stress case

So, the other day i got word through informal channels that all foreigners on business visas needed to leave the country by the 31st of Oct. I found this out only bc a friend’s company had become aware of it when their employees were unable to register at the foreign registration office. I am not registered on this visa there because I leave every 6 months.

So now all (or a lot) of the foreigners here are in total panic mode. No one knows what to do. the embassy isn’t really helping, they are aware of the change in business visa rules, but say that it is up to the Indian govt to enforce this and they don’t know anything and can’t do anything. Meanwhile, we are all being directed to the FRRO (foreign regional registration office). Paul has been down there the last 3 days all day to get his employment visa renewed. So far.. he still doesn’t have it renewed. It expires tomorrow. So who knows we both might be on planes tomorrow leaving the country.
And in the meantime I have applied for a renewal of my passport – they did not take my old passport as yet, so i could go back home and then see if the US would forward my new passport to me there or if India would let me back in on my soon to be expiring passport… doubtful though.
grr.. so stressed and confused. my work has been great though and are willing to give me whatever i need to get the situation sorted. so the question is, do i go back home on sat and wait for a new passport and get a new visa or just ignore all of it and hope i can get back into the country later?!
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full of plans…short on action!

We’ve come up with a new plan… I think we have realized how difficult it would be to just “leave” leave india. So instead we concocted a new plan that might help us make a decision! The plan at the moment…

My job finishes at the end of June or July, so we can both take 3 months off and head to Europe. We’ll use Berlin as our base, see if we find a place to buy, visit with friends and family in Europe, do a little travel maybe to Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Italy, who knows. But just generally chill out and enjoy some down time. I get plenty of downtime, but Paul has been working non-stop for the last gazillion years, and by then 9 of which will have been here in India, so he needs a break.
Hopefully his job will let him have the 3 months off and then we just have to figure out what to do with the cats for 3 months and then we’ll be off. I’m already looking forward to it even though its still ages away.
Our thought is that perhaps having some time away from India will help us get out of the day in, day out rut and see clearly about whether we want to stay longer or if we are ready to call it quits. Of course Paul could always get a job here again if we changed our minds, but it isn’t too likely he’d get the same financial package as he’s on now..so we must think long and hard about what it is we really want to do.
So there ya have it… so if you have been hankering to go to Europe, come for a visit at the end of next summer :)
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Kashmir!

It feels like it has been ages since we have gone anywhere in India. Anytime we have a break, we always seem to leave the country – and we probably would have again this weekend except the place we wanted to go requires that your passport not expire in less than 6 months (which mine does :( ). So instead we finally decided on Kashmir – the far north of India, the land disputed between India and Pakistan. It’s not always the safest place to go as there are frequent clashes between the two sides, but I’ve had a few friends go in the past month, who had a great time, so we decided to give it a go! And it’s one of the places on our ‘India list’ that needs to be seen before we depart (which is still a complete unknown, so don’t get too excited!).
Anyhow, we booked our flights, made a houseboat reservation and off we went. Well, not so quickly actually since our departing flight was 6 hrs late leaving Mumbai. Not a great start, but somehow I was still smiling and laughing sitting in the boring and not quite finished terminal at the domestic airport. (not quite finished means no food options!).
10 hours later, we finally arrive in Srinagar. Looking down from the plane all you see is military posts and soldiers. The whole airport was waiting for our flights arrival and as soon as we arrived and gathered our bags, the lights were off and the staff were out the door with us! I would imagine that Srinagar’s airport doesn’t get a lot of traffic and that it definitely doesn’t allow planes to land at night and it was getting close to dusk, so everyone was ready to get home.
The air was nice and cool – absolutely perfect so far. The streets were lined with soldiers who happily waved at us as we passed by. So far the city looked like most other Indian cities, full of men! Except – it was a lot cleaner, the roads were nicer and there were a lot less people than we are used to seeing. Arriving to our lake – Nigeen lake and switching to a shikara boat to take us to our ‘hotel’ – a moored houseboat on the other side of the lake. It was beautiful arriving at sunset.

