Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My First Suspension

Yesterday when I came home early from school, my Internet wasn't working. When Andrea and I were at her apartment, we learned that a couple of other teachers didn't have it either so I figured, it was weather related.  My schema is that sometimes when it floods, cable goes out.  It happens to my parents often enough and we had a lot more rain here.  Sidebar:   Landon, my understanding is Mumbai is over 700 mm above average and the suburbs, where I live, it's 945 mm above average for monsoon season.  For those of you who aren't wizards at English to metric conversion, 945 mm is about 37 inches.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh. (Please insert that awful buzzer sound when someone makes an error on a tv game show - not that I know anything about that...)

When I got home from shopping, my guard gave me a teeny tiny note.  The note was about 1 inch high and about 3 inches long.  It had been folded in half.

Opening the slip of paper revealed three things:
  1. a cell phone number (they start with 9),
  2. the word "suspended" 
  3. the word "internet"
I used my Scooby Doo detective skills to infer that this note, not the monsoon, had something to do with my Internet being down.  

The number I dialed reached a man who tried three times to explain what happened.  I finally understood that he would be coming to my apartment.   Sidebar:  Understanding over the phone isn't easy on both ends even though both people may be speaking English.  When I order food, like I did tonight, just saying my phone number takes several tries and I'm from the Midwest!  It's something at least now I'm used to and will have to write another post about sometime soon.

A guy wearing the standard striped button down and black sandals appeared at my door about 10 minutes later.  He told me that I'd already used my 3gb for the month.  I thought, okay, well here's decision time, do I just deal with no internet for 2 days or do I pay an advance?

He quickly explained, that my thinking was incorrect.  The 3 gb was for 6 months.  Ooops!  I have been renting lots of iTunes movies so I wasn't shocked.  

I asked what he suggested.  The unlimited plan is what I've got now and I paid about USD$31 for September.  I'm on a trial basis now and he'll come back to my apartment in one month to see if I want to continue with the unlimited plan.  Talk about customer service.

The customer service continued as he called to tell me my Internet was working again.  About 60 minutes after unplugging and plugging back in my modem, router and Vonage box over 10 times, voila, I had my Internet and wifi connections.   During this hour period, he called me at least 4 times to check and see if it was working.  So, be this customer service or that I just got scammed into a plan, I'm glad I have Internet again and also that he's coming back so I can talk about it in person rather than over the phone.

Wish my first suspension story was more interesting than just running outta gigabytes.  Sorry to disappoint.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Another Monsoon Monday

Or not!

As I write this post, I do have the Bangles song, "Manic Monday" running through my head but today, Monsoon Monday is a much, much better chorus to the song.

 Living in India, I thought I'd never have a day off of school due to weather.  In Brazil I was always jealous of friends in Chicago who had snow days.  Today I learned that even in warmer climates, the weather can still interfere with school.  Today was a monsoon day.  ASB ended classes at 10:30 for students and 11:30 for faculty.

At 6 a.m. the wind picked up this morning.  The rain pounded my windows.  It sounded loud but being dark still I didn't actually see how rainy it was until I caught the bus at 7 a.m.

When I got downstairs, I was met by Morris, an ASB driver.  He told me my housekeeper, Espe had called him to share that she was stuck on a train and didn't think she'd be able to make it.  I sent her a text and told her to turn around and return home for safety.  We spoke a little later on the phone and she again shared she was on the train and that it wasn't moving.  We agreed it was best for her to return home.  Some people spent 5 hours at the train station today due to tracks being covered.  I hope she wasn't one of those.

On the drive to school, it rained hard the entire way.  Streets were flooded and waterlogged as they had been yesterday.  Manholes bubbled as water poured out of them.  But when we crossed the river in the Bandra Kurla complex, the river showed the true amount of rain.  It was much, much higher.  This river is also right next to several slums whose residents had/have to be suffering greatly due to the over 50 hours of rain.

I started my day in third grade and taught an introductory lesson to using readers' notebooks.  I noticed the rain had continued during our lesson, but hadn't thought much of it.  Before I left the room, Erica shared an email that had arrived while we were working with students.  ASB was getting out early.

The dismissal, as others have shared on their blogs, went smoothly.  Truly impressed at how 600+ kids and parents were able to get out the door so easily.  One ironic thing many of us noticed was that just before the kids were dismissed, the rain stopped.  It was dry for our ride home from school too.  On the way, my van companions and I noticed the high river levels and that the lake on SV Road had risen significantly as well but the streets were noticeably drier.  Definitely good news for sure.

