Wednesday, March 28, 2007

T - 8 and counting

we are going on vacation. to goa. yeah.

the first few weeks we were here, we kept remarking on how it kind of felt like we were on holiday. we were staying in a guest house, i hadn't started full time work yet, we didn't really have any friends apart from each other. much more like a vacation. then of course we moved. as time has passed and we have slipped into a distinct rhythm in our daily life, it is becoming harder to imagine anything else.

a sure sign that a vacation is in order. if for no other reason, to keep the imagination and the adventure alive. and of course so that paige can get a tan and we can lie languidly on the beach sipping coconut water and eating freshly caught fish. i mean, who can argue with that logic?!

not that we need any excuses, but we do need a break... city life anywhere in the world - i am realizing - is exhausting. it reduces us to little creatures trying to survive despite all the harsh conditions that urbanization throws up. so time to break the monotony.

time for goa.

Friday, March 16, 2007

bhel puri

it is supposed to be a delicious treat that is spicy and sweet and salty and tart and crunchy and wet and just plain yummy all around. so i indulged.

i did the unthinkable, the unspeakable, i ate street food.

as it happens, street food in india is some of the most unhygenic cuisine in the world, in large part due to the UNavailability of clean water, but also because of lots of cost cutting practices that reduce the quality of the food preparations - as well as the flavour, i might add.

despite the gentle and affectionate warnings of numerous concerned parties, i felt like eating an 8 rupee bhel puri. and then i regretted it.... and how! at least if it was as delicious as it was supposed to be, it would have felt worthy of the outcome, but, alas...i am off bhel for a long time.

while i was sick this week, our maid, Amuda (aka Cristina - the name she chose to introduce herself as so that "foreign madame", i.e. paige, would not have trouble saying it) was also sick. same problem, low grade fever and loosies. but she lost her other job for not showing up.

so she comes to work at our place the next day crying and anxious about how to pay her debts, which clearly can't be met with just one job. we devise a plan to help her find another job. and i am plotting how i am going to let the people who fired her know that i think they are assholes. then she tells me that her little boy has had a stomach infection for most of his life - he is only 9.

all i could think about was trying to imagine feeling like i have been feeling for the past week for several years! would i get used to it too? could i?

the daily realities of the poor here are exhausting. she tells me they have no electricity, no running water, just enough provisions for one square meal a day - for the child. she and her sister run the household, as both their husbands turned out to be assholes. they are constantly harassed by men who think they are available. on top of this, they spend all their spare time looking for their mother who has disappeared. they send the boy to an english-medium school - an expensive undertaking, to be sure.

i suppose since i am not yet desensitized to the stark disparities between our lives, i can't stop thinking about her and talking about her, trying to get some perspective on how i can support her without creating unrealistic dependencies. we are leaving here after all. but she is stuck with her child in one of the most violent slums in bangalore.

so i offer her some leftovers and ask her what she eats if there isn't enough food at home.

she shrugs and says "whatever i can find...bhel puri."

Friday, March 9, 2007


so we all know that the times of india isn't exactly the country's most gramatically accurate or ethically responsible newspaper, but jeez! to its credit, the theme of international women's day was prominent throughout the front section, unlike the other papers. i was pleasantly surprised. so there i am, flipping through, trying to get past the liz hurley/arun nayar wedding story (you know, the most pressing and noteworthy news story of this week) and arrive at an article called something like "the new paradigm," about how far we women have come, etc. but the first thing i notice smack dab in the center of the article was a huge, color advertisement for jolen creme bleach, "lightens excess dark hair." convinced it was part of the article, i rapidly skimmed the text, searching for some critique of this product and/or advertisement, but to no avail.

it was really just an advertisement. right there in the middle of that article about how far women have come.

happy women's day.

p.s. stay tuned for details of last night's march through the streets of bangalore. check our flickr page for photos of the action.

p.p.s. for the record, i used jolen to bleach my mustache for years before i discovered waxing and electrolysis. but still.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


it’s been a little over a month since we moved into this flat, and we are currently experiencing our first power outage. it began last night around 1am, and at 3 in the afternoon, we’re still hoping for its return in the near future.

i know, i know, “welcome to india,” you’re thinking. i guess since it hadn’t happened at all in the last month, i was hoping that we’d be smooth sailin’. i should’ve known better; just the other day there was an article in the paper about how while bangalore has been virtually free of power outages for the last two years, that’s about to change. nice timing. and just today the times is reporting that there has been a 25% rise in power demand this year compared with the last three years, and that the demand is likely to go up further in april and may.

in other news, the biggest story here is the death of a four year old boy who was attacked by stray dogs while playing hide-and-seek. this comes on the heels of another death of an eight year old who was attacked just two months ago, and many other reports of children who have been bitten but not killed. protests ensued and now there is increasing tension between government officials who want to kill all stray dogs, and NGOs that want to protect the rights of animals. one government official is quoted today as saying, “children’s lives are more precious than dogs’. we’ll intensify the culling and killing operations without any mercy.” a little extreme, maybe? maybe not? seems to me the bigger issue is that of trash collection. many of these dogs gather to rummage through garbage that is strewn on the side of the road or in the middle of a field, like the one where little manjunath was playing.

there are over 56,000 stray dogs in bangalore!

Thursday, March 1, 2007


i've been missing brooklyn lately. not the current, cold, snowy brooklyn, but the brooklyn in summertime. i took this picture in fort greene after a LOVELY farewell meal. it wasn't summertime but it was nevertheless a fabulous night. i miss everyone a lot.