Sunday, September 30, 2012

I have my own pineapple guy.

There's this restaurant in one of the malls here called Pirates of Grill.  Seriously, the signs out front say "For Rs349, it's not lunch, it's plunder."  I wanted some plunder, so we went there for dinner a few nights ago.  Turns out, it was a cross between a buffet and a barbeque on a molten hot skewer place.  They had a charcoal skewer grill set up at each table, so they could bring out pre-cooked skewers of stuff, and you rotate it yourself until you think it's done.  Fun, all in all, but they also bring out huge skewers of other stuff that they shave off onto your plate.  One of these skewers was three pineapples that were coated in honey and cinnamon then rotisseried until warm and delicious.  I asked the pineapple guy to come back so many times when we ate dinner that when we showed up for lunch today, the pineapple guy rushed over to our table to shave off an entire pineapple's worth of yummy goodness.  Eli thought it was hilarious that he remembered me.  I was just happy that I didn't have to ask for more pineapple.  Someone tell Adam that we need rotisserie pineapple at Thanksgiving.

Dante has started to do this elephant crawl thing that involves speeding around on his hands and feet with his butt in the air.  He's pretty fast, and usually Eli and I are too busy laughing to stop him from getting into whatever he wasn't supposed to have.  I keep trying to get a video of it, but I've been too late thus far.

Eli and I went into another suburb of Delhi yesterday to visit the home of one of his work friends.  It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, but the couple was really nice.  They're very Americanized, so I felt comfortable hanging out with them.  At the very least, they'd understand if I did something offensive and stupid.  They also clued us in that we're supposed to bring a gift of sweets or something when we visit people's houses along with the tea and awkward conversation ritual.  I figured that last one out as we were turning into their street.  They assured us that the gifts are usually reserved for more formal visits (like when parents come over) rather than friends. We chatted at their place for a bit, then we went to the local mall so I could look for a table lamp that has been eluding me.  I found the lamp (and a clothing store that I want to check out), then we left for a local outdoor market to get a weird appetizer that I will explain later.  While walking around the market, Eli and I encountered a small gang of little girls (maybe 10 years old, tops) who tried to mug us.  One grabbed the water bottle Eli was carrying and tried to run off (putting all 65 pounds of her weight behind the grab), and another tried several times to grab my necklace.  We shooed them away with some help from our Indian friends, but it was a strange experience.  They were giggling the whole time like it was a joke, but they were obviously trying to steal our stuff in broad daylight.  It wasn't even crowded where we were walking around.  They were such poor thieves that Eli and I couldn't really get upset about it, but it was the first time I'd ever been almost mugged by children. 

The weird appetizer scorched my tastebuds, like usual, but it wasn't an unpleasant flavor.  We had to go up to a little cart where a guy was handing out palm-sized plastic trays to the small crowd surrounding him.  He would then pick up a thin, hollow, fried ball of dough or something.  There was a hole in the top, and he would pour this red stuff (some kind of sweet chili sauce) inside the ball, then lean over to a vat with a spigot next to him.  The vat had this pea colored liquid sloshing around inside it, and he put a squirt of the green stuff over the red stuff inside the ball.  He then hands the ball to whoever has their hand and tray out.  You're supposed to eat the liquid-filled ball in one bite, but it was just a bit more than I could fit in my mouth.  Let me be clear, the guy, the stall, and the vat all looked pretty dirty, and all I could think of was that I was going to get typhoid from this, pear or no pear.  He'd already put a ball in my tray though, so I didn't want to be rude to the couple we were with.  I ate it.  It tasted weird, but better than it looked.  Then I needed water right away (hence the reason Eli was carrying around a water bottle when we were psuedo-mugged). 

Later this afternoon, Eli and I are planning to take Dante to check out the rooftop gardens on our building.  I know, we lead such exciting lives...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Slow on purpose.