So, how'd I spend my monsoon day?  It took about 30 minutes to get home.  I decided to take a short nap.  When I woke up, I ventured out into the break from the storm.  I went shopping at a favorite store with Andrea called Good Earth.  We made it to the shop without any problems from the weather or taxi directions and found some treasures to bring back across the Sea Link.  As we rode home, I definitely felt fortunate in several different ways.

The video which is on this link, was shared by TyAnne, a former Mumbaiker and new friend, on Facebook earlier today.  It gives you a good perspective of what some people had to combat today and why we had our first, and hopefully only, monsoon day.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Raining Cats and Dogs

The past two days in Mumbai, it's rained all day and all night.  The breaks have been slim.

This weekend, I finally have learned what monsoon season really is.
Sorry about flipping the camera sideways in this video.  I was more worried about my camera getting wet than thinking about my shooting.

It's about walking an extra block and a half to find a way to get on the sidewalk without wading through ankle deep water because you're being a good girl and still wearing your ankle brace with sneakers.  Sneakers + rain = gross, soggy mess.

It's about sharing umbrellas with friends.

It's about learning the ins and outs of rainy rickshaw etiquette and rain doors (or flaps).

It's about puddles.

It's about drips.
It's about daily life's nuances being altered and about washing your feet when you get home after wearing sandals for the first time in 2 months because it's better to be safe than sorry.
Last night the masseuse who came to my house told me Ganesha's making it rain and that it won't stop until we begin to celebrate his birthday.  That's not until Thursday!  I hope she's wrong and that Ganesha brings us a little relief before that.

Super Saturday Schedule

Saturday was a great day with just a little rain.  
Please sense significant sarcasm when it comes to the rainfall mentioned in this post.


6:04 - Woke-up.  Looked at clock and remind myself that was Saturday so I'd better sleep in!

8:30 - Woke-up again and this time got up. It was raining.

9:00 - Headed out the door and to the pharmacy.  It sprinkled.
For $3 and help from only men (there were about 6) behind a counter in a teeny tiny pharmacy, I purchased 36 Ibuprofen tablets and a pack of feminine hygiene products.  The clerk/pharmacist/English speaker gave the helpful suggestion of which products I should choose as one pack had a buy 15, get 15 free promotion.  Why not go the economical route?  Then I walked around hood a bit more.

9:40 - Lounging, movie watching and getting ready for day.  It rained.

11:00 - Pick-up by Oahn and Angelo for a day of shopping.  Our next stop was to grab Nancy and Zach to join us.  Rain became stronger.  Started to pour. 

12:00 - Oahn served as our shopping guide for the day. First, we arrived to the Oberoi Shopping Mall and visited Jasmine's store where I purchased...
Hand-cut 
a bed cover for my guest bed,

a beautiful pillow for my bed or a guest and

a rug for my bedroom.
Our freebie gift towels.  Too bad I don't have godparents...
N and Z's new bed linens
Still pouring. 

1:25 - Then we went to Mahesh for lunch.  Still raining.
Amazing seafood!  I loved every bite.  We had calamari, tuna tikka and some yummy shrimp that we ate with garlic and plain naan.  Yum, yum, yum!


3:00 After we walked through the rain to the Bombay Store where I purchased...
some Bombay inspired mugs and coasters,
curtains for my bedroom and a poster.  Poured again.


3:40 - Our last stop was Chimanlals, for stationary that I heart.  I purchased a few notes...
and it was still raining.
4:00  - We headed back over the Sea Link to Bandra.  I arrived home with all of my goodies around 5 p.m. after Zach and Nancy ran out of the car to pass on a few things I'd forgotten.

6:00 -  I talked to my 'rents.  So good to catch up. And you'll be surprised to hear that it was still raining.

7:00 - The lovely Angeli arrived to my apartment for a massage.  Ahhhhh...and it started to pour when she was leaving.

8:00  - I finished watching the movie I'd started earlier in the day and caught up on a few emails. Rain continued.

9:00 - I did the phone rounds and got to spend time catching up with amazing people like Andrea and Sam and the Goo for a few.  Still rained throughout my calls. 

