Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Again, Home Again ...

It is a bit hard for me to believe, but our visit home is starting to wind down and in a few days we will be heading back to our Bangalore home. It has been a strange visit in a way. Hard to see people in terms of arranging the time, hard to see people in terms of not knowing when I will see them again when we part, hard to see people in terms of making priorities and such. I still have so much to do, things to purchase and yet I just want to go up to the hills, find a rock or a tree log, take a seat and breathe. It is so beautiful here. I really had forgotten how close nature is. The fresh air, the green hills and trees everywhere are gorgeous and refreshing. I used to complain that is was hard to get to when we lived here, now I appreciate it far more. Bangalore feels almost strangled in comparison. But this is the way it is.

I have enjoyed many things about our visit. Hanging out with friends and family in particular. We joke around that we have given a boost to the US economy while here with all of our stocking up and such. I have enjoyed being in a hotel with a Mexican restaurant next door!

This is the one cuisine that we cannot find in Bangalore and if you have grown up in California is is practically your native cuisine and culture. Friday was Brenton's birthday. Brenton is an Australia expat living in Bangalore with his family, and his family came along to California with us for our holiday here. Brenton is quite friendly with my eldest daughter. Anyway, on his birthday we decided to go to Los Charros, the Mexican place for some Mariachi and Margaritas. He was serenaded. It was beautiful!

Feliz cumpleaƱos Brenton!

Customers singing Mexican Ballads

I am having a hard time being very expressive about our stay here. I think that part of that is that I feel a bit confused about my feelings. It is good to be here but in a sense a bit uncomfortable. The economic downturn is apparent, we have heard and overheard many talking about salary cuts and lay-offs. Businesses that have been part of the local landscape my entire life are closing their doors. And yet in Bangalore we are isolated from all of that. We still live in the Golden Bubble. We have a driver, a housekeeper, and live what can only be called a privileged life. We know it. It is a bit hard to imagine that the global economy will enable us to return home for good anytime soon. This definitely makes our stay bittersweet. We are the migrant workers of the 21st Century. Visiting our house was odd as well. There are several young men renting it and it felt the same but so empty. No chaos of stuff everywhere. No blaring music competing from opposite sides of the house. No kids arguing or joking around. Just didn't feel like home. weird.

So we move on. Life is a transient experience after all. We are surfers. We catch a wave and ride until it is time to hop off, paying close attention so that we don't get dumped too hard. We want to be able to walk away with our board in hand and our head held high. Grateful for the experience and looking forward to the next ride.

Eduardo the dancing waiter

Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year filled with joy, love and prosperity!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's a Verb, it's a Plane, it's Santa Man!

The new verb. Bobbitised.

I love Indian newspapers

The Plane.

We arrived via Hong Kong at about 10 am this morning. Long, but some sleep was had and we are now officially stateside for the first time since last January 2nd! Jet lag sucks though.

And lastly, Santa Man and his Merry Elf.

Read all about it from Santa's perspective here.

It is good to be home, although I don't think that it has really hit me yet. It is green. The sky is clear and crisp (and cold!). Since our house is being rented out we are staying in a hotel with a view of the lowest gas prices I have seen in quite some time.

The plan is to see friends and family, to share our lovely bit of the world with Aussie friends from India who have joined us here, to register for school (more about that later!) and to take care of necessary tasks. A lot to fit into the 2 1/2 weeks we have here, but we shall do our best.

Tonight? Pizza and sleep.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Turkey of a Day w/o the Poultry

It was a weird Thanksgiving. As it was our first Thanksgiving in India I was prepared for something different, but nothing like what the day became.

First, the weather has been cold. Truly actually cold. Sweater weather. Wool sock weather. Thank goodness I have some of those. There was a cyclone that came ashore the southwest coast of India and we have been getting the fringes of it here. Nothing too extreme, but definitely cold and damp. First time I have worn a sweater, socks and shoes here in India.

Secondly, I woke up yesterday to a phone call from home with a family member making sure that we were all okay given the situation of the last few hours. Situation? I hadn't even had my coffee yet. I had no clue what was going on, but I turned on the TV as I continued the conversation and was soon caught up with the events in Mumbai. This event, even though it is further away than the bombings that struck Bangalore in July, feels as if it has hit closer to home. Why?
  • Westerners Targeted
  • High Profile Sites
  • Oberoi, Taj
  • Hostage Situation
These phrases and words were scrolling all over and on everyone's lips. As a Westerner who often visits High Profile Sites, including the Oberoi and many Taj hotels here in Bangalore and elsewhere, I felt a bit vulnerable or perhaps... well actually I can't think of an adequate word to describe my feelings. I don't feel unsafe necessarily, but wary? Yes.

