Sunshine in Chitown


photo.jpg, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Nap Time


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Jelly Belly

Check out this funny excerpt I found on Times of India:
She scorched the screens with SRK in the 'yeh mera dil' number for Don, and we hear that apparently she's doing a hot, hot number for Billoo Barber , where she's dressed like a sexy Arabian dancer. We're hoping Bebo's put on some flab on those fab-abs for this gaana. C'mon, what is an Arabic dancer without a slight jelly-belly. Damn the size zero, honey, SRK's 6-pack (if it's still around) will make up for it, just for this time. Kareena also performed at his 'li'l star's awards show, na!
Full article here.

Chicago in December


Chicago, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Yeah - you get the point.

London & Paris

Chicago in December is a lovely place. Well - ok - it's a really ridiculously cold place! We have been here now for a few weeks - and I'd be lying if I didn't comment on how jealous I am of the Delhi Winter right now. But - soon enough, we will be back. In the meantime, I'm loading some photo's of the past few weeks. We've been in London, Paris & Chicago - three wonderful cities. I hope you enjoy.

Don't worry, I'll be back in Delhi January 1.


Gay Marriage Debate.... Hindu/Christian Marriage Debate

While Americans protest and debate the merits of Gay Marriage across the country, Indian Courts were hearing a case on the validity of Hindu Christian marriages. Check it out:
NEW DELHI: Marriage between a Hindu and a Christian is invalid under the Hindu Marriage Act, as the Act provides for only Hindu couples to enter
into a wedlock, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Aftab Alam upheld the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which nullified a marriage, after the wife, Bandaru Pavani, a Hindu, claimed that her husband, Gullipilli Sowria Raj a Christian, had misled her by pretending to be a Hindu and married her at a temple.

The husband had misinformed about his social status, the wife had complained while seeking divorce.

According to the couple, Raj, a Roman Catholic Christian married Pavani on October 24, 1996, in a temple by way of exchanging of 'Thali' (sacred thread) in the absence of any representative from either side.

Subsequently, the marriage was registered on November 2, 1996 under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The matrimonial court rejected her plea for divorce saying the marriage was valid under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, even if one of the parties belonged to any other faith.

However, the High Court upheld her plea and said the marriage was void as the Act postulated marriage only between Hindus, following which the husband filed the SLP in the apex court.

Dismissing the Christian husband's appeal, the apex court said Section 5 of the Act makes it clear that a marriage may be solemnised between any two Hindus if the conditions contained in the said Section were fulfilled.

Man Without A Country!

Sorry I've been quiet for a while. It has been an interesting few weeks & I have a bunch to get caught up on. As the end of November is Thanksgiving in US, Sally & I headed to London/Paris for a short trip. While in London, my passport went missing. Within about 3 hours of arriving back in London -it was gone. We spent the better part of a week visiting Embassies, Consulates & Visa Processing Centers and were left with an emergency US passport for me, but no visa.

You see, on the day of the passport going missing terrorists attacked Mumbai. As you can imagine, the Indian Embassy had better things to do than worry about my replacement visa. So now, here I am - blogging away from cold, snowy, economically depressed USA. Looks like I'll be here for a while, at least through the holidays.

I'll be back in Delhi around New Years, but until then, promise to catch up on some blogging. Best to all & I hope everyone stayed safe in Mumbai.

SEH

Hobbies

Many of you know, I look at a lot of resumes... Tons of them in fact.

One of the stranger things I've seen in India is the almost obsessive use of the Hobby field. I feel as if this field has fallen out of favor in the US - you seldom see it used on a resume, and if you do it is full of safety hobbies like travel, running and other impressive feats of endurance or brainpower. I once accepted a renter with a questionable credit history because he showed up to the meeting fresh from coaching Little League... As he set aside the batting order and brushed the dust from his hands I thought "How bad could he be?" Bad apparently... I'm still waiting for Octobers rent check to arrive.

But I digress. This Hobbies category confuses me. With so few acceptable answers, I wonder - are people hiding their hobbies? After all, can you really see yourself hiring someone who lists Dungeons & Dragons, Fire Breathing or Star Trek on their CV?

Suzy, you look great. You're just the sort of candidate we need to great our customers as they enter the building...

Whats that? Can you wear your foam Spock ears?

In the US, we've received the Hobby memo - hide them all. Be ashamed of anything other than 5 safety hobbies. And yet - here in India - folks continue to list their hobbies without the least bit of shame. Take these that came across my desk recently (edited & summarized)


Hobbies
  1. Reading newspaper, magazines.
  2. Interacting with new people.
  3. Always greedy to learn

I have a great lust for latest electronic gadgets including the mobile phones.

In my free time I like reading wikipedia encyclopedia.

Collating wares software.

Devotion to the execution of responsibilities are my hobbies

Encouraging Junior to play the Synthesizer. Initially I taught him to play the National Anthem (after an hour of effort on my part, to play it correctly). He learnt it in less than 10 minutes. Now, he tries to teach me the tunes he has learnt on his own

Applying Reverse Engineering to things around me

Being a winner in Quake III Arena in ZETA ’05

Netsurfing*
*Netsurfing is by far the number one hobby on resumes in India. Strange really - seems to me it would indicate a strong likelihood to not work once hired.

So there you have it - just one of those quirky little cross cultural differences I guess. I wonder how long it will take for India to get the memo.

I suspect by the time I leave I'll be working with a bunch of Triathlete, bookworms who are actively involved with Habitat for Humanity.

Sad - and Crazy

Today in the Times of India:
MYSORE/BANGALORE: This is a story of a teenager who was forced to undergo a sex change surgery and face a traumatic life as a girl.

Manju, (19), a native of Mysore taluk, turned a girl in a few months and wears feminine clothing. Like other children, he had dreams of pursuing higher education and leading a normal life, but his fate took a turn for the worse after an encounter with two eunuchs in Mysore city, about six months ago, when he came for admission into a PU college.

The eunuchs pounced upon him that afternoon and bundled him into a four-wheeler on Sayyaji Rao Road, before being taken to Mumbai via Chennai.

He did not know what had happened to him for nearly three months after his abduction as he was sedated continuously without being allowed to regain consciousness. Later, he realized to his shock that a forced surgery had been performed on his genitals.

“I was served only two chapattis and coffee every day. But, when I gained conscious, I was shocked to see that my genitals had been amputated,” he recalls, adding that the trauma he underwent was unimaginable. “I writhed in pain for many days.”

Manju managed to escape from the clutches of the “hijras ” in Mumbai only five days ago and reached Mysore taluk. But the incident came to light only on Sunday, after the district police visited his house to pursue the case of “missing person” his parents had filed in July, two months after he went missing.

Full Story Here:

Dharmender Kumar


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

I often get questions from the states about living with drivers and maids. The idea that you can have this sort of help is overwhelming for some folks to understand. I'm told how lucky I am, how "good" I have it. And the truth is, it is a luxury - but you can never forget that they are people who go home to their families.