12:00 - Now it's Sunday and that means time for bed.  Not sure if it's raining or not but really don't care since I'm going to be sleeping.  I read a friend's Facebook status that said it's supposed to rain straight for the next three days and in Mumbai we'll receive 10+ inches or rain.  That'll just give me time to enjoy some of my new treasures more inside my apartment.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the way to school today...

my van had just curved by Asian Heart Hospital, when an unusual motorcycle sight struck several of my colleagues' eyes.  No, not the two men on the motorbike, I mean two's a small number.  Seeing families of four on one bike is actually more common.  It was the fact that the rider in the back was shirtless.  But even that's not that unusual.

There were a few chuckles and comments about his shorts, which looked like boxers.

Then as our van approached the riders, the shirtless rider turned around.  He was holding his shirt in his hands.  He noticed that we were laughing a bit and that also we were a whole van of foreigners.  So, can you guess what he did next?

He smiled and showed us why he was topless.  He opened his shirt to reveal that he was using his shirt actually more like a bag.  Can you guess what was inside?  A fish!  A large light orange colored fish!  We all caught a quick glimpse and our van overtook them.  

I turned back and noticed that the motorbike was speeding up to catch us.  They pulled up alongside the van and held his fish up high for all of us to see.  We all applauded and shared big smiles with the proud fisherman.  He laughed and smiled back.

I may not win license plate tag on my morning commute but I definitely could win a fun game of I Spy!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence

Today was India's Independence Day.

My day started with sitting on my couch by the window listening to the Indian national anthem.  When I looked out the window to see where the song was coming from, two green parakeets flew into a nearby tree.

We didn't have school today but I learned a bit about India's independence by walking around as a tourist who owns furniture.

Andrea and met on my street.  On St. Theresa Road we also met...
this  lovely cow who has complete freedom of the streets.

Then we took a great taxi ride down to Colaba.  The reason for our destination was food based.
We wanted the freedom to have something that we knew.  We wanted an American breakfast.  Indigo Deli provided that.

Next we walked the half block to the Gateway of India where we
didn't have a lot of freedom from photos.  We were celebrities.  Families, friends and photo touts all wanted their pictures with us.
Not sure why because we definitely weren't free of sweat.
We were surrounded by families and school groups and friends all in this common space to see one of India's most well known symbols.  Many people wore tiny paper flags pinned on their shirts.

After we'd had enough of posing with boys and babies, we decided to cool off in the Taj Mahal Hotel.
The Taj gave us the simple freedoms.  We used a beautiful bathroom, explored amazing hallways and stairwells, enjoyed the rosewater fragrance that floated through every corridor and most importantly we cooled off.

For me today was freedom from the routine.  It gave me the freedom to be a tourist and a celebrity and to spend time with a good friend.  Yeah, that's a little cheesy but it was a good day.

 Happy Independence Day India!  Thanks for sharing your independence with me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bombay Belly

No need to worry.  There won't be any unnecessary graphic details included here.  Many friends living in other parts of the world have asked about this, so I thought I'd share my own experiences thus far.

Thankfully I haven't had the full-blown Bombay Belly yet.  Other new teachers have experienced it and it's definitely awful.  If you do catch Bombay Belly, I've been told that you should let it do it's thing.  Don't take medication to end things because your body needs to work things out.  However, I did learn of some miracle medication that helps greatly.  The medication could be used if you're traveling or if you have just the basic obligation of work.  That reminds me that I need to get it's name just in case.

For me, I've had mild symptoms.  I've been woken up in the middle up the night with by awful stomachaches.  Remember when you were a kid, you'd have those horrible tummy aches.  Some were self induced while others just randomly happened.

There also was a scale of pain.  There'd be the mild stomachaches that you played up to gain some sympathy from your parents.  If you were my sister, you'd go to the school nurse, call Gram when she was visiting and tell her how awful you felt.  That was your ticket out of school and you were able to spend more time with your grandma.  Smart kid!

And then there were the bad ones.  The ones were you'd get out of bed and go to your parent's room.  Using your whiniest and quietest, "Mom" you'd wake her up and she'd procure some remedy.  Taking you back to bed and rubbing your back.  Giving you the wonderful pink stuff.

Three times since I've arrived I've had bad ones.  Today's one of those days.  My stomach's not quite right. I get waves of stomach pain.  My head also hurts and is a little hazy.   Ugh.