Then third. As I was sitting on our second floor, reading news from the computer, I heard a loud sound and then screaming from the construction site next door. I went down the stairs and outside, mentioning to my neighbor who was looking over his front gate that someone had gotten hurt. We walked over to the site and up to the floor where the accident had taken place. There was a boy, probably about 14-15 years old as well as a man about 25-30 who had been hurt by a wall that had collapsed on them. These walls are made out of concrete cinder blocks and somehow it came down. No speculation on their construction skills, it just happened. The boy had hurt his leg as well as gotten a bit of a bump on his head. The older man had obviously gotten a good solid concussion out of the deal. Having suffered a good concussion myself and seeing how spacey he looked, I was quite concerned about him. Apparently in situations like this the construction workers are to call the contractor and owners who are supposed to take care of them and make sure they get medical treatment, etc... Well, they called them but they did not arrive until this afternoon. Helpful. I made sure that they went to see a doctor and gave the boy some pain medication for his leg. I also went over with our housekeeper Lalita
(since she speaks Kannada and I don't) this morning, to see how they were doing. The man looked a bit out of it; tired, but otherwise much more responsive and okay. I told them that he will probably be okay but he needs to rest and take it easy for a few days. The boy was complaining of a headache and was a bit feverish. His foot had been cut on the edge of one of the bricks (they work barefoot or with "slippers"), and when I looked closely I saw that it was a bit red and very sensitive. I was concerned about infection so I told them to soak his foot in some warm salt water and then to keep it wrapped and clean. We gave them some blankets, I tore up some cheap cotton pillowcases to make bandages and told them to let me know if anyone gets worse. As all of this was happening Ari's physiotherapist (yes, he makes house-calls) was arriving and he said that it was so good that I was doing "social work". I tried to tell him that this is just what we do where I am from. If someone needs help, you help them. To me it's called being a good neighbor. I guess that is what I am thankful for.

So, that was our first Thanksgiving in India. Luckily Maya made an apple pie and with the Domino's Pizza that we ordered we felt like we had had a bit of a celebration, but still. Like I said, weird.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stitch and Bitch

I know that my offerings have been a bit sparse as of late. I know it isn't so interesting to hear about how busy I have been but I have been
  • Busy caring for my family
  • Busy trying to care for myself (in needed downtime and even joining a gym...)
  • Busy in my new role as photographer for the OWC's Rangoli publication
  • Just generally busy
I am long overdue for a knitting update so how about I show you what I have been working on. Yes? Good!

As I think I have mentioned I have been a little concerned about how cold I am going to feel when we return to the States to visit in December. I know that there are probably some of you who assume that California is sunny and warm most of the time, but I am here to tell you... not true! It can get cold, even when you are used to it, and now that I have been living in a tropical climate, where temperatures rarely drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and are usually closer to or above 80, those moderate and damp Northern California winter days are going to be cold! Definitely sweater weather. So after much thought and contemplation (always an important part of starting a sweater) I decided to start my Philosopher's Wool sweater. I think I mentioned that before... but here is my progress so far:

I have the two sleeves done, Have started the body and am just sort of changing colors as it seems to make sense at this point. I do have a couple of concerns about this sweater. I think my gauge is a bit tight (I seem to be changing my knitting style a bit) and this is made more difficult because this particular yarn does not have a lot of flexibility to it. It is possible that this is partially due to the fact that I have been storing this sweater kit for almost two years and the yarn has a lot of lanolin in it. I have knit with yarn that has this kind of a stiff hand before, but doing a whole sweater of it feels a bit like I am wrangling with it or something. Not a particularly pleasant knit in a sense. I feel fairly certain that once I block it that it will loosen up a little bit, but this particular form of fair isle gives a fairly heavy weight fabric. It will be warm!

My other concern is that I may not have it done in time to be able to wear it for our trip. That would be a bummer. Particularly when I could have chosen a different pattern that would have been a faster, and probably more pleasant knit. ugh. Well, I will just have to keep my fingers crossed. It is not going to be one of those beautiful flattering sweaters, but I DO hope that it will be one of those beautiful and yet utilitarian sweaters! I had an older Norwegian sweater, obtained at a second hand store 10+ years ago for next to nothing, and when we were packing up for our trip to India I realized that it was getting holes, wearing through and was in need of retirement, or at least a vacation! I think I packed it a way in a box (I really HOPE that I did!) but it was my beautiful utilitarian sweater. I need a new one.

Have I rambled enough? If you are not a knitter and have gotten this far, you have my gratitude! Just for you I will tell you another Bangalore tidbit. Yesterday.... what a day. Ari and I decided to go to the gym. Now, our gym is at most 10-15 minutes away by car. Quite close by Bangalore standards. I had read in the newspaper that there was going to a political rally in town, complete with bussed in villagers who are paid and/or fed in exchange for attending the rally (it's true- I kid you not) and that traffic would be a bit heavy. So with all of that I wasn't surprised that it took us 30 minutes to get there. We passed busloads of people obviously heading back home so I figured by the time we were done at the gym everything would be cleared out. I could not have been more wrong.