This is our driver / guy friday / super hero. Dharmender has been working for me since August, and I can't imagine navigating Delhi without him. He's our part-time translator, cultural advisor, driver, sometimes cook (he taught me to make a proper chai), friend and colleague.

We visited Pushkar over the weekend, and while Sally, her mother and I checked out the shops, he headed down to the ghats to pray.

Pushkar is one of the most holy cities in India. It is believed that a swan released by the gods dropped a lotus to the ground at the site of Pushkar. The city sits on the edge of a lake & has 52 ghats where devout hindu's bathe in the lakes sacred water. Pushkar also has one of the only temples (or only temple - depending on who you believe) for Brahma - the God of creation.

We ran into Kumar on the main bazaar - He was returning from the Ghats and on his way to visit the Brahma temple. He had just bought fresh bananas and offered some of them to Sally & I. We accepted, I snapped this photo of him, and he was on his way.

Kumar has a wife, and three daughters. Each of them attends private school while he works as our driver & his wife makes handicrafts with an NGO. He's teaching his children English, and brings our old magazines home as study materials. He asks me to teach him new english words & in return he corrects my broken Hindi. "As tea goes in milk, milk goes in tea" - he says.

Dharmender is one of the many people that make India special to us. People like Kumar are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of India - but they are the ones that I'm sure I'll remember most.

Die Happy


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

If you are going to go... Go with this happy poison.

Camel Safari?


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

"Excuse me sir, would you like a camel safari?", asked the young boy on the side of the road.

"No thanks" I said - returning to my map. Where the hell is the Trident Hotel anyhow. It was past 2 and my hunger was growing fast.

"Maybe just a photo?", he offered instead.

"Sure thing kid" I offerred 4 rupees to the kid, raised my camera to snap a photo. As I removed the lenscap - the camel got in on the action. Welcome to Jaipur.

Driving in Delhi

About 2 weeks ago, Sally and I decided to head to the mall for a relaxing Sunday. The idea of venturing across town in an auto rickshaw didn't appeal to either of us, and my Honda City sat out front taunting us - as if to say... Drive me!!!

And so I did.

I've decided there are really three things that make driving here tough. For starters, in Delhi, lanes are little more than a suggested path for you to drive in. If there is room to the left of a tree off the road that would save you 2 seconds in total driving time on your 4 hour journey - well then - clearly you take that dirt path.

Of course, if you miss a turn, taking a u-turn and coming back around is not an option. The only sensible thing to do is to put the car in reverse and travel the 100 yards back to the spot of the missed turn.

As a driver, if you manage to not hit the cars in reverse, or the cars re-entering the roadway from the sidewalk - you still have to deal with the fact that stoplights also are little more than a suggested course of action. After all, how could you not play frogger when you spot a five foot gap in traffic.

Truth be told, navigating this mess isn't that hard. It seems understood by all drivers that it is never your responsibility to avoid an accident - it is everyone elses. In some strange way - this seems to work. I like to think of it as a flock of geese. Somehow they all fly for thousands of miles in close proximity - but never hit each other.

The second issue I face here is the fact that I've barely driven a manual car. I know... I know... so American. But it's true. I've had an automatic since I turned 16, and the only time I ever drove stick was when I got roped into being Designated Driver in college. That trip ended with my friend replacing his clutch....

Of course, the third Issue for all US drivers, is that you are on the wrong side of the road... and the wrong side of the car. I find this the most difficult part of the equation. So, as we set out on our journey to Select Citywalk in Saket - I told Sally she had one job. Make sure I don't hit anything on the left.

Unfortunately for me, Sally hasn't worked since October 2. In this time, her ability to stay on task seems to have gone out the window.... (sorry Sally)... and so midway through our journey - it happened.

It was over in a second, in fact - by the time Sally could utter - "We're too close" - I'd scraped the vehicle, corrected the path of my car and we were free from the Auto Rickshaw. No damage was visible on the steely beast (sounds more dramatic than saying the green and yellow motorized rollerskate) and so we continued on our way...

We made it to the mall, and then it struck me... This adventure wasn't relaxing at all. It took the entire lunch for me to relax. By the time I finally felt myself again, it was time to head home. I thought to myself - why bother. I'll stick to Auto Rickshaws from now on.

And then - this weekend - I snapped the below photo. If that 11 year old kid can drive a moped in these streets, then surely - I can handle Delhi Traffic... I hope.


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Taxi!


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Public Transport


Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

I'm alive - I swear. It has been a while since my last post. As winter has arrived, and with it 85 degree temps, life has been very busy. In the last month, it seems as if someone has been visiting us every week. This week, Sally's mother is here & so we went "out of station" (out of town in desi-speak).

This provided me an opportunity to dust off my camera and take some photos. This one in particular stands out to me in that it truly captures the excitement and craziness of rural India. Enjoy & hello again!

SEH

Lord Shiva Shortens Runway

NEW DELHI: The authorities that built the third runway at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport claim it's India's longest - but it's a
credit that remains on paper because of a curious problem.

For all practical purposes, the runway is today India's seventh longest, as almost a quarter of it is unusable. The IGI's new runway, rechristened (29/11), is touted as India's longest airstrip (4,430 metres). But an obstruction created by a 62-feet idol of Lord Shiva facing its landing approach in the east renders over a kilometre of the runway stretch unusable.

This makes the usable stretch shortened to 3,400 metres - making the runway shorter than airstrips in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, in three other metros - Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai - and Delhi's own second runway and a little ahead of the Kochi airstrip

Airhostess Falls From Plane... Escapes With Minor Injury

Ok, this isn't a funny story, but it contain an unintentionally funny line.
NEW DELHI: A Jet Airways airhostess fell down on the tarmac from the aircraft while she was closing its door but escaped with minor
injuries.

The airhostess, after the passengers were seated and instruction from the pilot, was closing the door of the Mumbai-bound plane on Friday morning when she slipped and fell down from the plane, an airlines official said on Saturday.... she did not receive serious injuries.

The airlines fraternity does not term this incident as uncommon. Since we have to perform our duties wearing high heels, there are chances that we trip, said an airhostess.




Invasion of the bugs from hell

So, it is the time of year in Delhi when millions of new young bugs descend on town. They are harmless of course, no bites... just really... really... REALLY annoying. At home, I'd call them fruit flies, which I guess they are. You see, it is time for the harvest, and a nasty side effect is the relase of these bugs in the process. Like most insects, these bugs flock to the light & inevitably find their way into your house.

This week Sally and I have been playing a game at night, one where we see how much we can get done in the house with the lights out. We've mastered the art of cooking w/ 20 second flashes of light to guide a knife, cleaning dishes by moon light, and of course showering in the dark.

Yesteday we turned on our A/C in the bedroom and a whiff of rotting garbage came barrelling out... I remembered the scent immediately, as one time in Chicago a rat died in the fire escape out back of our house... after a few days, the whole neighborhood was searching for the source. Reluctantly, I called the A/C repair guy to come have a look. Within 30 seconds of standing in front of it, he was ready w/ a diagnoses... Rat he said.