A little haze in the sky didn’t dampen our spirits – seeing the shadows of the mountains, the boats on the lake and the cool breeze was all we needed. We immediately felt worlds away from Mumbai and the insanity that Diwali weekend brings. I loved listening to the call for prayer and the birds chirping and nothing else…
It wasn’t long after being on the boat that we began to realize just how cold 5 degrees Celsius was going to be! Once the sun set, the temperature drops quick! We had our dinner and exhausted after a long day, retired to bed at the insanely early hour of 8 pm! haha. I don’t think Paul has ever gone to bed this early!
The houseboat was nice, very old world style, but the bed..had a few inches taken off i think as we really felt the 2 inch traditional Indian mattress on our tired bones. Oh well.. no such thing as luxurious 5 star beds in the middle of nowhere!
Waking up the next day was painful – freezing coldbedroom and bathroom! So instead we retreated to the balcony overlooking the lake with the sun blaring down on, heating us up! Today we had planned a full day trip around the town, visiting the gardens and old Srinagar. We didn’t even have a guidebook with us since none of the latest books even include Kashmir, so we just went with the recommendations of our houseboat owner.
Man… they love their gardens! We visited 3 gardens!

They all had the same flowers, but were nice to wander around in. The Indian tourists loved us and request our photos at each step. Funny that they really like having their photos made with white people who they don’t know and don’t care to know! But I bet we will be famous in the households of Kolkata! haha.
After the gardens, we got to visit an old wooden mosque in the old part of town. It was beautiful. I couldn’t go in, but it was nice to just walk around the outside. then we pottered around the little lanes checking out the daily happenings, having our photos taken more often than taking our own and chatting to the locals who were interested in our impressions of Kashmir.
So far the Kashmiri people were so welcoming and nice. And it seems odd that they don’t seem to think they are Indian.. they would always make comments about the “indians“. weird.
We got back to our boat just in time for our 2 hr shikara ride around the lake that we had already planned. It was great slowly gliding through the lotus ‘fields’, seeing local life and running into the millions of boat sellers. I think we had at least 6 flower salesmen selling “groovy” flowers!
Tonight we had an addition to our houseboat – a Gujurati family had taken the other room. We were a little worried how it would be to share it, but they were very quiet and so non intrusive that it ended up being fine. Again, we were in bed shortly after sunset. This night was super cold for some reason so I slept in my gloves and paul slept with his hat on! hah. what a sight.
Our last full day in Srinagar we had planned to go to the mountain of Sonamarg. The day before had been quite warm in the daytime, so I didn’t dress too warmly thinking it would be the same. All my winter gear nicely tucked in the suitcase just how it was packed. Oops. Big mistake! No one told me we were going to the snowy mountains!! After about 2.5 hrs of driving through beautiful mountain scenery, we arrived to our destination – the snowy hills of Sonamarg. We quickly got our horses ready for the trek, borrowed winter jackets from the horsemen and headed off. As is usual, I had the stubborn horse who wanted to do it’s own thing! But he eventually fell into line :)
As we set off into the mountains, snow started to fall on us. Wow! Luckily it didn’t last long or else I wouldn’t have lasted long with no real warmth! The trek up the mountain to the glacier was beautiful. I am glad we had the horses though as it was pretty steep in parts.
After a 2.5 hr trek, we met a Kashmiri policeman wearing a “US Army” jacket which I thought was hilarious, so I asked if I could take his photo. I did and then 5 minutes later i turn around and see paul holding an AK47 (or the russian equivalent) with a huge grin! HAHA. the police thought it would be great to get his photo holding the gun up. Very trusting police up there!!
back down the mountain through the off/on snow falling, back to the boat thoroughly exhausted!
But a trip to Kashmir isn’t complete without a visit to a local carpet sales shop. Big mistake. I don’t know why we even tried it! We got out without buying anything, but I still have my mind on an Iranian Kilim I saw there. It was beautiful and expensive… I felt I shouldn’t buy an Iranian carpet from India when i can probably get the same style from Turkey and hopefully someday from Iran itself. We’ll see.. I could always call him and have him ship it to Mumbai :)
Our last day was spent just chilling on the houseboat’s balcony, soaking up the sun and quiet. It was so peaceful there – no car horns, no people, only birds and the breeze to keep you company. Thankfully we had all that peace and quiet…getting out of Srinagar was such a hassle that I needed the calm to keep me from loosing it!
I recognize that Srinagar is a place with lots of trouble, but i think they would do better with fewer checkpoints and more attentive soldiers to be honest. I think they have the policy that hopefully 1 out of the 6 checks will catch what is needed to be caught. Entering the airport, we had to get out of the car, empty all of our belongings onto an x-ray machine, get our body searched, then back into the car. Ok. Good. Next, to enter the airport, again – all bags through the x-ray and our bodies searched. Ok. Understandable. Next we have to send our bags through the airline x-ray. Ok. Once we got our boarding passes, we then had to enter another secure area. Our bags and bodies searched. then with no signs to guide you, you have to go have all of your hand baggage dumped out and searched by people. The things they were not happy about were so silly… they poked holes in your unopened bag of chips, threw out your gum, too pointy of pens, lighters, etc. Then I had to go to another table to have my camera and lens’s examined. I had to take off the lens and put each other lens on, so he could make sure they were actually lens. Then…. we had to go identify our checked baggage… Ok.. now we can rest right? Nope… Another body and baggage screening as you leave the airport heading for the plane. Jeeze louise!
The thing they just don’t seem to understand is that no one arriving to Srinagar has to have this kind of security – all the things they made me throw out of my bag, had been fine through the multiple Mumbai screenings. So if a person wanted to do something to Kashmiris all they needed to do was board the flight somewhere else!
A bit of an annoyance, but we managed it make it fun – watching all of the other people get just as irritated as they were told to go back to x, y or z to get the proper stamp/search/ etc.
And back home to sweltering Bombay! but oh man the warmth did feel nice for the first few minutes! Now we prepare and plan our next adventure – Ireland and the US.
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Charity Ball – Bali- Job- Car- US- Job- Leaving – Dubai