"Are we there yet??"

We got into the car to head home at about 4:15 and did not get home until 6:15. I kept thinking that Ari and I should just get out of the car and walk home, but our driver Manju was quick to point out to me that he couldn't do anything but go forward anyway.Hours in the car. Everyone was complaining and comparing notes, talking across divided traffic, grousing and whinging. After dropping us off Manju then went to pick up Bryan who works about 30 minutes away. What time did he get home? 11:00 pm. Almost four hours to get him and bring him home. Unbelievable. Sounds like a really smart political rally, doesn't it? Somehow I have a feeling that they won't be getting many votes from this part of the city!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A New Day...

No, we were not there, but the heartfelt and deeper than I thought feelings keep coming back.
I have hope for my country once again...

This is a video from a street party in Seattle after the US Presidential election results were announced...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Oktoberfest November

Yes, it is November. Even here the weather is changing. The monsoon rains have passed away, the air is fresh in the mornings and last night I was even cold in bed! There are no falling leaves though and while the days are glorious and beautiful I do find myself longing for a crisp nip in the air and what I can only call sweater weather.

I am creating my own personal sweater mood though- I have finally started the Philosopher's Wool sweater! This is a kit that I purchased at Stitches West in February of 2006, right about the same time I started this blog. I figure that I am going to need a nice warm sweater for our visit back home in December. I am long overdue for a knitting update, but that is not going to be today ;)

Today I am going to tell you about Oktoberfest!

On Saturday, November 1st the Indo German Cultural Society hosted an Oktoberfest party here in Bangalore. wow. Never in my life have I experienced anything quite like this (and that is saying something!)

Imagine, if you will, a typical Bangalore 5 star hotel, cars pulling up in a queue, moustachiod Indian doorman greeting you as you enter... And then the lobby is packed. Lederhosen, dirndls and all. We proceed upstairs to the main halls, one for food and one for everything else. There were hundreds of people and as we relaxed and settled into our tables, it was apparent that we were united. Drunk Germans, crazy Finns, wild Indians and all the rest were here for one reason only, to have a party. The band, flown in for the occasion from Germany, started the evening with a long set of German beer drinking songs, interspersed with toasting songs, followed by drinking. Yes, there was lots of drinking.

Oktoberfest Band

No, there was no good German beer, we were stuck with Kingfisher for the night, but in such good company even it was palatable. There were sights I will never forget, like the young Indian guy dancing on the table with the Lederhosen clad band member, the unidentified crazy Finn dancing with shoes in his pockets and the long line of dancers, surely representing every country in the world, snaking through the hall.

As the night progressed the dancing moved up onto the benches, some number of which broke, and up onto the tables

Broken bench #2 and counting...

But it was an experience I am very grateful to have had. We all felt welcomed into a German cultural experience and I for one won't miss it next year.

At 11:30 it was time to finish. We truly could have gone on for many, many more hours, but Bangalore law being what it is, this was our cut off time. We all knew we had already bent Bangalore tolerance (and broken the law) by combining live music, alcohol, and dancing at the same event. The band was shooed away from the stage, a very brave Indian hotel representative announced to us all that "Our friends the police are already here" and so we slowly accepted our fate and dispersed into the night.

Crazy fun.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Catchy catchy...

This post was started about a week ago... yeah, it's been one of those weeks

It has been a weird week- preceded by a nice long weekend in Varkala, Kerala and then a few days of feeling under the weather. And yes- we have the monsoon rains back again the last week or so. If I understand this is part of the "retreating" Monsoon, and is not likely to be as long of a rainy season as the previous one. Monsoon seasons, Indian Holiday seasons, not to mention the coming "Western" holidays make for an increased level of chaos and hub bub. It has certainly been festive. Well, to catch you up, I'd better just dive right in! Ready, set, ....


Last week was Dasara-Vijaydashmi (hope I'm spelling that right!) and this is when, among many other things, people decorate and do a pooja with their vehicles, as well as other work tools. The idea, if I understand correctly is that this pooja will ensure that these tools work good and properly in the next year. Well, our car was not excluded from these festivities!

It was quite fun to drive around and see all of the festively decorated vehicles. Ours actually looked quite simple!

Also last week, I received this:

Yay! I count!

I have now voted, even donned the "I voted" sticker around the house just for fun and now we just keep our fingers crossed that they arrive sae and sound and actually get counted. Yeah. That would be good.

So since last week was the big Dasara holiday, Bryan and Maya had time off from work/school so we headed out to Varkala!

Varkala is a small beach area in Kerala State. For those of you are are not aware, Kerala is the state that is at the South West coast of India. It is referred to as "God's Own Country", has the highest literacy rate in all of India, and is the home of many beautiful, warm and generous people. It is a breathtakingly beautiful spot in the world and other than being far more warm and humid than Bangalore, is absolutely idyllic. We chose to go to Varkala because while it is a little bit of a tourist destination, it is described as a "laid back" one. Perfect. I've been to Goa and wanted to experience something a bit different. Also, as it was "off-season", due to the effects of the retreating monsoon, the prices were far less than Goa. Yay!

