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?