Omg.. It has seriously been forever and a day since I’ve blogged. But really I do think about it often, but my internet has been so spotty the last few months that I get turned away when I can’t even load the page quick enough.

So a quick (in my terms isn’t so quick now is it??) recap!

Feb-May –

To recap the previous postings in case you forgot – Stacie left in March Boo Hoo. Adam, Lisa and Andrea came for a two week visit in April – YEAH!! And I spent a lot of these months helping the American Women’s Club organize a charity ball. It was fun, but also annoying a bit. I enjoyed all my pieces, but it made me see clearer some friends I’ve had here for a long time. I didn’t realize the extent of how people can be different when you transform to work life from friend life. Not interested in seeing that again anytime soon! We did amazing though and raised around 15 lakh (close to 30,000 USD or more actually…) I didn’t go to the ball though – it’s not really my cup of tea to be honest. I like organizing things and doing logistics, but I don’t like the stress of getting all dolled up for a night of way over priced eating and drinking of diet cokes.

So instead… Paul and I took off to Bali, Indonesia for a week of relaxation! I needed it after the stress of the ball and he had been swamped doing films and commercials. It was beautiful! We had a great time. It was a true vacation vacation. I’m not usually very good at those. I don’t typically like to go to a destination to just laze around, but that’s exactly what we did! We went to the beach on the north-west coast (Permuteran) and snorkeled and got insanely burned. Boo hoo. But our villa was beautiful and we had an outside bathroom which was super cool. And it wasn’t outrageously expensive. Woo hoo. Then we went inland to Ubud and stayed in a gorgeous villa where we had our own private pool, outside bed, table, bath and then inside bed, bath, etc. amazing! And again not outrageously expensive.