But I knew better. You see, we'd pried it open to take a look & I knew there were literally hundreds of these little bugs that were sucked into the air vent at night & left to rot in the A/C. After poking around the A/C in the servant bathroom - he finally admitted what I knew all along.

Those little, innocent, non-biting bugs, when left to multiply and die in your brand new A/C... can pack quite an odoriferous punch. After an hour of cleaning the A/C, Darvinder (the a/c guy) asked to borrow some of Sally's perfume, gave the A/C a blast of Philosophy perfume & re-installed.

The Richmeister... Makin' Coffee....

Rob Schneider - SNL

After moving to our new office, I decided to gift the firm a coffee maker. For a few weeks now, we've had no office help - a rarity in India. Until we contract a local company to handle this, we are without the coffee / office boy to make teas and coffees. I've been missing a real cup of coffee, I brought in a simple Black & Decker 4 cup drip coffee maker. After several days, I noticed it hadn't been used, the staff preferring to stick with the familiar Nescafe instant stuff.

Last week, I unceremoniously broke it in & brewed a pot of coffee. For two or three days, I brewed a new pot each morning, but took a day off yesterday. This morning, I entered to find the remains of what must have been a valiant fight between the staff & the coffee gods in the kitchen. Coffee grounds were scattered across the table, a rag laid defeated - soaked in coffee, & about 1 sad cup of coffee was left in the pot. After a few minutes of cleaning the crime scene, an employee joined me in the kitchen and fessed up. The staff had decided to make a pot of coffee last night, but didn't know how.

They were able to figure out that the filter needed to be filled with grinds, but then filled the pot with hot water & put it under the filter. They flicked the switch, but nothing happened. So, instead they opened the filter door & filled it with water, shut the door and let the 8 table spoons of coffee drain into the pot of hot water...

Alas, they were left with hot coffee'ish water.... Finally, they gave up, leaving the mess as they created it. After struggling to hold my laughter in, I ran a brief training session today for the team. I'll keep you posted on when they decide to give it another go.

Oktoberfest

Strong like bull.

Well, last weekend we decided to hit up Oktoberfest at the US Embassy for my birthday. This was the second time I had paid a visit to the American Club @ the embassy, and again - I found myself wondering when Winnie Cooper & Kevin Arnold were going to pop out. This club is a snapshot of Americana that either never was, or rather, was only in Hollywood.

After having our Passports checked, we passed through security screening, including airport style baggage screening, before exiting into Des Moines, Iowa. The Oktoberfest was held on the Little League ball field adjacent to the swimming pool. In the center was a large tent, and the field was ringed by vendors offering Brats, Potato Pancakes (with applesauce of course), pretzels & plenty of sauerkraut.

Nothing about the American club is posh, it really reminds you of the prototypical suburban swim club. A pool designed more for lap swimming than relaxing, a clubhouse with a large locker room (coincidentally the only place properly air conditioned in the entire joint), and of course American flags. Lot's of American flags.


I'll admit, it was a great escape. It was wonderful to surround yourself in the comforts of home - if only for a few hours. I know some of my readers will interpret this sort of party as simply a bunch of expats hiding from the realities of Delhi in some sort of sign of weakness. Maybe it was.

Or maybe - just maybe - it was the best beer I've had in months.

This Week on Yuni-net

So, in Delhi there are several list-servs that expats and locals use to swap information about local goods & services. The idea is that you can simply send an email to the list asking your random question & receive information back. Simply put, this is the the online equivalent of asking your neighbor for a cup of sugar.

I've found Yuni-net & Gurgaonite (the Gurgaon Version) quite useful in sourcing a Hindi teacher, apartments, where to buy good imported cheese, and even how much to pay a driver. Every once in a while, a question is sent out on the list that is just slightly odd. And so, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the more random requests.

Hi! Does anyone know where I can buy some young geese? Also, what is a reasonable price to pay per goose. Thanks, Linda Mayne.

African kids of abt 10 yrs needed for a video shoot. We need an African kid of about 10/11 years ( boy or girl) BUT with straight here!! Would be great if you could email me at (email addy) some pics please...

I am missing so much capoeira here, that I was wondering if anyone practising capoeira at home would be interested to form a group of practice ?

Hi all, now this is a tough one: does anybody have a dinosaur cookie cutter I could borrow or knows of where I could find one? It could be any dinosaur, we are not picky.

New Apartment

Well Sally arrived this weekend, just in time for my Birthday. I dragged her out at 8 am on Saturday to look at three apartments that I had shortlisted for us. We had 2 in Vasant Vihar and 1 in Shanti Niketan.

We settled on the flat in Shanti Niketan. It isn't as modern as some of the others, but the space is great, light is good & it has a 2 floor terrace... So really, what else could you want! So, now we are busy planning our furniture purchases, paint colors, and general purchases to outfit the joint. This will surely keep us busy, but will certainly be a fun few weeks. I am posting some photos here, but will give you a better tour as we fit the place out. And before you heckle me, yes... there is a Pink Bathroom & a Blue Bathroom. I couldn't have planned that....

Video Killed The Radio Star!


I mentioned a few weeks ago that a reporter from Alabama Public Radio was doing a piece on the election in the states. She was looking for the expatriate view. Well, thanks to the internet folks far outside Alabama can now listen to the piece.

Ride 'Em Cowboy


Hats For Sale, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Streetside Toys For Sale


Streetside Toys For Sale, originally uploaded by shelmes.

As seen in Defence Colony last weekend.

Tata Communication Bombay Office


Tata Communication Bombay Office, originally uploaded by shelmes.

View from Tata Communications office of the new bridge, Bandra-Worli Sealink.

Following the Election From Abroad.

As I mentioned, this week I was interviewed by Alabama Public Radio, for an NPR style piece (For those of you unfamiliar w/ NPR - Listen to some NPR here). There were actually two pieces being put together by the delightful interviewer, Alisa Beckwith.

She was researching articles on two topics. As my readers seem to fit into both of these boxes, I thought I would ask your feedback on the topics.

For the Expats:
As an American staying abroad, how do you
get information about the US Presidential Election?

Have you decided who you will vote for? How do you get information about the
election & candidates?

What issues are important to you as an American abroad - has living abroad
changed your opinions?

For The Dilli Crowd:

Have you followed this US election, or prior US elections?

What concerns do you believe that the American people should keep in mind as they prepare to vote.

Comments are open - have at it! When the article is posted online, I'll be sure to link to it here.

The Most Grammatically Incorrect Advertisement EVER!



I would love to know which copywriter can claim this as their masterpiece... It is painful to listen to!

NPR Interview Sunday

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!
Sunday, a representative from an affiliate of NPR is interviewing a few expats about how they consume news regarding the US presidential election. I have been following the election quite closely, and I think I actually follow a much wider selection of new sources to collect my opinions on the matter. Since I'm so far removed from the US, all my news coverage outside of the internet is a bit more balanced.

