Archive for August, 2005

in india day one

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

So I’m now in Mumbai, India after two flights of around 8 hours back to back. It’s coming up for 10:30 on Sunday here, so midnight back home (going to have to post this later though because my room doesn’t seem to have web access). The flights were excruciatingly boring but that’s probably what you want in a long flight, all things considered. Toby was very good about saying goodbye – we’d primed him a bit on the fact that I was going away and he waved and didn’t cry when I left, although he did say he wanted to come too. Oh yeah, worst bit about the flights, apart from 16 hours in coach class – the movie “Monster in Law” with Jennifer Lopez. Just dreck.

When I arrived in Mumbai, off the plane and through the rather dilapidated airport past lots of uniformed and mustachioed officials. In fact so far most things (apart from my hotel) seem rather dilapidated on the outside which I guess is a combination of the type of building material used, the climate and the fact that this is an old city. So far the city certainly feels quite chaotic in some ways, although the officials’ attitude to who does what and when seems very strict – they seem quite teachery and bossy towards people.

The ride from the airport, through the dark city, was crazy. Fortunately a driver from the hotel was there to meet me which was a big relief. He was a nice guy too and saved me more than once from being hit by a bike or mini-taxi between the terminal and the car (no multi-story parking lot, just out of the terminal and you’re going past stray dogs and palm trees to your car). The airport actually seemed to be in a quiet run-down area, lots of falling-down types of store fronts and little corner stores, quite a few people around, and we had to swerve a couple of times because of stray dogs. First impressions: enormous city, felt like London in some ways due to its size and general mish-mash of buildings. Lots of people and it seems that when a pair of guys is walking down the street it’s the done thing for one to have his arm around the other. Also a lot of people, including children, sleeping on the sidewalks. Slightly surreal was when the driver asked if I�d mind if he played music � of course not I said, thinking maybe some Indian music, something clubby maybe. But no, crappy American rap which was a bizarre contrast to what I was seeing outside.

Breakfast just arrived – be right back. Although I should note that I feel like a total cheapskate because I don’t have any Indian cash so can’t tip anyone. Hrrmmm. And they’re incredibly polite here so really deserve it.

Back – pretty decent breakfast and good coffee which is just what I needed. Lots of things I’ve read and people I’ve spoken to tell me about being careful with food here, but I would assume that a highly reputable hotel like here would be OK. Arriving at the hotel was a little traumatic. After the very over-stimulating car ride I was quite dazed and when we got to the main entrance of the hotel there were tons of people around all dressed to the nines. There’s a nightclub downstairs here so lots of Mumbai’s wealthy young things hanging around, making me feel totally underdressed in my
shirt, shorts and sandals. Also the commissionaire guys were way indimidating – both well over six feet tall in long coats and turbans and massive mustaches. However I made it in and checked in no prob. My room is on the 19th floor of the tower (can still hear lots of car horns honking from up here) and I have an amazing view of the city, even though it’s hazy this morning. In one direction there are endless tower blocks, with some church-type buildings and domes. In the other is the harbor with cranes galore and around 7 naval-looking ships moored. Plenty of trees too, lots of palm trees near the hotel.

The guy just came to take away my breakfast tray and I’m a cheapskate still.

This afternoon the hotel have arranged for me to go on a five-hour tour of the city which I think I’m looking forward to. The whole place is kind of intimidating to be honest, but I’m sure I’ll be just fine, especially in m’chauffered car with a guide. Then tonight at around 8 I’m flying to Bangalore and have work to look forward to tomorrow morning.

getting ready

Friday, August 26th, 2005

So I’m at work finishing off some things before I head out to India this evening. Marathon flights – 8+ hours to Amsterdam and then 8 1/2 hours to Bombay. Erk. I’m quite excited but feeling sad about not being with Em and Toby for a week. I did tell Toby about it a couple of days ago and he seemed a little downcast so we’ll see how he handles it when I head off to the airport this afternoon. I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine. Next month we’re going to do some travel together – going to Canada for my cousin’s wedding and it’ll be fun to be on the plane with Toby telling me to “go fast on your seatbelt Daddy”.

Also Toby and I have a top culinary tip: Do not under any circumstances attempt to mix corn with your pasta and pesto: it totally doesn’t work and is disgusting, especially if you use cheap supermarket shredded cheese instead of parmesan on top. We won’t be doing that again.

bizarre cat

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

While I was posting the previous entry, there was a bit of a ruckus from the kitchen. For the last few days when we’ve come home or got up in the morning we’ve noticed that Nessie and Scout’s executive water bowl has been moved around the kitchen, spilling water and generally perplexing us. My assumption, based on previous behavior with his former regular water dish was that the culprit is Scout. He loves the new bowl so it’s not like he’s annoyed with it I don’t think – I reckon he’s just an odd cat who likes moving stuff around. So the ruckus was him actually moving it and we caught him red pawed. He doesn’t seem too worried, actually he’s just jumped up on the sofa between us purring very loudly.