This post wasn't so easy to write.  Trying to write about the whole mess of Bombay Belly without using any detail detail and being vague, isn't as easy as it seems.  For those of you who asked, I hope this gives you just the right amount of information you need.

Here's to hoping that I don't jinx myself by writing this down.  Please Bombay Belly gods, I know my time will come but could you just wait a few more weeks?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

HUMIDity


No, you didn't read that incorrectly.  That was the actual humidity reading in my apartment.  

Over the weekend I purchased a brand-new dehumidifier.  It also can turn into an air purifier which is also a humidifier.  It does it all!  It's like a Transformer but it's not trying to save and/or take over the planet.  

I've been doing a little action research with my dehumidifier.
1.  My maid or I empty the bin at least once a day.  My apartment here is pretty small.  Since we both empty it, I'm not sure exactly how much water it's able to hold (Yes, I could measure it but my measuring cups but they're in my shipment.  And yes I could use some other item as my measurement unit but that's a lotta work and I'm not great with estimating volume so no, I'm not going to do that).

2. When I returned home from school on Monday, the bin was full and the gauge read 74% humidity in my apartment.  So different than the dryness my friends are experiencing in Brasilia!

3.  It's a really quiet machine.  Yes, it of course makes some noise but it's like the volume of a fan.  I thought it'd be much, much louder.

4.  My apartment doesn't smell wet anymore!  That to me, is the best part.  So worth the money I spent.

My friend Andrea and I bought our dehumidifiers together on Sunday.  Her Facebook status was, "Chroma's de-humidifier is the most amazing invention in the entire world.  Seriously people, it takes moisture OUT OF the air and puts it into a container.  Omg."  She's so right!  I told her we should become dehumidifier groupies.

That's not the only thing fighting the HUMIDity in my apartment though.
These silca-gel like containers are in my closets soaking up the extra moisture there.

During monsoon season in Mumbai, you're fighting the water both outside and inside your apartment.  Whatever your line of defense is, I hope you see just how wonderful it truly is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Miss Looney Who?

Tomorrow the new students arrive.   They will visit school for a new student orientation from 8-11 a.m..  During that time parents will go through orientation activities as well.  Their morning includes tours, meeting principals, technology classes and a business fair.

The new students will all work with their classroom and advisory teachers completing welcome activities and tours of the school to better get to know each other and their teachers before the first day.

All ASB students will return on Thursday morning.

Today I asked Carol, an ASB veteran, what teachers "go by" at ASB.  First names?  Last names?

She told me last names.

When I moved to Brazil, it was strange for me to go by Miss Megan.  Now it feels weird to be going back to Miss Looney.  Not bad, just different.  But things are different like my job and my home.  

Any bets on how long it takes till I hear the first joke or comment?  I'm guessing I'll have one by 11 a.m.

Sorry, Kathy Schelereth, still no luck on finding any dates with the last name Toon or Bin.



Monday, August 8, 2011

I Heart Bollywood

Yesterday I went with Aimee and Andrea to see my first Bollywood movie and I loved it.  A couple of other newbies had made the venture to explore Bollywood cinema on Friday evening.  We chose the same flick, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.  It was described as the bachelor trip of the year.

The movie, whose titled I learned thanks to Heeru today means something like you don't live life twice, is a Bollywood film.  It's in Hindi with a a bit of English here and there.  I knew I could figure out what was happening without knowing the language since I'm surrounded in different languages while I shop, when I eat lunch and so this would be no big deal.  It would provide an escape from things for a bit.

Of course, it takes time to actually get to your final destination.  I thought the theatre was in one spot and I walked there.  It took me about 15 minutes.  I think an average person it woulda taken about 7.  I quickly learned however, it was down the street so I hopped in a rick and got there easily.  "Galaxy?" I asked.  The rick driver knew it right away.
When the rick pulled up, I noticed there was definitely was a local crowd.  Aimee had been there a bit and watched other movie goers. The key question being how to buy that precious ticket.   One ticket booth area had advance purchases which cost 55 rupees.  We walked past those lines and toward another window.  Aimee purchased our tickets for 75 rupees each, roughly $1.63.
My simple ticket.
Our tickets were for the balcony.  As we entered the theatre, we passed through the metal detector and our bags were searched.  This is pretty common when you enter most malls in Mumbai.