Dante and I went to a baby playgroup today.  It was fun to talk to other moms, and Dante got to steal toys from other kids for two hours straight, so he was good.  When we got home, I then had to take the housekeeper shopping for the last of the food supplies we needed.  Eli wants lasagna tonight, which meant we needed to buy all the ingredients and the pan for that.  Also I needed some more fruit (the pear hasn't given me typhoid yet).  As a result of all this busy time, I've only been home for a little bit and most of the day is gone. Some of you may remember when you asked me what I would do in India, and I answered that I would write.  This was my intention (and technically I'm writing right now...shut up, it totally counts), but I haven't been able to work on my dissertation at all.  I can offer you a bevy of excuses, but the truth is that I'm just not making the time for it that I need to.  Yesterday, I got an email that I need to send the English department a bio of myself.  I've avoided doing this the last five years mostly due to laziness.  This time, it wasn't a request.  So I cruised over to the department page to see what everyone else had up.  That was my mistake.  I was happy living in ignorant bliss of how unpublished I really am.  Everyone else has very respectable lists of where they've been published, and I'm not even attempting to write, let alone sending stuff off to editors.  It just reinforces my fear that my degree and my writing (they take up two separate entries on my big  To Do list) are becoming less and less important to me.  I can understand the degree becoming less important as my prospects of using it to actually find a job dwindle into single digit percentages.  But my writing has always been high on the list.  When did taking my housekeeper shopping (a task she can clearly do on her own) become more important than playing with my characters?  I used to have so much ambition, now I feel accomplished if Dante hasn't thrown himself off our balcony and I've managed to shower during the course of the day.  Well, I could be playing right now, couldn't I? 

And now, some pictures:

That's right, Fruit Ninja gelato...you know you want some.

This was in the basement parking of one of the malls, right next to the elevators.  Awesome (if somewhat sexist), right?

This is a pig in the middle of the road, not being run over.

This is the back half of a cow in the road.  We were moving so I couldn't get a full shot.  What you can't see is all the traffic just swerving around the cow like it belonged there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pears

I'm reading this blog that I used to follow written by a fellow author of paranormal romance, and I can't remember why I stopped reading it.  (Ooo..something shiny!)  Right.  So, she's doing these recaps of Fifty Shades of Grey, chapter by chapter.  I've been of the opinion that the sudden popularity of Fifty Shades does not make it a good book.  I've read my share of erotica, and this is nothing special.  I can recommend a lot of books that are considerably better and contain less abusive overtones.  In a moment of obliviousness, I realized yesterday that E.L. James is a woman.  My subconscious just assumed that an erotica author who doesn't list their full name and glorifies borderline abuse must be male.  I was wrong.  Now don't get me wrong, I have no beef with BDSM lifestyles, but the one described in these books is not healthy.  It's not the bondage, it's the absolute control that Christian has to have over every aspect of Ana's life.  That, my friends, is how episodes of Law and Order: SVU start.  Anyway, this blogger (Jennifer Armintrout, you can find her here) share a similar view, and her posts are hilarious.  I realize many of my friends enjoy these books, so I'm wondering if some of you who have read the series can look through her posts and tell me if she's presenting the book accurately.  Not the snark, I get that.  I mean the actual events of the book.  I know from experience how easy it is to shape events to fit your view of them...I spent 10 years in college writing papers that did just that. 

I had my first fresh fruit today.  The last five days or so have been spent searching shops for things my housekeeper says we need, so I haven't spent much time eating at home, ergo, no fresh anything.  Everyone has warned me to wash the fruits and veggies here before eating them, so I've been hesitant to get any in case I didn't wash it well enough.  I had a pear for lunch, so I guess we'll see in the next day or so if I suddenly contract typhoid (note: I have no idea if you can get typhoid from fruit).  Joy (the housekeeper) is making us an Indian dinner per Eli's request.  This will be our first dinner from her.  She made french toast this morning, and Eli loved it, but it just tasted like fried bread to me.  I realized after eating a few bites that she must have used actual butter to cook the bread.  It's what I do when I make pancakes for Eli, but it has an enormous number of calories so I don't partake.  I just use a little Pam when I make my pancakes.  Honestly, I like the lighter taste better anyway.  So I had butter fried toast for breakfast and my stomach has been rumbling all day from having a week's worth of fat in one sitting.  Eli was happy though.