I'll let you know where the conversation goes & if it is lucky enough to be run - I'll try to pass on the recording.

Indian Perspective on My Waistline

Well, not mine exactly - but "America's". You know - The Collective American Waistline. I went down to the Thai place in the building with a copy of Outlook Business for lunch today. As I thumbed through articles on exciting topics like Lean Development @ Toyota, the crunch for talent in the construction business & the growing demand for Islamic Shariah Compliant investments - I came across the photo of a huge rear-end on a chair.


As I read the article, I could barely contain my laughter with the sensationalism of the author in writing about the American Obesity Epidemic. Don't get me wrong - America is fat. We all (myself included) could lose some weight. However, in an attempt to tackle the issue seriously, the authour used imagery that was absurd (and yet hilarious!) - the suggestion that a bunch of Indian Aunties should get on a plane & "slap some motherhood into their counterparts" nearly caused me to spit out my lunch. Here are some sample quotes - little bits that I found unintentionally funny.
There, at the next table, was the epitome of American motherhood. Mother bear was devouring a bonding meal with her sweet tweener—a thin, petite girl, who didn’t look anything like her. Truth be told, it was more like looking at a whale and a sardine.

I looked down in dismay at my salad, which could feed an entire neighborhood in India. It was another reminder of all the hard work American mothers are putting in to help the US economy.

There are even steakhouse restaurants that offer a free meal if you can eat their 96 ounce (2.7 kg) steak in a certain amount of time. Want to try it? Make sure you have an ambulance on stand-by before you begin gorging.

My salad-eating, fruit-munching, fish-and-nuts focused mind simply cannot fathom how Americans consume as much as they do. It brings to mind something from Chetan Bhagat’s book, One Night @ The Call Center: apparently, call-centre trainees are taught that the brain and IQ of an average 35-year-old American equals that of a 10-year-old Indian kid.

So, today, at long last, American mothers are being exhorted to work harder at adding more fruits and vegetables into the family diet, while (surprise, surprise) cutting down on the sodas. Duh! A simpler solution would be to send a bunch of Indian housewives across the Atlantic to slap some motherhood into their counterparts.

After reading this article, I can't wait to go to Uncle Buck's Big Ass Steak Shack & chow down on some gristle laden beef.... After all - If I want the free dinner & T-Shirt - I'm going to have to step it up.

Full Article Here:

Gunbattle in Delhi; 2 terrorists killed, one held

It appears the Delhi Police have found some of the suspected terrorists here in Delhi - This is of course in follow up to the bombings last week - I guess it is some relief that progress has been made - but the thought of gun battle in a residential area is pretty crazy!

(From CNN-IBN) New Delhi:
A team of the Special Cell of Delhi Police killed two terrorists in an encounter on Friday near Jamia Qila area of South District in New Delhi.

One of the dead terrorist has been identified as Atiq alias Basheer, said to be an associate of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activist Tauqeer.

Tauqeer is believed to be behind the Ahmedabad blasts and is also wanted in connection with September 13 bomb blasts in Delhi.

Police officials said the encounter began when police went to the area looking for Atiq and added that at least five men were holed up inside House No. L-18, Batala House.


Big TV - Ho - To Big Ho!

This ad is in heavy rotation - I'm not sure I understand it... But I like it!

First of, you get a good Ahhhhh Chi! instead of Ahhh Choo! & you get some quality martial arts from a moustache.... And a Maharaja who looks exactly like Violet from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

In any case, enjoy!

Your Bollywood Minute

So, it has been a while since I shared a little bollywood love w/ you all - last time it was snoop dogg in Singh is King (Which had the biggest opening weekend of any Bollywood Movie ever)

So, prior to listening - here is a sample of the lyrics for the gora's out there. Hai Popular, Hai Muscular. Hai Popular, Hai Muscular, Spectacular - He's a Bachelor, etc. Ok, so my hindi is rough - but from what I can tell the lyrics are basically, He's Muscular, Popular, Single. He's got a nice car, nice hair, blue eyes.... But yet - pappu can't dance.

My New Favorite TV Show



These little guys live maybe three hours from me. I think I may go visit next time I'm in Jaipur. I mean - where else can you see a real live monkey street gang up close and personal! I stumbled on this show at 11 or so one night last week - and now... Well - I actually check to see if it is on.

NO JUDGING :)

London Calling


Iphone 030, originally uploaded by shelmes.

Hey Folks - Sally & I are heading to London over US Thanksgiving, we are meeting a friend of ours there. I'll be there roughly November 28-December 1. So, if you are in the London area - or plan to be taking advantage of the low fall fares from the states (our friend booked RT from Chicago inclusive of tax 300 bucks) - let me know. I am hoping it is warmer than last years trip in January...

Sulabh Toilet Museum

Ah, culture. On Saturday (before the blasts), I headed to the Sulabh International Toilet Museum here in Delhi. The museum is run by the Sulabh International Social Service Organization. Here is their bio:
Mission: A healthy and hygienic India, free of the practice of defecation in the open and faecal pollution of environment. A society free of untouchability, social discrimination and prevalence of the sub-human practice of manual cleaning of human excreta (scavenging).
The museum was two parts - the first, a look into the history of the toilet, the second - a look into the organizations work. The organization is installing public facilities across India on a contract from the government. Additionally, they are educating folks on how they can install low cost toilets in urban and rural India. These toilets do not use traditional plumbing, instead they have a dual pit system where the waste flows into a sealed pit for 3 years after which the toilet is switched to flow into the second pit.

After 1.5 years - the first pit will have fully decomposed & the village is left with a completly clean & odorless manure that can be used for fertalization. This cycle can be repeated indefinitely - and the whole system can be installed at an extremely low cost.

In addition to the simple toilet, they have also done some interesting work where by they are building toilet facilities that recycle waste water, that use human waste to capture methane (without the use of any electricity) to be used to power generators, cook, or run lighting systems. All in All, this is a pretty cool concept. If you are interested in more information - click here for the museum, Or here for the organization

Hilarious - stopmomstop.com picks up pizza article

I don't know why I find this so funny - but the stopmomstop.com site had a thread dedicated to cooking pizza on a stovetop & my instructions (posted here) were followed by a mother named Kim (screen name Sparqi). The pizza passed the test.

It worked! I followed her instructions and the result was pronounced "yummy".
My dough was on the thick side. I topped them with a little red sauce, mozz and parm cheeses, crumbled bacon, roasted red peppers, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and sliced green olives (on mine!). I made mini pizzas so the girls' versions were plainer.

The bottom definitely got crisp. A great alternative to the oven or grill. Thanks again!
I just broke it to the Mothers forum that they used a recipie written by a 28 year old unmarried man. I'm not sure what that says about them... or me. Seriously though - I'm happy they tried it out & it gave me a good chuckle! To read the thread, click here.

Delhi Bombings

As you've likely heard, Delhi was hit with serial bombs on Saturday around 6pm local time. I decided not to post about it right away, as I wasn't exactly sure how I felt - or even whether I had an appropriate reaction. As I think back to the events of 9/11, I recall being in much the same scenario (on a much larger scale) - Was it right to attend class just hours after the buildings fell?

