Thursday, July 29, 2010

No printer

My shoe broke.
But that was the least of my troubles.
Another pair of shoes that has broken in the last week. What's going on?
I had an appointment and needed to print documents to give out, but the resort where I am staying has no printing facilities. So I walked out to go into the town and on my way, the shoe just fell apart. The whole sole came off.
I limped back to my room and put on my flipflops and headed out again.
I got all the way to the shop with a printer and the guy there told me: "I'm sorry. The printer is broken today."
This is not going to happen, I told myself, there shall be no printed documents.
I readjusted my expectations and went to my appointments with an interesting story to tell.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Introvert meltdown

I had to stand in line a long time today at immigration in Bali. Something like two hours. I say "something like" because I didn't look at my watch when I first arrived and stood in the mob that evened out into lines eventually.
Everyone else had to stand and and wait a long time also. One of those someone's was a little boy in a stroller. At first he just quietly sat there, but after an hour or so, he had what I would call an introvert melt down.

Out of nowhere he started shouting. "I don't like it here! I don't like it here!"
His mom calmed him down, but in another five minutes or so he started up again:
"I don't like it here! I don't like people looking! Pleeease don't LOOOOOO0000k!" his sad little voice trailed off into a wail.
His mom calmed him down again, despite the people who were still--can you imagine their audacity?--looking at the poor kid.

Five minutes later: "It's too loud! It won't get out of my ears!"
Oh kid, I know how you feel.

Five minutes after that:
"It's so long!"
Don't I know it? Seriously, how inefficient was this immigration system? To make several hundred people stand in this room waiting for hours while more planes with more people to make more lines continued to arrive? This is really the best system they could come up with?
It was painful.
It was inefficient.
It was crisis causing for the introvert.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Truck stop

It's the perfect place to take a nap, right?
Park next to a construction site and lie down under your truck.
It's also a good spot to do a bit of laundry.

Ah, India

Monday, July 19, 2010

Destructive humidity

This weather breaks stuff.

I went out yesterday to go to my friend's house. About a hundred feet from my house, the strap on my sandals broke. I hobbled back to my house to find the second pair of shoes I had in my closet. Since I've worn this particular pair of sandals every day (except while in Michigan during the winter) for the last two years, I knew their end would be soon and I was prepared.
But when I pulled the new shoes out of the closet, the soles fell off. Just fell off.
That's no good. Can't wear sole-less shoes.
I instead found a pair of "inside flip-flops" and wore them to my friend's house.

Later that evening I got out the glue and attempted to do my own shoe repair. In the morning, I wore them around the house to see if it worked.
Uh, no. They oozed glue all over my toes and then fell apart again.
Perhaps if I give the glue longer to dry and try again in a few days.

In the meantime...
It was time to leave for Hindi class.
But the door wouldn't shut.
The humidity has swelled the wood around the door and the metal frame has come loose, preventing the door from closing. The other day I fixed this by screwing the frame back into the door jam.
This morning it didn't want to work. The wood is old and warped, the screws rusty, and the metal bent.
AND THEN, the screw driver broke. The handle just cracked right off.
What kind of repair is this going to require?
I feel defeated. The shoes and the doors have bested me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'd like a new term

I'm taking a poll.

Perhaps it's because I live in India (where millions of people are vegetarian) among Muslim people for whom pork is not halal, or perhaps it's because I, myself, don't eat meat and have a personal bias, but the term "pig roast" makes me cringe.

I'd like to re-term this food event "pork bbq". Or something. Roasted pork?
But my mom says that pork bbq conjures up thoughts of barbecued pork, like what you would put on a sandwich, something completely different from what will be served at a pig roast (hereafter to be referred to in my post as "pork bbq").