To add to my fat arse, we went to visit this guy in West Delhi on Sunday who was selling the elliptical machine that is now sitting behind me.  We should have seen it coming but we didn't.  The guy (and his family) expected us to stay for tea and snacks and exchange inane chit chat for a while.  Apparently, this is par for the course here, and if we decline, it's considered the height of rudeness.  Eli and I were both aware that this ritual happened, but we assumed it was only with people you knew, not with people you found on the internet and had just met.  Our bad.  What does this have to do with my fat arse, you ask?  Well, part of the snack ritual involved their 4 year old son bringing us what we assumed were candy bars.  We politely thanked him and got up to go shortly afterward, attempting to leave the candy in the chairs where we were sitting.  The guy's wife noticed and handed them to us so we didn't forget our candy gifts.  In my purse they went.  So far, most of the Indian sweets I've eaten have been "weird," meaning not what I would consider a delicious dessert (not counting the evil dessert bar at the hotel).  Later that evening, I was emptying my purse (as I'm wont to do every evening during my arguably [Eli says yes, I say no] OCD cleaning binge...I can't sleep if the house is untidy), and I pulled out two slightly melted candy bars.  Instead of just throwing them away, I decided to see what they considered a candy bar here.  This is what the package says: "milk chocolate wafer with smooth milk and hazelnut filling."  I can sum up my entire relationship with hazelnut by saying "pirouettes," so I wasn't overly impressed.  Also, I don't really like wafers.  Then Eli goes "so it's like a Twix with hazelnut filling?"  We both stared at the package in question for a moment, then I shrugged and tore it open.  I like Twix (Twixes?  Twix's? Twixi?) well enough, and there's a chance that the wafer was more Kit Kat than dry biscuit.  I took a bite as Eli watched in rapt attention.  Lo and behold, it was really good.  I love milk and hazelnut filling.  It was like a Kit Kat and a Twix made sweet (ha!) love and produced this delicious confection.  And this is why I can't lose weight in India.  People keep giving me deceptively tasty foods that I think I won't eat.  Also because my new elliptical has a different size plug than the sockets in our walls.  Eli is buying a converter today.

We finished season 3 of BBT and have seasons 4 and 5 on tap.  I've also downloaded the first couple of episodes of Glee season 4 and Bones season 8.  Party time tonight.  We've decided that it's just easier to "borrow" the files from a certain site that will not be named (savvy?) instead of attempting to watch Hulu.  Does it count if my only exercise is in frustration?  I'm going with yes...hand me another Twit Kax bar.


Friday, September 21, 2012

11th floor.

We moved into our apartment today.  Eli had to work late, so all the moving was on me.  It took three trips with the SUV full of stuff.  How did I gather so much stuff in only 3 weeks?  Pros and cons: The furniture and drapes turned out really nice, but the toilets and the AC in our bedroom didn't work.  The maid only had time to clean half the apartment before she had to leave for the weekend.  She starts for real on Monday.  Conveniently, that means I have to clean the rest of the apartment if I want to actually use it.  No big.  I probably would have gone over it again anyway.  The guy is coming tomorrow to fix the AC, the plumber already fixed the toilets, and Dante only screamed for 5 minutes in his new crib.  Once I have everything unpacked (and cleaned) I'll make a quick video tour and post it. 



Friday, September 7, 2012

Spicy

Eli has been sending out update emails, so I'm thinking of adding his thoughts on here for anyone not on the email list. Here are some more of my thoughts from Wednesday and Thursday:


I had my table stolen at lunch. I went down to the buffet (I know, I'm working on becoming one of those holy cows), and my purse was obviously not good enough to hold my table. It was probably just a mistake since the waitstaff seats each table and my purse was doing a good job of blending in with the floor. Let's get this straight right now, I love Indian food, but every single Indian dish I've tried here has seriously injured my tastebuds. Eli gave me some potato pancake thing this morning and said "it's a little spicy." I took a bite and had to drain the water bottle I'd just received. Then I couldn't taste anything the whole rest of the meal, which pretty effectively limited my time at the dessert bar. And seriously, who thought it was a good idea to have a magnificent dessert bar at breakfast? I can't fit into my pants anymore. Gah. I had steak at lunch too. It was really good, and interestingly enough, it was the only serving spoon that wasn't dirty (yes, they were little steaks served with a big spoon). We eat in there enough that the staff recognizes me. Our usual waiter came by to ask "Where is Sir?" As if Sir was his name. I've had the same experience with Rebecca, the nanny. She calls me Ma'am as a name, but it's also used as a noun. Like "How can you talk to your Ma'am with your bad English?" I actually overheard that comment from Rebecca's brother, who was on the phone with her. All the staff call me Ma'am as a name, but it was really easy to get used to. I think we're going to have to find a new nanny, unfortunately. Dante loves Rebecca, and she's nice with a lot of energy, but she's unreliable. This is her first week of work and two of the days she showed up late, two days she wanted our driver to take her home, and today she asked for the day off. Unreliable. I really wanted a live-in nanny anyway. Now that we have an apartment picked out, we can actually house a live-in nanny. Of course, since we have a not-live-in nanny, we've been interviewing live-in all-rounders (domestic help who cook/clean/launder/basically do everything). I know we have a servant's quarters, but I wonder if it would be big enough for two. Probably not, they're pretty tiny.