In any case, this post should help explain to those of you not familiar with Delhi where / how this took place - and explain from my perspective how the city has responded.

At about 6pm, I left Chokola in Priya / Basant Lok market in Vasant Vihar. This is roughly above the L in Delhi on the image above. My driver, misunderstanding where I was heading, took the long way home & so I arrived at my house about 7 pm. After being alerted by my landlady to check the news, I came to know of the bomb blasts.

Of all the blasts, one hit closer to home (literally and figuratively). Two blasts went off in M Block market - GK1, an area of town that several of my friends live in. The blasts here were essentially pipe bombs placed in opposite corners of the market in trashcans.

M Block is a decidedly Middle - Upper Middle class market with Swaroski & other upmarket brands in it. As a result, it is a market I've been to on a handful of occasions, and should my office not be located in Gurgaon, one I might have chosen to live near. Instead, I've settled in the south west corner of Delhi and frequent Basant Lok - a slightly more posh market - but very similar demographic. After 30 minutes of news, and my sense of security bruised a bit (I had after all been in a market about the time of the blast), I was able to piece together some high level information on the blast before heading out.
The other bombs went off in very different areas.
1) Connaught Place: CP is the central shopping district in Delhi. Designed by the Brits, it is two large circular streets of shops surrounding a central park. The bombs that went off here were in trash cans near the entrance to Delhi's Largest metro stop. CP is a very popular shopping destination - with a smattering of western brands & local shops. It has a younger crowd, and usually a healthy dose of tourists staying at the local hotels.

2) Karol Bagh: This area is a crowded market area - it would be bustling and congested at the time of the bombings, and for this reason- most of the loss of life is centered here. The market is home to some apparel, jewellery & is also the home to the gray economy w/ regards to electronics. This is more of a working class neighborhood, far from the posh south Delhi suburbs. The blast here appears to have been on an auto rickshaw - all of which are powered by CNG (compressed natural gas), a highly explosive fuel - this further added to the loss of life.

3) Gopaldas Bhavan: The office crowd was a target here - with many traditional Indian companies still working 6 days a week, 6 pm would be a busy time in this area. Although the damage seems less here - the attack was clearly targeting office workers in this area.

With the news of the attack still pouring in, I headed to pick up my friends for a pre-planned get together. On the way, I drove through several market areas. I was shocked to see that just two hours after the bombings, the markets were still buzzing. In fact, I have this image of two mid-twenty year old girls browsing a clothing boutique burned into my head. In a weird way - everything appeared normal. With the exception of a crowd in an electronics store that had televisions tuned to local news, everyone seemed calm & cool.

Then it struck me - here I too was on my way to a get together, to hang out with friends and play cards... I too had watched for 30 minutes - surprised to hear of blasts in my own city - saddened by the loss of life (30 dead), and then continued on my way. Was this inappropriate? Should I have stayed in, skipped out on a fun evening with friends? I had this sudden pang of guilt as friends began calling my mobile from the states making sure I was OK. Here thousands of miles away, friends are worried & I was off to play cards...

I woke up Sunday, grabbed my paper & reviewed the news. I was surprised to see no more than 3 pages of coverage dedicated to the bombings. However, the more I read and thought about the disaster, the more I began to understand the context of these bombings.

On Saturday 5 bombs went off and 30 died. Just 4 months back, 65 died in Jaipur. In Mumbai 2006 - 180 killed in train bombings. Just last month bombs exploded in Bangalore & Ahemabad. This is not to say these Delhi bombings have less significance than the others, but in the greater context - it is understandable how folks have moved forward processed this so quickly.

I don't want those of you reading from afar to confuse this recent history of bombings w/ India being an unsafe place. Quite the contrary. By and large India is a phenomenally safe place - sure there are issues - but on the whole, it is warm, welcoming and safe. I could write an entire blog post on this topic alone - but for now, I'm afraid I've babbled for too long and without enough structure - so I'm going to cut it here.

From Delhi - Scott

Enya & Banking

Definitely two words that I would never have put together, and yet here I am at the NDTV/WIPRO Vision 2020 conferenece listening to the sounds of Enya being blasted over the pulsating laser & smoke machine show to introduce the first segment. Yes, you heard that right 1995 style laser show. It conjured up memories of the old Illuminations show at Epcot center....


The content of the conference has been interesting, The central theme is, What will the India banking environment look like in the year 2020?. After the first session - the need for focus on microlending is apparant - as is the need for commercial banking to figure out how is can be succesful in the rural segment here in India. Some interesting learnings - of the 120 million people employed in India, only 27-30 million are with an organized company. That means 4/5s of the population are earning in the gray economy.

As you can imagine this presents a concern to traditional lenders - what collateral can be offered by these people? One presenter certainly impressed me- the charasmatic Virkram Akula of SKS Microfinance. His company has lent more than 1 billion unsecured across india - primarially to woman - who may lack literacy. Their default rate? Less than 1%

And just when you think India might be getting to you...

Something like this happens. You arrive at your hotel after a long day (7 am flight, meetings all over Mumbai, starving - because you skipped lunch). You're tired & of so you start feeling sorry for yourself being alone in a new city.

You check in, expecting an average hotel experience - and instead are upgraded & whisked to the Club Floor, offered fresh coconut juice by your floor butler. He proceeds to shine your shoes, and invite you down the hall for high tea. You turn around - open the blinds and this is your view.


And then - you remember how great the adventure is.

Rupee ends at 22-month low

Good for me, bad for many foreigners living here. As the Rupee has been on a wild train ride lately, I've heard many foreigners complaining of the rupee's fluctuation – I can't say I blame them. With Sally facing the prospect of a local salary, we ourselves will soon face the stark reality of fluctuating income levels. You see, the Rupee has gone from a low of 42.25 to the dollar to today's high over 45. This is a 5% swing in the last 3 months!

At 10:37 a.m. (0507 GMT), the partially convertible rupee <INR=IN> was at 45.05/10, 0.5 percent weaker than Tuesday's close of 44.84/85. It hit a low of 45.20 during trade, its weakest since Nov. 16, 2006. The rupee has shed 2.4 percent in September. "There is some offshore related dollar buying in line with the weaker regional stocks which is pushing the rupee lower," a senior dealer with a private bank said.

Water World

So, I'm house sitting in Gurgaon this week - keeping an eye on a friends adorable dog. So, I headed to bed a few nights back with a wicked storm going outside. A good old fashioned summer thunderstorm. I made a few phone calls to friends, then shut down the computer, tv & turned off the lights. I started to drift away to the sound of the loud rain outside.

After a few minutes, I realized that something wasn't quite right. The rain noise kept getting louder & louder - until it literally sounded like I was in the shower. At this point, I realized something must be wrong - maybe I left a window open? So I stepped outside the bedroom & headed into the open two story atrium of the house.