Since we were so sunburned it wasn’t easy to do much, so we lazed around the villa quite a bit venturing out for meals and a touch of sightseeing. One place we went was to the Monkey forest… and Paul got attacked by monkeys! WHAT? You scream… yep. Attacked by monkeys!

Haha. I was clicking away too. If you blow up the photo you can see paul’s skin in this monkey’s teeth!! What we think happened — a small monkey was pestering some other monkeys and they’d been chasing it. We sat on the wall a ways away, but then in a flash that little monkey had snuggled up next to Paul and we think the other monkeys thought he was protecting it, so they all attacked him – 5 total! He had flesh wounds and all. Oops. And of course he wasn’t too bothered. He was letting the monkeys climb on him within another 30 minutes and he didn’t go get rabies shots either. I would have been hysterical!

May- June

The day before we went to Bali I got a call from a job I had all but given up on. I’d applied in Feb, heard nothing for ages, interviewed in March and then still didn’t hear anything until May… they offered me the job, but since we were leaving I said they’d have to wait until I got back and I’d come meet again to discuss the job. I was so irritated though. I had already planned to go to the states for a month then over to Berlin for a month to buy a flat. I even had a free apt in Berlin lined up. But…I took the job of course… it’s as close to a dream job as I’ve wanted here. It’s research, its HIV, I can work from home and I’m considered a consultant (consistent with my visa) and the salary is respectable (nothing near the west, but nothing as bad as ‘local’). Perfect. And I have been dying without real work for a long time. I still do my CORP work, but I needed something with real deadlines, real responsibility and something that would challenge me. Of course they are all a bit unorganized and slow, but I’ve managed to deal with that.

Oh and did I tell you we bought a car? Not a new car, but a 2001 maruti esteem automatic. It’s old and a bit janky, but it wasn’t expensive and I can drive it all over!! I love it. I was scared the first day when I had to drive it home from downtown.. But I did it and I wasn’t even nervous once I got behind the wheel. And then after weeks of trying to get it transferred from diplomatic tags to normal person tags, I finally got to drive it again to my new job – which is 11 km away and takes about an hour and goes through some of the messiest parts of Mumbai (driving wise). And I did it and now there is no stopping me. I seriously love driving around. I find it so easy which shocks me. I find it keeps me occupied and hour long journey’s feel like 20 minutes. I love listening to my ipod again and having the mobility to just go where I want with no purpose in mind. Yeah!! you really can’t understand what a sense of accomplishment it is to drive here. the first few weeks, i seriously would just beem, i was so proud of myself for driving in the insanity and not getting hit or hitting anyone else! Think..2 cm away from other cars, massive pot holes, chaos all around (cows, cars, walkers, bikers, push carts, motorcycles, choas!!)

Back to the job…Since they wanted me to start right away I thought I better go back to the states for a quick visit before getting sucked into a job that wouldn’t let me leave for at least 6 months (or so I thought at the time). So with 3 days notice I found a flight (for the same price I normally pay 2 months in advance!!) and headed to the US for 2 weeks. 1 week in CA and 1 in OK. The one in OK turned into a bit more due to missing my connection and having to wait a few more days.. but that’s ok. Had more Mexican and spent more time with Stacie and my mom. It was a great trip, short, but glad I went back.

Then I got back and was ready to get into work.. Well they are slow like I said, so I didn’t start for another week and then very slowly at that. I read and researched and tried to make myself useful, but only after a month did I start to get the hang of what was going on. At this point, 2 months later I am still not officially hired, nor have I been paid, but I hear that its coming and I might just see 2 months of paychecks on the 1st of Sept. We shall see!!

July-Aug

And… the kicker…don’t get too excited, but we have set a tentative “leave date” for India. We are thinking Dec 2010… my job should be finished in June of 2010 and it will be 9+ years here for Paul at that point, so it’s either dig in our heels and buy a place here or move on for a bit. I can’t imagine not living here, but I also think that it’s time for a break. I think we need to get away for a while and see if we really miss it and want to come back. We can always come back. I’ve seen plenty of people do it. Of course it would suck to ship all of our stuff out of here and then bring it all back again… but we’ll see. But I think a lot also depends on Pauls work and my job. If i am offered a better and greater position doing HIV after this is finished.. then it will be hard to turn down.