I've attended numerous "pork bbqs". My grandpa used to make homemade roasting pits out of old metal barrels and stand over the hot fire for hours tending the meat. Many summer gatherings revolve around the barbecued pork, and I've been there--hungry, because we have to wait until the meat is done before we can start eating.
I've smelled pork bbqs.
I've smelled like a pork bbq.
I've felt the heat of a pork bbq.
I've watched the heat of a pork bbq melt my grandpa.
I remember how the air of a campground gets filled with pork bbq aroma (odor?).
I have watched the meat roast for the pork bbq.
And yes, I have even tasted pork bbq.
So I feel I am familiar with pork bbq.

I also know that a true "pork bbq" includes other elements that have little to do with pork. It means people, friends, food spread out on a picnic table, warm summer weather, and a good, fun time. That part of a pork bbq I can get into. So if you say "pig roast", people know that it includes not just the meat, but all the rest of the fun.

So here's what my poll is about.
I think it would be fine to change the name of these food events to something else and people would enjoy them just as much as ever.
Maybe you've never thought about the term "pig roast" before, but I find it uncouth, offensive even. I don't know if that's the vegetarian in me speaking or the Asian influence.
What do you think? You might not have given the term any thought prior to this crazy random post, but now you have something to consider.
So think about it and vote in my poll over there to the left.
My mom says I'm silly to think so much about this. You can even vote that you agree with her.

You know, I've now written/said the word "pork" so many times in this post that that one is starting to sound pretty bad, too...
I'd better stop while I'm ahead. :)


How important is good spelling?

Well, bad spelling can lead an imaginative mind down both amusing and abstract paths.
I'll show you...

At least three times I've seen a guy in the neighborhood wearing a tshirt that says on the back: AFFICTION.
Every time I see the misspelling across his back I want to correct it. But since I know such a conversation is never going to happen, I begin to think...
What if it isn't a misspelling?
What if it's a message someone was trying to send?
Such as:
Affection is a fiction.

Or maybe:
Affection is an affliction.

Perhaps there was a deeper message intended other than someone just misspelling a clothing brand name.
Maybe it's only me who wonders about these things.

Earlier this week I was asked to proofread something for someone. It was giving instructions for framing a good shot with your camera. One of the sentences read, "Make sure your subject doesn't have a poll running through his head."
For me, this sentence conjured up the image of a man thinking about the latest Gallup survey data and not paying any attention to the instructions of the photographer.
A "pole" through his head would have been a much different image.

Ah, Spelling. It's a good thing you are with us. I love words and you make sure we keep thinking about them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dog security

On sunday morning I found a notice in my mailbox that said something like this:
"Please take note that someone in the neighborhood is poisoning dogs. Non-veg food has been found laced with poison. It was determined by authorities that our dog died of such poisoning. Remember that killing dogs is a criminal offense and protect your pets."

Something like that. It was actually much longer and used big words.

The next day, I saw a banner sign hanging over the neighborhood park entrance that read:
"Killing dogs is a criminal offense. Street dogs are our security guard."

Our security guards? Really. These starving, mangy dogs wandering the streets eating from the trash?
Well, okay, if you insist. But I hope the security force I pay each month to walk through the neighborhood with whistles and lathis is also doing its part.

The thing that really strikes me here is not that I don't care about dogs or pets, or the owners who are saddened by the loss of them, but that there are children--real, live children, human beings--also walking the streets, starving, unkempt and eating from the trash.
I mean, what if one of them ate this alleged laced-with-poison non-veg food? Would there be banners and mailbox notices and "investigations"?
Why isn't there more concern about them?
Why are there overweight dogs and malnourished children in the same neighborhood?
How do we so easily close our eyes to the poverty and suffering around us, yet manage to get upset about dogs?

Hear me: Dogs are great. Having and loving and caring for pets is a good and responsible thing. It is legitimate to be attached to and sad about losing a pet.
But I will still insist that a hungry child is more important.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Personal driver

I don't know if I should be freaked out or not.

There's a driver that knows I go to many of the same places every week. He likes to take me places. I assume this means I am paying too much and thus his willingness.
One day he asked me if I was going to go to the same place next week at the same time. "Maybe," I didn't commit.

