Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 19 - Modesty or a lack thereof

Our time in Goa reminded me of another trip--a trekking weekend that Darren encouraged me to go on--that culminated in a swim party with 25 guys clad in their briefs: exclusively.

Thanks Darren.

Theres quite the double standard in Indian swimwear. Men wear next to nothing and women wear full salwar kameez, (lower left, below) or even a sari. This is supposedly considered modest, however it also dangerous to be swathed in 6 yards of waterlogged fabric. I think making men swim blindfolded would be a net gain in safety.

Aside from taking a dip, visitors could pay their respects at this Hindu temple.You had to wade/swim to get to it. Please note that all devotees seem to have shorts. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 20 - Got to Goa

Last weekend my girlfriends and I got to Goa as a sort of "last hurrah" since 3 out of the 4 of us will leave India in the next month.  It was nice to escape our hectic preparations and enjoy a weekend away. 

14 hours in an overnight sleeper bus (this guy was in the bunk across the aisle), and you wake up to...

BLISS! It's hard to believe I'm still in India, because everything is so...chill. 

Like you can bare your shoulders here! (I'm told shoulders are considered quite provocative.)  Actually, it's a beach culture, so bathing suits were de rigueur.  One woman (European, no doubt) decided to tan, swim and drink Coca Cola from a glass bottle--topless. Her husband, a pot-bellied shag carpet with eyes, donned a psychedelic speedo. Kristen proclaimed them her favourite couple on the beach. Here here! (No pictures for obvious reasons.)

We found the precious "OM Made Cafe" full of antique furniture, vintage prints and Indo-French food. We barely moved from the spot for two days. I've really missed cafe culture!

This was us, for most of the weekend.

While watching this sunset my only friend who stays in Goa, the lovely and talented Monika, wandered into Shore Bar and snuck up behind me. The rendezvous was a complete coincidence, and made me feel quite popular. I later discovered it was the end of the season and most places were closed...

Angela visited Korea for her best friend's wedding in April, and got an offer she couldn't refuse: In June she'll move to Seoul to work in a prestigious law firm.  We're so proud of our world traveller!

Though it doesn't feel like India, there are still little reminders. Like when a gentlemanly goat crosses the street and decides to walk you home. 

In one months time, Kristen (left) will be holding down the fort, as our other expat colleagues consist of five tall, dark, and handsome guys. (Poor Kristen! ;-)

Look, here's one now! (JKs all around)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 21 - India in Review - "God out of the machine"

"For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?...Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children."    Deuteronomy 4:7,9

Today' post actually came out  as a confidential email entitled "India in Review - God out of the machine". If you would like to receive today' post, please email/Facebook me and I'll  pass it on to you. 

I leave you with a (rather unflattering) picture of me holding one of  my greatest accomplishments  from this year: pretzel dogs made from scratch! Does the dress look familiar?

Day 22 - Rangoli

I often see this lady applying the chalk powder to this driveway on my walk to work. Rangoli is a traditional decorative folk art of India, consisting of  a colourful pattern made near the entrance to a house after it has been cleaned to welcome guests. The term Rangoli is derived from words: rang (colour) and aavalli (row ) so rangoli is row of colours.
I'm pretty skilled with sidewalk chalk, so my roommate Angela and I bought colours and tried to replicate these designs on the privacy of our rooftop. Major fail. No pictures survived of the project and our hands were dyed an incriminating blue (like we had severe frostbite) for a day after the fact.

"Hang ten" Rangoli

Our driveway rarely gets this special treatment. You can tell that it's a special occassion by the greenery, pooja offering of a smashed watermelon and large scale rangoli design outside our gate. (Just to be clear, our whole apartment building was not really clean!)

The biggest work I've seen was celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 23 - Life on the Farm

Bangalore's nickname is the "Garden City" but rapid urbanization and construction have caused the city to lose some of its former glory over the last 10 years. Perhaps, instead of "garden" city it could be content as the "farmer's" city. As I've never seen so much livestock content to mingle with 5.5 million city dwellers (Except in Jonah' description of Nineveh. ) I might see any number of the following on my walk to or from work.

I love that one chicken's head is painted yellow, the other hot pink!

I refrained from sharing a picture of a cow eating garbage (as they're apt to ) out of repect. However, now you know the real reason Hindus dont eat beef!

These street dogs love eating trash so much they've made the bin their home. 

Pet deer owned by a tailor near our office.

This type of cow is often used for manual labour.

now GoogleMaps, does this look like a street to you? More proof Bangalore is really a farm masquerading as a city. I had to get out of the auto and walk the rest of the way. 

Tractors are used for everything here. This one doubles as a bus!

I don't know if you can see this little goats eye, but he's napping on the seat of the scooter!

And what' a farm without a farmer's market! Most stalls are lit by kerosene lamp after dark. Its currently mango season. Yum. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 24 - Indian Entrepreneurs

Today's post is short because the evening was spent at a going away party for my colleague Mark. And when he lands in the Midwest, I'm sure he's going to miss the how even the most mundane tasks are never boring in India. I must think "Wait, what really!?!" at least three time a day. They really like to keep things spicy around here.  

 Take this auto repair garage as an example. Why limit yourself to one line of business? While a customer waits for the mechanic to fix his vehicle, he can do yoga to help relieve tension, or perhaps shop for houseplants, or if they take too long and he dies waiting (literally) they have a cemetery onsite. I pass this place on my walk to work and I often wonder if  the owner realizes the irony of running a nursery and a cemetery a part of the same business. That's an Indian entrepreneur for you!