I don't know what hit me first, maybe it was the cool water being absorbed into my socks, or the water hitting me atop my head. But suddenly, I realized I was standing in the dark... inside... in the middle of a rainstorm.

As fast as I could, I turned all the lights on and surveyed the scene. I realized that water was flowing over a 10 foot expanse of the interior balcony, and falling the 15 feet to the foyer below. Already a large pool of water had formed & so I quickly moved the furniture out of the way, and ran upstairs.

At the top of the stairs, I identified the source of all this water. It was coming from the terrace. I opened the door & a flood of water entered. You see, the entire terrace was full of 4 inches of water and the rain was still coming down. I quickly ran inside & grabbed the bedsheets off two beds and made a bit of an impromptu dam in the doorway.

Unable to fix the situation, I started calling for help - a call to the landlord summoned the houseboy & Alin (the landlord) to help me find a clogged drain. A few minutes later, it was over. The water quickly receded leaving a flooded home to fix. Thankfully, I'm in India - the houseboy quickly located a squeegee & showed me a drain I had no idea existed. Within 15 minutes, he'd dried the bulk of the water & I was off to bed. A little wetter, more tired - but with a story to tell.

Sbarro’s

I fly out tomorrow for Bombay, I have a few meetings over the next few days and am attending the NDTV Vision 2020 conference. So this evening, I decided to relax at home as my flight departs at 7 am. So, since I'm house sitting & don't know any restaurants – I settled on Sbarro… Yeah, I know – that is REALLY pathetic. But I couldn't find the numbers for any local places – and well frankly – it sounded good.

Well about an hour later, I'm sitting here with a slice of pizza, a Diet Pepsi and my favourite condiment. Mustard. Yes, yellow mustard. Which is frankly pretty odd – as you never see mustard packets with sandwiches. In fact, I've been jonesing for the little packets to keep at work. Apparently, I have just been ordering the wrong food.

Taj Ambassador: Yellow Brick Road

So, I found myself with some time today between meetings in Delhi. In order to make both meetings, It became necessary that I stay in Delhi proper vs. returning to the office. So, I find myself now hanging out at Yellow Brick Road, a restaurant that looks surprisingly like the creole joint in Hyde Park, Chicago. The room is a sunny yellow, with faux antique American / UK sign boards. Example, "If you like Chocolate Soda, Drink Brownie" - GROSS!

In any case, the restaurant is actually pretty nice, with a typically Indian assortment of traditional Indian dishes to complement the down home American favourites like BLTs and Burgers. The hotel itself is not exactly the hotel I anticipated. It is a Taj property, but is a little past its prime. It could use some refreshing – but at least it has more character than the Oberoi. I escaped here with hopes of working online while eating – but wifi is about 10 bucks an hour – a sum that I just can't bring myself to pay. So, by the time you are reading this – I'll have come to my senses and returned to a CafĂ© Coffee Day or something more reasonable.

Sally officially has a ticket

Well, I will only be alone in india for another month. Sally officially has a ticket purchased and will be arriving in time for my birthday. Which means we enter another segment of our year - trying to find good work for an expat w/ an exportable salary (as in, when we leave India - she should be able to have saved a similar amount of money as had she stayed in US).

So, if you are in the market for a consultant w/ 8 years experience including Big 4, please let me know!

Property Hunt

So lately I've been looking for long term rental options here in Delhi NCR. As you can imagine, the variety of available options is staggering. I've seen holes in the wall & palatial 3000 sq foot apartments at every price range imaginable.

In fact, I find it very frustrating looking for property here. The main reason is the lack of consistency from apartment to apartment. Most people here will tell you that you should be able to live on something like 20,000 INR a month (500 bucks). What you get for those 500 bucks will be totally different from one unit to the next. In fact, last week I saw a fine place for 1000 bucks, and then walked 3 doors down for a slightly nicer place for 2500.

Add this to the fact that- most property agents believe I should live on something like 2500 a month. Why the big gap in price? Well, it seems that it is universally accepted that all foreigners who are working for an MNC have their apartment paid for... not so in my case.

Sure, I was given a stipend for housing - but let's face it. I'm cheap. I want to spend as little as possible of that stipend and claim the rest as income! I'll keep you posted on the hunt - but suffice it to say - I'm ready for some resolution!

delhi's most eligible bachelors

So, I was going through my Google Analytics account, and decided to explore the popular keywords people were entering into Google that brought them to my site. Among the funny combinations were:

  • desi girls friendship meeting call phone delhi india
  • don't hate me cuz i'm punjabi
  • married aunts in delh
  • isexy lady phonel number delhi

But, my favorite was "Delhi's Most Eligible Bachelors"..... Ok, so it links to my post about Bindra..... but still - pretty funny.

Ever wonder who chooses hair dye colors?

We are in a shared office arrangement here in Gurgaon. Lately, I've noticed a new business with some frequency. The staff looks like an Indian Vidal Sassoon commercial - all the employees have this insane hair style that looks as if a straight iron, curling iron & crimping iron are all heavilly involved in their morning routines - and I'm just talking about the men.

I could never quite figure out what this company did... but today I realized that they must manufacture - or distribute - hair color. They are holed up in a room filled with those little fake hair loops that you see in CVS or Walgreens. Who knew- a little office in Gurgaon could be supplying fake hair for DIY soccer moms across the US.

New Computer

Well maybe it is a sign... maybe it isn't. I installed Google's new web browser today & within 3 hours my computer showed me the "Blue Screen Of Death".... I'm now on a new laptop which has US markings on the keyboard - but has the actual functions of a British Keyboard. So clicking the @ sign brings up the ".... It's all very confusing. But I digress.

I also took my first Hindi Lesson today. I'm learning both how to speak & understand - but also to read. My teacher is a former editor who know teaches Hindi in a private school. He seems good - and should be - he is quite expensive. But after one full day, I added a few sayings to my vocabulary.

Ap Kaise Hayn (How are you?)
Main Thik Hun (I am Fine)
Aur Ap? (And You?

Apaka Nam Kya Hay? (What is your name?)
Mera Nam Scott Hay. (My Name is Scott)
Aur Apka? (And yours?)

Milkar Khushi Hui! (Nice To Meet You)
Mujhe Bhi (Me Too)

Hold Music

I'm sitting on hold right now, and imagine my surprise to hear "The Entertainer". For those of you trying to remember what "The Entertainer" is, you probably didn't take music lessons from a grumpy woman in the suburbs of Chicago....

The Entertainer is that annoying song that those of us who grew up in the states remember as the ice cream truck music. Now, I'm guessing the ice cream truck man probably played some different songs in other parts of the world - maybe London Bridges - but here, it is simply hold muzac.

Tow Truck... or Tow Tuk (Tuk)


My friends over at Our Delhi Struggle (get it - Delhi/Daily! ha!) commented on the towing (tow truck - or Tow Tuk Tuk) situation here in Delhi - I was able to snap a photo of a unique towing arrangement on my way home from work the other day . This is on MG road - in the middle of rush hour traffic!