We didn't really do a lot. We enjoyed being able to walk without the interference of traffic and such and we also enjoyed a lot of relaxing, whether it was by the pool, or overlooking a beautiful sunset with a Rs. 100 Mojito in hand. Life was definitely good.


I think I am already ready to go back....

Monday, October 06, 2008

Not sorry...

So, I am slowly marking off "things to do while in India..."

Saturday night I wore a Sari for the first time. Our opportunity was provided by an OWC fundraiser, "India Night". It was the perfect time to try a sari. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous. I had heard stories of saris slipping down or off at inopportune moments and I was certain that if it would happen to anyone, it would be me. I have never really been a "girly-girl", rarely wear skirts or dresses and generally wear jeans or here, the salwar kameez "Indian pants-suit". The highest high heels I ever endure are rarely over one inch, and lots of sparkly jewelery? Ummm... nope. Not me. So a sari, along with all of the traditional accessories, is the antithesis of "me".

Some weeks ago I knew that this event was coming and so while at one of the many, (and a particularly good one) handcraft and handloom expos, I oggled and purchased one and then two silk sarees. My choices felt limited due to my coloring. There are many bright and beautiful colors here in India, but given my light brown hair and light olive toned skin, not many of them look good on me. There are some that work but given my aversion to sparkly, I tend to be drawn the simpler, subtler designs. These are the ones I purchased

So, the plan was to meet up at a friends' house and aided by her dear housekeeper Violet and daughter Ruby, we were folded, tucked, pinned and adorned.

Marian gets draped by Violet

We were SO grateful for their help. I'm not sure how one could put a sari on unaided! We felt like we were getting ready for a wedding or something. Then the finishing touches, our flower garlands, were put on. These were a gift from our drivers, who were very concerned that their "madams" looked respectable and proper in their Indian attire.

Me, Marian and Jackie

A small photo shoot followed and we were then off for the event itself.

Our men-in-waiting!

A lovely garden setting, Indian food and chaat, Hindi music and singing... it was a lovely night and all for a good cause...

The full sari shot- including head!

Now, at this time I feel inclined to share a story about one of those causes.

A couple of months ago I joined the OWC charity committee. My "job" is to act as a contact for some of the charities that we support. Finding out what their needs are, acting as a conduit for that support, and ensuring that funds are used properly and appropriately. While on a visit to one of the charities last week my friend and fellow committee member, Andrea, asked if I would like to join her in visiting Home of Hope. It is one of "our charities" and is a home where people go who are homeless, unable to care for themselves, mentally ill or disturbed, sick and dying... really a last stop for many. They are brought here by concerned citizens, police officers, etc... Here they are provided with a place to sleep, medical care where possible and needed, and some food. They are kept alive and cared for. This facility is Christian, meaning that the organizer is Christian and inspired by Christians like Mother Theresa. It is not a church, nor is it a conversion center or anything else of the sort.

Well, a couple of weeks ago there were some troubling things that happened in our area. In Orissa there has been trouble between the Hindus and Christians for some months and here in Karnataka there were some epoisodes where churches were attacked and ransacked and holy relics were destroyed. Something like this happened in Bangalore and when it did there was a situation where the organizer of Home of Hope was wrongly accused of making trouble and arrested. He was held for three days, beaten, and in subsequent news stories was apparently passed off as someone who takes advantage of people's donations and gets all of this money and... this is just so not true. If you could see this facility. There are people everywhere, of all ages, (yes, including children) and they currently house about 250 people in a facility that is meant for 150. The organizer, Raja, lives on site with his family and this is what they do. Because of these accusations, many of his local supporters have stopped (hopefully only for the time being) giving donations. This is someone who has been well respected and honored in the community and this situation has hit him very deeply, not just in terms of being able to do his work, but also on a personal, emotional level. He is hurting. Locally, we are trying to get food to him ASAP and support Home of Hope as we are able.

If you feel so inclined, it would be such a support to him to get some help at this time. He is very burdened at the moment and even small contributions can go surprisingly far in India. They have a website - New Ark Mission - also linked above and they are already all set up for Paypal.

If you do make a donation, let me know in the comments... you won't be sorry. ;)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Next Best Thing...

I have to admit that I am finding it hard to blog these days. Keep thinking "a post is due..." but then I open my computer, read my emails with links about politics, serial bombings, the economy, energy scarcity, bailouts and such and I am quickly overwhelmed and drained. If I were smart I would just not read these things, but somehow I feel like it is important to understand what is going on in the world at the moment. These are interesting times, as the supposed Chinese curse would describe, and I have a sense that if I am aware of what is happening then I can stay afloat in this crazy world.

