titanic and reading a new trashy romance between blogs. Life is good. (Even if it did take a month and a half to arrive.)

On the weird front… You’ll recall that I posted earlier this week that I was no longer a fan of that evil thing called alcohol. Well, Hubby and I and a friend went to a local bar for drinks Saturday evening. The plan was for the boys to have a few drinks (pop for me, please) and a bite to eat before a party we were attending.

So we arrived at Punjabi by Nature around 7ish and headed up to the 2nd floor via the elevator per usual. We frequent this place fairly regularly so we knew which seats we wanted to bag as we headed left from the lift. That’s when the waiter saw us. “Oh Madam, welcome! Sex on the Beach, yes!”

Now I realize that we’ve been to Punjabi at least once or twice a month but we’re not there every week by any means. Yet they knew my face well enough to recognize me and my new drink of choice. You’ll be pleased (and no doubt shocked into temporary sobriety) to hear that I declined the vodka based drink and asked for a fruit drink they were well known for. As I prepared to order my second round the waiter insisted again, “Sex on the Beach for madam, yes?”

By this time, the boys were in stitches laughing at me. They told me to give in but with a strength of will rarely seen I declined and enjoyed another fruit juice. Later when we arrived at the party everybody tried to give drinks and was shocked to hear that I was only sipping on glasses of Pepsi.

So now I turn to you, dear friends and readers, am I such a lush? Do you all think me incapable of going a day without drinking an alcoholic beverage?

On second thought… please don’t answer that.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Drinking is Bad

I don’t want to elaborate a lot on this one. Children: don’t ever, ever drink alcohol. It is very bad.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go lie down again because the room is spinning and I seem to feel slightly seasick. I just wish I were at sea and not sitting on the couch…

Alcohol is BAD.

PS It is way to bloody cold in this country!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Birthday Wishes

I want to wish the happiest BDay to our friend the Duke!

Have a great year!!