We found the stairs that led to the balcony.  And let me tell you , there were a lotta stairs.  We went up at least to the third story of the theatre.  Alright, this may be an exaggeration.  My boot distorts my perception of distance.  We found an area that had specific seats listed above the door.  Of course our tickets didn't have seat numbers, or so we thought. We entered the huge theatre where the balcony alone seated several hundred people.  The usher showed our purple tickets to the usher who used his flashlight to show us our seats which were in the top row, aisle.  Our black leather seats did slide back so you could recline a bit.

While we chatted, several previews were shown.  Then suddenly we noticed that everyone was standing. The screen revealed the answer.  Men and women dressed in white singing the Indian national anthem while the flag waved behind them.  The people around us stood silently.  A family in front of us held hands.

We sat down and the movie began.  In reality,the film wasn't a bachelor party at all. It was about three friends who had great fears:  love, family and embracing their passion.  This trip makes them all confront these fears and they do it in Spain.  There's fun and passion and love all set in Spain while they drink wine, go on a road trip and grow.  The movie's theme resonated with me in a very surface (Goo, let's go to Spain this summer) and then deeper (I'm following my passion and that led me to India) way.

About halfway through the movie, the lights went up.  It was intermission.  We didn't go and get snacks this time round but others did.  The seats had filled in and there were people of all ages there.  When the lights dimmed, about five minutes later, the usher pulled the curtains closed again.

The movie ended abruptly and went into a wedding song and dance number. The other movie goers jumped up from their seats and moved toward the new exit.  Several pre-teen girls stared at us as we sat waiting.  I had requested to wait a bit due to my boot so we saw the ending scene as well.

It was a great getaway for the afternoon.  Cute movie.  Very cute actors.  A mix of Hindi and English.  Dancing and of course Spain.

Here's the token song number, Senorita.  Doesn't have a lot to do with the movie but they had to include some dancing and singing, right.  Fun for sure.

For those of you readers who want even more.  Here's the trailer but remember, it's in Hindi.


Bollywood, you are pretty wonderful.  Thanks for making my afternoon just right.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure: Rickshaw Gods

Being new to Bandra and physically limited due to my silly ankle, I'm learning the area alongside the rickshaw drivers.  I rely on them. Each time I go out, it's like a Choose Your Adventure story.

 Here's your own Choose Your Adventure story.  I'm tossing you right into Bandra West.

You check the restaurant location one final time on the map.  You're heading to the Saltwater Cafe to meet your friends for a birthday dinner.  You put the map into your purse and leave the apartment building.  You hobble down the street to a location where you've seen many rickshaws.


One rickshaw stops as you wave but the driver doesn't recognize the street or hospital name (your landmark).  Two more ricks stop and the same response.   Eventually, a fourth rick pulls up.


The passenger exits.  He speaks English.  You tell him the address.  87 Chapel Road.  It's near Lalavati Hospital.  He speaks to the driver and tells him your destination.  The driver seems to understand.  He smiles at you.


1.  You choose to go with the driver, assuming he knows where Chapel Road is.
2.  You do not get into the rick and wait for another one who does know Chapel Road.


If you chose 1...
The driver thinks they know where they're going.  He pulls away but turns in the wrong direction.  He zooms through the market near your apartment. You tap him on the shoulder saying no.  Chapel Road.  


He pulls the rickshaw to a stop alongside a shop.  Both you and your driver both lean out of the rick asking people if they know a location in multiple languages.  You're reminded of the t.v. show Cash Cab.  Only your prize is your destination and there aren't any cool disco lights anywhere.  A gentleman stops.  He gives your driver  new directions and you pull away hopeful that you're on track now.


Twenty minutes later, you're still driving around.  The driver is lost again.  He stops and you both lean out a second time asking in each of your native languages for help.  A woman walks over and knows the restaurant.  She instructs the driver where to go. You drive away feeling confident, for now.


The driver starts to slow down.  You think this must be the stop.  He again leans about the window.  A gentleman walks up to the rick.  He speaks English and is carrying a Bible.  He tells you he'll take you to your destination.  Since you don't have change, he actually pays for your rick ride and starts to walk quickly with you down the uneven, wet sidewalk.  It's humid and you're sweating.  The time you spent on your hair and make-up have been lost as you're wet with sweat.  He turns into a pharmacy and asks for directions.  You wipe the sweat away and wonder if you'll ever make it to the birthday dinner.


The rickshaw gods have punished you.