And where would we go??? No clue. That’s why it’s a tentative leave date. We think perhaps Berlin as a temporary location to chill out for a while, visit with friends, buy an apt, just enough time to get bored of not working there before moving on to somewhere else… or it could be LA.. Who knows? Only time will tell.

But since we’ve made that arbitrary decision, we’ve made a goal to see more of India in the meantime. Our first opportunity was the other weekend, when Paul had two whole days off.. I had wanted to go somewhere in India, but I had also just gone to the states recently… but Paul wanted to go to Dubai and eat beef. So off to Dubai we went again. It’s summer so over 100 each day with high humidity, but when you only have to walk 500 feet to the mall.. It’s not soo bad. Haha. We didn’t buy anything though – seriously depressing. We are too fat and they already had winter clothes out. So instead we filled our suitcase with a cooler and stocked it full of frozen foods – hamburgers, bacon, sausages, cool whip, cheese, etc. fun fun.

And now we are back into the grind of work and life.


I am looking forward to a trip to Kolkata at some point this year. My friend Clare who used to live in Mumbai then went to London for 2 yrs has made her way back to India. I’ve only been to Kolkata once and never left the hotel (post rickshaw run), so we need to go explore. And I want to go to Berlin in Sept or Oct for a week to try to find a place to buy! Even if it sits empty for the next 6 months at least we’ve invested and have a place to go to there. We’ll see if any of these things happen.

And that’s about it… life is work and work and see a few friends here and there. I miss the west these days. I miss having lots of different friends. I miss being able to fly 2 hrs to another city to see a friend who’s just had a new baby. I miss seeing my friends’ bands tour through my city. But for now I will be happy with the things that I will surely miss here – the maids, the car washers, the chaos, etc.

And just like every year.. it is not time for the Ganesh Festival! Hopefully i can get my lazy arse outside to take some photos. And by the way.. monsoon has been super pathetic this year. I don’t think I have one photo of the rain. we had a mini-flood at the beginning and it seriously haven’t rained for more than 5 minutes since june. Bad news for India my friends. But I must say that I have loved the cooler weather and not so soggy feet. It is already starting to heat up again for our Sept-Nov summer…but at least i’ll have the car to potter me around in this year.

And.. if you made it this far… John Harrison, email me! I think you can click on my profile and email or find me on facebook. would love to catch up. the email i have for you no longer seems to work!

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Where has the time gone?

It was brought to my attention last night that I have not updated since the end of March. I have no idea where the time has gone!

Stacie’s leaving party was a huge success.. too big of a success for my comfort level! Haha. There were seriously like a 100 people in my house, drunk and making a mess :) But the house survived and so did I. Amazingly, even having people stand on my couch, it doesn’t show any stains. Yeah!

After Stacie’s party I spent most of my time organizing her last few days before leaving. She had so much to do and was feeling so overwhelmed, so anal organized me took action! haha. It was so sad to see her go, but I know that we’ll continue to be in contact no matter where in the world we live, so I don’t feel such a gap as I might have pre-internet and pre-facebook. We chat almost daily online and talk on the phone usually once a week at least.

So now life has a new time period – Post Stacie – since then I have mostly kept myself super busy organizing a charity fundraising ball for the American Women’s Group and my friend Hayley’s organization Atma. It’s been fun, but a bit stressful. And I have started working at least 2 to 3 days a week with CORP, which is also no easy feat!