But luckily there are distractions.

Living in Bangalore we are of course introduced to other cultures. You would think in a country like this it would be "All India, All the Time!", and you are partly right BUT we were invited to a special get-together over the weekend that was "All Aussie!" It was the AFL Grand Final.

AFL: Australian Football League
Grand Final: Just that, like the Superbowl in the US.

Some of the kids watching Footy

What a party. Australian Football, or "footy" as they call it, is very, very different from American Football. The ball looks similar but that is about the only similarity there is. These guys chase, kick, "handball" (a move that looks like an underhand volleyball serve), and bounce the football as they move down the field in an effort to score points. They do this all with no protective clothing (other than mouth guards) and do so with typical Aussie grit and balls. It is a fast moving game and luckily is far easier to understand than cricket, which despite my best intentions remains a complete mystery to me.

There was of course good food,

Australian brekkie

good drink, and good friends...

Brad, Rob and Steve

I am also a fan of American football and while this in no way took the place of the Autumn games that I am missing from back home, it was good fun. I am a fan.

The Winners!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Olympic Awards

While I was knitting away on the husband sweater I was often watching the Olympics. This is the first time that I have watched them while in a foreign country and I wasn't really sure what to expect. In the US people often complain the the Olympic coverage is US-centric, overly commercial, too heavy on human interest stories and edits out many of the lesser known sports.

Here in India there was what seemed to be a lot more available to watch, although I never knew what was going to be on until I sat down and turned it on. There didn't seem to be any way to know the schedule. Because of this I missed many events that I usually like to watch, like diving, gymnastics and many of the track and field events. The commentary was also fun to digest as they generally had two people, speaking to each other, one speaking English and the other speaking Hindi.

So, while I do feel like I missed out on a lot- I did catch a few things and have my own Olympic medals to award! Without further ado we have...

The BRONZE award goes to Usain Bolt in the 100 meter.
Did you see this race? Did you see him at the end? He actually slowed down, to bask in his glory, before he crossed the finish line! What a way to win an Olympic gold medal and establish a new world record.

The SILVER award goes to the unknown boxing commentator.
He kept the action interesting with such quotes as:

"...he's getting more hits than a Pamela Anderson Website!"
"...exhibiting more control than an episode of Get Smart!"
"...he's got his rhythm and like Gloria Estefan says, the rhythm is going to get you!"
and my favorite, in reference to the Chinese heavyweight boxer, Zhang
"... hes got an arm stiffer than a box of Viagra!"

But the GOLD, the Gold has to go to the Chinese Olympic organizers themselves. Why? The song lyrics for the closing ceremonies...

Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing
Beijing, Beijing I love Beijing...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Closing Ceremonies

Okay- I can't leave a post like the last one up for too long. Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. I am feeling a lot better today and yesterday my daughter took good care of me and even suggested we watch a mindless, romantic comedy movie (The Holiday) rather then the intellectual thrillers that I tend to choose when left on my own. She was right. I laughed, relaxed and woke up this morning feeling much better. Again, thank you!!!

(and Tigerr- I need your email address! I can never reply to you!!!)

So, as I write I am watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics (it is broadcast live here) and I have my own Olympic, er RAVELYMPIC accomplishment!

Here we have what I have termed The Husband Sweater (Ravelry details here)
A sweater I started for my much loved husband on March 1st, 2007.
But it is finished and I can't wait for him to get home and try it on.
(we will all keep our fingers crossed that it will look stunning on him!)


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Down, dooby doo, down, down...

I am having some downer days.

I am always a little hesitant to blog about such things because I don't want people to feel sorry for me or feel like they have to do something special for me or anything like that. But I think that it is a reality of living life as an expat. Sometimes you just miss being at "home". I walked to the store yesterday to get some necessities and while it was lovely out, an early evening where the air was clear and cool and filled with the scent of blooming flowers rather than sewage or garbage, I was filled with feelings of

I just want to be invisible.
I don't want to stand out.
I am tired of being stared at.
I want to feel normal.

There is no real cure for it. While I can hide away in the house for a time, this just becomes depressing. If I go out I am faced with all that is getting me down. I am stuck. I just have to wait for it to pass (which it will) and in the meantime I am dreaming of living someplace where I feel normal, where knitting makes sense and where I can enjoy quiet, walks, and having some outdoor space that is my own. Le sigh.

So you will get a knitting update today and soon I will share a bit about our Summer of Guests.

For the Ravelympics I have been working on the sweater for my husband, originally started on March 1st of 2007. At this point I have completed the back, both front pieces (as it is a cardigan), and am almost finished with the second sleeve. I feel fairly confident that I will be able to finish it in time- by tomorrow afternoon- and will be very grateful to do so! I think my husband will be too (and he'd better like it!!!) This is a UFO that has been hanging over my head and conscience for a good long time and now I feel incredibly silly for delaying its completion for so long as it has actually been a fairly pleasant knit! Here it is in its unfinished state:

Well- I am off to eat brekkie, wake up the daughter and ponder the day's activities. I'm sure knitting will be in there somewhere and I promise I'll be in a better mood next time ;)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Swamp(ed) Monster

It has been one heck* of a month.