Well, this morning the driver came to my door. "You will go this morning? I am outside."
Should I be worried he knows where I live? And comes to the door?
I mean, he's a tiny little man who must have suffered a stroke or something because the right side of his body is atrophied--so he's not intimidating, or anything.
It's just that...he's at my door.

Not sure.
I let him take me though. Beats walking out in the heat to find another auto.

He even waited around to bring me back again.
I must really be over paying him.

The rains started as we were on the road. Monsoon rains.
Auto rickshaws are not closed vehicles, if you'll note.
It was wet. But the coolness did feel nice.

The monsoon rains started in earnest this week. The newspapers reported that flooded roads caused craters and traffic jams.
There's so much water on the roads, you can't really see where the potholes are any more. My ride home was both wet and more jarring than usual. But the auto did hold together. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Zombie eyes

What was I thinking?
Four hours of Hindi class every day? How can I maintain that pace?

I saw the back of this bus on my way to class today. The before and after look of an intensive Hindi language student.
The boy on the right looks fairly normal, but the girl student on the left has scary zombie eyes. Yes, it looks just as if she's been in four hours of language class.

In case you can't see the zombie-eyed look, here is a close up.

Oh sure, I'm learning things and all, and it's good to put time and effort into something as important as learning Hindi.
But I might have jumped in the deep end without being certain that I remember how to swim.
Life preserver, please?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fare hike?

I think there are new rules I don't know.

When I went out the other day, the auto rickshaw driver was very willing to go by meter.
That's an unusual thing.
I also noticed that other drivers were taking more care than usual to make it look as if they were using their meters--actually turning them on.
This driver that wanted to go by meter gave me some explanation of how much it would be per kilometer and we set off. (I just pretended to follow what he was saying.) When we arrived, the meter said 42 rupees, but I knew he would want more than that, so I pulled out 50 for him.
No, he wanted 70.
For this short distance?!
He gave me his fare calculation explanation again, but our math came up with different final results.
I dislike these arguments with drivers and how they get me all upset about being cheated. So I gave him another 10 rupees and walked away.

When I arrived home, I searched for some news about auto fare changes (this is one of those times when I think it might be a good idea to subscribe to a newspaper), and found very few articles. Most of them saying there probably will be a fare hike, but the rates are uncertain. And one article that said people were angry about the changes.

I know that I usually pay way more than the actual fare as it is. So it is my hope that the prices I am used to won't change too much.
Although I'll have to come up with a new bargaining line for a while, because I usually say something like: "By meter it's only this many rupees to go there, so this much more is a good price for you."

Or maybe I just need a motorcycle...
ha ha.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Egg experiment

Due to the comment on a post from last week, and because I had an egg in the fridge which was so old that it was beyond the point of risk-free eating, I decided to try something.

Is it possible, I wondered, to fry an egg on my balcony?

I began my experiment at 12:12pm. With an egg, a plate, and a thermometer.
At that time it was about 102 degrees F on the balcony.

An hour later I looked at the egg.
No progress.

So the egg no longer looked quite the same. But it also didn't appear to be "cooking".

While this experiment was going on. I tried to get some other things done around the house. You know, some work, or something.
I admit to distracting myself with thoughts of other fun egg memories. :)

So now the thermometer said something like 113 degrees F. Is that hot enough to start cooking?

What happened?
Well, this is when life caught up to me and I was sucked in by the tyranny of the urgent. I had to leave the house, and I had to leave right away. So the egg was left to fend for itself while I was away.
During the four hours I was gone, there was a dust storm. "Aw man," I thought from the other end of the city as I licked the dust from my lips, "There's an egg on my balcony."
Then there was a short thunderstorm. Poor exposed egg. Certainly not a sterile testing environment.

When I arrived home, I checked on the egg.
It was out there in the dark.
It did not look to be cooked, but it was definitely not in a liquid state anymore. The egg white was "crystalized" (what else would you call it?), and the yolk was sort of crispy.
So does that mean it was cooking or got dried out?
Is it a dehydrated egg?

This is perhaps an odd thing to post about, but, uh, now the question is answered.