If you chose 2.


 The first rick pulls over.  You say the hospital name.  Lalavati.  He looks at you.  You repeat it, trying to stretch out the word.  Still no recognition.  You say it a third time thinking of what sounds may be emphasized by others.  He knows your destination.  You step into the rick and sit back.  You lean down to catch glimpses out the sides of the rickshaw.  You're on your way to dinner and your friends and a well-deserved drink.


Here's what I've learned.  Perhaps next time you'll try one of these.
1.  You need to know the street to where you're headed.
2.  You need multiple landmarks, if possible, that the driver may be able to identify.
3.  Most likely you will need to repeat the street and or landmark a minimum of three times before the driver knows where they're headed or if they don't know where they're going.
4.  Be ready to say one street name first, such as Turner Road, followed by the intersecting road like Pali.
5.  Be prepared to hop out, pay the rick driver and try a new one.  The next driver may be a better one.

This really did happen to me on Friday night.  The gentleman who I met, invited me to his church, stopped at several other locations and eventually we walked right back to where we started.  The restaurant had been across the street from where he met me.  Seriously?

Here's to hoping the gods are with me for my next trip.

Let There Be Light

Yesterday two lamps I custom ordered were delivered.
This one's my bedside table lamp.   You can also see some of my new pillows and bedding.

The other really is just cute and fun.  It is totally not practical as it doesn't produce a lotta light but I love it.  As I get more settled I know it'll find a good home.

Two cute lamps that make me happy.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Wave


I'm riding the Culture Shock and Injury Annoyance waves today.
W Curve Culture Shock Diagram, Webster University

I was reminded during our new teacher orientation about the ups and downs that expats experience when they've moved to a new country.  Culture shock.  Whether you have only lived in the U.S. and have moved to a new town or you've lived in several different countries, culture shock eventually catches up to you.  To the right is a diagram that explains the different stages of culture shock.  This w shape is continuous, like a wave.

Why am I feeling this way?  I think it truly is the combination of things.

It's raining. Right now, the rain almost looks like snow.  It's coming sideways and the drops are fluttering down like snowflakes. I had plans to go to the market today for lots of shopping.  The rain, especially with my ankle, puts the kabosh on that.  Uneven sidewalks, slippery stones and wet floors are tricky.  Plus shopping outdoors in the rain just isn't that fun.

My ankle hurts, actually hurts, for the first time in a week.  Yesterday I walked up and down more stairs and didn't use the elevator as much.  I didn't elevate it during the day.  Got a little too cocky.  Reminder I need to slow down again.  Slow and steady were working just fine.

I was going to work on my Google docs class today.  I've been busy all week so haven't had the time to get things rolling.  Haiku's completing some updates.  Haiku is a "learning management system" like Blackboard or other online learning organizers.  For those of you in the U.S., you'd be sleeping while these updates were happening.  Those of us in India are wide awake and will have to wait till later to work.

There are several apartment buildings being constructed around me.  There's constant drilling and hammering and today for the first time it's bothering me.  It's like nails on a chalkboard for me today.

So, I'm going to try a few strategies that I know help with feeling this way.
My three positives:

  1. My coffee maker is super fast and brews 4 cups in about 4 minutes.
  2. My weekly apartment clean-up and organizing's done.  Everything's put away.
  3. Strangers in Mumbai are very, very helpful especially when you're trying to find your way around in taxis and rickshaws.

Later, the rain might stop and I'll be able to go out.  Later I'll call friends to make some plans for tonight.  Later when North and South Americans are awake, I can catch up with friends there too.  Later, Haiku will be fully back up so I will be able to complete my work.  And there's tomorrow too so if something doesn't work out for today, that's just fine.  It's all a part of riding this new and big wave.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Office Space

Space is definitely at a premium at ASB.  Next year at least one division will be moved to a different campus in order to gain more space.  With this prospect ahead and several middle and high school teachers without any type of office, I wondered where my home would be.

Well, as luck would have it, I've got a great new home.
My half.
Flowers provided by Craig Johnson.  Thanks for brightening my day!
Welcome to my piece of the library office.  I'll be sharing office with Heeru, the Elementary School librarian.  She's wonderful and already strongly advocating for some type of air con in our office (small and stuffy when both of us are in there).  It was her idea to try sharing for a while to see how it went.
Heeru's side of the office.
Heeru cleaned our several drawers, a cabinet and even under my desk to make sure I had room.  She introduces me to everyone as her new best friend since we're office mates.  She's funny, caring and definitely gets things done!