We had family visiting. We have traveled. We have explored. They have left and since then I have been sick.

I am only now starting to feel as if I am crawling out from under the rock of busy chaos and am staring at the wreckage of my life. Unfinished and In-process surrounds and defines me. I need to make lists. I need to prioritize and I need to get busy. Thankfully I am feeling better and am powered by a massive desire to be on top of things again.

Remember the green yarn? Remember the green blanket for the baby that is due to arrive in about three weeks? Well, that green yarn became this

And I am almost done! Just a nice cast off or crochet border and a good blocking...

But dudes. My lovely knitting friends and those who can empathize with projects gone wrong.
I screwed up.


Apparently those three things don't go together so well. I never thought about it. I have never knit with acrylic before, how was I supposed to know! What the heck* am I going to do??!!

I have done a little research and apparently you can KILL acrylic yarn. Yeah, yeah, I know- that's how I feel too, but really that's what they call it. It is a process of steam pressing the yarn and it somehow releases the fibers in some way. But it doesn't always work, or really I should say that it is irreversible. You blow it, you suck. Oh man. This is not good.

So I have an almost finished blanket that needs to be killed, the Ravelympics start in two days (for which I am WIP Wrestling with the ever in-process Husband Sweater) and yeah.

I'm starting to wonder why I decided to crawl out from under that rock.

* no further cursing required

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Last weekend we went to Hampi.
We took the train there.
It was an adventure.
I'm not sure I should even tell you the train story. Really, it is a bit appalling. But it is a slice of India so I guess I will share- but please don't make any rash judgments about us OR India based on this story!

So, we decided to take the "Hampi Express", a train that runs from Bangalore to Hospet so that we could get a look at Vijayanagara or Hampi, a 400-600 year old city that is absolutely amazing. Not quite ruins, but not quite abandoned, it is in the North of Karnataka and I'll tell you right now- it is a photographer's dream. But, back to the train. I had tried to book the tickets online but kept having problems and then Bryan's assistant, whose husband's brother's cousin- or something like that- worked at the railway office said she would be happy to handle it for us. Okay, no problem. The help is appreciated as I have been busy showing Isha around Bangalore and all. So, for some reason our tickets, once we finally received them, were labelled RAC. Looked like "Reserved Air conditioned" to me. Fantastic. Well, we arrive at the station Friday night (July 4th!) and discover that RAC is actually...

Reserved Against Cancellation.

Oops! But, as our names were actually on the list that was taped onto the side of the train we were told to get on... but where? What we had reserved (and paid for) was 2nd class sleeper. But those berths were all full. The conductor took us down to the regular non AC sleeper cars and sort of waved his hand at an under-occupied area and left. We had absolutely no clue as to what was going on. Our driver had said that we might have to give the conductor 1,000 Rupees. I suspect he took one look at us and figured we could afford it. I was irritated, but felt like we were sort of stuck. Anyway, the girls found empty berths nearby and Bryan and I sat down while we waited to find out where we were supposed to be. Soon it was 11, then 12. Bryan and I also took a couple of empty berths and tried to get a little rest. Then a couple got on the train and it seems that I was occupying the berth of the very pregnant wife. Okaaaayyy. I got up, gave my husband, who I love very much, a bit of a look and I soon encouraged him to go find the conductor. Good man. He got up and came back in about 10 minutes and said that we had two berths in one of the other cars. Honestly, at this point I would have been happy with any seat to call my own, but I followed Bryan up to the next car and soon Maya came along as well and we occupied the two bunks that we had been told were ours.

Unfortunately this is not the end of the train saga. Ten minutes after I had settled into my bunk the conductor came by and said "Where is your husband?? This isn't your bunk, this is someone else's, you have to get out." Now at this point, about 1:30 am I think, I am fed up. I have no clue where we were supposed to be, I have no clue if he is telling the truth or what. But I did know that I was determined not to move from that bunk. He wanted me to "go get my husband". Nope. Not moving. He came again about 15 minutes later and I told him that he could go talk to my husband in the other car. Then, I rolled over, covered my head and decided that if he wanted me to get out of my bunk he was going to have to remove me himself.

I did end up staying there, but Bryan had to give the guy 1500 Rupees (train robbery!!!) and he found spots for all four of us. Isha was nearby and Bryan was given a spot in the car we had reserved for, but that's his story. Ugh. We survived though and in the morning we were in Hospet, about 12 kilometers from Hampi.