In the meantime two of my friends and their friend came out for a 2 week visit. It was so wonderful having friends here. It’s been so long since we had visitors!! We ran out of time in Mumbai so couldn’t do everything I would have liked here and then spent 4 days in Goa. I was so sad to say goodbye to them, but I hope I gave them a good enough impression of Mumbai to convince them to move here :)

And.. the only other development has been looking for a car to buy. I’ve been wanting this guys old Honda City for a year and a half, and only once I was ready to buy another car did he present his car to me again. But turns out his was in much worse shape than the indian brand one i had my eye on. So we decided to go for the not as old and in better shape Indian make car. I’m excited, but first i have to get through all the red tape of transferring it from a diplomatic car to a boring ol regular person’s car! In both of these situations though I got to test drive the cars in Mumbai traffic. Fun. I was a bit scared, but I seemed to melt right into the flow of traffic here and even was told by one of the owners that i really seem like a Bombay driver. Probably not a real compliment.. but i took it as one!!

AND… i got to drive a rickshaw on Sunday night! I’ve been waiting and waiting for the opportunity to drive a rickshaw here in Mumbai. But first i needed an auto driver who was chatty chatty and seemed cool. Well, we finally found one. As soon as he was starting to get on my nerves with his constant chatter, i realized that he was the one I’d been waiting for! so we told him that we both had 3 wheelers licenses and of course he was shocked, but then super excited saying “test driving”. So he let us drive! Yeah. I went first and did good but stalled, so took that as the sign it was paul’s turn. Paul got to drive a bit and did well too. But of course the auto driver said “madam is best driving”. hahah. And he was so excited that we drove the he offered to come the next sunday as well to let us drive more. He wants us to drive from Bandra to Lokhandwala (not sure why!). I think he wants all his rickshaw buddies to see us driving because he thought that was the best part ever – seeing other people’s reactions. Fun fun.
But now my rickshaw thumb is acting up again. I think i really do have some problem with it.. but i think it’s now called blackberry thumb!

And that is it.. that is the roundup over here. Looking to go somewhere for about a week next week – probably will be Indonesia (Bali) and then I’m thinking a trip to the states for June is in order. Will keep you updated.

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randomness

It’s been a long time since I’ve written and I have no idea why, other than life has been pretty mundane lately. Although I say that and we did take a quick trip to Dubai a few weeks ago to escape and shop! It was exactly as we wanted and we had an amazing time just as we did there 2 years ago.

The house is starting to come together. After months of searching left and right, we are finally making some decisions and buying stuff. Mostly the motivation is coming from the fact that we are throwing Stacie a going away party and I want to have it as finished as possible!

Yes.. I did say that, Stacie is leaving Mumbai :( I have a feeling she will be back before we know it, so I am not feeling too sad yet, but I’m sure come April 3rd, I’ll be full of tears. She’s been here for 4 years and I’ve known her almost the whole time, which isn’t a common thing here in Mumbai where people come and go like there is no tomorrow.

I feel like Jan-Mar I had a big black cloud hanging over me like Eyore in Winnie the Pooh, but magically within a week, this cloud has disappeared and let through the sun again. I feel so much lighter and happier in just a short space of time. Lets hope it lasts!

I saw this post from another blog today and it really hit home for me, so here it is reposted for you:

Girlfriends are special. They argue, hug, scream, support, defy, bitch and defend. In their company, one can sob without thinking and laugh like a hyena. Whether 15 or 50 years, girlfriends fill a vacuum like no man ever can. They are the keepers of secrets: new and old, exciting and hackneyed, matured and in-the-pipeline. They analyze with you and for you: his phone calls, his absence, his shoes, his behavior, his friends and his moves (even those that should not be discussed but are dissected under a microscope). You discuss eclectic music, the next-door-hottie, bra sizes, colors, books, shopping-woes, period-related-grumpiness, and just about anything that is capable of being strung into a sentence. They check-in on you, check-out for you, and provide a reality check. They listen – to childhood stories, movie stories, maid issues, family melodrama and boy drama. And they talk – about their sister, sister’s neighbor, sister neighbor’s dog, sister’s neighbor’s dog’s vet. They do this – incessantly and repeatedly and without yawning. They know just what to say, in varying situations, and automatically lift your spirits.