Humbled

I have been writing this blog for about 3 months - mainly as a way to stay in touch with those back home & to have a record of my time here in India. Lately, I've been humbled by the comments & visits I've received from people around the world. I checked my page stats today, and in the month of August, this blog was visited by people in 44 countries around the world.

So - thank you for visiting, reading, commenting on this little pet project. If you have ideas, or topics you'd like to see covered - please let me know. And for those of you keeping track - enjoy the list of countries also represented here.

SEH


Country/Territory
United States Malaysia Portugal
India Brazil Taiwan
Australia Saudi Arabia Fiji
United Kingdom China Bangladesh
Canada Sweden Kuwait
Netherlands Norway Estonia
France Denmark Israel
New Zealand Mauritius Philippines
Pakistan Oman Vietnam
UAE Tajikistan Ireland
South Korea Switzerland Bahrain
Germany Italy Iceland
South Africa Indonesia Japan
Spain Mexico Venezuela
Poland Singapore


Monsoon in Agra


DSC_0832, originally uploaded by shelmes.

I snapped this photo from within my car in Agra. As we arrived in the city, the heavens opened & we were stuck for several hours in the old quarter of the city. I love this photo - as the water is distorting the image, almost causing the image to melt in front of my eyes. I hope you enjoy it too. Full Size Image Best for Viewing

Trusting Society

If You Should Need Assistance...

In my continuing series of oddball signage in Delhi, I came across the following sign in the men's room. Yes, I realize it is weird that I busted my phone camera out in the men's room. But, to be fair, I waited until after everyone had left for the day & I was discreet... as discreet as possible.

In any case, imagine my surprise upon entering the restroom to see a sign hung on one of the Urinals:

Ok - so a sign isn't that different of a sight in the mens' room - but the text really made me laugh.

STOP! Temporarily Out Of Order. We Apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. You may ask the reception to propose alternative solutions....


I wonder if anyone took them up on their offer of help?

Barack Acceptance Viewing Party

So this evening, I'm off to Priya to watch the Barack Obama Acceptance Speech. It will be old news by the time we gather to watch, but I'm very excited to watch in the company of my american democrats here in Delhi. It really is quite fascinating to think that halfway around the world, there is an active community of Democrats who are interested enough in the election that they have organized a viewing party at a hotel in town.

Now, I don't think the US embassy will be well represented - after all, the embassy staff is largely republican today - so this means that normal folks are going to make up most of the crowd. I had promised myself I wouldn't view his speech in advance, but of course I did (the last 5 minutes anyhow). And my initial response was pretty positive. The spectacle of it all was quite impressive - to think that more than 75,000 folks would gather to hear a future president speak says a lot about the renewed interest in politics this election has stirred.

Anyhow - I'll take some photos & give you all the look into politics abroad.


Mccain & Hitler?

DENVER (Colorado): John McCain's campaign hit back at Madonna after the pop diva kicked off her world tour with a concert that bracketed the US presidential candidate with Adolf Hitler.

Madonna's swipe at McCain came during a performance of 'Get Stupid', when McCain's image was flashed up alongside images of Hitler and Mugabe.

Towards the end of the song, pictures of John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi and Barack Obama appeared. "The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive." McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said.

More Safe Sex Education in India

Thanks for the Article Sally:

NEW DELHI (AP) _ A cell phone ring tone that sings "Condom, condom!" has been launched to promote safe sex in India, where condoms carry a strong social stigma and HIV and AIDS are growing problems, health experts said Tuesday.

The a cappella ring tone features a professional singer chanting the word condom more than 50 times, a playful approach that public health activists hope will spark discussion and make condoms more socially acceptable.

"We've made a conscious effort to move the concept of the condom away from negative association, like HIV and sex work," said Yvonne MacPherson, country director of BBC World Service Trust India. "Condoms are actually health products and if you have a condom and you use it, you are seen to be smart and responsible."

Nearly 2.5 million people in India are infected with HIV and the disease is still largely taboo.

The BBC group, which is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hopes the condom ring tone can make people in India more comfortable with safe sex issues.

More than 270 million people use mobile phones in India and ring tones, especially those featuring hit Bollywood songs, are extremely popular.

"A ring tone is a very public thing," she said. "It's a way to show you are a condom user and you don't have any issues with it."

The ring tone was launched Aug. 8 and has been downloaded 60,000 times, MacPherson said.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

I stumbled across this article today about a crazy group of foreigners here in Delhi. I have to admit, it sounds like fun!

It was an unlikely sight - autorickshaws trooped into the elite JW Mariott on Thursday, and out jumped dozens of foreigners in glee.

To the uninitiated, it was bizarre. But the jumps and squeals were justified, as the 39 foreigners had braved a 2,000-km drive all the way from Chennai in the rickety three-wheelers. And for a good cause: to gather funds to improve the living standards and education opportunities for villages between the two metros, as part of the CEAT Mumbai Xpress-2008.

The incentive was not just this, but also adventure - and madness.

"The event's brief said that you should be really mad and based on that criteria we thought we qualified pretty well," said Greg Callaghan from Britain who was dressed as Batman. Callaghan and his partner Keir Admonts (dressed as Robinhood) adopted seven villages on the way.

Full Article here

Big Dips

Big Dips. This is what my Driver Dharmender calls Potholes. "Big Dips Sir, roads really bad," he often exclaims on our way to and from the office.

As you can imagine, in the middle of rainy season, the road is FULL of big dips these days. On Thursday, we experienced especially bad rainfall & the roads deteriorated even more. The roads were so bad, that cars were blowing their tires left and right on the road back to Delhi.

In fact, the Newspaper reported that the road to the International Airport was so flooded, that visitors from abroad were left carrying their luggage through the rainstorm down the completely flooded access road in order to catch flights.

In front of my office, we have an especially big dip, one that was caused by construction crews digging to lay a new pipe in the road. For the past several weeks it has been left open, a gaping wound in the pavement large enough to cause traffic to merge to one lane.

On Thursday, this hole was filled to the brim with water in the heavy rainfall. Suddenly, the huge hole appeared to be nothing more than a small puddle - which is when things started getting very strange...


Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Unfortunately, at least 2 cars had succumbed to this hole by the time I left work. It should be noted that no traffic cones were placed in front of this hole, simply a few stones. Thinking this sort of accident would encourage something larger be done to alert drivers, I looked again this morning. Still no sign had been raised.

Singh is King, Singh is King, Singh is King!

So, new movie on the airwaves these days. For the last week or two, I've been bombarded by commercials, spam text messages, ringtones & spam phone calls for the new Bollywood moving Singh is King. I have a prepaid account here with Vodafone, and so I am particularly susceptable to the spam mesages - it is just a part of life in India. At least 3 times a day, my phone will buzz & a long hindi message will await me. So, I decided to look a bit further into Singh is King - proof advertising works - and this is what I found on wikipedia. I'm giving you advanced notice, that I can't decipher a storyline - so you probably wont either. But, be sure to read to the end - there is a surprise at the end.