We found an apartment I love, but there are some conditions that had to be worked out with the owner, like furniture. The preliminary contract is being signed today, then the real contract will be signed when we get it in like a week. Then we'll move in. In the meantime, I'm supposed to go shopping with the owner to pick out the furniture. I hope it works out okay because I have no idea what kind of budget he's considering. Until the apartment is ready, we're staying in the hotel, which has lost some of it's shine. We must have 8 or 9 keycards at this point because they keep breaking. I don't mean Dante is snapping them in half (though he does keep trying to eat them); I mean they stop working so that I can't access any of the hotel areas. The elevator, the fitness center, our room...all need a key card to get into. I'll leave my room with a card I assume works, but then I'll get stuck in the fitness room because I can't get the elevator to work with a card. That happened this morning at 7am. Eli was trying to sleep in, and I had to call and wake him up because I was stuck on the Lower Lobby level. Eli never seems to have this problem. I hypothesize that I'm coming into my superpowers and that's throwing off the magnetics in the card. Clearly.

I went to a meeting yesterday of a group called Gurgaon Connection. It's for expats living in Gurgaon. The meeting was a coffee date for all the newcomers (meaning living here for less than 3 months). It was very enlightening. First, it was happening at the Aralias complex, which now has me drooling to live there. The central park/pool/fitness area is amazing. It looks like the Hawaii of my dreams. Of course, it's 3 lakh rupees to live there (about $6000 per month), but the apartments are 5 bedrooms with a huge terrace and about 6000 square feet. Honestly, I don't need that much space, I just want to be near the community area. Also, these places all have little convenience stores in the complex that sell fresh fruit and stuff. When I say fresh, I mean it just came from the farm. Imagine access to a farmer's market every day. The Exotica, where our apartment is, isn't finished yet. I could see the pool from our balcony, but it didn't have any water in it. We were told that they'd finish the fitness center/convenience store/pool/etc after they've finished all the towers...sometime next year. The green space and the kid's play area are nice, and there were kids using them when we came through to tour the apartment. That's a good sign to me. What am I going to do without easy access to a fitness center? Eli and I talked about getting an elliptical machine for our apartment since that's pretty much the only thing I use in the gym. I like the plan, but it depends on the cost. I guess I could always join a gym here. Or convince one of the ladies I met who live at the Aralias to let me mooch off of their fitness center. It's just down the street.

Oops, I got distracted...right, I went to a coffee meet-up, and I learned a lot. Like that the police found a dead body in the field just outside the Aralias main gate (all these communities are surrounded by serious walls and gates). Apparently, the guy was murdered and left somewhere he would be easily found as a warning. That discussion was followed up with assurances that Gurgaon is perfectly safe during the day. The three ladies running the group warned us all (all female) not to go out alone at night. They also made clear that going out with just your driver is the same as going out alone. I was convinced. Not that I could leave at night anyway without someone here to watch Dante. Now, if we had a live-in nanny.... Hmm.


Almost forgot the pictures:



I want this woman's saree, pale green and gold.


This is not banana pudding, I don't care what the menu says.


The evil breakfast dessert bar.


Eli found Hoegaarden here at our hotel...we can't even find it in Milwaukee.


The lobby, need I mention the art?


The entrance to the pool.  The fitness center is actually inside that hill/fountain, on the right.

The area between the lobby and the pool/awesome fountain thing.


The other side of the grassy area.


And finally, the pool...well, half of it.

something that I want
something that I tell myself I need
something that I want
and I need everything I see



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Drumroll please...



Here are the highlights of my thoughts since we've gotten to India.  The ones I've written down at least.  Ignore the time/day references since they were collected over several days, up through yesterday.

There is something snacking on my legs.  I haven’t seen mosquitoes, so some part of me is worried that I suddenly have fleas.  The bites look like mosquito bites though.  Sneaky bastards.  I need to eat more garlic.  