Hampi. Wow. Normally this would be monsoon season there, so there weren't a lot of tourists. The weather was perfect, not too hot, no rain, and a nice breeze when you needed it. We had a great guide and really really enjoyed exploring it all as well as taking turns using our new camera! (none of which are posted here... these are all from my lovely little mobile still!)

Really I think that all I can do is to show you some pictures...

A view of Virupaksha Temple from Hemakuta Hill

Krishna Bazaar

I think I just need to call him "Temple Watchman Dude"

Elephant Stables

Hanuman Shrine

Gratuitous Cute kid photo

So we did learn something interesting while we were there. We kept having people come up to us and wanting us to take their photos. Apparently some believe that if you take a photo of them that you will make them one year younger -or something like that. I figure it was a rumour invented by some eager photographer!

In a few days I will post the rest of my photos up on Flickr. And tomorrow ...we are off to Kerala!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

She's Crafty...

100 and counting... That is how many blog posts I have to read in my Google Reader. Down from 200-300. I spent the morning clearing it out a bit and hope to be a little more caught up soon (until the next trip away anyway...) So if you haven't heard from me in a while please don't be offended!

But now it is time for me to make my ongoing contribution to world wide electronic information overload ;)

Well, first I need to share a bit of good news..... (insert drumroll)

I have a FO!

The Ribby Pulli that I started in the Spring of 2007 was finally finished at the craft group meeting that we had at my house a few weeks ago.

Ta da!
Crappy pic- but you'll have to deal with it as I want to get this post up!

I can't tell you how nice it is to finish something that has been sitting around for a while!!!

Now I just need to finish the Print o' the Wave, and the husband sweater, and... well, you know. There are a few.

Now, at the last craft group meeting... wait, let's call it by it's proper name. Back home I had Bobaknit (that is now boba-less on Thursdays. What is the world coming to???) and here we have Khelana Bajana which means "playing" in Hindi. The name was suggested by Connie. Connie is dynamic, enthusiastic, cheerful and a lot of fun. Connie's husband came here to Bangalore to learn how to make prosthetics. pretty cool. Except now her husband has received a job offer in Ethiopia that starts in a few weeks. Cool, but dang. I am going to miss Connie!

Anyway... Khelana Bajana met at my house and we knit, stitched and chatted, and chatted, and chatted! Usually we meet for about 2-2 1/2 hours. We went for almost 5 hours! We had a lot of fun, but I think everyone stayed to see me finish the sweater! Anyway, it is a great group and I am glad that Gill got it started. I'll share pics of them all another time...

Now, I have also gotten a lot of yarn recently. My husband has taken to saying that I need to learn to knit faster!

I received a package from Cookie in exchange for the test knitting I did... Wow. Really, really nice and can't wait to knit it!

Mmmmm... Bohus!

I received a package from Jo of some absolutely beautiful cotton-linen. She probably got tired of me complaining about knitting wool items in a tropical country! Jo- muah! These are SO gorgeous!!! (psst... she sells on eBay!)

Luscious colors!

I received a package from Jeni and Hannah (who is apparently no longer a blogger, but I love her anyways)- with some items that they picked up for me at Stitches West. Can I tell you how lovely it is to know people are thinking of me as they are surrounded by all of that yummy distracting fiber and yarn?!

These two will match quite well!!!

And lastly, I picked up some yarn when we were in Singapore. Yes, one of the many lovely things about Singapore is that they have real yarn shops, that carry real yarn made out of real, non-petroleum based fibers. Oh my. I unfortunately (or fortunately from my family's perspective!) only had time to go to one shop, Spotlight in Plaza Singapura (conveniently located near our hotel that was just off of Orchard Road). Truly though, that one shop was enough! I was very quickly on overload as I looked at the yarn and dreamed up possibilities...

One of several aisles filled with yarn

Some of it followed me home...

Now, luckily I did have a yarn "agenda". My real purpose was to get yarn so that I could knit a baby blanket for our driver. I really, really wanted something non-acrylic and his wife is pregnant and due on August 24th. Now apparently in India a "good luck" color for babies and such is green. I never realized how hard it is to find a nice color of green! I did pick up some yarn in Singapore though. Unfortunately they did not have enough of the type I really wanted, so I had to settle for this:

The actual color is a little more olive green

I started knitting it and realized that all of these little fibers sticking out, which looked like a "heather" finish in the yarn when it was inside the packaging, was actually little pieces of plastic! Now, the label on this says "100% wool". Sorry. No way are those little fibers wool! After knitting a swatch and washing, I decided that it was not the best choice for a baby blanket. Argh.

So then I was left with option #2. Find some yarn in India. Well I did have that cotton yarn/thread that I picked up on Avenue Road. So I doubled it (to make it thicker) and knitted a swatch. It looked nice, but when I washed it, by hand, in cold water, it lost a lot of the color. Hmmmm. Maybe not a good idea either. So, I went back to Avenue Road and found this. A nice bright green acrylic.

