Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jantar Mantar

The meanings of Jantar Mantar are not something I paid a lot of attention to when I was there.
Astronomy and astrological instruments of immense proportion.
And this giant thing which tells time.
No, I wasn't paying attention to that.
I was following the color
and the shapes
and the textures.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Happy Diwali.
The neighbors have decorated.
The shops are hung with lights.
The neighbor below me has decorated outside the door and left marks for the spirits to follow.
It's time for Delhi to be overtaken by the Festival of Lights.
The celebration of Diwali includes thousand and thousands of lights, candles and fireworks. Non-stop fireworks from 6pm until well after 1am. That's a lot of fireworks. And a lot of smoke and trash when it's all over.
Diwali is a loud holiday.
See some of the festivities and the "safety precautions" taken as traffic passes by:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The contrasts are great

What is that between the buses, auto rickshaws, and cars?
Yes, it's an elephant and his mahout.
What a city of contrasts Delhi is.
On the drive across the city with some friends, we spotted the elephant, and in another part of the city there were families gathered in the grassy areas to enjoy the evening cool.
It was a very different atmosphere once we reached our destination, a fancy hotel where we partook of some coffee and tea and mixed with the rich and privileged.
The halls and corridors were lined with old paintings, drawings, lamps, statues and fountains.
We enjoyed our rare, expensive treat and then it was back to the real world of Delhi, its dust, noise and humanity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Subzi call

Each subzi wallah (vegetable seller) has their own distinct call. They come through the neighborhood every morning with their vegetable laden carts--tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, normal things and others I can't identify.
Women come out on the balcony and yell, "Ho, how much are your tomatoes?" And in a bid for a lower price they add, "Oh, they don't look very good."
The vegetable selling lady shouts that the cauliflower has come, and other things I cannot discern.
But the snack man: he has a bell.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Billowing curtains

I love to watch my curtains blow in the breeze. Billowing.
It's very relaxing to watch the interplay of light and color, shadow and movement.
If I didn't have work to do, I'd just sit mesmerized by them.
That curtain man was right to take pride in his work.

If only it didn't include the background construction noises...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Neighbors' construction progress

Have you wondered about the progress of the neighbors' building project?
Here's an update anyway:
The brick lady is no longer around. Instead there is a new group of men with drills and marble sanders. They are much noisier and they work for about twelve hours a day, 8am-8pm. They are also now assuming the structure can stand on its own and are removing the supports.
It's some of the fastest construction work I've ever seen in India.

Plant experiment

I have plants.
I'm not certain that this is a good development. I've always held the idea that my life here is full of too much travel and transition to be able to be responsible for the well being of a plant.
But this is what happened:
I was on my way out this morning and I rounded the corner in the neighborhood. There, his bicycle loaded with greenery, was the plant selling man.
"Ah," he said, "You want plants."
Well, maybe. It was sort of true. My balcony was terribly bare and in need of them, but...
"Look at this one," he knew he'd caught my attention, "It's very nice."
It was. He even had one of the little pine trees I've admired on the neighbor's balcony.
"How many?" he asked.
But I was on my way out! "Not now. Not today," I told him.
"Why not today? I am here today. Here you are. Tomorrow these nice ones will be gone."
Right. He was right.
So back I went, plant man following.
At the foot of the stairs, he unloaded his plants from the bicycle. Then he tried to talk me into buying all of them.
"You won't take all? Okay, you need these six."
"No, four."
"Okay, these five."
"Do you want me to take these five up the stairs for you?"
"No, only four."
"I will bring them." He carried the five plants up.
We talked price and came back again to plant five. "Oh but Madame, don't make me take it back down again. Look how nice it is. How well it would look over there for you."
It was a nice plant. But it didn't look as hardy as the others. In other words, easier to die of neglect if I go away for a few weeks. "If this one stays, you must give me a very good discount."
"Of course, Madame, this one is like a gift to your home."
Sure. Was it free? No, it was not.
The plant man left then with promises to return to re-pot the plants for me the next day. That's a pretty good bit to throw into the bargain, 'cause where in the world am I going to find dirt? I mean, besides the kind that accumulates in my house everyday as soon as I'm finished dusting.
Is he going to come back to water and prune them for me, too? ...Probably not a good idea that he hang around so much.
I've no intention of killing these four new additions to my home, but great hope for their survival. Now begins the experiment: we'll see who lives.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Impressive time

Today when my friend's wireless internet wasn't working, I was finally motivated to go out to see about reconnecting my own account.
I wasn't looking forward to it, being that I've had some unpleasant past experiences, and because I've gotten several calls in the last week about an outstanding bill--which isn't accurate information.
So I gathered up all my paperwork and headed out just after 2pm.
At the office the man remembered suspending my account for me two months back and he quickly went through the process of un-suspending it. He said it would be back up and working in two hours. We clarified the inaccuracy of the outstanding bill and I was on my way.
I stopped to buy a rice cooker--which should help while I wait for cooking gas--some napkins and tp, and I was home before 4pm. That's amazing fast for so many errands.
And what's really, really remarkable was that I had working internet by 4:12pm. Impressive.
Is it a good, fast connection? No, not really. It's taking forever just to post this.
It's still India, but a good day in India.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Noisy gecko

There's a gecko in the kitchen determined that I don't sleep very well. I didn't know they could be so noisy. I didn't know they wanted to be so noisy; I thought they were stealth creatures sneaking up on bugs.
Anyway, the one living in the crack in my kitchen wall starts his chirping around 10pm and continues until the sun comes up just after 6am. At first I thought something was wrong with my fan, that it was making a funny noise. Nope. Gecko.

Ignore the poor video. I couldn't find the "record sound only" setting on my camera.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The gas is gone

My propane cylinders I use for the stove are empty.
I need a new "connection". Getting one is a tedious process, especially since government offices are involved. This morning I went out to get that process started.
The cycle rickshaw driver thought he could find a different gas office in a different neighborhood and we spent about forty minutes riding around looking for it, before he finally arrived at the original destination asked for. I felt bad for him, pedaling so long. But I also didn't because it was his own fault for trying to find a short cut and not take me where I wanted to go.
By the time we reached the gas company office, it was 1:16pm. Lunch time. The office was mostly deserted, but there was a woman who said to come back at two o'clock with the proper paper work (which I had in my bag). She wouldn't help me then.
I noticed a sign in the office. I'm wondering if it's true... Making me come back in forty-five minutes does not seem like something that is for my "convenience".
I got change for the cycle driver by buying potato chips from a small snack store and went to a Tibetan restaurant to eat momos.
Then I returned to the office and submitted my paperwork. I was told that "between a month" someone would come to inspect my home. Then I could have a gas connection. If I pass inspection.
I should.
I think.
I submitted all the paperwork. And what about my "satisfaction"?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Shelves arrived

My shelves arrived today.
The carpenter kept his word. And he did a good job on them, too.
Now my house smells of new stain and sawdust.
Next great, big project: unpacking, cleaning, repairing, sorting, filing, organizing, and shelving the hundreds of books in the bunches of boxes stored in the same room.