The location's great!  The cafeteria's just outside the library and that's where I can get lunch, coffee and see people coming in and out.  My location today I think helped me to get some flowers for my office.  I happened to look up as Craig, ASB's Superintendent, walked by the outer library windows.  I smiled.  A couple of minutes later, I sensed somebody was behind me and a vase of flowers (that are in the photo above) landed in our office.  Heeru wondered why she had not received any before.  I just smiled and thought, it's about the right place, right time and perhaps me just being me.  I gave them to Heeru for her home this weekend.
And we just don't have interior windows.  We get a poolside view.  And playground too.  The covering's to help with kids being able to play outside during monsoon season.

Not too shabby for a start. All I needed was a space and I think I got pretty lucky and got not just a space but a great one.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I've Been Blessed

Today I was blessed by my new colleagues.

A tilak is a form of blessing, greeting and auspiciousness.

A garland is a form of respect and honor.

Today I definitely feel all of these things.

To learn more about these customs, you can read about them here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mumbai's Symphony

At 5:00 a.m., the first movement of the Mumbai Sound Symphony begins.

A crow caws.
A car honks.
Some church bells ring just after 6:00.
People are rousing and so are the sounds.


A rickshaw horn,
An airhorn,
Suddenly a swelling of horns.
Everyone in a hurry.

An apartment door shuts,
The elevator door closes.
A small bird sings.
Small sounds in the city.

Cars gaining acceleration,
A new bird calls back.
A flip flop on the stair.
A hammer pounding somewhere.


                            After work, the  second movement.  The sounds build.  Louder and louder. 
 A crescendo.
More crows.  More horns.  More jackhammers.  It almost seems it will last all night.


Suddenly, at 7:00 p.m., some sounds begin to fade.

The construction site sounds from the new apartment buildings behind mine..jackhammers, air, metal slamming, hammering slow.
The crow outside my window caws one final time and flys away.
A singing voice.  A faint call for prayer.
Only the horns are left.
No dramatic coda here.


The Sound Symphony ends for today.  
The same symphony will begin tomorrow.  
Wonder if I'll hear it's beauty then?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Garbage Rules!

You may not have thought about it before but each country has their garbage nuances, customs and routines.

In Illinois, the Goo and I separated garbage into a few categories:  paper/cardboard, plastic/glass and finally  trash.  On Thursdays we'd roll the two cans out to the sidewalk for pick-up and then roll them back in on Friday.  Garbage is paid for by the can.  You have to put a sticker on your can that costs about $3 USD.  Recycling is free.

In Korea, I had to separate EVERYTHING, take the elevator down 14 stories, walk across a parking lot and then and put it into the appropriate bin.  There was a bin for glass, one for plastic, one for paper, one for cardboard and one for compost.  I didn't pay for garbage.  Part of the reason for such specific separation was a nasty rumor that circled around school  I heard that you could be fined hundreds of Won if you were caught breaking the garbage rules and didn't separate your trash.  I'm a rule-follower so I always separated.  Korea also charged for using plastic bags  at the store check-out and also you had to pay a deposit for cups like at Starbucks.  Pretty progressive considering that was in 2005.

In Brazil, garbage was separated into two categories.  Organic and other.  I walked my two bags (or most of the time my maid walked the bags) down the hall, down a half flight of stairs and put into one of two garbage bins.  The guard would then pick-up all of the cans and put the garbage someplace.  Again, there I didn't pay for garbage.

This is what I do in India.
Sorry for the fuzzy shot.  It's sooo humid here my camera fogged
up as soon as I walked out my apartment door!  No air in the stairwells.
Yup.  That's my garbage.  I leave my garbage in the hallway outside my apartment.  A woman stops by each day to pick it up.  I've left my plastic bottles and paper out of these bags since I heard that she can sell those things and that way at least some recycling's happening.  I hope.  

In India I will pay for garbage but you're not expected to do that, well, at least in my building.  I'll pay about 100 rupees each month.  That's roughly $2.25 dollars each month for daily garbage pick-up at my door.

Random garbage thoughts on a Tuesday.  Why am I reflecting on garbage collection?  Hopefully, it's just that I'm still fighting the jet-lag.