 The first couple of days in India have convinced me that I was clearly meant to live in a hotel suite.  I love this suite, which is causing problems in the apartment search.  Nothing is measuring up to the hotel standard.  The food is amazing here, and everything is so clean.  And the workout area is amazing.  Le sigh.  The bathroom has this really cool square tile in a random pattern of white, light grey, grey, dark grey, interspersed with a shiny gold and iridescent blue-green-purple.  I want to take the wall home.  The bed is enormous with a super squishy mattress and an obscene number of pillows.  Last night, we were literally surrounded by pillows.  It was what I imagine sleeping in a cloud would be like.  The lights still confuse me.  There are buttons instead of switches, but I’m not really sure what all of them do.  Mostly, I just try not to turn off the power in the whole place on accident (I know that’s possible because I managed to do it the first night).  Speaking of power, we’ve had maybe one power outage a day, but it’s for less than 10 seconds then everything comes back on.  I can only assume the building has power back-up.  The tv channels are also weird.  They have TLC, but it’s an Indian version of TLC.  The hotel staff speak excellent English, but everyone else speaks with such a heavy accent that it’s hard to understand (if they speak English at all).  I keep waiting for someone to tell me to learn the language if I want to live here, then I remember that I’m not in America anymore and people tend not to say that in other places.  The traffic is ridiculous, and the cows have huge horns.  Not the long skinny ones like Longhorns, but the thick scary kind made for goring people who don’t show them the proper respect.  


Eli ran into the mirror in our suite two nights ago.  It was hilarious.  Of course, it was like 2am and I was suffering from sleep deprivation, but I laughed until I was wheezing.  Actually, I’m laughing right now just thinking about it.  Dante has been getting up at 2am every night, crying for an hour, then going back to sleep.  I will be so excited when the jetlag wears off. 

I flooded the bathroom this morning on accident.  I’m not sure why I felt the need to add “on accident” to that sentence since I can’t think of a good reason to flood the bathroom on purpose.  I’m not sure why the drain wasn’t up to the job of getting rid of the water, but it took all of our towels to mop up the mess.  I’m going to go ahead and blame Eli’s hair. 

I had some insightful thoughts that I reminded myself to blog about this morning, but I’ve forgotten them since then.  Shame on me for not writing them down.  There was a woman in a miniskirt and heels at breakfast.  I think the hotel is giving me a false sense of typical women’s fashion here.  I need to go spend some time in a mall.  I don’t want to go by myself though, not yet anyway.  Maybe I’ll call Shivani (the girlfriend of one of Eli’s coworkers) and see if she wants to go with me.  They spent a lot of time helping us on Saturday, so maybe she’d be willing to help me not get taken advantage of.  This whole trip would be easier if I could just speak Hindi.  If for no other reason than the joy of listening in on conversations that people think you can’t understand.  You can learn so much!

The nanny, Rebecca, wants me to teach her English grammar.  It seems I can’t escape teaching no matter where I go.  I may agree to tutor her in English if she’ll help me with Hindi.  Speaking of which, I need an English-Hindi dictionary.  The pronunciation seems pretty straight forward, but I need a solid vocabulary base.  And I need to get familiar with the grammar.  I won’t be able to read it, but I’ll be able to communicate…I hope. 

I think we may have blown out the white noise maker and the monitors on the first night.  Neither seems to be working anymore.  Blast.  Luckily, all the floors here are marble (and I mean all the floors, not just in our suite), so when Dante cries, everyone can hear it. 

I’m sitting here watching a Japanese channel with the nanny (it’s in English for some reason), and it just reinforces my insistence that I want to live in Japan.  That’s about the only thing that would keep us abroad after our stint in India.  Eli says it’s very very unlikely that JCI would open a branch in Japan since the cost would be so high.  Then again, he said it was very unlikely that they would pay for us to move to India.  He’s conservative in his predictions. 

I went to Modern Bazaar today.  That’s Gurgaon’s version of an upscale exotic foods boutique, meaning they sell American brands at ridiculously inflated prices.  I paid $7 for a small container of peanut butter.  Robbery.  Eli says I’m not allowed to shop there anymore except in special cases. 

And now, pictures:
 



Our bed with a view of the bathroom.



The other side of the room with Dante practicing his climbing skills (he gets those from Daddy).

The living room, please ignore the mess.

Dante playing with his plane at TGI Fridays at one of the malls here.  This was before he started dancing to the music (you'll notice he's rocking the outfit Erin got him for his birthday, someone go tell her).
The view from our bedroom window overlooking MG Road, which seems to be the busiest road around here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

India

As most of you know, I'm now in India for the next couple of months.  I keep promising to update here, as it provides me with more space than Facebook.  Be prepared for long posts, hopefully with pictures.  I've already got a doozy in the works, so I'll post it as soon as I stop Dante from shredding the newspaper on the floor...and climbing the tower of suitcases...and exploring the toilet.... Okay, I'll post as soon as the nanny gets here.  :)


been a long time gone