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long over due update

Where to even begin…

We managed the insane rickshaw run without killing each other. Yeah! We met great people out there and loved our adventure even though it was tough. I will hopefully be putting up detailed recaps on the Karma Kab blog and I have put up photos on flickr. Link is here. And hopefully soon Paul will get busy with the video. I’ve had problems loading it onto my computer for some reason… but we’ll get to it soon enough so you can all live our adventure from your own home!

Getting home was great, but has also been a transition. Our house is still empty and needs lots of help, so we’ve been trying to spend our free time going to furniture shops here and there, with little luck so far. We find things we want but they are astronomical in price (10,000 dollars for a simple L shaped couch!) or we find something that is close to what we want, but cheap quality. urgh. shopping here is not fun I tell you. And I do have this feeling that as soon as we finish this apartment we will have decided it’s time to leave Mumbai! I’m getting to that point… but maybe it’s just itchy feet for travel and not longings to leave India?? But how can I already have itchy feet after only 2.5 weeks back from our last adventure?! maybe I just need a trip on the horizon to plan for!

My life has changed a bit as well. Stacie has moved out. It was sad, but has also been good since I feel like we make more of an effort to hang out now whereas it was too easy to just see each other in passing before. But I still miss having her around and haven’t stopped calling the front room “stacie’s room”! And another friend who I really relied on as my ‘rock’ here has virtually disappeared from my life. It’s been an adjustment, but not one I’ve not done before, so I am getting through it. As Folo says, one door closes and another one opens and that seems to be what has happened once again.

And… last week folo got up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to stop smoking and to do this Master Cleanse (the lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper ‘diet’). I thought he would not even go a day, but after 2 days I realized he was fully into it and thought I better join as well since I wasn’t getting much food without him eating. So now it’s been 5 days for me and 8 for him. we seem to be doing pretty good. Yesterday was a rough day for me, but he’s been powering through it like nothing. You’d never know he’s even on it. And he’s doing great with not smoking. Sad to say..i’ve not stopped :( I wasn’t prepared for his declaration that day!! But I have been wanting to quit for quite a while, so I hope he sticks to it and then slowly I will feel more like an idiot and stop myself!

Lets see.. what else….I have been working again which is good. I am doing lots of stuff with CORP, I am going to help out with the organization for the American Women’s Charity Ball and I’m doing a bit of ‘consulting’ with an HIV orphanage outside of Mumbai. Nothing full time which is nice, but enough to keep my days full.

It seems that 2009 is already the year for transitions. I hope there aren’t many more that we have to go through! Since 9 is my favorite number I have sort of looked forward to this year for a while… and in numerology (the calculation) it is the same as my birthday, so I feel it will be a good year somewhere somehow!

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memorial

Yesterday I had to go to town to run some errands, so I paid a visit to the Taj for the first time since the attacks. It is still completely cordoned off, but there are tons of people milling about trying to see any damage.. just as we were. One new addition is the security checkpoint to walk through towards the gateway of India. Of course we walked through with big shopping bags and the machine beeped like crazy, but the police officer didn’t even look twice at us! Perhaps b/c we are white?

We also paid a visit to Indigo Deli..where we were searched regardless of being white. Good that they are trying.

We also attended a memorial service for the 6 Americans who were killed in the attacks. It was really nice of the US consulate to set it up and it was nice to attend and show our support. I was a bit sad though that not many people turned up for it.

After the memorial service we decided to pay a visit to Leopolds – another site of the attacks. It was packed as usual and everyone seemed cheery. It was sad to see the bullet holes in the mirrors and walls. But i think it’s good that it’s still there.. it serves as a constant reminder to the lives that were lost. At one point, a balloon popped and it caused a little tingle through me. People shouldn’t be allowed balloons in former terrorist attack sites!

It was sort of an emotional day, but also good to see that life in Colaba is back to normal now. People are drawn to it even more I think.

Oh.. and when we were in Pune last weekend, we were driving in our rental car to get some coffee down the street when we heard a loud bang. It scared the daylights out of us! Turns out.. it was someone throwing a rock at our car. It caused a huge dent in the side. We were a bit freaked out thinking they were aiming it at us because we were foreigners, but the locals said it was just a crazy man. but that was a bit freaky as well. Even though we haven’t felt too affected by the attacks, it seems that some fear does reside down inside even if we aren’t aware of it.