Okay, it is a bit TOO bright. (and this picture is pretty accurate!)

Next, I went to another craft shop. I ended up picking up a softer green (I think at this point my housekeeper thinks I am going a bit crazy about the green yarn thing!) It will work, but I have to admit that it just isn't a color I am thrilled with.

I am stuck - but hopefully whatever I do will be appreciated. It's just that I know that whatever yarn I choose to use, I will not be completely satisfied with it. I just have to accept it. C'est la vie.

Now, there is something else I wanted to share. While we were in Kuala Lumpur we went to the Craft Complex where they had exhibits, demonstrations and several artisans with shops. The exhibit that they were showing, on Embroidery and Needlework, was amazing. Photos were not allowed though so I have nothing to show you. The artisans actually do their work there in little "huts" on site and you can (if you are interested) do a little workshop and learn how to batik. Now, growing up with a mom who owned a craft store, I already knew the basics of how to batik (as well as do macrame, Tole painting, pot throwing/ceramics, beadwork, Ukrainian egg dying, etc...) but these batik pieces were really beautiful to behold.

I walked into one hut and there was a man reclining in a chair, snoring away. He had a large horizontal stand set up nearby that he had obviously been working on nearby as it was still damp with color. As I was looking around he stirred and woke up and then started chatting. Really interesting fellow. Now, there are apparently several different styles of batik work. He worked with many different styles or batik processes, but the one I liked best is called Cap, Tjap, Chap, Chop or simply Stamped.

He explained the detailed process to us and we soon came to realize that what he did took a lot of time and hard work.

He showed some of the pattern blocks that he uses...

I think this one is made from copper

... and in the end I bought a couple of pieces of fabric because they were so beautiful. Below is one of the pieces that I bought alongside some of the other stamps.

Here is a link to a fairly informative site about Batik.

It is SO easy to fall in love with textiles in this part of the world! I just want to hang them all over the walls.

Next time, either a Bangalore update OR Hampi, OR...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hi! Remember me?!

You know, when you get very behind in your blog posts it's hard to know where to start. Do you know that feeling? Kind of sucks huh? I mean I want to tell you about so much...

There is travel content
There is knitting content
There is "life in Bangalore" content
Two of my daughters have had birthdays (Happy Birthday my dears!!!!!)
We had a wedding anniversary
We have been in Bangalore for six months (eek!)

and last but not least we have family visiting!

Well, I guess I could just dive in and start, right?

Fine. Will do.

So Let's start with a bit of travel.

In June we went to Singapore. It is such a stark contrast to Bangalore! It is pristine, clean, organized, quiet, orderly... truly everything that Bangalore is not. There were no cars honking and everyone stays in their lanes while driving. amazing. We took to calling Singapore "Merlionland" because it is sort of a grown-up Asian Disneyland-esque kind of place. I had the impression that I was in a Gotham like city, although a very cheerful one.

Singapore Skyline

And then there was the shopping. OMG. Shopping!!! Shopping malls were everywhere, huge, and filled to overflowing with people. Anna and I decided that we would be happy if Bryan took a job there (unlikely- but we can dream...), although I now realize that I don't think I could take a long term assignment there. It is just a bit too surreal for me, as well as incredibly expensive! Bryan has written a more detailed account of our travels that you can read about here.

Here are a couple of my photos from Singapore.

Chinatown in Singapore

Orchids at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

Now, after our weekend in Singapore we caught the night train to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We almost missed the train, and it was my mistake, but thanks to my on-the-spot husband and a bit of dumb luck, we got on just in time. The train ride was uneventful- which is good- and after a bit of sleep we woke up to bad coffee and a sandwich (unidentifiable I'm afraid), and the Kuala Lumpur train station.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is in a different country from Singapore and this was obvious at first glance. While not quite like India, it has some of the same feel. Things are a bit more run down and the city has a bit more more of the chaotic feeling that we have come to love about India. It is predominantly Muslim and everywhere women wore headscarves and long flowing robes. As a tourist, the major contrast between Singapore and KL (Kuala Lumpur) really is accessibility. Singapore had large tourist centers filled with brochures about all of the different areas and activities that were there. KL had... a not so accurate map. So it took us a bit more time to find what we wanted to do. But we did have a good time and again, Bryan has blogged about it a little more here.

KL photos:

Shopping in KL...
Wanna buy a Rolex?

Shopping Center in KL

Batu Caves outside Kuala Lumpur...

Lord Marugan at Batu Caves

After Kuala Lumpur, we travelled to Langkawi which is a group of islands off of the northern coast of Malaysia. Langkawi is absolutely beautiful and I would love to go back there for a week to relax and do little. Nice.


Then we were back to Singapore for a last evening and day before our return to Bangalore via Tiger airways, thankfully we didn't need to sleep on this flight!

FYI- to see all of my photos from this trip you can go to my Flickr set here.

Next time I will tell you about crafty/knitting things!