Saturday, May 12, 2012


Today I went out for breakfast and wedding jewelry shopping with friends.

While at the jewelry store, my phone rang. Of course it was a number I didn't recognize. It's common to receive random numbers calling you here.  But I've learned that unlike other places I've lived, I need to answer because most times, it's someone trying to help me do something.

"Hello?" I heard a voice say.

"Hello?" I asked.

"Yes, hello?"

"Hello. Yes? You called me?" I said again.

Talking but nothing understandable.

"Yes, hello? Can I help you?" I asked.


Again knowing that someone's trying to tell me something I said, "Yes?"

"Something, something, internet." we're getting somewhere. This is someone calling about my internet.

"Yes, you need something about my internet?" I replied.

"Something, something, something," said a different voice.

"I'm sorry I can't understand you. It's loud where you are," I replied.

A third voice then said, "Hello?"

By this time I hadn't even too much patience yet. I'm thought I need to pay my internet bill. I haven't done it in a while.

"Hello?" I replied. "You are calling about my internet?"

So, the voice said, "Something, something, home."

"I'm out. I will be home after 3."

"Okay 3," replied the third voice and we hung up.

So here I sit. It's after 3 and hopefully somebody soon will come to collect my payment. It may have taken us both a little patience on the phone. That's a frequent thing in India for both expats and Indians. We all have a difficult time understanding one another. Some days it doesn't bother you and others can drive you crazy. Today I'm feeling the former.

But how can you complain when the internet company calls to tell you you need to pay your bill and they're going to send someone to your door to collect it?

A little patience paid off. And hopefully my bill will be paid off soon as well.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Heavy-Weight Champion of the World

Yep. That's my new goal. 

This goal begins with a little background information. 

My school's under construction. They're calling it 42 Tons. Meaning we've started major renovations during the final few weeks and we're moving 42 elephants worth of stuff. These gaurantuan efforts will lead to one new elementary campus and a renovated middle and high school campus in the fall. Very exciting. 

So, Thursday, the 42 elephants began their move. This includes relocating early childhood classes, the fourth grade, art, specialists (too many of these wonderful people to name) and the elementary office. The actual moving began at 1:00 p.m.  

I offered my efforts to the fourth grade team. They're moving from the bottom floor to the top. Up 5 flights.

Classes start again on Monday morning and it's important to me that all of the students who are moving spaces have easy transitions. I also know I've set up enough classrooms to offer my help and services that I could be a good resource for them. Pretty much I told them just to boss me around. 

Our campus has 2 elevators. Small ones. Tiny ones. Obviously to me the men carrying desks, shelving, etc had priority using the elevator over me. Plus I saw climbing the stairs as a bit of exercise. 

I went up and down the stairs several times. Bringing ladders to hang things on the walls, asking questions, making sure things were made as easy as possible for this team. 

To help with this, I made stops along the way to visit with colleagues in other divisions to cool off and take short breaks.  

I'm outta shape, I admit it. Badly. I passed the same group of people several times. Each time I passed, I said hello and smiled. They did the same.  

My final time up, I must have looked tired. It also was the end of the day too. And just before a 3-day weekend. 

One of the staff members I'd passed a few times, who's position and name shall remain nameless, said, "If you climb the stairs many times, you will be the heavy-weight champion of the world."

I smiled and thought, "Why not say "stronger" or "you'll loose weight" or have "strong legs?" Nope. Heavy-weight champion.  I replied, "You're right," and when out of sight just shook my head pondering the honesty.

Gotta embrace it, right? So get ready world and especially those of you who occupy the fourth floor, I've got a new goal and you're gonna see me on the stairs working toward it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Roses are Pink and My Apartment Doesn't Stink

When I arrived home from Singapore on Tuesday, I anticipated an adjustment to Mumbai.  As we left the airplane, the differences between India and elsewhere were instantaneous. 

After riding in the van and entering my building and riding in an elevator, further differences invaded my mind and bombarded my senses.  

I opened my apartment door expecting to be greeted by a wave of hot air and stench from being empty for 5 days. Another difference.

To my surprise it smelled like roses. I turned on the lights and found these.
Beautiful, pink, belated birthday roses from my housekeeper, Espe, who's back to work this week. One of the wonderful ways that India's different from elsewhere. I love some of the differences. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chicago Singapore: Same Same but Different

The past few days I've been away from India. I thought I was visiting Singapore for professional development, but shortly after immigration and baggage claim, I felt like we'd landed someplace else. I wondered if we somehow took a 5 hour flight and wound up in Chicago.  

Then I wondered, did Chicago have a secret twin? A twin city on the other side of the earth?

Singapore is nothing like Chicago. Really it's not. 

There are beautiful palm trees. Chicago doesn't have those outside anyway. 

There's loads of Chinese and British influence in the architecture. Again, not really Chicago. We've got tall buildings like the Sears Tower (I still can't call it Willis). We have beautiful gothic and art deco style instead. 

Signs throughout the city are in Chinese. There are some signs in Chicago in Chinese but not nearly as many and most are in Chinatown. 

For the past five days, I felt like went home. Let me try to make my case. 

Lovin' me some Sbucks on the street in  Singapore.
And look, benches to sit too!
Evidence #1. Starbucks
We landed early Friday morning and went to our hotel. Not being able to check in we went to a nearby mall to get our first Starbucks fix. Yes, that's right, Starbucks. Chicago has those too. 

Evidence #2. Garrett's Popcorn
The same mall that had a Starbucks also contained a Garrett's Popcorn. For Chicagoans, we all know our favorite blend. And yes it was listed on the menu and yes, I did buy a medium size mix. 

Evidence #3. Tap water
In Singapore you can drink water from the tap. You can do the same thing in Chicago. And that was the first thing I did after we checked into our hotel. From my hands. 


Evidence #4. Architecture (see above)
Both cities have great bridges, ferris wheels and are known for it.
Wrigley Building from river

Singapore skyline

Evidence #5. Reclaimed land 
Both cities claimed land from water. Chicago from Lake Michigan. Singapore from Straits of Singapore (I think, if I read the map correctly). 

Excited for some real meat. Yes, I wrote that.
Evidence #6. Dan Ryan Steakhouse
Chicago's known for its steakhouses. And this branch of the chain didn't let me down. Delic steak salad. Buffalo head on the wall and piece of evidence #7...

Evidence #7. Fountain drinks
Again, Chicago has those too. I heart fountain Diet Cokes.

Evidence #8. Riverwalk restaurants and bars
Both cities have beautiful riverwalks. These walks have wonderful restaurants and cafes along them. Granted in Chicago they're closed for almost half the year but they both have them.

Can you see why I was a bit confused?

My confusion could probably a combination of things. One part summeritis. Two parts homesickness. And three parts that I'm ready to take a break from my new home and the challenges it brings to daily life. Maybe the breakdown isn't quite right but whatever the case, it was nice to be home for a few days.

Okay, and finally a few photos that probably make Singapore truly different than Chicago... and mostly it's just that the people I met live in Mumbai. That's really all...
Singapore skyline from Marina Sands

Same skyline

Night out with ASB friends

Yummy margaritas - hey I forgot about the delicious Mexican food!

Last night in Singapore getting our Mexican fix.