Lakhan Singh "Lucky" is the "king" of the Australian underworld, a position which he reaches after being jailed for a wrong offense, when some one keeps drugs in his bag, as soon as he reaches Australia. He takes the revenge after completing the jail term , by killing those involved, and eventually he reaches to the position of King,. The high point of his journey is when he Happy Singh (Akshay Kumar) promises to bring Lakhan Singh back to his village. However his boarding pass gets mixed with someone else and then meets Sonia (Katrina Kaif) whom he starts loving but upon reaching his destination things take a precarious turn when a series of comic misadventures run him out of any money.

He finds lucky's house and lucky tells him that he cannot come back to India leaving his buisness and throws him out. He is fortunate to find warmth and affection in a elderly lady (Kirron Kher) whom Happy treats like his mother. In a strange turn of events Lucky is saved from a life threatening attack by Happy risking his own life.

Inspite of this, Lucky is paralyzed and Happy becomes the new "King". The elderly lady comes back to him saying that her daughter is comming from India but doesn't know that she is poor. Happy gives her a conslolidates her and gives her a home to find out that her daughter is Sonia and she is engaged to Puneet (Ranvir Shorey).

Puneet comes to know that Happy is the king and tells Sonia whom upon hearing this gets dissapointed because of her harted against criminals. Puneet hires Mika Singh (Javed Jaffrey) Lucky's brother who is hungry to become the "king" (the only thing stopping him is his partial blindness and deafness) to kill Happy.

Mika tells one of his men to kill the paralyzed Lucky where as he will kill Happy at Punnet's and Sonia's wedding after he recives his specially ordered hearing and eyesight aid. When the hitman attemts to kill Lucky, Lucky snaps out of paralysis. At the wedding Mika's men attacked, the cowering Puneet runs away and leaves Sonia alone Mika's men try to grab her but Happy protects her and fights them at the end the preist unknowingly declares Happy and Sonia married.

Happy tries to ask for forgiveness for this mistake but Sonia accepts him as her husband. while they are leaving Mika encounters them, now with his aid. Lucky then comes and shocks them all Happy tells Mika that being the "king" is no great thing Lucky always found sadness being the king. Mika then cries and hugs his brother. The credits scene shows that Happy brings Lucky back to India.

Got that?
I didn't think so. But here is the greatest part of this movie. The Bollywood studio got Snoop Dogg to record a track for it. Yep - Snoop D o Double G.

Enjoy:

I'm Nesting

Wow, in a sign I've officially started to consider India home, I took advantage of the Independence Day Holiday (now celebrating 60+ years of British Free Living!) and cleaned up around the house. I guess clean isn't the right word (although, for having a guy come daily to clean my apartment I sure found a lot of dust bunnies), but more like re-arrange. Nest even.

I finally got around to removing the hideous wooden fake flowers & glittered birds on a stick that were in a vase. I moved a few lamps into the main family room to let a little light in, I found a few pottery pieces I'd never noticed & even figured out how to open some of the curtains.

In the process, I decided I detest the random Chinese jewelery box that has been sitting in plain sight for two months & so I unceremoniously put it away. I will say, the place looks much better. Now, it still has a bit of the "serviced apartment" feel to it, but it does look lived in. I don't think I'll be in this particular unit for much longer, I may move out in January, so I'm going to leave the pictures in place for now. But, I will say the place looks much more welcoming and inviting. It looks like I live here.

Rainy Weather & Hot Samosas


I've been patiently sitting in the office waiting out the crazy monsoon rains. We've been getting rained on most of the day & the roads are being punished for it. With tomorrow being Indian Independence Day, many of our office co-workers headed out early today. The early reports have been streaming back in of commutes upwards of 2 hours.

So, in the middle of blogging, surfing the web, and twiddling my fingers, I get a call from Alfred. He's given up on making it home & instead parked his car nearby. The best part? He has a bag of fresh - piping hot - Samosas. Now that is the way to wait out traffic!

Bangalore is the new Footloose!

In a move reminiscent of the movie Footloose, Bangalore is continuing to enforce it's ban on dancing... at least in bars where music is playing.

This is what protesters are claiming anyway. It turns out that in Bangalore, a city where officially alcohol sales must end at 11:30 (but unofficially can be purchased on MG road at all hours) also has a rule stating that for dancing and alcohol to co-exist, you must have a special license. A license that is rumored to be impossible to get - apparently in four years, not one has been granted.

Couple this with the noise ordinance (I hope you like not dancing in bars with music less than 6 decibels), and what is a young, hip & wealthy crowd to do? Protest.


This Week in Hindustan Times

From time to time, I like to enjoy a newspaper on my way to and from work. More often than not, at least 1 or 2 articles jump out at me - and I am forced to share them with you. Now, don't get me wrong, if you picked up the USA today, you would find equally bizarre articles, like that man who was too fat to be executed, or the town that wouldn't deliver water to the black side of town (yes, these are both true!).

If you've been following the Olympics, you may have heard that India won it's first ever individual Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics. the lucky athlete was Abhinav Bindra. He won gold in the 10 meter Air Rifle. This victory has whipped the Indian Press into a frenzy. Wednesday's issue of HT featured many interesting articles for my blog. Here are a few snippets.


Bride for Bindra:
Young, rich, good looking and the man who will go down in history as India's first Olympic Individual Gold Medallist, Abhinav Bindra now also heads the country's list of most eligible bachelors.

The phones in the Bindra household haven't stopped ringing from Monday and it's not just congratulations that are pouring in. So are the marriage proposals. Abhinav's Mother Babli Bindra says that they've got quite a few offers. "We have been receiving calls," she says.

Babli on Tuesday was quoted as saying t hat, after his glorious win, her son was "the most eligible bachelor in India today."

A Flyover Named After Olympic Champ:
Olympic Gold Medallist Abhinav Bindra would soon have a flyover named after him in the capital. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakh for the sportsman.

And then, the not so funny...

I Am Better Than Bindra, He Said And Killed a Man:
Drunk landlord in Gurgaon wanted to show his shooting skills to his tenants...

...Satyanarayan told the police said a drunk Sant Ram (38), armed with a pistol, entered their room on Monday evening and started bragging about his shooting skills. He claimed that he was better than Bindra who had won an Olympic gold a few hours earlier, he told the police.

The landlord then allegedly ordered the two brothers to place a water tumbler on their heads so that he (the landlord) could take an aim.

"He barged into the room and waved the gun towards us. He kept on saying that he was a better shooter than Abhinav Bindra. He ordered us to keep a tumbler on our heads and said that he can shoot it without harming us. He even shot the wall clock in our room trying to prove that he could shoot accurately," said Satyanarayan.

He added that when they did not oblige, Sant Ram allegedly shot at him, missing him by a few centimeters. "Then he aimed at Satyajeet and shot him in the abdomen. He told us he could shoot so accurately that the bullet would pass through our legs without hitting us," Satyanarayan said. source