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.