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Reading the activity, not Reading in England or wherever else (probably several in these United States).

This post relates to Toby’s “reading” which is actually a rather impressive feat of memory. He has around 30 books (about 10 Thomas the Tank Engine, 5 or so Mr Men plus a couple of Bobs the Builder, and more) which are regularly read to him and he has a remarkably good memory when it comes to not just the storylines, but the specific wording. For example around 7 months ago he wanted the story of Danny and the Dinosaur every night. After a few days he got to the stage that he would say specific sentences in the right places (usually particularly emphasised sentences, such as “‘Down boy!’ said Danny” when the dinosaur climbs up a building) and after a few weeks he was able to recite pretty much all the first 30 pages word for word. Now it’s extended to pretty much all the books he has, so tonight he read a Thomas the Tank Engine book to me all the way through with only minor prompting and only around three sentences missed out. We also sang the song of the Owl and the Pussy Cat, a book of which we bought a couple of weeks ago and he just loves. I love hearing him sing “runcible spooooon”.

Oh yes, the point of the post. After me going on and on about how amazing he is, yada yada, Emma was telling me that he does in fact sometimes lose his place in a story – although I should take a moment to point out that if he was here Toby would be saying “no Daddy, that’s not a story, it’s a book!”. Emma sometimes catches him when she’s been in another room and he has picked up a book for reading, and will sometimes start halfway through, getting a little confused. He’ll read a little bit, pause, and then say “and all about this”.

back at last

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

Several irate readers have complained that I haven’t posted for ages. Well, yes. Here’s a selection of excuses/reasons:

1) I got sick. Very nasty, especially as it was timed to coincide with the night Em and I were supposed to go out for our 5th anniversary while Toby went for a sleepover with Lauren and Sam. I felt ill during the day at work and when I got home my fever was 102, which it hovered around for the next 24 hours. Toby still had his sleepover and loved it, but Emma’s and my evening and next morning were the almost exact opposite of what I’d had planned.

2) Been very busy at work – in a good way though. I’m getting a lot more direct reports/responsibility which is great but takes a lot of time and effort to do right. Seeing as my company and not my blog readers pay me, the company wins. Also I’ve had a little travel – down to the Bay Area in California last week which is a very nice part of the world. Pretty productive meetings for two days too. Flying back the view as we left San Francisco was aweseome – ocean, mountains, desert. A full hour of turbulence was less fun and made doing my crossword puzzle a little tricky.

3) Getting ready for more travel. This weekend I’m off to India for just over a week to help set up a new office there. Insanely long trip for only 5 days of work. Fly from Minneapolis to Amsterdam (8 hours) then to Mumbai/Bombay (8.5 hours). I’ll be staying the night there and possibly getting a tour the next day, then to Bangalore (1.5 hours) that evening. I was supposed to be flying over and doing the tour with someone from work but she’s not able to go after all, so it’s just me.

4) Toby, after having been really good at going to sleep for a couple of weeks, is taking forever to go to sleep now for some reason. He doesn’t drift off till 10pm or later which is very frustrating for all of us and means that we don’t really get an evening to see each other. And the worst thing is he’s such a little cutie so you feel terrible for getting upset at him. Here’s a sampling of his goings on:

a) I heard him yesterday in the living room singing away “ba ba baa ba ba”. When I went through I saw he’d taken the thrown and seat cushion off our wooden chair, exposing the slats on the set. He was sat in front of it singing – “Daddy, I’m playing piano!”

b) He’s been correcting our pronounciation and words a lot lately: “Mummy, it’s not maracas, it’s mahraahcaahs”. “Mummy, this isn’t a store, it’s a Target“.

c) He’s been really good at looking after the cats and they seem to enjoy playing games with him on the whole

d) The sleepovers with Lauren and Sam have been quite a hit with both sets of kids. Two weeks after he went to theirs, they came over to our place for the night while Claire and Paul went out. We’re planning to extend this arrangement which seems to work out really well for all (when they’re not sick).

5) Finally on Sunday, yesterday, the new priest celebrated his first service at the Cathedral. As of time of writing, his info is not on our website. It was excellent to have him there – having been the chairman of the search committee I feel very relieved that it went so well and we got very good feedback. He’s got two young kids, the older one is three-year-old Hudson who met Toby in the nursery yesterday morning. They immediately hit it off and played together all morning. After the service we took Hudson down to the coffee room, with Tobe as tour guide: “Hudson these are our stairs. This is where we get our cookies. This is where we sit to eat our cookies. You sit there” and once they’d had a couple of cookies each, Toby and Hudson chased each other around the coffee room for another half hour.

That’s the update in a nutshell and I realize that since it didn’t take long how lazy I’ve been. My apologies, I’ll try to keep up to date more.