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blood and gore in the new hood

Tuesday was Bakri Id. I usually don’t notice Id too much except that I see all of the goats being carted in the rickshaws to their temporary home before being sacrificed. But this year with our new apartment I overlook what is aparently a muslim area. So as the days lead up to Id, i saw the number of goats on the roof opposite mine increase. I was having a hard time dealing with them up there to be honest. I kept worrying about them falling off or getting caught up in the rope they were tied up with. And they were also not happy.. they were bleating and moaning for the first day. :(

Then came Id… I was so scared they might slaughter them on the roof where I could see/hear/smell everything. Thankfully they did not. However I did watch them slowly disappear one by one and a few times I could hear the ferocious scream as they were being killed. Oh so sad!

And lucky for me, I had to go to town for a meeting. Urgh.. I wish i didn’t go out. The roads had puddles of blood draining down them – all over the place! And as I got closer to Central Mumbai i could see the blood spots out in front of apartment buildings where they must have done the sacrifice. And seeing all the men walking around in their white kurta’s splattered with blood. Oh you can tell it was not my favorite day in the neighborhood! haha.

To top the day off, on my way home from town I saw a dead cow’s head sticking out of a dumpster with it’s legs hanging out of a second dump. YUCK! not sure what happened there. but i guess they couldn’t really leave a huge dead cow lying on the roadside. I had just never thought about what they do with them!

And last night… i heard a big crash and ran out on the balcony to see what was going on. By the time I got there ( 10 seconds maximum!) there was already a crowd of at least 100 milling about. They were screaming, yelling, pulling people aside, etc. I still have no real clue what happened. I think perhaps a bicycle, motorcycle and a rickshaw were involved. And I know that two limp bloody bodies were put in separate rickshaws to be taken to the hospital. I can still see the blood stains on the road. But this is Mumbai.. you are never alone and there will be hundreds there to help within seconds! It’s really amazing to be honest.

So it seems that our new neighborhood has much more to offer than our past one where all we saw was the rich and famous honk their way into Olive!

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planning begins!

With the move finished and the city getting back to normal (as much as possible) it is now time to really start focusing on the upcoming Rickshaw Run. I always knew we’d wait until the last minute to plan all the juicy details…and of course it is 3 weeks away and we’ve not done our route nor have we booked any flights/hotels!

And.. another snag in our plans – our third ‘wheel’ Stacie has broken a bone in her wrist and it looks very unlikely that she will join us after all. This was her reason for staying in India for the last 6 months even, so it is very sad. But both Paul and I think that we really want a third person since we expect that we will have to drive for at least 6-8 hrs a day and a 3rd will be important to help carry the load. With the outing of Stacie, I think we are replacing her with our friend Janikka who has been in Mumbai for the last year. She and her boyfriend had also put their name in the hat for the rickshaw run, but weren’t chosen, so now is her chance at least to see some of India.

Of course all of this hangs in the balance with a possible war with Pakistan looming over the horizon. Paul seems sure that we’ll know something more in the week to come. If India follows through with it’s threats and Pakistan continues to ignore the pressure, then I have no idea what all of this means. I would say that I’d either be on a flight with my two kitties or headed out to the far rural areas of inner India! I guess we’ll just wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, we’ll continue planning for the rickshaw run as needed. We are setting down thoughts on our route. You might think planning the route would be a quick and easy process, but from everyone I keep talking to it seems like it is an arduous process and will take lots of time and care. We need to at least establish checkpoints for ourselves to know if we are making good time or bad time – this will let us know if we can stop and enjoy places like Varanasi or if we just have to pass on through. Paul is gathering the medical kit and any other little supplies he thinks we might need and Janikka and I are just trying to figure out if she’s coming and how to get that moving!

Next weekend we are off to Pune for mechanic lessons and our first little trial run of the rickshaw…wish us luck!

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